In this article, we’ll tell you the best hikes in Grand Teton National Park and help you decide which hike (or hikes) is right for you!
If your idea of a great hike includes close-up mountain views, a picture-perfect alpine lake, and a little off-trail scrambling for extra adventure, then hiking to Delta Lake in Grand Teton is perfect for you! This 7.2-mile trek in western Wyoming comes with 2,250 feet of elevation gain, so it’s no walk in the park, but sitting on the bank of Delta Lake with the Grand Tetons towering overhead is well worth the effort. We have done almost every day hike in Grand Teton National Park, and Delta Lake is definitely one of our favorites! In the article below, we explain what makes the hike to Delta Lake so awesome and give you all the information you need to complete this epic Wyoming adventure.
- Hiking in Grand Teton National Park
- Delta Lake Grand Teton hike details
- Planning your trip to Grand Teton National Park
- Other useful resources
Hi there! We’re Sarah and Matt, two nomads road tripping across the United States with our cat, Fitzgerald, making a new place our home month to month while working full time and adventuring as much as possible. We spend any free time we can get hiking, camping, backpacking, and exploring new places! We hope that our experiences will help you plan for your next adventure and inspire you to be an outlier!
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Hiking in Grand Teton National Park
With over 300,000 acres and 200 miles of hiking trails, there is plenty to explore in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. From the dramatic, jagged peaks of the Teton Range, to the glacier-fed waters of the beautiful lakes, to the many moose, bears, and flowers and the meandering Snake River, we have yet to find a place as beautiful as Grand Teton National Park.
Located 30 minutes north of the ever-growing Jackson, Wyoming and about an hour south of Yellowstone National Park, no visit to the West is complete without some time spent with the Grand Tetons. However, with so much to do and so many great hikes, it can be difficult to figure out how to spend your time in the area. Luckily, we have done just about every day hike in Grand Teton National Park and our favorite is Delta Lake.
About Delta Lake in Wyoming
No trip to Wyoming is complete without a visit to Delta Lake. This hike has it all! From the opal-colored waters fed by nearby glaciers to the straight-on view of the iconic Teton peaks, the hike to Delta Lake is the quintessential Grand Teton experience. If you only have time for one day hike while visiting Grand Teton National Park, the hike to Delta Lake is the one to choose!
The hike to Delta Lake is 7.2 miles and gains over 2,200 feet, making it quite the climb. The last half mile leaves the main trail and is not maintained by the park service. More so, this “off trail” section is the steepest part of the climb to Delta Lake and entails some scrambling, so be sure you are ready for a bit of exercise!
Hike Details | Delta Lake Grand Teton
Hiking distance | 7.2 miles
Elevation gain | 2250 feet
Total time | 4 – 6 hours
Epic-ness rating | 10
Difficulty | hard
Easily combine with | Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes
Find this hike on AllTrails: Delta Lake via Lupine Meadows Access
- One of the best hikes in the Grand Tetons
- Stunning alpine lake with up-close Teton views
- Option to extend the hike to Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes
- Trail can be difficult to find towards the end
- Very steep final climb up to the lake
- Can be crowded at Delta Lake
Remember to Leave No Trace. Pack out what you pack in, stay on trail, be well-prepared, leave nothing behind, take only photos and memories with you, treat the area with respect and help preserve this beautiful spot for generations to come.
How difficult is the hike to Delta Lake?
We’ll cut to the chase – this hike is steep! With 2,250 feet of elevation gain over 7.2 miles roundtrip, you will definitely get your fill of switchbacks. The last few miles leading up to the lake are especially steep and the lake itself sits at over 9,000 feet above sea level.
Even more, once you depart from the official trail to Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes and start making your way up to Delta Lake, the trail is rugged and no longer maintained. In some places, it can be hard to follow. There is also some scrambling involved and we checked our AllTrails map a few times to make sure we were heading in the right direction.
The good news is that the hike to Delta Lake is not super long, making it a perfect day hike – not too long, but will definitely leave you feeling liked you exercised.
