Core Stories

Public Lands Llama: Trail Cleanup in the Jedediah Smith Wilderness

Protecting Your Public Lands

It isn’t enough to simply explore and enjoy our public lands, it is equally as important to protect and preserve these treasured wild places for future generations. In his most recent adventure, the Public Lands Llama and a team of volunteers helped restore an overgrown trail in the heart of the Jedediah Smith Wilderness, located within the Caribou-Targhee National Forest along the western slopes of the Grant Teton Range. The project involved clearing, widening, and repairing Badger Creek Trail and replacing the signage and trail markers

"The overgrowth was so bad that if we did not help clear the trail now, it was only a matter of years until it would be unusable."

Beau Baty, Wilderness Ridge Trail Llamas

Marshall Andersen and 9 of his best llamas guided the trip in and provided the food, gear, and equipment required for the 16 volunteers, 3 guides, and 1 Backcountry Forest Service Ranger to work together and repair the trail in the shadow of the Teton Range overhead.

Repairing the trail helps protect the rest of the environment by providing a safe path for hikers into the wild. Regular trail maintenance limits the potential for lost hikers, reduces the impact of trails on the surrounding environment, and minimizes erosion. But you don’t have to have llamas to help care for public lands. There are numerous volunteer programs across the country that help protect and preserve our wild places.

Visit your local forest service office or check out volunteer programs online to play your part in protecting America’s public land heritage.

This Is Your Land

Photo © Glenn Olsen

Nestled against the western slopes of the Teton Range, reaching north to Yellowstone National Park and south to Teton Pass, the Jedediah Smith Wilderness covers 123,896 acres and is known for its unique karst limestone caves and canyons. Located within Caribou-Targhee National Forest in Wyoming, the wilderness was designated by Congress in 1984 to be left untouched for current and future generations.

The Jedediah Smith Wilderness plays an important role in protecting one of the last intact northern temperate ecosystems on Earth, the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Located within the northern Rocky Mountains, this delicate ecosystem spans an astonishing 18 million acres across three states and serves as a world-renowned recreation destination.

With over 175 miles of trails and jaw-dropping views, the wilderness sees heavy recreation year-round and requires routine maintenance to protect and preserve the habitat. Visitors to the Jedidiah Smith Wilderness will enjoy the freedom to explore and camp nearly anywhere within the wilderness without a permit. As part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the wilderness helps protect the pristine ecosystem of the Grand Teton National Park and is home to thousands of species of plants and wildlife. If you want to experience the beauty of the Jedediah Smith Wilderness for yourself, visit the USDA Forest Service site for more information.

Where the pavement ends, onX begins. View detailed maps of the Jedediah Smith Wilderness.

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Public Land Facts

  • The Jedediah Smith Wilderness was named after Jedediah Strong Smith, a mountain man from New York who explored the west in the 1800s.
  • The wilderness is home to bighorn sheep, wolverine, elk, moose, black bear, grizzly bear, hundreds of species of birds, and more than a dozen fish species.
  • Camping, fishing, and seasonal hunting are allowed with the proper permit, but motorized or mechanized access, including bikes, is prohibited.
  • Many of the trails cross into Grand Teton National Park, but once you leave the Jedediah Smith Wilderness, dogs are no longer permitted.
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