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Imposing mountain peaks, pristine alpine lakes, and more wildlife than you may actually be comfortable with. Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming is a breathtakingly beautiful place with one of the most dramatic landscapes in the United States. If you’ve never explored this amazing national park, we suggest you start planning your trip this very second!
We will always argue that the best way to experience a national park is to pitch your tent inside the park, but sometimes that’s easier said than done! There are seven front-country campgrounds in Grand Teton National Park, and the summer camping season can be cut-throat.
Most of the campgrounds in Grand Teton do not accept reservations, and during the summer, campsites are in high demand. If you’re planning a camping trip to Grand Teton National Park, you need to arrive and set up camp early. I’m going to share my all-time favorite spot for Grand Teton National Park camping with you, as well as some tips for getting the perfect spot.
Why We Love Jenny Lake Campground
Our favorite place to camp in Grand Teton National Park is probably everyone else’s favorite place to camp too, but there are a million reasons why we love it. Jenny Lake Campground is a small campground with just 49 sites (and 10 more for hikers and cyclists). Not only is Jenny Lake Campground within walking distance of the most gorgeous lake in the park, but it’s also right on the Grand Teton National Park bike path.
Jenny Lake Campground isn’t for everyone, but it may be just what you’re looking for. Here’s why we adore camping at Jenny Lake Campground in Grand Teton National Park.
- It’s only for tent campers. If you are a #vanlifer or pulling a fifth-wheel, Jenny Lake Campground is not for you. The roads are narrow, the sites are small, and only tent campers are allowed. Why is this awesome? There are no generators allowed, making for an incredibly quiet camping experience.
- It fills up quickly. Like really, really quickly! This is awesome if you’re one of the lucky few to score a spot, but very unfortunate if you arrive too late. The nice thing about the popularity of Jenny Lake Campground is that once the campground transitions from old campers to new campers, there’s really not a lot of in and out.
- It’s a dream for landscape photographers and wildlife lovers. During our recent three-night stay at Jenny Lake Campground, we saw several deer and a moose right in the campground. Less exciting were the bears that wandered around in the middle of the day looking for leftovers from careless hikers.
- The hiking near Jenny Lake is AMAZING! Whether you’re an all-out expert hiking machine or a total newbie to the world of hiking, there are incredible opportunities for hiking near Jenny Lake and you won’t even have to get in your car to find them.
- The campground is really quiet during the day. There is so much to do in Grand Teton National Park that Jenny Lake Campground pretty much empties out during the day. We spent an afternoon just chillin’ out at the campground and admiring the views.
Tips for Getting a Spot at Jenny Lake Campground
If you are a tent camper and are looking to score a spot at Jenny Lake Campground, you will have to plan ahead. Whether you are coming to campground from another camping spot within Grand Teton National Park, or somewhere outside the park, plan to get to the Jenny Lake Campground entrance by 7 am.
At this point, I have to take a moment to give a shoutout to my niece, Abbey, who insisted that we get to Jenny Lake at the crack of dawn. I was like, “seriously – nobody gets to the campground as the sun is coming up.” Fortunately, she persisted, and we pulled into Jenny Lake at 7:30 am on a Monday in July. We were the 10th car in line for a campsite, and yes, we got a spot! Thanks, Abbey!
The system they have set up for getting a spot works really well. Instead of harassing the campers that early in the morning looking for a spot, the campground host goes around and tags all the spots that will be opening up by check-out time (11 am).
At 8 am, they let new campers in one-by-one to choose a spot and tag it as reserved. After choosing your spot, you are free to leave and go about your day. Your super awesome campsite will be waiting for you when you return.
Hiking Near Jenny Lake Campground in Grand Teton National Park
Jenny Lake Campground is pretty centrally located within Grand Teton National Park, so if you want to do some exploring, you’re not far from some incredible sites. One of the other reasons we love Jenny Lake Campground is that there are some great trails nearby that you can access without having to get into your car. The trails around Jenny Lake are basically part of the same network, so you can mix and match depending on your time frame and ability level.
- Hidden Falls – (4.8 miles or 1 mile) The Hidden Falls Trail is one of the most popular in Grand Teton National Park. Start at the Jenny Lake Visitor Center and hike clockwise on Jenny Lake Trail and then on to Hidden Falls. For a shorter hike, take the boat shuttle across Jenny Lake and hike a mile up to the falls.
- Moose Ponds – (2 or 3 miles) Begin at the Jenny Lake Visitor Center and hike out and back to Moose Ponds or make it a loop to include the south shore of Jenny Lake for 3 miles. As the name implies, Moose Ponds feature frequent moose sightings, not to mention wildflowers galore!
- Jenny Lake Loop – (7.6 miles or 5 miles) This is a spectacular loop around Jenny Lake that starts and ends at the Jenny Lake Visitor Center. If you can only do one hike on your visit to Grand Teton, it should be this one! If you take the shuttle across Jenny Lake, this hike can be shortened to 5 miles.
- Cascade Canyon Trail – (14.6 miles or 8.8) The Cascade Canyon Trail can be accessed from the backside of Jenny Lake Loop Trail and then west along Cascade Creek into the canyon. This out-and-back hike allows you to get pretty deep into the backcountry without a huge elevation gain and you can turn back at any point. You can also take the boat shuttle across Jenny Lake to shorten the trail to 8.8 miles, round trip.
Important Tips for Grand Teton National Park Camping
Like most national park campgrounds, Jenny Lake Campground is no-frills. Each campsite includes a picnic table, fire pit, and bear locker. There is a flat, level pad to set your tent up on, which we always appreciate. Ours had room for two small tents. The washrooms include toilets and sinks, but no showers, and there are water spigots sprinkled throughout the campground for filling up your bottles and for cooking. Here are a few tips for a successful camping trip at Jenny Lake Campground.
- Be bear aware! There are both grizzlies and black bears in Grand Teton National Park. When camping at Jenny Lake Campground, it is super important that you never leave food or beverages unattended. When not eating, your campsite should be crumb-clean, and you can only have out camp chairs and a tent. The rangers and campground hosts are really good about patrolling to make sure campers keep their sites clean, and they will come around and tell you if a bear has been spotted in the campground.
- Give wildlife space. It is very likely that you will run into wildlife in Jenny Lake Campground. Be sure to stay 100 yards away from bears and wolves, and 25 yards away from all other animals.
- Don’t pick wildflowers. Leave them for everyone to enjoy. Plus, collecting is prohibited by law.
- Dogs are allowed at the campground. But honestly, Grand Teton National Park is not terribly dog-friendly. Dogs are not allowed on any of the trails.
- Bring a swimsuit. Jenny Lake is cold and refreshing. If you’re going to swim, be aware that you can’t swim from the shoreline between the boat concession area and the north shore inlet, but there are plenty of other places to swim with awesome views of the mountains.
If you don’t want to rough it, but still want to explore Grand Teton National Park, read this guide for exploring both Grand Teton and Yellowstone in one trip, complete with some great lodging opportunities for families.
Do you love Jenny Lake Campground as much as we do? Or maybe you have another recommendation for camping in Grand Teton National Park. We’d love to hear what you think in the comments below!
Want to read more about planning a national park adventure? Check out our National Parks Hiking and Camping Guide or read some of these posts:
- The National Park Guide for People Who Hate Crowds
- Exploring Joshua Tree National Park with Kids
- Hiking and Camping in Badlands National Park
- Best Kept Secrets of Theodore Roosevelt National Park
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