Hello Michael,

Could you please recommend a four- to five-day backcountry trip in the Teton Range that could include campsites located outside of the park (maybe the Jedediah Smith Wilderness area), so I would not need to get an overnight permit in the park? I do have a one-night permit for Paintbrush Canyon, so I was hoping to make that my last night for camping inside the park, then walk out to Jenny Lake on the last day. I was thinking the starting point could be around the top of Rendezvous Peak via the tramway? I have done day hikes in the Tetons, but never a backcountry trip, so I would appreciate your input. I’m going to be going the last week of August. Thank you for your time. Much appreciated!

Gary

Hi Gary,

Take a look at a map of Grand Teton National Park and you’ll see that you have limited options for camping outside the park and still reaching Paintbrush Canyon for your last night. You can start at the top of the Jackson Hole Ski Resort tram and hike down into Granite Canyon, but that’s inside the park; to get outside the park to camp, you’d have to hike a bit south on the Teton Crest Trail out of Granite Canyon, and I’m told that Moose Lake in the Jedediah Smith Wilderness is a nice spot to camp. Then you’d turn around the next day and hike north on the Teton Crest Trail to Alaska Basin, which is outside the park, to camp your second night.


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Above the North Fork of Cascade Canyon, Grand Teton National Park.
Above the North Fork of Cascade Canyon, Teton Range.

From Alaska Basin, it would be a big day, over 13 miles with two passes (Hurricane Pass, which is easier, and Paintbrush Divide, which is a big climb), to reach Upper Paintbrush Canyon camping zone.

But it’s easier to get a first-come permit for camping in the southern areas of the park than it is for Paintbrush Canyon, which you already have. My suggestion: When you arrive at the park, go to the backcountry desk and try to add nights in the park to your existing permit for a night in Paintbrush. Death Canyon Shelf and South Fork Cascade Canyon offer some of the park’s best camping.

If you want to explore the Jedediah Smith Wilderness, you’ll see there are trails through it on the west side of the Tetons, but only a few spots where they link up with trails in the park. The vehicle shuttle is also much longer and more complicated (or expensive) if you start and finish at trailheads on the west and east sides of the Tetons instead of trailheads in the park (east side).

Plan your next great backpacking trip in Yosemite, Grand Teton, and other parks using my expert e-guides.

 

A backpacker on the Teton Crest Trail in Grand Teton National Park.
A backpacker on the Teton Crest Trail in Grand Teton National Park.

My downloadable e-guide “The Complete Guide to Backpacking the Teton Crest Trail in Grand Teton National Park” will tell you everything you need to know to plan and pull off this trip, including when and how to get a permit. And my Custom Trip Planning page explains how you can get my personal help planning this trip or any trip you read about at my blog.

See my story about my most-recent trip on the Teton Crest Trail, “A Wonderful Obsession: Backpacking the Teton Crest Trail,” and all of my stories about Grand Teton National Park at The Big Outside.

Good luck.

Best,
Michael Lanza

 

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