Tag Archives: Leigh Lake

Grand Teton National Park

I always love time spent exploring my own country. This past week I visited Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park.

I’m sure you’ve heard of these two places, unless you’ve been living under a rock. They are very well known and for very good reason. Between their awe-striking beauty, the abundant wildlife and the unique terrain, it’s no wonder why these National Parks are a bucket list item for most people.

We started our trip with Grand Teton National Park. I was with my boyfriend and two of my best friends that I taught in Thailand with. We had 10 glorious days making new memories and reminiscing on the old. We saw tons of wildlife, shared stories around campfires, and played an intense amount of hearts (I won mostly, obviously). Don’t ask my friends to verify the parenthesized item.

However we did have one disappointment. Since almost half of the Western United States is on fire at the moment, we dealt with some severe smokey air quality which hindered a lot of the breathtaking Teton views. But with all the amazing hikes, wildlife and great times spent with friends, it was our only gripe of the trip.

Some highlights from Grand Teton National Park

Delta Lake
Delta Lake- Grand Teton National ParkThis was definitely my highlight of the trip and my favorite hike. Delta Lake is a real gem. It wasn’t a hike that was written in any of our guide books but rather a hike that a local friend had told us about. This is a hike that the National Park service does not maintain so there is no signage along the trail. Since there is no signage, it takes a bit of navigating to find, but totally worth it. You will have to navigate a couple obstacles (duck under trees, etc.) but nothing too outrageous. The hike was 8 miles out and back and I would rate it as moderate to strenuous (depending on your hiking abilities).
Delta Lake-Grand Teton National Park

One highlight of this hike was seeing a grizzly bear. Yes, you heard me right, a grizzly bear ON OUR HIKE. We were only about 15 minutes into our hike when another hiker informed us of a grizzly bear up ahead. So we got out our bearspray and nervously/excitedly/hesitantly trekked on.

The thought of seeing a wild grizzly is one of those terrifying kinds of thrills. As long as you don’t startle the bear, find a hungry bear or run across a mama bear, you should be able to catch a glance of this beautiful creature unscathed. Sort of like bungee jumping or skydiving. It’s scary, nerve-wracking and exhilarating all at the same time. It is something that has the potential to kill you in an instant, but you can’t help but want to experience it.

Our first indication of the bear was a couple of stopped hikers ahead and some tree branches moving. We noticed the movement going down the hill and away from the trail. At that point we found a high enough rock to climb and catch a glimpse of the bear walking away from us. It turned out to be a smaller sized bear, we think it must have been a juvenile since there was no mama around. Small or big it was still a really neat experience!

  • How to get to the Delta Lake Trailhead: The trailhead begins at Lupine Meadows. From there you follow the signage for Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes. After about roughly 3 miles you will reach a series of switchbacks. Delta Lake is not signed but after a few switchbacks you will see a trail to your right. It isn’t too hard to miss if you are looking for it, but if you aren’t looking for it you could easily walk right by it.  Be sure to keep an eye out for the trail.

Leigh Lake Trail to Bearpaw Lake

Leigh Lake was the hike we did on day 2. It was much less strenuous than Delta Lake, but still about an 8 mile hike. This is a very easy hike that is flat almost the entire way. The trail begins at the bottom of String Lake (which is the lake that connects Jenny Lake and Leigh Lake). From there you follow the lake the entire route until the lake ends, once the lake ends you can keep going to reach the smaller Bearpaw Lake. In my opinion, Bearpaw Lake was underwhelming compared to Leigh Lake and not really worth the extra hike time.

My suggestion would be to stroll along the lake until you find yourself a good beach spot. Then take your time and enjoy! Simply relax, swim and have a picnic by the lake. This isn’t a hike where you will have a lot of strenuous activity no matter how far you hike. Which is why I’d suggest just doing it on a down day when you are feeling less energetic.

We ended up finding an awesome beach near the end of Leigh Lake and there wasn’t another soul in site (minus a bald eagle swooping over our heads).
Leigh Lake- Grand Teton National Park
Leigh Lake- Grand Teton National Park

Where We Camped

  1. Gros Ventre
    • Gros Ventre is a huge campsite with over 300 spots. We ended up staying here simply because we arrived to the Tetons later in the afternoon and most of the campsites were full at this point. Gros Ventre is right after the south entrance outside of Jackson Hole and almost rarely fills all the way. This is a good option if you are arriving later in the afternoon when campsites are harder to come by.
  2. Signal Mountain
    • This is where we stayed the remainder of our trip in the Tetons because we enjoyed it so much. It is a small, beautiful campsite right on Jackson Lake (the largest lake in the park). We would walk over to the lake after a day of hiking and watch the sunset over the breathtaking ridge line of the Tetons.

Jackson Lake Grand Teton National Park
We had such a wonderful trip and I am already missing my friends dearly! Be sure to check back next week to read the second half of our adventure in Yellowstone.

Have you ever visited Grand Teton National Park? What was your favorite part?