Hiking in the Tetons - Reduce the Spread of Invasive Species


Bluebird skies, cooler weather, and quieter trails bring the much anticipated fall hiking season in the Tetons. Hiking in the fall in the Grand Tetons is the breath of fresh air all of the locals have been waiting for after another frenzy of tourist season. Do you know how to protect the environment around you from invasives as you go out hiking this season?

Spreading invasive species is easy to do, even late in the season, where seeds can collect on clothing and shoes and lay dormant until next spring. One thing to keep in mind when you are out enjoying your time on the trails in Grand Teton National Park and the town of Jackson is recognizing that not all invasive species are ugly. Sometimes they’re beautiful and quick/easy spreaders that will choke out native plants and vegetation if they aren’t contained. In National Parks, it is illegal to pick wildflowers and any other vegetation, this could include pretty plants that may be an invasive species.

Invasives often congregate on the edges of hiking trails and their seeds could easily hitch a ride on your shoes or pant legs. It is not hard to unintentionally carry seeds further up the trail or into your own backyard. Staying on marked trails is imperative in preventing the spread of invasive plants and their seeds as you go. Be mindful if you are walking over muddy or damp trails and be sure to clean off shoes and gear thoroughly after your adventure. Are you being a good steward of the land we love?

What are common invasive species to watch out for?

Image of four invasive species in Grand Teton National Park area and Jackson: Bull Thistle, Black Henbane, Houndstongue, and Quackgrass.

These are just a few invasive species you may encounter in the National Park and conservation areas. Please don’t go near them or attempt to remove them yourself. Take a picture with your mobile phone and submit to the EDDMapS West app and the Teton County Weed and Pest team will be notified of the sighting and take measures to eradicate the threat.

What can you do to reduce the spread?

  • Make sure your hiking shoes and gear are free of dirt and debris from past outdoor adventures
  • Identify and report invasive plant species from your smartphone with EDDMapS West app
  • Choose clothing material wisely. Seeds cling to socks, cotton, and velcro more than other materials
  • Keep your pets on leashes when hiking
  • Carefully remove seeds and burrs from pet coats after a hike or nature walk
  • Thoroughly brush off dirt/debris from your shoes and gear and those of your family after hikes

Whether you’re hiking Josie’s Ridge with your dog or hiking at Jenny Lake with your family, it’s important to know how someone could unintentionally be increasing the rapid spread of invasive species. Taking a few thoughtful and preventative steps before and after hiking adventures this fall is a great start to reducing your impact on our environment and help to isolate the spread of invasives.