Grand Teton National Park is known for its rugged and picturesque mountains, its sweeping views, and abundant wildlife. One thing people notice that’s not easily available however, are the waterfalls you’d expect to see pouring off of the eastern face of the Tetons.
With a few tricks however, many waterfalls can still be found, some of them relatively easily.
Jackson Hole Waterfalls from the Roadway
In spring and early summer, many waterfalls can be seen pouring off the east side of the Teton Mountains. Traveling north along the Teton Park Road, the first noticeable waterfall is seen roughly halfway up Avalanche Canyon, less than a mile north of the Taggart Lake Trailhead. This monstrous waterfall plows over a cliff of granite and into a giant rocky slope of boulders. From the road, it will appear as a bright white stripe in a swath of gray. For this reason, you’ll find a pair of binoculars will come in quite handy to get a better look across the deceptively deep distances.
Many more can be easily seen by continuing north along the Teton Park Road as you pass the Lupine Meadows Trailhead road, as well as the Jenny Lake area. To see one in action across Jenny Lake, head to the North Jenny Lake Junction and follow the road past the String Lake area, continuing past Jenny Lake Lodge. After another mile or so, you’ll reach a pullout on the right that features a spectacular view of Jenny Lake itself, as well as the Teton Mountains shooting out of the opposite side of the lake. A massively deep canyon called Cascade Canyon will cut the mountains in two. On the right side, pouring out of the lesser known Hanging Canyon will be a large waterfall dropping hundreds of feet toward Jenny Lake.
Another relatively easily viewable waterfall comes by visiting the back deck of Jackson Lake Lodge. Often a ranger will be out back with a scope, but just in case, head to the back of the lodge with a pair of binoculars. Jackson Lake and larger Teton Mountains in the distance will dominate the view, but off to the right of Mount Moran is a large and wide canyon called none other than, Waterfall Canyon. Aim your scope or binoculars there to glimpse into a completely undisturbed wilderness straight out of Jurassic Park… Minus the dinosaurs.
Easy Teton Waterfall Hikes
If you’re interested in hiking, your access to waterfalls increases exponentially.
Mentioned earlier, the dramatic and deep Cascade Canyon shows off some of the best waterfalls in the Teton Mountains. Likewise, the popular Hidden Falls is also found just off the route that ascends to Inspiration Point before retreating back into the canyon. As you head back into the canyon over the three miles to the North and South Forks junction, massively steep waterfalls will rain down from both sides of the canyon from dizzying heights.
The Phelps Lake Loop also offers a few opportunities for waterfalls, most small and one large. By hiking in via the Lake Creek Trail, you’ll find many cascades rushing along the creek as it pours out of Phelps Lake. In the first half of summer, a large waterfall can be seen above the opposite shore of the lake once it’s been reached. Following the loop around the lake can get you a better view of the waterfall as it jumps out over a large granite cliff.
Granite Canyon also provides some serene cascades along its creek in the early miles of the Granite Canyon Trail. At many steep sections, the crashing creek collides with numerous boulders, creating a thunderous roar throughout much of the lower canyon.
Jackson Hole Waterfall Day Hikes
Death Canyon makes for a fantastic day hike for waterfalls. The trail climbs along the creek as it crashes out of the tight squeeze between the immense cliffs that define Death Canyon. The creek screams as it gushes past the trail, tumbling over the rocks and boulders lining the trail. At the top of the climb, the creek is slow and calm, backed up before its impending fall. Deeper in the canyon from there, however, the creek is fed by long waterfalls dropping down one canyon wall after another. Farther back in the canyon, the waterfalls begin to thin out, so turn around whenever you’re ready.
Paintbrush Canyon is another beautiful canyon with waterfalls pouring over cliffs in numerous places within the canyon. Holly Lake, high up in the canyon, makes for a wonderful day hike, complete with multiple large falls feeding the lake itself.
Off of the official trail map, Avalanche Canyon west of Taggart Lake is home to the sublime Shoshoko Falls, fed by the high alpine lake of Snowdrift Lake (?). With no official trail, it’s best to view this one from the maintained trails or roads until you’re comfortable with potentially getting lost in the terrain.
And of course, both the North Fork and South Fork of Cascade Canyon feature spectacularly steep waterfalls plummeting down immense cliffs. The upper reaches of the South Fork, however, are arguable the prettiest and most dramatic waterfalls in the park, and possibly even the entire area. Rivers of water drop hundreds of feet down from the Grand and Middle Tetons, smashing into the alpine terrain that makes up the higher elevations of the South Fork of Cascade Canyon. The sound of the water constantly crashing on granite fills the canyon with a pleasant white noise that makes the canyon a mountain paradise.
Though not plainly visible at first, there are numerous waterfalls to be found in Grand Teton National Park if you know where to look. As you can probably ascertain from this guide, the Teton Mountains hold many beautiful wonders inside their walls with some wonderful rewards for those who seek them out.