Cattle drive

Cowboys from the Pinto Ranch drive cattle down U.S. Highway 89 during a past drive. This year’s drive is scheduled from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. Saturday near Moran.

Timing is everything, depending on whether you want to see or avoid a herd of cows on the highway in a national park.

The annual Pinto Ranch spring cattle drive in Grand Teton National Park will take place Saturday, shutting down U.S. Highway 89 for about an hour.

Park rangers will hold traffic from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. while cowboys herd 290 cows from east of Moran Junction to summer pasture at Elk Ranch Flats.

“Efforts will be made to minimize any inconvenience to travelers driving along the highway near Moran Junction early Saturday morning,” a Grand Teton National Park news release said. “To avoid the travel delay, motorists may choose to use an alternate route and drive the Teton Park Road between Jackson Lake Junction and Moose Junction.”

Several years ago, the Pinto Ranch ran its cattle free-range in the Pacific Creek grazing allotment north of Moran during the summer. To minimize potential conflicts with predators in the Pacific Creek drainage, park officials asked Pinto Ranch to graze its cattle in the fenced Elk Ranch Flats pastures.

“The Pinto Ranch is grazing spayed heifers only, rather than running a cow/calf operation allowing for reduced potential predator conflicts,” the park said in its news release.

Driving the cattle along the highway allows the ranch to use the Buffalo Fork Bridge and avoid cattle swimming the river and marching through marshy areas.

The Pinto Ranch is a private inholding in the park with historic grazing privileges.

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