This past weekend, I backpacked into the Gros Ventre Wilderness for the first time (pronounced ‘grow vont’). I had hiked in a bit previously, but never backpacked in, nor gone to such a remote spot.
The Gros Ventre Wilderness is Grand Teton National Park’s immediate southeastern neighbor. As a result, much of it borders the southeastern boundaries of Jackson Hole. The wilderness is comprised of a section of the Gros Ventre Mountains that, for the most part, go completely ignored by most visitors since they’re in the opposite direction of the Tetons that capture so many peoples’ attention. Two prominent peaks are visible from the valley and demand at least some recognition, but can’t even hint at the natural beauty that lies behind them. Both Sheep Mountain (aka The Sleeping Indian) and Jackson Peak are easily visible from anywhere in Jackson Hole, but hiking back to either, or even anywhere else in the wilderness for that matter, will open up a remote and isolated portion of the Gros Ventre Mountains that sees very little traffic and is ripe with gorgeous views, tall peaks and sweeping valleys. For the avid hiker and backpacker, it’s an amazing playground and because of its underestimated value, provides you with the kind of solitude you only wish you could get in the Tetons, but with plenty of similar scenery.
The most popular hike, and where you’ll find the most people, is the trail to Goodwin Lake, and with an extra couple of miles, the summit of Jackson Peak. The ease of the hike itself and the eventual reward is what draws a lot of people in, but hike just beyond the fork to Jackson Peak, and you’ll be the only one on the trail where the scenery also begins to get really good. Hiking deeper into the Gros Ventres is where the real draw is though. Having so much spectacular natural beauty to yourself is what makes the Gros Ventre Wilderness so special. In the right time of year, tall mountain peaks tower over lush green valleys ripe with wildflowers along each and every trail.
While it’s popular among locals, the Gros Ventre Wilderness still never sees too many hikers in the same place, with the exception of Goodwin Lake and Jackson Peak. Therefore, if you’re visiting the area and looking for a place where you can truly be alone in breathtaking mountain scenery, you may want to look into the Gros Ventre Wilderness.