Best of the Tetons, Great Photography Tours In Jackson, WY

Cascade Canyon: One of the Teton’s Many Gems

Get There by Boat or Foot!

Many tourists “tour” Grand Teton National Park, seldom venturing much past the numerous pull-outs and roadside attractions. That’s unfortunate because the Park has so much more to offer! One of them is a day trip to the west side of Jenny Lake. Hike up Cascade Canyon to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point.

Visitor’s have essentially three options of getting to the Cascade Canyon trail at the base of the mountain.

  • Quick boat trip from the Jenny Lake Boat Dock. The round trip cost is $15. Boats leave either boat dock every 15 to 20 minutes in the busy part of summer.
  • Hike along the lake from the Jenny Lake Visitors Center complex on a well marked 2.2 mile trail.
  • Hike from the north using the trail head at the south end of String Lake.
  • A hybrid option is to pay $9 for a one way boat trip (either direction)

Jenny Lake Boat Dock

Jenny Lake Boat Dock: I paid $15 for a round trip boat ride today. Tickets can be purchased at the boat dock. There were less expensive options for seniors and children. Throughout the peak times of summer, the boats run from 7:00am to 7:00pm. After Labor day, the schedule switches to trips between 10:00am to 4:00pm until September 27th in 2014.

Boat Ride to Cascade Canyon

Boat Dock at the Base of Cascade Canyon: Pilots drop off and pick up tourists on a regular basis…approximately 15-20 minutes apart. Hidden Falls is roughly a half mile up the canyon on easy to traverse trails. Inspiration Point is roughly 1000 feet above the water line. Inspiration Point is a horizontal ledge about half way up this photo. Other than some water containers on the boat dock, there are no services on the west lake shore or trail.

Cascade Canyon Waterfalls

Cascading Falls are common along the trail. This one is just a short hike up from the lake.

Lower Cascades

Lower Cascades: This slot in the canyon is just below the previous shot.

Cascade Canyon Leaves

Cascade Canyon Leaves: We had rain overnight before my hike. I took my time going up the canyon, stopping to take photos of anything I thought was interesting. A shot like this one is “date stamped” with indications of changing seasons.

Fractured Leaves

Fractured Leaves: Filtered light made its way through the spruce canopy, lighting some leaves and leaving others in shadows. There were plenty of perfect leaves along the trail. These caught my eye.

Cascade Canyon Red Berries

Cascade Canyon Red Berries: I am sure there are lots of people who could identify all of the berry bushes and trees along the trail. I know a few of them but tend to just enjoy them for their unique beauty.

Cascade Canyon Reflections

Cascade Canyon Reflections: Puddles from recent rains were common all along the trails. This one caught my eye.

Cascade Canyon Mountain Ash

Cascade Canyon Mountain Ash: Mountain Ash berries grow in large clusters. As they ripen, they will turn bright red. Today, the remnant drops of water added the touch I wanted.

Cascade Canyon Mini Cascades

Cascade Canyon Mini-Cascades: Water from Hidden Falls tumbles down the canyon towards Jenny Lake. There are numerous places where you can select smaller areas of the creek for some nice shots. Today, I lugged my Gitzo carbon fiber tripod and Arca-Swiss Z1 Ball Head up the trail. I didn’t see many other people with a tripod, but I was so glad I did. Most of my waterfalls shots were taken at between 1/10th second to 1/15th second, so hand holding would have been out of the question. This one was taken at 1/10th second. I stopped down to F/32 at ISO 100 to get some flowing water and tried to do all of my water shots when clouds obscured the sun.

Cascade Canyon Footbridge

Cascade Canyon Footbridge: There are quite a few similar footbridges along the trail. Seems only appropriate to include a hiker or two on a man made structure like this.

Cascade Canyon End Grains

Cascade Canyon End Grains: This is the end of a log from some bridge along the trail. Not everyone appreciates this kind of shot, but I take them! I have a folder of images full of concentric abstract shapes.

Cascade Canyon Wet Pika

Cascade Canyon Wet Pika: Pikas were collecting grass and food for the winter in the boulder fields.

Cascade Canyon Pika

Cascade Canyon Resting Pika: Today, I carried a Nikon D4 and a Nikon 28-300mm lens. The lens is lightweight yet gives me some “reach” when I need it, or use it wide for landscapes or waterfalls.

Cascade Canyon Ripening Berries

Cascade Canyon Ripening Berries: There were lots of people on the trails today. I suspect bears use the trails after hours for the ripening berries.

Cascade Canyon Fireweed with Freeloaders

Cascade Canyon Fireweed with Freeloaders: This is another example of being able to take advantage of my tripod.

Cascade Canyon Bumble Bee

Cascade Canyon Bumble Bee: More than “just a flower” shot!

Cascade Canyon Yellow Flowers

Cascade Canyon Yellow Flowers: These are late season yellow flowers about the size of a half-dollar.

