The first time I laid eyes on her I knew I was in love. That love was cemented when I got to start exploring her. I have found my park. I’m madly in love with Grand Teton National Park. It was like being in a whole different world going from Yellowstone down to Grand Teton even though they are less than an hour drive apart. Our first night we had a mind blowing sunset which only led into a gorgeous first full day. Day 1 plan: Hike Cascade Canyon!
So we may have cheated a little bit. Instead of hiking around Jenny Lake to get to the start of Cascade Canyon, we took the boat trip. It really wasn’t about being lazy though, it was about the million dollar view of the Tetons from the lake. The vast majority of people that visit this area only go as far as Inspiration Point. We didn’t even stop and take pictures at Inspiration Point because we knew the view would be better in the canyon.
Again, my mind was blown. Cascade Canyon is a MUST hike. The hardest part is getting up Inspiration Point. After that the elevation gain is so minimal you can barely tell. And the views get so much better.
I was on a personal hunt for marmots. I had read that pika and marmots like to hang out in the canyon and after seeing a marmot captured and eaten by a coyote in Yellowstone I was ready to find a happy marmot. The yellow-bellied marmot remained elusive to us, but we managed to spot some pika. So, yeah, a pika is pretty cute too.
Right after our pika spotting, we came across some people looking toward Cascade Creek. There, in among the brush, was a large bull moose. All we could see was his rack, but it was pretty impressive.
Cascade Canyon was carved into a U, shaped by glaciers thousands of years ago. Today there are still glaciers high up on the mountains. As the weather gets warmer the glaciers melt and the runoff cascades down the side of the canyon walls and meets up with Cascade Creek, before making it’s way to Jenny Lake. I can only imagine what this looks like in the spring when the real snow melt starts!
The trail itself through Cascade Canyon is relatively smooth. There were a fair amount of people hiking and running along the trail, but it is nowhere near as crowded as Inspiration Point was. We hiked along the full length of the Cascade Canyon Trail until it forked off. Apparently, we missed out by not going on the North Fork to Lake Solitude. That would have added a few more miles to a hike that was already going to be 10 miles round trip. Instead, we set on a ledge above Cascade Canyon and enjoyed a snack.
Our return trip included more picture taking and just standing in awe of the beauty of Mother Nature around us. Our bull moose had moved about a hundred feet from where we last saw his rack, but he was sitting again meaning only his rack was visible. Some people had been sitting there for over 30 minutes waiting for him to get up with no luck. We held out hope for another moose sighting later on during our trip and continued to the boat.
If you have a chance to go for a hike in Grand Teton National Park go into Cascade Canyon. Even if you don’t think you can do the whole canyon it is well worth the time and effort to go a mile or two past Inspiration Point. If you don’t like boat trips there is also a trail around Jenny Lake to get to the canyon. Happy Hiking!