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Grand Teton National Park : Jenny Lake

This is the second part of our trip to the Grand Teton National Park all about Jenny Lake. 

Read More: A First Day at Grand Teton National Park

The main focus for the day was our hike to Inspiration point, an elevation climb to a viewpoint that is on the far side of Jenny Lake.  We understood that this was a very popular activity, so we looked to get there early.  We skipped a sit-down breakfast and decided on bringing just a cooler of snacks to nibble on as we left Jackson Lake Lodge at 7am.  The drive over was nice as we took the one-way road south off of Teton Park Road.  This is the road that takes you to the Jenny Lake lodge.  There is an awesome pullout that gives a nice view across Jenny Lake after you pass the hotel.  For some reason I was surprised by how many trees were along the lake.  I guess I thought the area would be grassier.  Oh, well. 

We arrived around 8am at Jenny Lake and found parking in the main, lot which was one main goal.  It is well known that this parking lot gets filled rather quickly.  After what seemed an eon and a day waiting for my daughter to use the restroom, we walked down the path to the dock so we could get our tickets for the ferry.  The walk down was lovely, with exhibits and several photo stop opportunities.

We had a bit of luck as we walked to the ferry.  The boat was already docked and after we bought our tickets, we were able to walk on the ferry without waiting.  When does that ever happen?  The ferry ride over was pleasant with no issues.  Quite nice to have the breeze.  We got to talking with a pair of climbers, a guide and student, who were prepping to go and summit one of the peaks the next day.  Today was a prep day to literally, learn the ropes.  Very cool!

We took the entire morning hiking the trails on this side of the lake, with the first leg seeking out hidden falls.  On the way you are gifted a nice walk across a stream and some nice elevation climbs.  To get to hidden falls you must take a left turn off the main trail and it is a short climb up the hill. 

Continuing the trail, you slowly climb up a trail until you are presenting with a stair climbing scramble that takes you to the first ledge and an amazing view of the lake.  At this point you are positioned almost right over the dock where the ferry dropped you off.  From here you can see the advantage of coming early.  Ferry boat after ferry boat were dropping more and more people off, which makes the trail more and more crowded.  As we rested and took in the view, we could start to see the throngs of people arriving on the point.  So much for Solitude!

We moved on. 

 We continued up the trail with the original intent to take the right fork trail that takes a back way to the ferry dock; however, we missed the turn, and we continued up the Cascade Canyon trail.  I am glad we made this little ‘mistake’ as we were able to see a male Moose! We were at a safe distance but were able to clearly see him and his huge antlers, rummaging through the forest.  Very cool. 

As we continued up to the Cascade Canyon and along the stream, the views in this valley were tremendous.  I think my entire family thinks I intentionally missed the turn off, so I could see this, but I did not! I swear!  (but kinda glad we did).

We found a good spot for a rest, view, and photo op and then double backed the way we came.  We recalled where we may have missed the turn, a bridge across a shallow stream that you can easily walk through.  As we were returning, we felt like Salmon going up stream, the throngs of people have arrived!   The trail can be very thin and allow but one person to pass, so there were several times of stopping to allow groups to go by.

We considered going back the way we came, but the thought of going upstream against all the new arrivals, especially along the steep canyon trail did not appeal to us at all.  We found the trail head that takes you further north and down the mountain to the lake shore and to the docks, and we took it.  It was a little longer hike, through lush forest, but was very quiet.  We ran into only one or two groups of hikers along that entire stretch until we were in sight of the lake.  It was a great hike.  There were numerous flowers along the trail, and we even found a huckleberry bush and had to try a few (so good!)

As I illuded earlier, the rest of the family was not as keen to a major hike, but while it was a little more than we originally planned, I think we were all glad we went the extra mile, literally!

We did not have to wait too long for the return ferry ride back to the other side of the lake.  You can walk the 2mile + back, but the ride on the boat was welcomed after our trek.  I could see where later in the afternoon the ferries could get very, very crowded.  I would suggest early arrival and early departure, otherwise you may have to walk back or wait a long time for at seat.

On the way back from Jenny Lake, we stopped in at the visitor center to grab a stamp and take in the information. Not surprising given the volume of visitors that move through this location, this visitor center looks very sharp and updated. While not huge, the exhibits are well done, and stylish.

Read More: Resources to Help You Plan National Park Visits and Find Passport Stamps

Overall, our trip to Jenny Lake was very successful. We had an amazing day of wonderful weather, exhilarating hikes, fun times, beautiful scenery and we saw a Moose on top of it all. This experience was something I will absolutely treasure.

Cancellations stamp reading "Grand teton National Park, Colter Bay"

Unit: Grand Teton National Park

Path to 425+: 74

Region: Rocky Mountain

Month/Year: Aug 2023

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