Outfitter Robert Betts was a little glum this week because “one of our favorite places to take people” on the Shoshone National Forest near Dubois is closed because of flooding.
“We have other places to go. It’s just that one is particularly fun,” he said about the National Forest access along the East Fork of the Wind River.
Betts owns Cutthroat Fly Shop & Adventures in Dubois, which offers guided fishing, hiking and horseback rides, as well as ATV rentals.
Closed At Least Through The Weekend
Forest Service Road 277, the East Fork road, was closed because of flooding, the agency announced Wednesday. The road is on the Wind River Ranger District and closed at the East Fork Guard Station.
“There is flooding in the campground, horse corrals and at the trailhead. We are asking the public to avoid this area while we mitigate the flooding and assess the associated damage,” Wind River District Ranger Jeff von Kienast said in a Forest Service statement. "This closure will go through the weekend, so please plan to avoid this area until further notice."
Overall, Recreation Still Doing Well
Despite the closure of the popular of the East Fork access, overall recreational activity seems to be about on track so far this summer, Garrett Gerona, who runs the Dubois Visitor Center, told Cowboy State Daily.
There are plenty of other places to go around Dubois, and locals and tourists seem to be enjoying themselves, he said.
“The only thing I’ve heard here at the visitor center is that some tourists are a little iffy about floating the (Wind) River right now, because it’s running so high,” he said. “This is a small town, and if it was anything major, I’d hear about it. I’d be hearing about it from a lot of angry people.”
‘We’ve Learned To Adapt’
Spring and early summer conditions up the East Fork have been less than ideal for the past three years, Betts said.
“It has been worse this year than the past two years. It was opened up a little bit last year by the end of June,” he said, adding that, “We’ve learned to adapt the past few years.”
This year, runoff from massive winter snowfall has been compounded by thunderstorms that seem to have rolled in every afternoon, he said.
“If it continues it will be a big deal for sure,” Betts said. “It will be tough if, once we’re into July and August, it’s still crummy.”
The area is prone to landsides. Betts said he hopes those haven’t come into play yet.
“Hopefully, it’s just runoff and the torrential rain, and there’s not a landslide up there blocking things,” he said.
Rivers Choked With Sediment Near Pinedale Too
On the other side of the Wind River Range in Pinedale, fishing guide Paul Ulrich said things also got off to a rough start.
The Green River and New Fork River were choked with silt from rapid runoff, which put a damper on the angling, he said.
“Our water here is still extremely high, but it’s finally starting to run clear,” Ulrich said.
Clear water means trout are starting to take greater interest angler’s flies and lures.
“That bodes well for the rest of the summer,” Ulrich said.
Mark Heinz can be reached at email@example.com.