100 feet of rock breaks away from mountainside in Grand Teton National Park


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Courtesy Grand Teton National Park

MOOSE, Wyoming — There was a great deal of concern about safety in Grand Teton National Park this summer after a massive 100-foot long crack was discovered in a rock buttress at Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point.

Now thanks to a recent rock fall, that concern is no longer warranted.

In July, the abnormally long crack was discovered in the rock buttress. After evaluating the situation, park rangers closed the area out of concern that the rock – which was about 100 feet long, 20 feet high, and 20 feet wide – could come loose and fall onto the highly visited Hidden Falls viewing area.

In August, the area reopened after a risk assessment was conducted by park rangers. The modeling indicated that rock fall, if it did occur, would be unlikely to reach the viewing area due to distance and terrain.

And that’s exactly what happened. On Nov. 4, seasonal weather helped to expand the crack and the buttress broke off from the mountainside, according to a Grand Teton National Park news release. It doesn’t appear the Hidden Falls Overlook received any damage. The large rock debris fell about 50 yards from the overlook.

“It appears that our risk assessment and modeling accurately aligned with the rock fall event that recently took place above Hidden Falls,” Grand Teton National Park Deputy Superintendent Gopaul Noojibail said in the news release. “Human safety is always the priority and our abundance of caution and the risk assessment served us and our visitors well.”

Park staff hope to retrieve data from electronic monitoring equipment that was installed earlier this year to learn more about the incident.

A small closure remains in effect west of the viewing area,” according to the news release.

“I am pleased that our risk assessment was accurate regarding the extent of debris and that we took subsequent actions to reduce the risk of possible injuries in a very popular area of the park,” Noojibail said.