I saw a meme recently that read, “nothing, my favorite thing about Wyoming.” This is of course meant to be a positive sentiment saying there are only open skies and wild landscapes, and to the backcountry athlete this is the most alluring factor about this wild-west state. So in the case of the common view between something and nothing, I’m sure we can agree that “nothing” is far more appealing.
Contrary to this meme, however, Wyoming is full of skyscrapers. Except they’re in the mountain form, probably the most recognizable being Grand Teton National Park. This favorite among backcountry athletes has everything you could ask for: epic views, rugged hikes and climbs, wild backcountry in varying topography, and plenty of the best that nature has to offer. With trail names as peaceful as Lake Solitude Trail and as menacing as Death Canyon Trail you know this spot has it all! Even Grand Teton the namesake of this beautiful range standing at 13,775 feet (4,199 meters) can be climbed. There are guide services available to set up a trip and take care of all the administration to get you on the right route to the top.
The trails in this park explore many of its pristine alpine lakes, deep rocky canyons, and tall jagged peaks while traversing lush vegetation, towering trees, and rushing streams and creeks that crash over boulders and falls as they make way down the mountain. These towering mountains have no foothills, which make them appear even more spectacular, but many of the trails aren’t as steep as the mountain would lead you to believe. There is in fact quite an elevation gain when hiking form the visitor centers up into the wilds, but there are no advanced skills needed, unless you plan to climb to one of the summits. Many of the trails allow for beautiful out and back day hikes that lead to aw-inspiring vistas and captivating areas. Trails can also intersect and can be linked for extended distant loops touring the true grandness of the area.
Like many of our national parks Grand Teton furnishes backcountry athletes who venture into the wilderness with designated primitive campsites most that do not allow open fires, which is important to take into account when planning your expeditions. It is also home to both black and grizzly bears; so proper bear safety measures should be adhered to. This means bear spray should be carried while on the trail, and all food and other scented items should be stored in a bear canister, which can be borrowed from the park at the backcountry permit station (Jenny Lake Visitor Center, see below). It is also recommended that hikers travel in groups of three or more especially when bear activity is high. Weather can also be a concern it has been known to snow in the higher elevations in August making things very difficult for adventurers in the highlands.
Backcountry permits can be acquired at the backcountry permit office located at the ranger station in the Jenny Lake Visitor Center. At the time of this writing backcountry camping permits cost $25.oo.
This park is as rugged and wild as they come, and totally worth a visit, be sure you’re prepared and enjoy the adventure!
Map Used: National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map Grand Teton #202