Ready to combine some spectacular views with a good climb? Grand Teton National Park has it all. With 35 different trails ranging from easy to strenuous, and spanning over 200 miles, we simply couldn’t accomplish all of the Grand Teton hikes in just three days…but I certainly found my favorite! Whenever possible, I like to get off the beaten path, which is why rather than hiking to the Amphitheater Lake or Surprise Lake, I decided to veer right and rock scramble to Delta Lake in Grand Teton. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Read on…
One of the best Grand Teton Hikes: Delta Lake
All photos in this article taken by David M Gallo Photography. This page contains affiliate links, meaning that The Five Foot Traveler may receive a small commission when you purchase any flights or accommodations using the links in this article at no extra cost to you. I appreciate your continued support!
How to get to Grand Teton National Park?
There are a few different ways to get to Grand Teton National Park. The easiest way would be to fly into Jackson, Wyoming. Jackson is serviced by 5 carriers and 12 different nonstop routes. Despite being a popular destination in both winter and summer, direct flights are hard to come by if you’re flying from the East Coast or an international destination. Search all flights to Jackson, Wyoming here.
Jackson, Wyoming Town Square
If you’re planning to go from Grand Teton to Yellowstone, then I highly recommend renting a car and exploring the Teton Mountains at your own pace before continuing further along on your Yellowstone road trip. We personally drove from South Dakota’s Badlands to Devils Tower, Grand Teton National Park, and Yellowstone National Park (in that order) as part of one big trip. Check out rental car prices here.
Grand Teton National Park Lodging
Grand Teton National Park lodging is incredibly easy, albeit expensive, to come by. Between being a world-renowned ski resort in the winter and providing direct access to the Grand Teton National Park hikes, there are many hotels and B&Bs from which to choose. Due to the high prices associated with Jackson, we stayed over the Teton Pass in Victor, Idaho — I do not recommend doing the same, as it will take you about an hour each way to reach the various trail heads. Bite the bullet and stay in Jackson, Wyoming for convenience sake… or camp in the backcountry! Check out your options for lodging in Grand Teton National Park here.
Grand Teton Camping
If you want to immerse yourself in nature (or avoid the costs of Jackson), there are 6 established campsites within the Teton mountains. Be sure you book your site ahead of time – especially if you want to camp by Jenny Lake – as Grand Teton camping seems to be the most popular option! If you are planning to camp in the backcountry, do note that a permit is required and can be booked in advance (recommended) or as a walk-in.
Best Hikes in Grand Teton: Delta Lake
I wouldn’t recommend climbing Grand Teton unless you’re an experienced mountaineer, as the Grand Teton elevation is a striking 13,775 feet (4,198 meters) above sea level. That said, I do recommend getting as close to Grand Teton as you possibly can, and you can accomplish this by doing one of the best hikes in Grand Teton National Park: Delta Lake.
First thing’s first, do realize that the Grand Teton hikes can be incredibly challenging given the rugged terrain, high elevation, potential wildlife encounters, and fickle weather. Be honest with yourself about your fitness level, and it’s recommended that you hike in groups of three or more for your own safety (think bears). That said, if you’re in relatively decent shape and want to get as close to Grand Teton as possible, pack your bags and drive to the Lupine Meadows Park Access. Park your car there and look for signs pointing to the Amphitheater Lake Trail. This is the trail you want to take, as **THE DELTA LAKE TRAIL IS UNMARKED.**
The beginning of the trail from Lupine Meadows Park Access
The trail starts off as a relatively easy meander through the woods. About one mile in, the trail will start to get a bit steeper, preparing you for six long switchbacks. It is a gradual, well-trodden and well-marked trail with an elevation gain of 1,761 feet (537 meters) — take your time and anyone with moderate fitness and ample water can accomplish this section. By the time you hit the switchbacks, you’ll realize that you’ve already gained a good bit of elevation and you’ll be rewarded with views of Taggart Lake and the surrounding forests and plains in the distance. At this point, you will still be following signs for the Amphitheater Lake, but *COUNT YOUR SWITCHBACKS.* If you are hiking to Delta Lake in Grand Teton, it is imperative that you count your switchbacks because…
Switchbacks to Delta Lake Grand Teton
At the sixth switchback, you want to *VEER RIGHT,* off the well-maintained trail entirely and down onto a more technical and challenging trail. It is a narrow, steep descent over tree roots; nothing like the switchbacks from which you will have come. I highly recommend downloading the All Trails offline map for Delta Lake that we were following ourselves, as we passed many incredibly confused hikers.
