Grand Teton National Park is not just a place of jagged mountain peaks, it’s also a place of serene alpine lakes worthy of a dip. Part of any epic Grand Teton adventure should absolutely include a post-hike swim or evening paddleboard. Within this pristine wilderness, here are the 5 best places for swimming in Grand Tetons.
After my last week in Grand Tetons, I made it a goal to jump in every lake we hiked to! It was such a refreshing experience on the hot summer days. Whether you’re planning an entire day in the Tetons built around picnicking around one of the many lakes or doing a hike for a quick swim, this guide will give you some of the best destinations to do so.
Follow along as I unveil the hidden gems and iconic swimming holes that make swimming in Grand Tetons an unmatched experience. From tranquil, tucked away lakes to thrilling likes leading to lesser-known spots, this comprehensive guide includes some of the most stunning lakes for swimming in the region.
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Best Swimming Lakes in Grand Tetons
Swimming in the Grand Tetons is going to quickly become a core memory for you when you think back on the brilliant blue lakes and refreshing feeling of a cool dip after a day hiking.
Where are the best swimming lakes in Grand Tetons?
Know Before You Go
Before you embark on your adventure to swim in the picturesque lakes of the Grand Tetons, it’s essential to be well-prepared and informed. While these alpine lakes promise an unforgettable experience, they also require respect for nature and safety awareness. Here are some essential tips to remember before you go:
Check Park Regulations and Closures
Familiarize yourself with the Grand Tetons National Park regulations and any specific rules pertaining to swimming in the lakes. Below this section I’ve included the park information page for each of the lakes for easy access to any closures or restrictions that may be in effect during your visit.
To enter the park, you’ll need to either pay a daily entrance fee at the park gate or use an America the Beautiful Pass. An America the Beautiful pass grants you unlimited access to National Parks and Forests for an entire year. I highly recommend purchasing one if you plan on being in a national park more than three days in a year. You can purchase one here.
Some of the lakes in the Grand Tetons require hiking to access them before setting out, choose trails that match your fitness level and abilities. Carry sufficient water, snacks, and wear appropriate gear. Let someone know your planned route and estimated return time. Never stray from the trail.
Be Bear Aware
The Grand Tetons are home to diverse wildlife, including bears. Educate yourself on bear safety guidelines, carry bear spray, and know how to use it. Make noise when hiking to let bears know you’re in the area. If you’re bringing food with you, make sure it is secured and never left out unsupervised. Lakes like String Lake even have Bear Lockers for food.
Respect Wildlife and Nature
Admire the wildlife from a safe distance and avoid approaching and feeding any animals. Lakes are a popular destination for animals too and almost every moose we saw on our latest Teton trip was near a water source.
While swimming in Grand Tetons, you are responsible for your safety. Be aware of water temperatures, as some may be quite cold even in the summer. Swim with caution and avoid jumping or diving into unknown waters as submerged rocks may not be visible.
Apart from swimwear and hiking gear, carry essentials like sunscreen, a first aid kit, insect repellent, and a map or GPS device to aid navigation.
Leave No Trace
The Grand Tetons natural beauty is best preserved when visitors practice Leave No Trace principles. Minimize your impact on the environment by picking up after yourself and respecting wildlife habitats.
By keeping these tips in mind, you can make the most of swimming in Grand Tetons. Embrace the wonders of the water responsibly and leave with an unforgettable experience.
Taggart Lake is where serenity meets adventure. After a short hike, access trail details here, the serene lake opens up before you. This will be a memorable alpine lake swim to be sure.
The moderately easy, well-marked trail spans approximately 3.5 miles roundtrip featuring photos of the Teton Range and a valley of wild flowers. Along the hike we spotted a moose but it was known that there were bears in the area. When we reached the lake we saw a moose in the distance taking a dip in the lake as well as us!
This lake is ideal for photography because the water is extremely calm and clear. It perfectly reflects the majestic peaks in the background.
Phelps lake is a hidden gem for swimmers because it is more secluded than most of the lakes in Grand Teton and it is truly enchanting. With its pristine waters and captivating vistas, Phelps Lake offers a perfect blend of tranquility and adventure.
