Looking for that one quintessential spot that sums up the best of Grand Teton National Park all at once? Or maybe you only have one day to spend in the park, and you are wondering what is one of the top highlights? Whatever your reason, you can’t go wrong with a visit to Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park! The pristine mountain lake, exhilarating hiking, stunning overlooks, secret waterfalls, and of course, the towering, rugged Teton Mountains, will leave you with no regrets and a sense that you have witnessed the very best of this National Park!
Disclosure: Below are some affiliate links-these are all products I highly recommend. I won’t make any recommendations on this page that I haven’t tested or personally used! Enjoy this guide to Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park!
Table of Contents
Guide to Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park
Here you will find all the helpful information you need to fully explore Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park, including info on:
- What to Know Before You Go
- Background on Jenny Lake
- Jenny Lake Weather
- Jenny Lake Lodging
- Jenny Lake Visitor Center
- Jenny Lake Parking
- Hiking the Jenny Lake Trail
- Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point
- The Jenny Lake Ferry
- Other Nearby Attractions
Know Before You Go
Location: Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, off of Teton Park Road (Google Map)
Fees: Entrance fees into Grand Teton National Park are $35 per vehicle, good for 7 consecutive days. There are no additional fees to park at or visit Jenny Lake.
Parking: there are multiple parking lots at Jenny Lake, but they fill up fast, especially in the summer. Roadside parking is an additional option.
Facilities: there are bathrooms and water at Jenny Lake.
Pet Policy: pets are not allowed in buildings or on hiking trails at Jenny Lake
Best Time of Year to Visit: Summer – Teton Park Road, the access road to Jenny Lake, is closed seasonally from November – May.
Additional Tips: the Jenny Lake general store and Jenny Lake Ranger Station are also located on the south shore of Jenny Lake, near the heart of all the action!
Locations of Jenny Lake and all related sites listed in this post
Background on Jenny Lake
There is a good reason why Jenny Lake is one of the most visited, most popular, and most beloved destinations within Grand Teton National Park. Unmatched views of the Tetons range, including up close views of Teewinot Mountain and Mount St. John. Views extending over and beyond the lake towards the valley of Jackson Hole. A centerpiece of hiking, with trails encompassing Jenny Lake, as well as additional trails that can be accessed by Jenny Lake, like the Cascade Canyon Trail, another favorite among hikers. And the water itself is an attraction, as visitors can take a boat ride on the Jenny Lake ferry, or bring your own boat as well! And don’t forget about the educational opportunities found at the Visitor Center!
Jenny Lake has a fascinating history to match the level of its scenery too. Glaciers once flowed down the surrounding canyons, carving out the depressions that we now see as Grand Teton National Park’s many lakes, including Jenny Lake. Evidence of nature’s continuous molding effect on this environment continues to be evident, in subtle ways like Hidden Falls being fed by mountain snow melt! Today it is the second largest lake within the borders of Grand Teton National Park, second only to its nearby northern neighbor, Jackson Lake!
Jenny Lake Weather
Jenny Lake shines, albeit in different ways, all year long, but summer arguably takes the prize for best weather and best time of year to visit. Summer months at Jenny Lake contain just enough of a crisp chill to the mornings and evenings to be a pleasant respite to the brutal summer temperatures found throughout much of the rest of the country, without being too harsh. Daytime weather in the summer is perfect, with daytime temperatures ranging around the mid 60’s to mid 70’s degrees Fahrenheit on average.
Aside from these welcoming summer temperatures, there are a few other weather related things to be aware of. Trails are often still snow covered to some degree through May and even early June, with snowmelt continuing as the temperatures warm. Afternoon thunderstorms are common in the summer as well. I can attest to this personally, as just about every day I have ever spent in Grand Teton National Park during the summer has come with a side of afternoon showers. Just another reason to explore Jenny Lake early in the day, to beat the crowds and the afternoon showers!
Jenny Lake Lodging
The most immediate and closest way to lodge at Jenny Lake is at the Jenny Lake Campground, immediately adjacent to the lake. This campground is by online reservation only, and has 51 tent only sites. It is located only a few hundred yards from the east shore of Jenny Lake, so you cannot beat the location! No trailers or campers are allowed, as these are tent sites only. Seasonal water and showers are available, but there is no electricity. You can find out more about camping and the various campgrounds at Grand Teton National Park here.