Hidden Falls

Hidden Falls: This is one impressive waterfall! It is well worth the effort to see. I waited for a good cloud and then shot numerous series of bracketed images. This one was created using three bracketed images at one stop each. I used Merge to HDR in Photoshop, then adjusted that image using Adobe ACR. This would be a very difficult shot to capture with just one exposure.

Cascade Canyon Hikers

Cascade Canyon Hikers: We’ve had rain, drizzle, fog and dark skies for several days prior to my Sunday trip to Cascade Canyon. I suspect there was some “pent up demand” to visit the areas. The trails were busy all day.

Cascade Canyon Trails

Cascade Canyon Trails: This shot was taken near the top of the trail to Inspiration Point. I’d recommend a good pair of hiking boots with good ankle support. The trail is rough and you’ll need to pay attention where you step. Still, I saw old and young going up and down the trails with just about every kind of footwear you can imagine.

Inspiration Point Sign

Inspiration Point Sign: Proof positive I made the hike!

Resting Hiker

Resting Hiker: Trails continue past Inspiration Point, but I didn’t go any farther today.

Cascade Canyon Chipmonk

Cascade Canyon Three-Striped Ground Squirrel: The ferry pilot begged people not to feed the small critters, fearing the food will attract bears and result in their eventual death. Even with constant warnings, it was apparent these little critters get plenty of food.

Cascade Canyon Incoming Ferry

Cascade Canyon Incoming Ferry: From atop Inspiration Point, you can view much of the valley and some of the Cathedral Group. Ironically, I shot only a couple of images from up there! I looked at an option of doing a panoramic image from the ridge, but at the time, there was a tree in exact middle of the scene. I could have moved around to a better spot, but the clouds were not calling me today! Maybe another day. I took more photos of bark, rocks, flowers and so forth on the way down.

Cascade Canyon Roots

Cascade Canyon Roots: This scene reminded me of something out of a Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings movie. The tree is probably 4 feet in diameter.

Jenny Lake Boat Ride Home

Jenny Lake Boat Ride Home: New clouds were rolling in as I took my boat ride back to the Jenny Lake complex. I had a great day and felt my $15 was well spent on my Cascade Canyon trek!


Other Popular Day Hikes in GTNP Worth Considering:

  • Laurance Rockefeller Preserve up to Phelps Lake
  • Taggart Lake trail head to Taggart Lake and Bradley Lake.
  • String Lake up to Leigh Lake (and beyond).
  • Two Ocean Lake to Grand View Point.

Also, check out : Just Go Travel Studios’ post on Cascade Canyon


Hopefully, this page will give you a good feel of this day trip in Grand Teton National Park. If you like what you see, please click on any of the Social Media Icons below and share the page with your friends and associates! MJ


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Comments (6)

  1. Marion

    I had no idea that trip was available, I am hoping to get to Jackson sometime this summer or fall. Your newsletters are a real inspiration, I knew Jackson had a lot, but you provide a lot of information about opportunities I was totally unaware of. Thank you.

  2. Marion, There are quite a few small books on “GTNP Short Hikes” available at the bookstores and shops. I should probably do more Feature Posts documenting some of the hikes. A couple of other popular short hikes are from the Laurance Rockefeller Preserve up to Phelps Lake, and the hike from Taggart Lake trail head to Taggart Lake and Bradley Lake. Another is a hike alongside String Lake up to Leigh Lake (and beyond). A hike I have never taken starts at Two Ocean Lake that takes you to Grand View Point.

  3. Craig Knecht

    Beautiful photos Mike. Cascade Canyon is one of my favorite horse back rides. Have hiked to hidden falls and inspiration point, but nothing compares to getting way up the canyon. Thanks for all you great photo shoots.

  4. Elaine Davis

    On June 23 4 of us took the boat ride across Jenny Lake with 43 others. We were told boat they were leaving dock every 7″= way too many people for the trail. Bought RT ticket but elected to hike a trail back to leave the crowd of rude pushy travelers without hiking Inspiration Point. Hike back was serene with beautiful views, only saw few other hikers! Highly recommend spending as little time as possible around the falls and enjoying the surrounding beauty without crowds!

  5. Elaine, I didn’t experience that kind of crowding at all. It was busy, but with a smoothly moving flow of people in both directions. Everyone I passed was friendly and courteous. I suppose each day is different in the Park. The two mile hike along the lake would add another 45 minutes in each direction, but the path looks to be gentle and probably beautiful. I’ve been at String Lake very early in the morning (almost night) and see people taking off on the trail with flashlights. I’d bet they get great shots with little crowding. After Labor Day, most families are back at home with their kids at school. The park finally gets a breather!

    Actually, I am impressed! It takes a fair amount of effort to climb to Inspiration Point. I realize is it only a 1000 foot elevation change. Seeing that many people out of their cars and participating in a physical activity is enlightening.

  6. I went on the Jenny Lake boat dock back in 2011 and I don’t remember paying to get on. I guess it changed. Then in 2012 the boat ride was closed since the lake was too low.

    I really enjoyed all the pictures! I wish I was here again. Amazing picture of the pica. I was lucky enough to spot one early June 2014.

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