Once you veer right onto the unmarked path to Delta Lake, you will gain another 600 feet (183 meters) before reaching Delta Lake in Grand Teton. But, this wouldn’t be one of the best Grand Teton hikes if there wasn’t a bit of a rock scramble, would it?
Over the rocks we go!
Continue along the unmarked path until it seemingly ends with a big rock field. Follow the sporadic cairns (rock piles) that attempt to mark the way; in all honesty, just make your way across the rock field whichever way seems easiest for you.
You made it! Just kidding.
My grandpa (pictured above) crushed our Grand Teton hikes!
You will have another two rock fields to cross. When in doubt, bear right, as that is where the trail will eventually reappear.
From there, you will begin an incredibly steep ascent up Glacier-Gulch before Delta Lake finally makes an appearance at 9,035 feet (2,754 meters)! And my goodness is it spectacular!
One of the most beautiful Grand Teton hikes!
Due to the nature of the hike, you will not find many hikers at Delta Lake, as the average tourists tend to continue along the trail to the Amphitheater Lake. While we’ve heard that Amphitheater Lake is lovely, apparently the color of the water isn’t even remotely as blue, and you are not rewarded with unobstructed views of Grand Teton.
It's easy to see why this is one of the best hikes in Grand Teton!
On the way back, just follow the exact route that you came. Take your time, as it is incredibly steep; I do recommend using hiking poles, as they helped quite a bit. I use these from Black Diamond.
Grand Teton elevation had nothing on us!
I promise you though, as long as you have some hiking experience and are in good shape, Delta Lake is one of those Grand Teton hikes that is absolutely worth the effort!
Grand Teton National Park Hikes
While we didn’t have time to accomplish all of the Grand Teton hikes that I had wanted, there are a few more hikes in the Teton mountains that I recommend checking out:
- Jenny Lake Loop
- Cascade Canyon Trail
- Hidden Falls Trail
- Teton Crest Loop
Jenny Lake, Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton Map
On this Grand Teton map, I highlighted the beginning of the Delta Lake Trail, as well as few other key areas of interest. As always, feel free to leave questions in the comments below!
Jackson Hole Airport
Lupine Meadows Park Access
Jenny Lake Loop
Cascade Canyon Trail
Hidden Falls Trail
Teton Crest Loop
Bear Spray, Bear Spray, Bear Spray…and Other Tips!
Packing for your Grand Teton Hikes
Now that you have a Grand Teton map on hand and have read about my favorite of the Grand Teton hikes, make sure you’re prepared! First and foremost, you should always have bear spray on you — you will be in bear territory, and while they likely won’t bother you, it is important to be cautious and aware. If you’re camping, ensure you have a reliable tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, camping pillow, and a warm coat at absolute minimum, especially if you stay at a Grand Teton National Park campsite. All of the gear I linked to, I own and recommend personally. Of course, there are many more things that I recommend packing for your trip though, and I highly recommend that you check out my “137 Travel Essentials” to pack for your trip to Delta Lake.
An Epic family hike to Delta Lake! [From right to left: Grandpa, Dad, David, Me]
The Best Travel Card
Before you leave for your next trip, I highly recommend opening a free Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking account. I know that might sound a bit overwhelming, but don’t worry, you don’t need to be an investor to open an account! This provides you with your own Schwab Bank Visa Platinum Debit Card, which offers a ton of benefits both at home and overseas. I’ve been using a Charles Schwab Debit Card since 2011, and it’s honestly the best free travel card out there. Why is that so? Well, you can withdraw from any ATM around the world, and Charles Schwab will reimburse you any ATM fees! They also don’t charge foreign transaction fees either, which is, of course, important when you travel. It is worth noting there there is no minimum balance requirement and that they offer free online transfers between accounts (so it’s totally fine if you have another credit card, debit card, or bank account with another company). Open your Charles Schwab account today – FOR FREE – by following this link.
Purchase Travel Insurance for your Trip to the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming
I hope you don’t embark without travel insurance! If you do, you better think again. Travel insurance is arguably the most important thing to have on hand (after your passports and visas) for a trip like this. I’ve had to use my travel insurance multiple times on the road, even though I’m healthy. You never know when something might happen; take comfort in knowing that whether your flight gets cancelled or you wind up sick and in the hospital, you will be covered. I recommend World Nomads Travel Insurance for each and every one of you travelers. You can get a free quote here.