Another option is the Jenny Lake Lodge. This full service resort offers rustic cabins for rent, and elegant dining options, all at the foot of the Teton Mountains! There are a couple things to note about staying at the Jenny Lake Lodge:
- The Jenny Lake Lodge is NOT pet friendly
- There is no electric AC in the Jenny Lake Lodge cabins
- The Jenny Lake Lodge is open from June through early October
- You can find out more about reserving a spot at the Jenny Lake Lodge here.
Jenny Lake Visitor Center
The historic Jenny Lake Visitor Center serves the heart of Jenny Lake. Originally built as the Crandall Studio in the 1920’s, serving as Harrison Crandall’s original photography studio, this building is now home to an art gallery, a museum with exhibits, as well as the local park rangers. So stop in and learn more about the area, as well as chat with the park rangers. You can also get information about the area trails, or inquire about some of the ranger-led programs.
- The Jenny Lake Visitor Center is open daily from late spring – mid fall (with extended hours in the summer). In the summer it is open from 8 AM – 7 PM. After Labor Day, hours change to 9 AM – 5 PM.
- The Jenny Lake Visitor Center is CLOSED from mid fall – mid spring (September – May), as well as on recognized national holidays including New Years Day, MLK, President’s Day, Columbus Day, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.
Jenny Lake Parking
There’s no denying that National Parks are getting busier and busier, and that affects traffic and parking. Jenny Lake is not immune to this phenomenon. While there are several large parking lots at Jenny Lake, its popularity means that these lots are full surprisingly early, especially during peak summer months, and even more so on peak summer month weekends! So get there VERY early, or be prepared to park further away and have to walk in. Roadside parking is an option, and when the lots are full, you will see lines of cars parked along the side of Teton Park Road for many tenths of a mile on either side. It is a reality that you may have to walk 10 – 15 minutes from your parking spot if you have to park roadside.
An alternative to arriving early is to arrive in the afternoon around 3 or 4 PM, when the crowds start to subside, and parking becomes more available again. This still leaves several hours to explore the area, for those not planning on any all day hikes.
Hiking at Jenny Lake
Hiking at Jenny Lake is a popular pastime, and you have plenty of options, ranging in various lengths and degrees of difficulty. You can choose to hike directly around Jenny Lake on the Jenny Lake Trail, or pick up one of the many connecting trails from Jenny Lake. Let’s start off with the home base of hiking at Jenny Lake, the Jenny Lake Trail, which circumnavigates Jenny Lake.
The Jenny Lake Trail
Quick Facts on the Jenny Lake Trail:
Length: 7.2 miles roundtrip loop
Estimated Time to Complete: 3 hours
Trailhead Elevation: 6,800 feet
Elevation Gain: 456 feet
Jenny Lake Trail Elevation Chart
Hiking the Jenny Lake Trail is by far my favorite activity at Jenny Lake, whether you do the entire loop trail around the whole lake, or whether you do a shortened version to a particular landmark, like Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point! No matter how much time you spend on the Jenny Lake Trail (though I strongly recommend the whole thing if you can), the views will leave you breathless and speechless! At just over 7 miles roundtrip in length, it is also the perfect amount of day hiking, as it will take you a couple hours to complete the whole thing.
The Jenny Lake Trail contains two surprises, Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point, which I will go into more details below. But aside from these two highlights, the entire trail is serene! There are portions of moderate climbs, and portions of flat. There are portions of forest cloaked trail, and portions where the trail opens up to vistas over the water, stretching out over the Tetons! There is something for everyone to enjoy on this trail!
You can also “shortcut” the Jenny Lake Trail by taking the Jenny Lake ferry, which picks visitors up from the south shore, and deposits them just under Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point, knocking off a couple miles from the Jenny Lake Trail’s total 7.2 miles. Make sure to keep reading all the way to the end to get all the info you need on the Jenny Lake ferry, and decide if it is a good fit for your plans!
Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point
Two landmarks along the Jenny Lake Trail are Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. Both these landmarks are located close to each other, a couple tenths of a mile between them, and also conveniently about midway on the loop trail around the lake. They are ideal “turn around” spots for those not wishing to hike all the way around on the Jenny Lake Trail.
