Backcountry yurt trips are a backcountry skier's dream. Imagine being tucked away deep in the wilderness for days, skiing remote lines, and being warm and cozy at night. Yeah, dreamy. The Baldy Knoll Yurt, which lies on the border of the Jedediah Smith Wilderness in the Teton Mountains of Idaho and Wyoming, is a top-tier yurt. Period. The ski terrain surrounding this yurt ranges from mellow meadows to extremely steep chutes and alpine faces. It is not uncommon to hear wolves at night or find fresh bobcat tracks in the skintrack. A trip to the Baldy Knoll yurt will be a year-long highlight for just about anyone, pros included.
Reserving the Baldy Knoll Yurt is arguably the hardest part of the journey. This yurt is known as the best yurt in arguably the best skiing range in the Lower 48 states, so space fills up quick. Contact Teton Backcountry Guides ASAP to inquire about reservations. It is likely that you will have to reserve this yurt at least 6 months in advance, but probably more. Once reserved, you can plan on getting supplies and lodging in Driggs, Idaho, the night before the adventure. This yurt is on the Western Slope of the Tetons, so all access points run through Driggs.
Finding the yurt can also be tricky. Start skinning up Fox Creek and follow the drainage for about 3 miles. There is a path cut out of the trees that will slowly take you to Baldy Knoll, but it can be very difficult to find. A map and route-finding skills are essential for the hike in. Consult with Teton Backcountry Guides and try and place a pin on a map before wandering out into the wild Western Tetons. If you have a snowmobile, the trailhead will be a bit different and you will not go up Fox Creek at all. There is generally a snowmobile track leading from Driggs to Baldy Knoll.
Once at the yurt, you will start to fully realize the potential of the surrounding area. Peak 10,024 is the highest point in what the local terrain, although Housetop Mountain is just beyond 10,024, and it is the most significant challenge in the area. Right out the door are a series of sub 30-degree meadows that are perfect for high avalanche days or for beginners. To the east, a series of steep trees with pillowy cliffs await the expert skier on a powder day; and, due to the special wilderness designation, snowmobile traffic is non-existent. The Baldy Knoll Yurt is truly a paradise for the backcountry skier.
Once your stay is complete, return to the car exactly the same way you hiked into the yurt. The terrain surrounding the Baldy Knoll Yurt can be extreme, and the wilderness wild and remote. To have a safe and memorable time in this area, be aware of your surroundings and the avalanche conditions. It is imperative to be self-sufficient. Respect the land and the snow conditions, and any amount of time spent in the Baldy Knoll Yurt will be time to remember.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.