Hike To A Beautiful Glacier-Lined Lake At This US National Park

National parks across the U.S. appeal to travelers who are looking for one-of-a-kind adventures. In 2022, the National Park Service reported more than 3 million people headed to the country's national parks for recreation visits. Each destination tends to have its own unique draw. Places like Yellowstone National Park typically bring in vast crowds looking to explore geysers, hot springs, and incredible wildlife. Destinations like Grand Canyon National Park call to visitors looking to soak up breathtaking vistas from rim to rim.

For outdoor adventurers who are hoping to make hiking a priority during their park visit, and can't wait to set their sights on a gorgeous glacier-lined lake too, a trip to Grand Teton National Park is perfect. Situated in the heart of Jackson Hole Valley in Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park sprawls across nearly 500 square miles of terrain and showcases the impressive Teton Mountain Range at just about every turn. It's also home to Phelps Lake, which is a particularly stunning destination in a collection of glacial lakes located throughout the park.

Phelps Lake is a popular place for those who are interested in trekking their way around the shoreline, but is just as appealing for nature photographers. On a clear day when the water is calm, Phelps Lake offers up a crystal-clear reflection of the surrounding Death Canyon that's sure to inspire observers. This gorgeous lake also provides a variety of other opportunities for outdoor adventuring depending on visitor preference and the season when they head out to explore.

Trek and swim your way to adventure

When you have your heart set on hiking at Phelps Lake, the Phelps Lake Loop Trail is the place to do it. This route provides 6.5 miles of terrain to explore featuring what many consider to be some of the most beautiful views in the park. Vistas begin with trail access points at the foot of the Teton Mountains.

As you travel along Phelps Lake Loop Trail, you'll be treated to a variety of landscapes and ecosystems ranging from sweeping meadows and forests to shorelines too. The trail is considered moderately difficult, and hikers can expect to encounter around 1,060 feet of elevation gain from start to finish. While trail obstacles like rocks, roots, and slopes can be challenging, there are plenty of scenic overlooks along the route where hikers can stop, catch their breath, and savor the view at their own preferred pace.

You'll need to set aside anywhere from three to five hours to complete the Phelps Lake Loop Trail. This still leaves plenty of time for incorporating other outdoor adventures into your lake visit. During the warm-weather months of the year, many Phelps Lake visitors take the opportunity to go swimming in the clear waters. If you do decide to go for a dip during your visit, take note that water temperatures here tend to stay rather chilly year-round. As a glacial lake, it's not uncommon for the water at Phelps Lake to dip below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Even more lakeside fun to enjoy

Boating, fishing, and wildlife-watching are also popular activities for Grand Teton National Park visitors to enjoy during a visit to Phelps Lake. The park is home to a variety of creatures including moose, marmots, bears, and elk. Bird-watchers will enjoy observing everything from towhees and flickers to warblers, tanagers, and hummingbirds around the lake depending on the season.

Adventure-seekers looking for a thrill can make their way to the Phelps Lake jumping rock while they're here. This granite outcropping is a place where you can take a 20-foot plunge into the waters below if you're brave enough to try. The jumping rock can be accessed off the Phelps Lake Loop Trail on the northeast side of the lake.

No matter when you decide to visit Phelps Lake, the experience is made even more streamlined thanks to convenient on-site parking options. The trailhead to the Phelps Lake Loop shares an access point with the Death Canyon Trailhead. Here, you'll find plenty of parking for your RV or car just off Teton Park Road. If you're visiting the lake during the summer, which is considered peak travel season at Grand Teton National Park, it's recommended to arrive as early as possible because parking inevitably fills up more quickly at that time of year.