What is the Most Scenic Hike in Grand Teton National Park?

Located in northwestern Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park is a nature lover’s paradise. It covers roughly 310,000 acres of pristine wilderness. The park is renowned for its dramatic mountain peaks, including the iconic Grand Teton, which towers over 13,700 feet above sea level. The park is also known for its sparkling alpine lakes, meandering rivers, and lush valleys.

In this article, I’ve compiled a guide to some of the best hikes in Grand Teton, including the most scenic one. Whether you’re looking for panoramic mountain views, tranquil lakeside settings, or vibrant wildflower meadows, this guide will help you find the perfect hike based on your preferences.

Factors to Consider

Cascade Canyon hiking trail in Grand Teton national park
The Cascade Canyon is one of Grand Teton’s most spectacular hikes, packed with stunning mountain views.

First off, when choosing a hike, consider the scenic viewpoints and vistas along the trail. Look for hikes that have sweeping panoramas of the Teton Range, as well as stunning views of the park’s lakes, valleys, and forests.

The diversity of landscapes is another important factor to consider. Look for hikes that pass through a variety of terrain, including lakeshores, mountain passes, and meadows. This way, you’ll get to see multiple landscapes in and around Grand Teton. This is especially beneficial if you’re crunched on time while visiting. 

Spotting wildlife in Grand Teton National Park is another plus. Look for hikes that pass through areas known for wildlife sightings, such as moose, elk, and bears. Remember to keep a safe distance.

Moreover, Trail difficulty and accessibility are also important considerations. Choose a hike that matches your skill level and physical fitness, and consider factors such as elevation gain, trail length, and terrain. Additionally, consider the trailhead’s accessibility, especially if you have limited mobility or are traveling with young children.

Top Contenders for the Most Scenic Hike

Now that we’ve discussed those factors, here are my three favorites. Remember, though, there are dozens of hiking trails inside the park, but for the purposes of this article, I’ve condensed it down to these three based on the criteria mentioned before.

1. Cascade Canyon Trail

Cascade Canyon Trail traverses up the mountainside with rocky cliffs standing on each side
The Cascade Canyon Trail traverses up the mountainside with rocky cliffs standing on each side.

First up is the Cascade Canyon Trail. This one is my favorite for the most scenic. It begins at the South Jenny Lake area and winds its way through striking alpine scenery. Jenny Lake is breathtaking, so take some time to relax next to its beauty.

Notable viewpoints along the Cascade Canyon Trail include Hidden Falls, a picturesque waterfall accessible via a short side trail, and Inspiration Point, which contains breathtaking views of Jenny Lake and the surrounding mountains.

Scenic highlights of the Cascade Canyon Trail include impressive views of the Teton Range, serene alpine meadows, and the chance to spot wildlife such as moose, elk, and marmots.

2. Paintbrush Canyon Trail

Paintbrush Canyon Trail is seen here as it winds down to Lake Solitude
The Paintbrush Canyon Trail is seen here as it winds down to Lake Solitude.

Next on the list is the Paintbrush Canyon Trail. This hike begins at String Lake and climbs steadily through dense forests and wildflower-filled meadows. The trail eventually reaches Paintbrush Divide, offering expansive views of the surrounding peaks and valleys.

Notable viewpoints along the Paintbrush Canyon Trail include Lake Solitude, a pristine alpine lake nestled below the soaring cliffs of the Teton Range, and the Paintbrush Divide, which provides excellent views of the park.

Scenic highlights of the Paintbrush Canyon Trail include colorful wildflowers in the summer months, dazzling views of the Teton Range, and the opportunity to see wildlife such as curious pikas, adorable marmots, and iconic moose.

3. Delta Lake Trail

beautiful turquoise waters of Delta Lake in valley at grand teton np
The beautiful turquoise waters of Delta Lake are seen in the valley below on one of the trail’s high points.

Last but not least is the Delta Lake Trail. This trail begins at the Lupine Meadows trailhead and climbs steeply through a pine forest before emerging into an open alpine basin. The trail then follows a rocky path to Delta Lake, a charming turquoise lake situated at the base of the Grand Teton.

Notable viewpoints along the trail include views of the Grand Teton reflected in the crystal-clear waters of Delta Lake, as well as limitless views of the surrounding mountains. You’ll also have the opportunity to see wildlife such as pikas and marmots along the way.

