Jenny Lake at Grand Teton – 12,000 Years of History

Tucked away at the base of the Teton Range, Jenny Lake is easily one of the most well-known areas of Grand Teton National Park, and a shimmering centerpiece of the area. This majestic place has inspired and sustained people for thousands of years. Covering roughly 1,191 acres, it is the 2nd largest lake in Grand Teton National Park.

Jenny Lake, Grand Teton National Park | National Park Posters

Jenny Lake, with a view of Cascade Canyon

Amazing viewpoints can be had from every direction: the east shore of Jenny Lake holds breathtaking views of Teewinot Mountain, Mount St. John and Cascade Canyon. If you’re on the west shore, the valleys of Jackson Hole across the lake open up before you.

Cascade Canyon, Jenny Lake, Grand Teton National Park | National Park Posters

Cascade Canyon

Jenny Lake is also a hiker’s dream. There is the ever-popular Jenny Lake Loop Trail; a relatively easy hike at just over 7 miles long. Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point, all with stunning scenery, are not to be missed. Venture out into the backcountry via Cascade Canyon. For longer treks, Lake Solitude and Hurricane Pass are accessible from Jenny Lake.

Paintbrush Canyon, Jenny Lake, Grand Teton National Park | National Park Posters

Paintbrush Canyon

Jenny Lake Boat Shuttle | Grand Teton National Park

Jenny Lake Boat Shuttle

Boating is also a popular activity. Jenny and Jackson lakes are the only two lakes in Grand Teton where motorized boats are allowed. However, most visitors take the very scenic and convenient boat shuttle to tour the lake.

Jenny Lake Lodge hosts thousands of visitors each year. Or for something a bit more rustic, there is also the Jenny Lake Campground, as well as backcountry camping for the truly adventurous.

Camping at Jenny Lake, Teewinot in the background

Camping at Jenny Lake, with Teewinot Mountain in the background.


A Bit of Jenny Lake/Grand Teton History

During the end of the last ice age, glaciers melted and flowed down canyons along what is now the Idaho/Wyoming border, carving out depressions along the valley floor, forming a terminal moraine in its wake. The lake you see today is a direct result of water filling these depressions. It is 256 feet at its deepest point. The lake is named after Jenny Leigh, the Shoshone Indian wife of Richard “Beaver Dick” Leigh from England, who assisted in the Hayden expedition of 1872.

The park’s cultural history dates back about 12,000 years when nomadic paleo-Indians first came upon the valley. The areas around Jackson Hole were also a vibrant fur trading outpost back in the 19th century. Back then, fur trappers were known as ‘mountain men.’

Grand Teton National Park was founded in 1929 to protect the Teton Range and several lakes at the foot of the mountain. Back then, it was only one-third the size it is today, with Jenny Lake being one of six lakes included in the park. In 1949, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. donated land he purchased to the government to be included in the park. In 1950, Congress sealed the deal by combining the park, the monument, and the Rockefeller lands, which increased the size of the park to about 484 square miles total.

In 1972, Congress established the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway (in honor of Rockefeller’s commitment and philanthropy to the National Park System), which connects Yellowstone and Grand Teton.

Click here to see the Jenny Lake poster.

Rob Decker is a photographer and graphic artist who had the rare privilege of studying under Ansel Adams in Yosemite National Park when he was just 19 years old. Now, Rob is on a journey to explore and photograph all 63 of America's National Parks. He's creating WPA-style posters to help people celebrate their own national park adventures -- as well as encourage others to get out and explore!