Update: Parking is still available along the south side of the highway to access the Hoback Shield.
Earlier this year, the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) informed the Bridger-Teton National Forest (BTNF) of their intention to place guardrails on the highway at the base of the Hoback Shield, one of Jackson Hole’s premier climbing crags, due to road construction in the area.
As placement of the guardrails would eliminate the parking pullout used by climbers to access the cliff, the Teton Climbers’ Coalition (TCC) began to coordinate with the BTNF on an alternative parking plan.
On August 23, these plans were put on hold due to the identification of the Hoback Shield area as the location of an 1895 battle between members of the Bannock tribe and white settlers.
“Due to the area’s location on a bench above the river, and the historical descriptions of a battle that took place in that area, we know it has a high potential for cultural resources to be present,” said Tim Farris, the Trails/Wilderness Supervisor for the Bridger-Teton National Forest. “We need to follow the proper NEPA process before disturbing any ground.”
Subsequent research identified that the battle resulted from a hunting rights dispute.
“The Fort Bridger Treaty of 1868 guaranteed members of the Shoshone and Bannock tribes hunting rights on public lands in Wyoming,” wrote John Daugherty in A Place Called Jackson Hole—rights that were exercised by the tribes. “During the summer of 1895, Constable William Manning led several [white] posses after [Bannock] hunting parties from Fort Hall, Idaho. On July 11, a posse arrested a group of Bannocks, including women and children, at Battle Mountain in the Hoback Canyon…. Manning’s posse killed one Bannock and wounded one other.”
Battle Mountain is the historic Anglo-American name for the Hoback Shield. The Native American name is not yet known.
On September 27, the TCC was informed that WYDOT had completed its work on the guardrail project in Hoback Canyon immediately below the Hoback Shield. Even with the installation of a new, longer guardrail, parking is still possible on the south side of the highway.
“As always, climbers should ensure that they are parking well off the highway and not impeding traffic flow in any way,” said Linda Merigliano, the BTNF’s Recreation Manager.
Plans for a safer parking area are under development. “We will be releasing a scoping document for public comment in the fall that will include what we are now calling the ‘Granite Creek Recreation Area Restoration project,'” said Merigliano. “It will include re-design of the current winter parking area but not a ‘new’ parking area.”
The TCC will continue to provide updates as they become available.