Comparison and Analysis

It’s important to note that determining the “best” or “most scenic” hike among Cascade Canyon Trail, Paintbrush Canyon Trail, and Delta Lake Trail largely depends on personal preferences and hiking abilities. Here’s a breakdown and comparison based on the different factors I mentioned previously. 

Scenic Beauty:

  • Cascade Canyon Trail: Showcases magnificent views of the Teton Range, Hidden Falls, and Inspiration Point.
  • Paintbrush Canyon Trail: Features colorful wildflowers, Lake Solitude, and far-reaching views from Paintbrush Divide.
  • Delta Lake Trail: Showcases the turquoise waters of Delta Lake and views of the Grand Teton.

Difficulty and Accessibility:

  • Cascade Canyon Trail: Moderately challenging with some steep sections, accessible from the South Jenny Lake area.
  • Paintbrush Canyon Trail: More strenuous, especially the climb to Paintbrush Divide, accessible from String Lake.
  • Delta Lake Trail: Also challenging, with a steep ascent near the end, accessible from the Lupine Meadows trailhead.

Wildlife Encounters:

  • All three trails have opportunities to see wildlife such as moose, elk, marmots, and pikas, as well as a variety of alpine plants and wildflowers.

Overall Experience and Unique Features:

  • Cascade Canyon Trail: Provides a classic Teton experience with its iconic views and waterfall.
  • Paintbrush Canyon Trail: Offers a challenging but rewarding hike with its diverse landscapes and wide-ranging views.
  • Delta Lake Trail: Known for its crystal-clear turquoise lake and unique vantage point of the Grand Teton.

Ultimately, the “best” or “most scenic” hike depends on what you value most in a hike. If you prioritize iconic views and a classic Teton experience, Cascade Canyon Trail may be the best choice. If you’re looking for a challenging hike with varying landscapes and wide-ranging views, Paintbrush Canyon Trail could be the best option. Lastly, if you want to see a lovely turquoise lake and get a unique view of the Grand Teton, Delta Lake Trail might be the right pick.

Final Thoughts

Orange Paintbrush Flowers are seen growing along the Paintbrush Divide inside Grand Teton National Park.

In the end, all of the hikes mentioned are incredible and will not disappoint. Cascade Canyon Trail has fantastic views of the Teton Range, Hidden Falls, and Inspiration Point. Paintbrush Canyon Trail features colorful wildflowers, Lake Solitude, and extensive views from Paintbrush Divide. Delta Lake Trail showcases the turquoise waters of Delta Lake and views of the Grand Teton.

If you prefer iconic views and a classic Teton experience, consider Cascade Canyon Trail. For a challenging hike with different types of landscapes and bird’s-eye views, Paintbrush Canyon Trail is a great choice. If you want to see a beautiful turquoise lake and get a unique view of the Grand Teton, Delta Lake Trail is the hike for you.

Grand Teton National Park is a treasure trove of natural beauty, with its sky-high peaks, pristine lakes, and abundant wildlife. Whether you choose to hike one of the top contenders or explore one of the park’s many other trails, you’ll be amazed by its scenic beauty.

National Parks List, Map, and Complete Guide (All 63 Parks + Downloadable List & Map)

Want a FREE complete list and recap of all our US National Parks as well as downloadable maps and other great resources? Check out our US National Parks List and Map guide!

national parks map and list printable checklist
Visit our complete National Parks Guide for FREE Downloadable National Parks List & Map (multiple versions)

FAQS

What is the most popular hike in Grand Teton National Park?

The most popular hike in Grand Teton National Park is arguably the Cascade Canyon Trail. This trail is renowned for its marvelous views of the Teton Range, including Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point, making it a favorite among those looking for outstanding scenery. Additionally, its accessibility from the South Jenny Lake area makes it a convenient choice for many park visitors.

What is the most photographed place in Grand Teton National Park?

The most photographed place in Grand Teton National Park is often considered to be the iconic view of the Teton Range from the Snake River Overlook. This viewpoint has a classic and phenomenal panorama of the mountains reflected in the meandering Snake River, attracting photographers worldwide. 

How long does it take to drive the scenic loop in Grand Teton National Park?

Driving the 42 mile scenic loop in Grand Teton National Park, known as the Teton Park Road, typically takes about 1.5 to 2 hours without stops. However, to fully appreciate the stunning vistas and potentially encounter wildlife, it’s recommended to allow at least half a day for the drive, including stops at various viewpoints and attractions along the way.