Hidden Falls is a 100 foot tall waterfall, shouldered by verdant green forest on either side, and Inspiration Point offers dramatic, cliffside panoramas over Jenny Lake and the Jackson Hole Valley.
Hidden Falls is just shy of 2.5 miles into the Jenny Lake Trail, so if you turnaround at the falls, you are looking at just short of a 5 mile roundtrip hike, with about 620 feet of elevation gain.
Inspiration Point is about 2.8 miles into the Jenny Lake Trail, so if you turnaround there, you are looking at around a 5.6 mile roundtrip hike, with around 870 feet of elevation gain.
If you wish to “shorten” the hike, but still make it to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point, you can hop on the Jenny Lake ferry, which docks right below these two spots. All in all, from the boat dock to Inspiration Point is about 0.9 miles, making it around 1.8 miles roundtrip hiking if you take the Jenny Lake ferry. There is also about 500 feet of elevation gain on this options.
From the boat dock to Hidden Falls is about 0.5 miles, making it a 1 mile roundtrip hike if you take the Jenny Lake ferry, with a moderate elevation gain of 300 feet.
You can also pick up the Cascade Canyon Trail in the immediate vicinity of Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. As with Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point, you can hike to the Cascade Canyon Trail and pick it up off of the Jenny Lake Trail, or take the Jenny Lake ferry across the lake to pick up the Cascade Canyon Trail on the other shore. Either way, Cascade Canyon is worth your time as well! You can read more about the Cascade Canyon Trail directly below!
Other Trails that Connect to Jenny Lake
Below is information on other trails that connect to Jenny Lake, including:
- Cascade Canyon Trail
- Moose Pond Trail
- Lupine Meadows Trail
- Hurricane Pass Trail
- Lake Solitude Trail
- String Lake Trail
- Leigh Lake Trail
The Cascade Canyon Trail
Grand Teton National Park is known for its many outstanding lake hikes, but Cascade Canyon is a trail that reaches into its mountainous interior, for a different take on this National Park’s diverse environment!
Quick Facts on the Cascade Canyon Trail:
Length: 9.1 miles roundtrip out and back (not including the portion of the Jenny Lake Trail)
Estimated Time to Complete: 3-4 hours
Elevation Gain: 1,102 feet
The biggest name among connecting trails at Jenny Lake is the Cascade Canyon Trail, not only because it is indescribably beautiful and majestic, but also because it is conveniently located off Jenny Lake.
You can take the Jenny Lake ferry to the boat dock at the start of the Cascade Canyon Trail, or you can hike the Jenny Lake Trail to pick up the Cascade Canyon Trail. No matter which option you choose, once you pick up the Cascade Canyon Trail, you will pass Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point, before continuing alongside Cascade Creek further into the canyon and the backcountry of Grand Teton National Park. Expect to witness views of the surrounding peaks, including the iconic king of them all, Grand Teton, plus Mount Teewinot and Mount Owen. There are also ample opportunities to spot wildlife along the Cascade Canyon Trail, including bears, deer, moose, and pika.
The Cascade Canyon Trail in its entirety is 13.3 miles long roundtrip, with 1,720 feet of elevation gain, making it a challenging hike. Make sure that you are adequately prepared for the whole thing with all 10 hiking essentials, or know where you plan to turn around and shorten the hike to your liking.
The Cascade Canyon Trail is the most utilized connecting trail from Jenny Lake, but below are several additional hiking trails.
- Moose Pond Trail – south of the start of the Jenny Lake Trail and the south shore of Jenny Lake. This 3.2 mile roundtrip trail shares a portion of the south shore of Jenny Lake. It is relatively flat and easy.
- Lupine Meadows Trail – south of Jenny Lake, and passes around a portion of Bradley Lake.
- Hurricane Pass Trail – splits off from the end of the Cascade Canyon Trail (take the left trail), a whopping 22 mile long hike!
- Lake Solitude Trail – you can continue on the Lake Solitude Trail at the end of the Cascade Canyon Trail (take the right trail)
*(at the end of the Cascade Canyon Trail you can go left of right – left takes you on the Hurricane Pass Trail, and right takes you on the Lake Solitude Trail
- String Lake Trail – north of Jenny Lake, another short, shoreline heavy trail just over 3 miles in length roundtrip
- Leigh Lake Trail – north of Jenny Lake, and similar in scenery and roundtrip trail length to Jenny Lake. Just over 7 miles roundtrip, and very easy at less than 100 feet of elevation gain.