Access to Phelps Lake can be done via the Death Canyon Trailhead which is a tougher hike in terms of elevation or through Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve. I highly recommend accessing Phelps Lake through the Preserve because their nature center is so cool and adds to the experience. More information about the preserve here.
When hiking around Phelps Lake, you will likely hear laughing and splashing as people jump off the 22ft rock in the distance. Make your way there, muster up some courage, and take the jump! The lake is beautiful but this experience will be one for the books.
As one of the most iconic destinations within the Grand Tetons National Park, swimming in Jenny Lake is an unparalleled experience. Whether you are taking the Jenny Lake Boat to Inspiration Point and then going for a dip or simply hanging out along Jenny Lake for the day, it is the perfect place to relax and take in the views.
The lakeshore for Jenny Lake is easily accessible from the paved pathway from the parking lot. There are a number of little lakeshores along Jenny Lake near the Jenny Lake Boat Launch. And if you ever get tired of swimming, you can do a side adventure along the Jenny Lake trail to take in the lush forest and maybe see an animal or two!
As one of the most iconic destinations within the Grand Tetons National Park, Jenny Lake stands as a testament to nature’s grandeur and offers an unparalleled swimming experience amidst its breathtaking surroundings. Majestic mountain peaks, lush forests, and pristine waters combine to create a captivating setting that attracts visitors from around the world.
String Lake is the place where you will find TONS of families posted up for the day with coolers, paddle boards, blankets, and floaties. It is the spot to be if you want to spend the entire day swimming in Grand Tetons. It has shallow shores and gentle waters with amazing views of the Tetons in the background.
If you don’t have your own paddleboard or canoe there are places to rent within the park! I honestly wish I brought my paddleboard and just floated around the lake for the day.
Since many people who choose to swim at String Lake are there for large portions of the day, Grand Teton has designated food storage containers to mitigate any run-ins with bears. Please use this if you have food or smelly items with you!
One last word of advice is that the parking lot for String Lake fills up QUICKLY on beautiful, sunny days. Get there prior to 7am if you want to secure a spot close to the lake.
Leigh Lake is a great place for anyone looking for a more secluded swim in Grand Tetons. It truly is a hidden gem just off the beaten path. Getting to Leigh Lake does take a little more effect than swimming at String Lake or Jenny Lake because it requires a short hike from either Jenny or String Lake.
However, the mirrored image of the Tetons reflected in the water is truly something to behold. And if you want a birds eye view of Leigh lake there is the full Leigh Lake trail which offers spectacular views from the vista.
Bonus: Delta Lake
For those wanting a little more adventure prior to their swim in Grand Teton, there are tons of hikes with beautiful lakes at the end of the trail. However, the most breathtaking lake has to be Delta Lake. If you’re up for a spectacular trek, this is the lake hike for you!
This stunning turquoise lake is surrounded by towering peaks of granite. The lake is fed by snowmelt so be prepared for a polar plunge into the beautiful water. Take some time to warm-up and dry off on the granite boulders before making your way back down.
Note: This is a very strenuous hike that requires some scrambling at high altitude. If you’re new to hiking or don’t feel comfortable with heights there are some other fabulous options for you!
Since this trail is more secluded from park staff, it is imperative that all waste and garbage is packed out. We want this area to remain pristine and beautiful for generations to come!
Swimming in Grand Tetons
Grand Teton National Park is an exquisite place for alpine lakes, each offering unique and alluring experiences. From the tranquil oasis of Taggart Lake to the hidden gem of Phelps Lake, there is beauty to be seen around every corner.
Swimming at Grand Teton in these pristine waters is an experience you should not pass up on your next visit!
Whether you’re a seasoned adventurer, a family in search of a memorable outing, or a nature lover wanting to connect with nature, the lakes of the Grand Teton National Park welcome you. While this blog discusses 5 of the best places for swimming in Grand Teton, there are so many more lakes inviting you for a swim.
Let me know in the comments which lake you’ll be swimming in first when you reach Grand Tetons National Park!