What is the most spectacular part of the Teton Mountains?

The most spectacular part of the Teton mountains is often considered to be the Cathedral Group, which includes the iconic peaks of Grand Teton, Middle Teton, and South Teton. These towering peaks rise dramatically from the valley floor, providing sensational views and challenging climbs for mountaineers. The rugged beauty and sheer majesticness of the Cathedral Group make it a highlight of any visit to Grand Teton National Park.

Where is the best place to see bears in Grand Teton?

The best place to see bears in Grand Teton National Park is often along the park’s roadsides, especially in the early morning or late evening. Areas such as Willow Flats, Oxbow Bend, and Signal Mountain are known for bear sightings. Remember to stay a safe distance away and never approach wildlife.

What is the easiest hike in Grand Teton?

The easiest hike in Grand Teton National Park is the Taggart Lake Trail. This relatively flat and well-maintained trail contains impressive views of the Teton Range. It takes about 2-3 hours to complete round-trip. It’s suitable for hikers of all skill levels, including families with children.

What not to miss at Grand Teton National Park?

When visiting Grand Teton National Park, don’t miss the iconic view of the Teton Range from Snake River Overlook, the scenic drive along Teton Park Road, and the opportunity to hike to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point on the Cascade Canyon Trail. Also, be sure to keep an eye out for moose, elk, and other wildlife that call the park home.

Which side of the Tetons is best?

Both the east and west sides of the Tetons have spectacular views and recreational opportunities, so the “best” side depends on your preferences. The east side, near Jackson, Wyoming, provides easy access to amenities and the iconic view of the Tetons reflected in the Snake River. The west side, near Driggs, Idaho, boasts a more relaxed atmosphere, with gorgeous views of the Tetons and access to the quieter western side of the park.

What is the 42-mile scenic drive Grand Teton?

The 42-mile scenic drive in Grand Teton National Park is known as the Teton Park Road. This road winds its way through the park, granting breathtaking views of the Teton Range and access to various hiking trails, picnic areas, and scenic viewpoints. It’s a must-do if you’re looking to experience the beauty of Grand Teton National Park from the comfort of your vehicle.

What is the hardest hike in Grand Teton National Park?

The hardest hike in Grand Teton National Park is generally considered to be the hike to the summit of the Grand Teton itself. This climb is a technical mountaineering route that requires climbing experience, proper gear, and physical fitness. It’s a challenging and rewarding ascent that offers remarkable views from the highest peak in the Teton Range.

What is the longest hike in the Grand Tetons? 

The longest hike in Grand Teton National Park is the Teton Crest Trail, which stretches approximately 40 miles from Phillips Pass in the south to String Lake in the north. This multi-day trek traverses some of the park’s most stunning landscapes, including alpine meadows, mountain passes, and pristine lakes. It’s a popular choice for backpackers seeking a wilderness adventure.

How long does it take to hike to the top of Grand Teton? 

Hiking to the top of Grand Teton is a challenging endeavor that typically takes experienced climbers two to three days round-trip. The climb involves technical rock climbing, glacier travel, and high-altitude mountaineering, so climbers need to be well-prepared and in excellent physical condition.

What are the busiest months in Grand Teton National Park?

The busiest months in Grand Teton National Park are typically June, July, and August. During these summer months, the park sees a high influx of visitors, including families on vacation and tour groups. The warm weather, long daylight hours, and school holidays contribute to the popularity of these months. You can expect crowded trails, busy campgrounds, and heavy traffic along park roads. It’s advisable to plan ahead, arrive early, and consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of spring and fall for a quieter experience.

How many days in Grand Teton is enough?

The ideal number of days to spend in Grand Teton National Park depends on your interests and the activities you want to do. For a general visit to see the highlights and take in some short hikes, a minimum of two to three days is recommended. This allows enough time to drive the scenic loop, hike to popular spots like Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point, and perhaps take a wildlife tour or boat ride on Jenny Lake. However, if you’re interested in more extensive hiking, backcountry camping, or exploring the park in depth, a week or more would be ideal to fully experience all that Grand Teton has to offer.

About Me

My husband and I have three precious daughters and live in the Kansas City, KS area. One of our favorite things to do is travel across the country visiting our extraordinary US National Parks!

Let us know what you think about our content and if you have any questions, suggestions, or have any favorite memories or tips you would like to share. We would love to hear from you!

Happy Travels! Sandy

Leave a Comment

Top