Scouting For Spring

April 2017 Feature Steve Janes

Spring is in the valleys, that’s for sure. The grass is turning green and evidence of winter has pretty much disappeared. But what’s it like in the higher elevations?

For some of us, this is an awkward time of year when we still want to enjoy a couple more months snowmobiling up high but we’re also looking to break out our side-by-sides for the lower areas of the mountain.

In eastern Idaho, the snow line is bouncing between 6,000-7,000 feet elevation, depending on the terrain and direction of the slope. But the question persisted: Are the roads passable yet?

The best way to know for sure was to grab the Polaris RZR 1000 and go take a look. On April 4 we unloaded at Kepps Crossing (about 15 miles east of Idaho Falls, ID) and headed east toward Skyline Ridge. The road was clear to about three miles east of the Fall Creek Road before the snow drifts encouraged us to retreat before it became work.

For the most part the road was dry with just a few mud puddles scattered along the way in some low spots where the snow melt collected. Skyline Ridge is a windy area that usually doesn’t keep a lot of snow. So for the most part, even though the elevation climbs up to around 7,000 feet, the road is open. The problem drifts are usually located in shaded areas protected from the wind.

It would likely be another couple of weeks before the top end of Skyline is accessible. And even then you’re likely to find some issues with snow drifts in the forested areas near Flag Knoll. The top portion of the Fall Creek Road was also drifted in and will likely hold its snow for another 10 days or so.

We also decided to take a quick jaunt up Dan Creek, which heads south off the Kepps Crossing Road.

The north end of the Dan Creek Road is in great condition, totally clear from snow. Only when you come out on top where it connects to Sawmill do you encounter snow drifts. It looked like the Bonneville Country crew was trying to plow the snow off the road in order to dry them out before the ranchers start moving in with their cows.

The snow level was at 7,000 feet but the road looked as though it was passable in the open areas. It’s likely still snowbound in the trees and shaded areas.

We’ll try to update you on the road conditions within the next couple of weeks. But then, it may be more enjoyable for some to go out “scouting” on your own.

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