It was all hands on deck as authorities in Grand Teton National Park came to the rescue of campers stranded by a washed-out bridge late last week.
It was late Thursday when park staff received a call for assistance to investigate a bridge that had possibly washed away near Sheffield Campground in neighboring Bridger-Teton National Forest.
The bridge crosses Sheffield Creek, providing access to a rustic five-site campground as well as a concession operation providing guided horseback rides.
When Grand Teton’s facilities maintenance staff arrived at the campground they found a raging creek and a missing bridge. It had, indeed, collapsed and washed downstream.
Five families were stranded in the campground along with concession employees at the riding stable.
Park staff quickly sprang into action, locating a suitable bridge that was no longer in use. They cut the replacement bridge from its original 62 feet long down to 45 feet — enough to span Sheffield Creek perfectly — reinforced it and added safety edges.
Working well into the night, park staff got the bridge ready to put into place at the first sign of daylight.
Within 24 hours, the work crew renovated the bridge to fit, hauled it to the campground and tested the weight limit before allowing visitors to cross the river with their campers in tow.
It was an impressive example of interagency cooperation.
The campground is technically in the Bridger-Teton National Forest and the bridge spans Forest Road 30504. And the general area of the remote campground is actually in John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway — the 24,000-acre link between Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks dedicated to conservationist and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. in 1972.
But it was Grand Teton’s facility maintenance crew and visitor and resource protection rangers who quickly came to the rescue.