Top Five Lakes in Grand Teton National Park

Top Five Lakes in Grand Teton National Park
Photo: Alamy

When Grand Teton National Park was first founded in 1929, it included only the major peaks and six glacial lakes at the mountains' feet. Over the ensuing decades, the park expanded to its present size and now includes more lakes than you can count. In the recent past, a local woman made it her mission to swim in each of the park's named lakes. The project took her several years. (No word on how many times she got hypothermia; even in the hottest part of summer, few lakes here get above 45-degrees!) GTNP's lakes aren't merely numerous, but also of very varying character. There are tiny high alpine tarns tucked into basins hidden from below and also Jackson Lake, one of the largest (forty square miles) and deepest (up to 430-feet) mountain lakes in the country. We recommend a visit to the latter, as well as to any or all of the five below.

Holly Lake

Hidden about half-way up Paintbrush Canyon—although it will feel like it's higher!—Holly Lake's greenish waters are ringed by steep rock walls with even higher mountains towering above. Hit Holly on a day hike, camp here overnight, or stop by as you're doing the 20-mile Paintbrush to Cascade loop hike.

Lake Solitude

Either a 16- or 19-mile out-and-back hike from the Jenny Lake trailhead (the distance depends on whether you take a ferry across Jenny Lake), Lake Solitude is easily the park's most popular backcountry lake. This is not without good reason. At 9,000 feet in the back of Cascade Canyon, at sunset Lake Solitude reflects the Cathedral Group—the Grand Teton, Teewinot, and Mt. Owen.

Bradley and Taggart Lakes

Bradley and Taggart lakes are two of the original six lakes of GTNP. While they've been joined by dozens of others, they're still worth a visit, especially because the hiking trails to both are among the shortest and flattest in the park. Taggart, guarding the mouth of Avalanche Canyon, is the more southerly of the two. Bradley Lake is smaller, but gets far fewer visitors.

String Lake

If you're looking to swim, SUP, kayak, or canoe, String Lake, immediately northwest of Jenny Lake, is the place. Rarely deeper than five feet, it warms up quite nicely—into the low 50s, at least. Picnic areas line the eastern shore and a hiking trail circles the lake.

Jenny Lake

Named for the Shoshone wife of the famous trapper "Beaver Dick" Leigh—there's also a Leigh Lake in the park—Jenny Lake is the heart of Grand Teton National Park. Escape the crowds by hitting the lake's northeastern shore, accessible by a one-way scenic drive, or on the passenger ferry that crosses the lake all day during the summer.

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