Delta Lake trailhead map
The map below displays the two possible trailheads for the Delta Lake hike: Lupine Meadows or Taggart Lake trailhead. Also marked on the map are Delta Lake, Surprise Lake and Amphitheater Lake.
How to get to the trailhead for Delta Lake
The hike to Delta Lake begins from the Lupine Meadows trailhead, located at the end of Lupine Meadows Road. Lupine Meadows Road is a gravel road off of Teton Park Road just south of the Jenny Lake Visitor Center. The road is well maintained but not paved. Any car should be fine but keep an eye out for potholes.
The trailhead parking lot is fairly large but does fill up. It is a popular area so it’s always better to be early. There is overflow parking closer to Teton Park Road.
Alternative trailhead | Bradley & Taggart Lakes
To extend the hike and see two more beautiful alpine lakes in the foothills of the Teton range, you can alternatively start the hike to Delta Lake via the Bradley-Taggart trailhead. The trail passes by Bradley and Taggart Lakes before intersecting with the trail to Delta Lake via Lupine Meadows about 4.5 miles in.
Starting from Bradley – Taggart trailhead will add about 5.5 miles roundtrip and 500 feet of elevation gain to the hike. If you plan to continue to Surprise Lake we’d definitely recommend starting from Lupine Meadows.
The Valley Trail
You will start your journey to Delta Lake heading south on the Valley Trail. The first 1.3 miles or so will take you through some lower forests with sporadic views overlooking nearby Bradley and Taggart Lakes. It’s a relatively flat and peaceful introduction.
After about 1.3 miles, the elevation starts picking up and you’ll begin heading west towards the mountains. About two miles into the hike, you will reach an intersection. Make sure you continue heading straight towards Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes. This is where the fun (and the switchbacks) begins…
Starting the Climb
After passing the intersection, you will start slowly winding your way up towards the mountains one switchback after the other. Its definitely a trudge but you are rewarded with increasingly stunning views of Bradley and Taggart Lakes. If hiking earlier in the season (June through early July), the mountainside will be covered in an array of flowers just popping with color.
Like any trail in Grand Teton, always be on the lookout for wildlife. During our time on this trail, we saw many marmots, one black bear and what appeared to be some grizzly cubs far in the distance. Which reminds us – don’t forget your bear spray!
After five, long switchbacks, you will reach another intersection. There will be a trail departing to the left that heads into Garnet Canyon. Continue on the trail heading to the right that leads to Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes.
Spur “trail” to Delta Lake
After one more switchback, you will reach the departure point for Delta Lake. To your right, you will see an unmarked trail that departs from the main trail. There is a small wooden ladder leading down from the main trail to an admittedly rough-looking spur trail. Take this side trail to continue to Delta Lake.
Once you leave the main trail, the “off trail” section up to Delta Lake is not maintained by the park service. It is well-trodden in most places, so you have little chance of truly getting lost. But there are some rock-strewn sections and boulder fields with little visible trail. We definitely pulled out our AllTrails Pro map in a few instances just to make sure we were heading in the right direction.
Besides the unmaintained, rugged trail, this section also involves the steepest section of the hike. There is one part just below the lake after you cross the boulder fields, where the incline is very steep and the dirt is loose. Be sure to take your time!
Arriving at Delta Lake
After about half a mile, you will finally make one last push before reaching Delta Lake. You will see the towering Grand Tetons directly across the shimmering waters. Find a nice rock to spread out on, take a swim if you are brave enough for the freezing, glacial waters, and enjoy one of the best views in Grand Teton National Park.
Once you have enjoyed your time at Delta Lake, you can return back to the trailhead the same way you came up, albeit with a little less elevation gain!
Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes
The Delta Lake hike may easily be combined with the hike to Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes. Instead of departing the main trail to head towards Delta Lake, you continue on to Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes first. Or you could tackle Delta Lake first and then continue on to Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes after.
The order of events doesn’t make too much difference but you will be adding about 4.3 miles and over 1,500 feet of elevation gain, so only tack on Surprise and Amphitheater if you have the time and energy.
