Scenic USA - Wyoming

Gros Ventre River

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Gros Ventre River - Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Photos by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA Artist Website

     Many lasting American landmarks named by the early French, whether they’re cities, mountains or rivers names, are found throughout the country. Probably named by 19th century Wyoming trappers, the Gros Ventre (Grow Vaunt) is best known today for its incredible fly-fishing and wilderness beauty. Meaning big belly in French, the Gros Ventre is noted for its 12 to 16 inch cutthroat trout, with some trophy sized Gros Ventre River Sign - Grand Tetons National Park, WYfish over 20 inches.
     A tributary of the Snake River, the 75 mile Gros Ventre rises in the Gros Ventre Wilderness and enjoys Wild and Scenic River status, providing miles of remote fishing areas. Here in this wilderness corridor big game species include bighorn sheep, elk, black bear, and occasionally a mountain lion, grizzly bear and trumpeter swans. About 70 miles of roads provide access to the river, varying from paved and gravel to rough four-wheel-drive spurs.
     The Gros Ventre River is most famous for a landslide in June, 1925. Witnessed by three men, a huge chunk of Sheep Mountain slid down and blocked off the river flow. Softened by heavy rain, a 50 million cubic yard landslide of debris dammed up the Gros Ventre River, creating Lower Slide Lake. Although the natural dam, about 200 feet high and 120 feet wide, was pronounced safe by engineers, heavy snows in the winter of 1926-1927 and the following spring runoff were more than the dam could handle. First noticed by forest ranger Charles Dibble and area resident Jack Ellis, the two sped toward Kelly to sound the alarm. Many residents saved themselves, but most of the buildings in the towns of Kelly and Wilson were swept away.
     The Gros Ventre Corridor is a multi-recreational area and is also noted for its excellent snowmobiling, skiing and snowshoeing throughout the winter months. The Forest Service asks everyone to familiarize themselves with current off-road vehicle use, permits and the awareness that some sections of the land are private. Their catch phrase is Know Before You Go.

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