Backpackers from around the world flock to Jackson Hole and surrounding areas to revel in some of the finest high country you can find anywhere. From the Tetons to the Winds, these excursions offer the best of what this area has to offer: jagged peaks, picturesque alpine lakes, and plenty of opportunities to see wildlife. Explore the Bridger-Teton National Forest, the Jedidiah Smith Wilderness, and Grand Teton National Park as you check these 10 "must do" hikes off your life list and take in a sampling of the mountains, rivers, and lakes that make this area so grand.
For trips in Grand Teton National Park, be sure to obtain a permit before heading out. You'll pay $25 for a walk-up permit (which is your only option for trips planned after mid-May; book online between January and mid-May for $35), which are good for two-thirds of the sites.
And, following the recent death from a bear attack at Yellowstone National Park, it's especially important to always follow the rules for camping in bear country, including bringing bear spray, traveling in groups of three or more, and storing scented items in an approved bear canister. Grand Teton National Park also offers a very useful backcountry trip planner to help you plan your trip.
And with that, grab your backpack and hit the trail. Any of these 10 best backpacking trips near Jackson Hole offer an ideal way to savor the final vestiges of summer.
1. Teton Crest Trail
The Teton Crest Trail is one of the pinnacles of backpacking and should be on any devoted backcountry lover's life list. This 45-mile route hits the highlights of Grand Teton National Park and beyond. Many hikers will take the Tram at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort to the top of Rendezvous Mountain and begin their trek from 10,450 feet, saving a lot of uphill steps. The TCT has canyons every few miles, so you can mix up your route a bit or section hike this iconic trail.
2. Alaska Basin
Located in the Jed Smith Wilderness, Alaska Basin offers prime backpacking opportunities. Fields of wildflowers greet adventurers in mid and late summer, and it's not uncommon to see black bears and other critters up here. You'll have your choice of routes to the Basin, including Buck Mountain Saddle, and some of these can be combined to form a loop.
3. Shadow Mountain
Take in outstanding Teton views from Shadow Mountain , which is located in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. This scenic mountain is located north and east of Blacktail Butte. Since this is right on the Grand Teton National Park border, beware of the boundaries to make sure you're not breaking any camping rules. If you're on Forest Service land, you'll have plenty of options for backpacking, hiking, and even car camping.
4. Grizzly Lake
Out in the Bridger-Teton, make your way to Grizzly Lake for a quick and easy overnight backpack. The route starts just past the Red Hills Campground on Gros Ventre Road. Enjoy views of sagebrush, meadows, the Red Hills, and the Tetons on the 4.5-mile trail to Grizzly Lake.
5. Cirque of the Towers
You'll have to drive a few hours outside of Jackson to revel in the Cirque of the Towers , but it's definitely worth it to explore this highlight of the Wind River Range. Hike nine miles from the Big Sandy Trailhead to reach this special spot, which draws backpackers and climbers from around the world. The whole route will provide about 2,200 feet of elevation gain.
6. Gros Ventre Highline Trail
Head south of town and start the Gros Ventre Highline Trail at Granite Hot Springs. The trail starts right behind the hot springs pool, and this 27-mile shuttle route will bring you past Turquoise Lake and Cache Peak. You'll find plenty of great camping spots along the route. After you finish your backpacking trip, you'll come out in East Jackson at the Putt-Putt Trailhead, just a short distance away from places to grab a burger and beer in town.
7. Phelps Lake
This gorgeous lake in Grand Teton National Park offers plenty of kid-friendly backpacking spots. You can head to Phelps Lake from the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve located on Moose-Wilson Road or start from the Death Canyon Trailhead. Either way, stunning lake views and plenty of swimming opportunities await at your campsite.
8. Leigh Lake
Enjoy peaceful lakeside views from Leigh Lake in Grand Teton National Park. You'll find a group site a 2.2-mile hike in, and individual and family campsites just beyond. The far side of the lake even offers boat-in campsites for adventurous campers with canoes and kayaks.
9. North Fork of the Cascade
Head up Grand Teton National Park's Cascade Canyon to camp in this popular spot near Lake Solitude. Be sure to spend some time down at the lake nestled among the peaks before returning to your campsite for the evening. This trip is about 18 miles round-trip and the views will make it well worth your while. Another option is circling back through Paintbrush Canyon and making a gorgeous loop trek.
10. Holly Lake
Start at the Leigh Lake Trailhead in Grand Teton National Park for this 13-mile roundtrip to Holly Lake . This scenic alpine lake is situated just off of Paintbrush Canyon and offers spectacular views of Mount Woodring and other peaks. After you set up camp, head to the east end of the lake to take in even better views of the Paintbrush Divide and surrounding areas.