Adventures at Jenny Lake

DAY ONE – KAYAKING

It felt like Christmas morning waking up at Grand Teton National Park the first day after we arrived. Excited for all of Mother Nature’s gifts we were about to explore. It was August and quite chilly but the sun was out and the truck was already packed with our kayaks and gear (thanks to Kyle – he’s the early riser in our family!)

I think I’ve got some irrational fear of being cold so along with swimsuits I put a ridiculous amount of extra clothing in a bag with some towels, filled a small cooler with drinks and snacks, grabbed the map and we were off. Being the warm weather junkies that we are, it was hard to guess if 65 degrees would feel warm enough once we got out on the water. What a surprise when we arrived at the lake and it actually felt so nice we shed off our layers and launched the kayaks in just shorts and t-shirts!

Jenny Lake was our chosen destination that day because of all we had read about it and because we’re more of the “paddle & float” kind of kind of kayakers, so the lake seemed the obvious choice. Unsure of where exactly to drive to and armed with only a map of the area, stopping in at the Jenny Lake Visitor Center proved to be invaluable!

Not unlike most men, Kyle isn’t one to ask for help, directions or in any way draw attention to the fact that he may not actually know everything. I, on the other hand, have no shame. I figured instead of taking a random stab at the map – and potentially wasting a lot of time we didn’t have to spare –  I’d walk into the visitor center with my head held high armed with a smile and one question:

“Could you please tell me where the best spot would be for us to put our kayaks in the water and possibly do a little hiking?”

The reward was being directed to a sneaky little boat launch tucked in behind the visitor’s center that would allow us to do both. It wasn’t marked with any signage but it could be accessed from Lupine Meadows Road, which was just south of the center, off of Teton Park Road. Once parked in the lot, we could get in the water or head out on a trail to do some hiking. This ended up being our go-to spot on two of the three days we stayed at GTN!

Driving in on the dirt road across the narrow wooden bridge to the boat launch looked a little suspect, but we trusted the advice and followed it to the end where we found the tiny little “parking lot” which opened up to the lake. I didn’t think to take any pictures of the lot, but I’d guess it held only about 20 vehicles max. We actually moved a few fallen logs to squeeze in and make room for the truck.

The air was crisp and smelled so good I wished we could’ve bottled it up. The sun was pleasantly warm and caused the water to sparkle in the most beautiful shades of ever changing blues and greens. The lake took our breath away! It sits at the base of the Tetons which is beyond mesmerizing. I think we probably stood at the water’s edge for a good half hour before we snapped out of the trance and went back to the truck to unload the kayaks.

That delay may have been our only mistake that day. Grand Teton weather patterns can change on a dime and we saw that happen – a little too late – right in front of our eyes. Enjoying the sunshine as we shed layers of clothes, decided what to bring with us out on the water, and took our time unloading the kayaks caused us to miss some precious time on the lake.

As beautiful as the scene was, not too long after we got into the water we watched a thunderstorm roll in over the mountains. The calm crystal clear blue water was now quite dark and choppy. The sun was lost to the clouds and boaters seemed to be headed to shore all at once. Waiting it out as long as we could, we got in a little unexpected workout paddling against the current that was pushing against us on our way back.

^ That’s Kyle paddling ahead and telling me to quit taking pictures and get myself moving to shore!

DAY ONE at Jenny Lake was cut short – a reminder of how powerful and unpredictable mother nature is – but still a spectacular day we won’t soon forget.


DAY TWO – HIKING

We were equally as excited for our second planned visit to Jenny Lake. That day, we figured we’d head to our “go-to parking spot,” put the kayaks in for the first part of the day, then head up to to Inspiration Point. The Trail Head is situated across the lake from the Jenny Lake Visitor Center and many opt to reach it by taking the boat shuttle across. We thought we’d paddle over instead. Joke was on us though, because when we arrived that morning, it was super windy and the lake looked more like the ocean! Rangers were present and doing a really good job of strongly discouraging boaters from getting in the water, so even though we were bummed, we took their advice.

We chose to get there by foot – taking the Valley Trail around the lake to the trail head – which added time, a few miles and fantastic views as most of the trail hugs the shoreline.

Another bonus of walking sent us right by Moose Ponds – which we would have otherwise missed. If you’re lucky like we were and you ever get a chance to walk this trail, I hope you’ll get to see moose doing what they do in their natural habitat like we did. We saw a mama and her babies – it was awesome!

This is an easy, but super enjoyable hike. The trail around the lake was very serene and truly beautiful. A little more challenging once we reached the trailhead, but even more enjoyable as we were rewarded with waterfalls and mountain views. As we got closer to the top, there were some steep climbs on rocky terrain and in some places the trail was only wide enough for one person – this is where I would hug the rock wall and let others pass near the ledge! Yikes! (Did I mention I’m terrified of heights…?!)

I was a little concerned that we may have not been prepared in simple athletic shoes for this hike – but it was completely doable without any special shoes or gear. There were also several places along the path where stairs were built in to help us along the way!

The morning we headed out was crisp, clear, sunny & very windy, so we dressed in layers. A good portion of the walk around the lake was shaded but once we get to the Inspiration Point Trailhead we were rewarded with lots of sunshine! Needless to say we made it to the top and back without incident, no worse for the wear and now have lots of photos to reflect back on.

The views along the way and at the top were awesome! A definite must-do if visiting Jenny Lake!


We hope you’ll enjoy the photos we captured from our Adventures at Jenny Lake:


“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” -John Muir