Springtime from Above: An Aerial Perspective on Changing Seasons
Melissa P. Thomasma
From any angle, spring is a spectacular time of year in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. While a walk along the Snake River reveals willows sprouting bright green leaves, and a bike ride in Grand Teton National Park can offer views of baby bison, no perspective on the sweeping valley-wide changes is better than that from the air.
A truly breathtaking time to see the Jackson Hole area from the air, the transition from the cool days of early spring into the full bloom of summer is dynamic and compelling to watch. The valley floor slowly turns greener each day as the year’s new grass revels in the lengthening days. Rivers and streams are all tumbling high and fast, splashing over their own banks as they swell with runoff from the snowy hills above. As the Snake River churns its way south along the foot of the mountains, it deepens some of its channels, while abandoning others and forging new passages entirely.
High above the valley floor, the peaks are still encrusted in layers of snow and ice. It remains thickest on the shadowy north faces and in the steepest corners of canyons. Perhaps the most beautiful – though fleeting – gem from the sky are the melting alpine lakes. As the warm sun and longer days begin to wear away the thick ice that has topped these high altitude waters, the edges give way first. For a few weeks in spring, these lakes remain pure white in the center, but a ring around them reveals the stunning turquoise beneath. Like delicate bracelets that only adorn these mountain oases for a fleeting moment, these brilliant aqua rings lend swaths of retreating snow a surreal kind of elegance.
Many routes into the mountains are still blocked by snow, trails sloppy with mud. Exploring and appreciating the breathtaking views of the Tetons isn’t always possible by ground during the springtime, even for locals. But that’s no reason to forgo some of the most breathtaking views of this amazing place. Let our pilots share some of the most impressive views of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, no muddy trails or snowfield crossings needed. It’s only a short portion of the year that you can witness these beautiful seasonal changes, so come with us to get the best view possible.