Grand Teton Lakes, Wyoming, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - Wyoming - Northwest -

Also known as:  Jenny Lake, String Lake, Leigh Lake

Wildlife, majestic peaks and pristine waters are the signature attributes of the Grand Teton Lakes. Snuggled within Grand Teton National Park, three lakes in particular offer scenery, easy trail hikes and opportunities for lakeshore camping: Jenny Lake, String Lake and Leigh Lake lie in a row just south of larger Jackson Lake. Jenny Lake is the southernmost of the three and, at 423 feet, the deepest lake of the trio. A concessionaire offers scenic boat tours which give spectacular views of the surrounding Grand Tetons. Jenny Lake allows motorized boats while the others are limited to canoes and kayaks. The tour boats use efficient and environmentally-friendly motors to circle the 1200-acre lake. The scenic boat tours are a perfect way for less mobile visitors and those with small children to view the mountains with the friendly and informative assistance of the tour guides. The tour boats offer a second service to hikers: the 15-minute boat ride across the lake takes miles off the hike to the Cascade Canyon Trailhead and its scenic waterfalls.

Hikers and relatively fit walkers can take one of the many easier trails around Jenny Lake. The Jenny Lake Loop is a little over seven miles of relatively level walking, with many side trails that lead to scenic views and sights nearby. Altitudes on the Loop remain about 6800 feet, but hikers veering off onto the Cascade Canyon trail soon face some steep altitude gains and more difficult walking. Many visitors take the shuttle boat to the landing near Hidden Falls; the tour company even lends people walking sticks to facilitate their climb.

From the Jenny Lake Trailhead, more adventurous hikers can head toward Lupine Meadows south of the lake, or north past Jenny Lake to the String Lake Trail. Midway on the String Lake Trail near the Visitors Center, a fork indicates the Leigh Lake Trail. The 3.5-mile Leigh Lake Trail follows the shorelines of String Lake and Leigh Lake past the larger lakes to tiny Trapper Lake and Bearpaw Lake. The String Lake Trail offers the option of circling around String Lake to rejoin the Jenny Lake Loop or heading farther afield through Paintbrush Canyon and past Holly Lake. This trail is part of the Paintbrush-Cascade Canyon Loop leading back to the Jenny Lake Loop. Grand Teton Lakes are one of the most popular destinations in the Jackson Hole area for hiking and back-country camping.

The only road access to the lakes is via Teton Park Road skirting the east side of the lakes. A spur leads to the String Lake access point, a popular spot for launching kayaks and canoes and the beginning of many canoe-camping adventures. Long and narrow, String Lake is very different from most lakes in the Grand Tetons: most are quite deep, having been formed by glaciers receding from the valleys. String Lake is very shallow, only a few inches deep in many areas and, other than a couple of deeper holes, less than four feet deep. The sparkling clear water makes the gravel bottom look close enough to reach out and touch. The shallow waters warm quickly, and String Lake is everyone’s favorite swimming hole.

The long String Lake shoreline offers many opportunities to watch for wildlife common to the area such as black bears, moose, elk, bald eagles, grizzly bears, pronghorn, bison, grey wolves and coyotes. As with wildlife everywhere, these animals are to be admired at a distance, and all warnings of bear activity posted within the Grand Teton National Park must be heeded. Reaching Leigh Lake requires a short 100-yard portage from the north end of String Lake before paddlers reach the largest lake in the group.

A number of boat-accessible campsites can be reached along the shore of Leigh Lake. With nearly 1800 acres, the large lake offers plenty of shoreline for fishing or nature photography. Lying in the shadow of magnificent Mount Moran, Leigh Lake is a photographer’s dream: several active glaciers can be seen on the mountain’s face. Although a few intrepid climbers do occasionally attempt Mount Moran’s 12,605-foot summit, the mountain is difficult to access and no trails lead to the climbing faces. At depths of up to 250 feet, the lake tends to remain quite cold until late in the summer season. Permits are required for access to Grand Teton National Park by vehicles, and hikers pay a fee to obtain a permit for hiking, camping or launching private canoes and kayaks . All permits are issued for seven days, but an annual pass that allows access to all of the nation’s parks and monuments is also available. The park remains open year-round for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and hiking, but most facilities and some roads are closed for the winter months.

A small campground is located near the boat tour docks on Jenny Lake but fills up quickly. Luckily, the area has a number of commercial campgrounds and other lodgings such as dude ranches, guest cabins and bed & breakfasts near the park boundaries. The concessionaire that operates the tour boats also rents canoes and kayaks for enjoying Jenny Lake and for fishing the deep waters. All three lakes are known for excellent fly fishing for cutthroat trout, brook trout and mackinaw, or lake trout. A Wyoming fishing license is required and all regulations must be observed. Also located near Jenny Lake are the main facilities for park staff, housed in a series of older buildings that have been designated the Jenny Lake Ranger Station Historic District. The Visitors Center was originally built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and still houses park facilities.

Sometimes overshadowed in public awareness next to Yellowstone National Park immediately to the north, Grand Teton National Park and the Grand Teton Lakes deserve a closer look by those visiting Wyoming. National Park status took over 20 years to develop. Although the park was designated by Congress in 1929, land acquisitions continued until 1950 to make the park its larger current size. The history of the Grand Teton area goes back much farther in time. It is believed that John Coulter traveled through here in 1808 after he left the Lewis and Clark expedition. Jenny and Leigh Lakes are both named for the Leigh family who settled here early: Jenny was the Shoshone mother of the family-all of whom died of smallpox before anyone but the occasional trapper frequented the area. Over the years leading up to the national park designation, a number of well-heeled Easterners visited and several stayed to try to preserve what they recognized as a valuable national resource and pristine wilderness.

Although nearby recreational favorite Jackson Hole is well-known for ski slopes and winter sports, many do not know that the Grand Teton Lakes have so much to offer the outdoor enthusiast. Summer visitors to the Jackson Hole area in particular need to take a day or so from whitewater rafting, horseback riding and golfing to enjoy the pristine wild surroundings at the Grand Teton Lakes. Real estate is still available in this popular area, with a very few lease parcels available within the park itself for building. So come and indulge your ‘inner mountain spirit’ at the Grand Teton Lakes. Your life will never be the same.

*Statistics listed are for Leigh Lake only.

Things to do at Grand Teton Lakes

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Whitewater Rafting
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowshoeing
  • Horseback Riding
  • Waterfall
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Park

Fish species found at Grand Teton Lakes

  • Brook Trout
  • Cutthroat Trout
  • Lake Trout
  • Trout

Grand Teton Lakes Photo Gallery

Grand Teton Lakes Statistics & Helpful Links

divider

Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 1,792 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 6,877 feet

Maximum Depth: 250 feet

Spread the word! Share our Grand Teton Lakes article with your fellow Lake Lubbers!

Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.