Like Delta Lake, Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes are high-altitude, alpine lakes, fed by snow and ice melting in the Teton Range. They are both super pretty and worth a visit, but aren’t quite as unique as the Delta Lake, mainly due to the head-on view of the Grand Teton and opal-colored waters that can only be found at Delta Lake.
Planning your trip to Grand Teton
In the section below, we’ll give you all the details to help you plan your Delta Lake hike in Grand Teton.
Getting to Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park is conveniently located between the bustling mountain town of Jackson, Wyoming, to the south and Yellowstone National Park to the north.
The closest airport to Grand Teton is in Jackson, Wyoming, but there are few direct flights, and expect to pay a bit extra for the convenience. You can also fly into Idaho Falls, which is about two hours to the west, or Salt Lake City, Utah, which is a little less than five hours to the south.
Where to stay in Grand Teton
Most people visiting Grand Teton opt to stay in Jackson or in the park either at one of the campgrounds or lodging options. For more info on lodging in the park, you can visit the NPS website here. For more detail on camping options, you can read more here.
The city of Jackson is trendy, expensive, and crowded. If you want to save a bit of money and escape some of the touristy crowds, while still enjoying mountain views and easy access to Grand Teton and Yellowstone, consider staying just over the border in the Teton Valley of Idaho. We love the towns of Victor, Driggs, and Tetonia and definitely recommend staying in one of the many AirBnbs on the western side of the mountains.
Grand Teton Entrance Fees
7-Day Pass (per car) | $35
Annual Pass | $80
This Delta Lake hike is located inside Grand Teton National Park, so you’ll have to purchase a $35 per car pass that is valid for 7 days. You also have the option to purchase an annual US National Parks Pass for $80, which is worthwhile if you plan to visit 3 or more national parks over the next year.
When is the best time to hike to Delta Lake in Grand Teton?
The best time to hike Delta Lake is during the summer months from June through September. We hiked in mid June and the wildflowers were in full bloom!
You will probably be okay hiking earlier than June but the lake does sit at 9,000 feet in elevation so be sure the trail is free of snow and you are prepared for cooler temperatures. Similarly, you can probably hike later into the fall but you will need to be cognizant of current trail conditions and the weather forecast.
Of course, you should always check trail conditions and the weather before any hike!
What to pack for hiking to Delta Lake
Good gear can make all the difference hiking in the Grand Tetons. Below we’ve compiled a list of our absolute must haves for day hiking – we use these items every time we hike and couldn’t live without them.
- GPS device | Since the trail to Delta Lake can be challenging to find and there is no cell service, we recommend having the trail map downloaded offline (for example using AllTrails Pro), or better yet, carrying a GPS device for safety. We always hike with our Garmin InReach Mini in areas without cell service in case of emergency.
- Bear spray | Grand Teton is home to both black and grizzly bears, so always hike with bear spray carried within an arm’s reach (ie. attached to your hip – keeping it in your backpack is not helpful in an emergency)
- Hiking boots | The trail to Delta Lake is steep and slippery in place. Having sturdy hiking boots with good traction is a must.
- Hiking Poles | To help take some of the pressure off your knees on the steep sections and give you extra traction on the final steep climb up to Delta Lake.
- Pullovers (Hers: Smartwool Merino Quarter Zip, His: Smartwool Merino Quarter Zip) | Mornings in Grand Teton can get cold, even in the summer, so expect a chilly start to your hike to Delta Lake. We love our Smartwool quarter zips for chilly mornings on the trial!
- Headlamp | Always good to have for a long day hike in case you finish hiking later than expected. We both use the Black Diamond Storm 400s.
- National Parks Pass | covers entrance to Grand Teton and all other U.S. National Parks for one year.
Other useful resources
Planning a hiking trip in the Grand Tetons? Be sure to check out our complete list of the best hikes in Grand Teton National Park:
Questions about hiking to Delta Lake in Wyoming? Let us know in the comments section below and we’ll our best to help!