Photo Gallery: Backpacking Grand Teton National Park
By Michael Lanza
After at least 17 trips into the backcountry of Grand Teton National Park, I still can’t get enough of these sharply serrated peaks and deep, cliff-flanked canyons, the alpine lakes and icy creeks, campsites with jaw-dropping views, or the explosion of wildflowers in summer. I count the Teton Crest Trail among my top 10 favorite backpacking trips, and two camping areas on it among my list of top 25 favorite backcountry campsites of all time (although, honestly, other spots where I’ve pitched a tent in this park would make almost anyone’s list). But I’ll let the photos below speak for themselves.
And here’s a heads up: If you want to backpack the Teton Crest Trail in 2017, the time to apply for a backcountry permit is coming up in days. Read on for details.
I’ve hiked all or parts of the Teton Crest Trail multiple times, including with my kids. Step for step, it’s unquestionably one of America’s best backpacking trips.
I feel so attached to these mountains that I made a point of taking my kids there as soon as our daughter, the youngest, was capable of a trip that rugged: When she was six and her brother eight, we spent three days backpacking the 18-mile Paintbrush Canyon-Cascade Canyon loop from the String Lake Trailhead, probably the most popular multi-day hike in the park, an adventure that concluded with a close-up sighting of two bull moose in Cascade Canyon. Two summers later, we returned for a longer family backpacking trip from Death Canyon to Cascade Canyon via the Teton Crest Trail.
The Tetons should be on every backpacker’s to-do list. But don’t just take my word for it. Check out this gallery of photos (below) from my many backpacking trips in the Tetons.
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The deadline to reserve a backcountry permit in Grand Teton National Park is May 15, but the most popular camping zones, like Death Canyon Shelf, Paintbrush Canyon, or the North and South Forks of Cascade Canyon, are gone soon after the park starts accepting permit reservations at 8 a.m. Mountain Time on the first Wednesday in January.
Still, two-thirds of all backcountry campsites are not reservable, issued on a first-come, first-served basis no more than one day before the start of your trip. If you don’t have a permit reserved, try to arrive at the park a day before you want to start backpacking, and get to one of the visitor centers at least an hour, and preferably two hours before it opens that morning to stand in line for a permit.
The right backpack makes all of your trips easier. See my 10 favorite packs for backpacking.
The hiking season usually begins in early July—although snow can linger in the high passes, like Paintbrush Divide, until mid-July, often requiring an ice axe—and extends well into September. And after Labor Day, you may see hardly anyone out there.
See my stories at The Big Outside about backpacking the Teton Crest Trail and a family backpacking trip in the Tetons that included a premier chunk of the TCT, all of my Ask Me posts covering the Tetons, all of my stories about Grand Teton National Park, and all of my stories about national park adventures at The Big Outside.
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