The Discovery Trail
This short, paved, family friendly path is a great alternative to those with young children, or those that do not wish to delve onto the more challenging trails around Jenny Lake. The Discovery Trail is not so much a connecting trail, as it is a short nature trail on the immediate shoreline of Jenny Lake upon arrival. It is within steps of the parking lot and Visitor Center.
The Discovery Trail has plenty of interpretive panels about the environment, history, and wildlife of Jenny Lake and the surrounding area, and provides plenty of views along the shore of Jenny Lake. You can also access the Jenny Lake Trail and the boat dock from the Discovery Trail.
Quick Facts on the Discovery Trail:
Length: 0.35 miles
The Jenny Lake Ferry
Fancy another way to view Jenny Lake? How about a ride on the Jenny Lake ferry? Be sure to check out the hours and prices available, as they vary throughout the year. Shuttles run every 15 – 20 minutes. Ticket prices are currently $20 roundtrip for adults, $12 roundtrip for children aged 2 – 11, and FREE for children under 2. One way tickets are $12 for adults, $10, for children aged 2-11, and FREE for children under 2. You can purchase tickets directly at the boat dock on Jenny Lake (advance reservations are not taken).
The Jenny Lake ferry is an optimal way to shorten some of the popular hiking around Jenny Lake, by offering a shortcut to Inspiration Point, Hidden Falls, and Cascade Canyon, as mentioned above. Just be sure to note that if you are taking the Jenny Lake ferry BACK to the south shore dock after hiking, the lines can get long (think an hour or more) getting back on the ferry, if you are there during peak visiting hours. Make sure to build this factor into your itinerary planning if this applies to you!
While many visitors enjoy the ease and low planning requirements of taking the Jenny Lake ferry, you can also bring your own boat to enjoy on Jenny Lake, or rent a kayak or canoe if you want to self power your excursions on Jenny Lake!
Other Nearby Attractions to Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park
There is so, so, so much more to see near Jenny Lake – don’t miss out on a single thing!
- Cascade Canyon – a glimpse at the backcountry, rugged interior of Grand Teton National Park, and a great chance to spot resident wildlife. Best accessed along the Cascade Canyon Trail
- Jackson Lake – the largest lake in Grand Teton National Park. You can boat, hike, or just sightsee along the shores. It is north of Jenny Lake.
- String Lake – String Lake is the smaller, immediate northern neighbor of Jenny Lake, and is best accessed by the String Lake Trail.
- Leigh Lake – another immediate northern neighbor of Jenny Lake, and no less stunning, though smaller in size. It is best enjoyed from the shoreline or along the easy Leigh Lake Trail.
- Mormon Row – a chance to see historic buildings and one of the most photographed spots in the entire park.
- Jackson Hole – the “hub” of town life for Grand Teton National Park. When you are done exploring the vast outdoors, you can lodge, dine, and take advantage of other amenities in this town deeply rooted to its mountains and National Park.
- Yellowstone National Park
There may not be a better National Parks roadtrip than the one that combines a visit to Grand Teton National Park AND Yellowstone National Park! Check off both these gems from your National Parks checklist at once!
Lucky for you, Yellowstone’s west entrance is only an approximate 2 hour drive north from Grand Teton National Park, putting it well within the realistic realm of a road trip. Plus, you won’t be disappointed with the sights along the way, including an optional side trip to Idaho’s most majestic and untouched waterfall – Mesa Falls! This waterfall actually consists of two separate cascading falls, the Upper Mesa Falls and the Lower Mesa Falls, with the Upper Mesa Falls towering at 10 stories high, and spanning an impressive 200 feet in width!
So why should you visit Yellowstone National Park in addition to Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park? If the answer isn’t obvious enough, because the nearby west entrance of Yellowstone is brimming with natural wonders, including geysers, colorful pools and springs, mountains, meadows, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, paint pots, mud pots, and wildlife! There is so much to see, that it can sometimes feel overwhelming when trying to plan out your visit, but you can check out this perfect 3 day Yellowstone itinerary from the West Entrance, including a downloadable itinerary, to make the task simpler, and guarantee that you don’t miss a thing when sampling all the diverse characteristics of this unique and one of a kind National Park!
PIN for LATER