delta lake wyoming

How to Hike Delta Lake in Grand Teton National Park

HIKE TO: Delta Lake
TRAIL: Valley Trail > Garnet Canyon Trail > Delta Lake Trail
TRAILHEAD: Lupine Meadows TH
MILES: 7.4 miles out and back
TIME: 2 hrs one way + lake time
DATE I WENT: 7/30/23
DIFFICULTY: strenuous
PARKING PERMIT: National Parks Pass
LOCATION: Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Delta Lake in Wyoming

Delta Lake is a beautiful, milky-green alpine lake located near Jackson, Wyoming in Grand Teton National Park. The turquoise-green color of the lake comes from the glacial silt fed by the Teton Glacier which you can see from the lake.

Although the lake is located in the National Park boundaries, the hike to Delta Lake is not an official park trail and does not follow a maintained trail for the entire duration of the hike. It follows the trail to Amphitheater Lake for about three miles before the off-trail section starts — keep reading for details on how to access the lake! I’ve also attached my GPX track below to help you navigate.

Is Delta Lake worth it? 

The hike is strenuous – a booty-blaster, but 100% worth it. I’ve wanted to see Delta Lake for six years before I finally headed out to Wyoming and I cannot tell you enough how much this hike is worth it. When you time it right and get to see the milky green pool of water underneath the majestic Grand Teton, you’ll question why you questioned it. 

It almost reminds me of Patagonia, with the towering peak above a turquoise glacial lake, or Big Pine Lakes in California.

How long of a hike is Delta Lake?

The hike is 3.7 miles one-way and can take about two hours, one-way, depending on your pace. It took us 2 hours on the hike up because there was a grizzly bear on the trail we had to wait for, and 1.5 hours to hike down. I’d recommend planning a minimum of at least five hours for the full hike so you can enjoy some time at the lake, but longer if you plan to extend your hike to Amphitheater Lakes nearby.

Can Kids do the Delta Lake hike?

Most of the trail is a well-maintained dirt path until the final half mile-ish which is all boulders and scrambling, but if your kids enjoy that, then yes!

When is the best time to hike to Delta Lake in Grand Teton

July and August is the best time to hike to Delta Lake. While September can still be nice, the weather can be colder and less predictable. 

Sunrise would be a great time to hike Delta Lake for photographers, but for average hikers like me who don’t always want to wake up at the butt crack of dawn, a mid-day hike was warm but quite nice to enjoy an alpine plunge.

Also, the color of the lake does not hold the milky-green shade all year round; we were told that storm runoffs make affect the color of the lake so it is not always so vibrant.

What to pack for Delta Lake hike

Where do you park for delta lake hike

Where do you park for Delta Lake Hike?

The trailhead for Delta Lake starts from the Lupine Meadows trailhead. There is a large-size parking lot but it gets crowded fast and most people end up parking along the side of the road that leads up to the trailhead. Just make sure you check for signs because there are designated no-parking zones too.

The Lupine Meadows Trailhead is also used to access Bradley Lake, Taggart Lake, Surprise Lake, Amphitheater Lake, and Garnet Canyon. Definitely check out the hike to Amphitheater Lake too while you are out here.

delta lake hike

Lupine Meadows Trailhead to Delta Lake

There is an outhouse restroom and large dumpster trashcans at the Lupine Meadows trailhead.

The beginning of the hike starts on the Valley Trail and is flat and easy for the first quarter-mile.

At 1.62 miles from the trailhead, you’ll reach the trail junction for Garnet Canyon from Valley Trail. Continue on the Garnet Canyon Trail which is a series of roughly six switchbacks with lots of sun exposure and little shade.

You’ll gain 1,100 ft of elevation in 1.5 miles on the switchbacks and the views open up to Bradley Lake and Taggart Lake below. Also, be alert for wildlife – our group encountered a young grizzly and large buck mule deer along the trail.

At 3.18 miles, you’ll reach the last junction and it’s an important one. The trail to Delta Lake is unmarked and this is the point to turn off the main dirt hiking path and start the scramble on boulders on the “Delta Lake Trail”.

This section gains 514 ft in half a mile. Route finding is pretty clear here, just be mindful of your steps and hikers around you. The “trail” certainly gets a bit steep and the dirt path can be a little loose so I’d avoid coming right after a storm.

At 3.71 miles from the trailhead and 2,325 ft of elevation gain, you’ll be rewarded with the majestic turquoise green Delta Lake and the Grand Tetons towering over it. 

delta lake wyoming

There are plenty of spots on both sides of the lake to hang out and enjoy the views and water – the right side has more space. Take a plunge in the frigid lake, have some snacks, and hike back out the same way when you’re ready. Keep an eye on the weather and your food – there are many little critters around the lake.

Places to Stay Near Grand Teton National Park

Jackson, Wyoming is about 35 mins and 21 miles south of the Delta Lake parking lot, and it’s a cool mountain town to check out if you haven’t been.

  • Cache House is a cool hostel-style accommodation where you can book a queen size bunk bed that sleeps two if you’re not wanting to get a whole room. There are lockers for your belongings, blackout drapes for each bunk, and free wifi. There’s a shared lobby, kitchen, and access to showers.
    *Highly recommended for solo or budgeted travelers*
  • Cowboy Village Resort has individual cabins you can rent near Jackson town square, as well as rooms for rent in the main lodge. They offer a free ski shuttle during the ski season, free parking, free wifi, a lobby fireplace, an indoor pool, and more. It’s a clean and comfortable accommodation for families and groups.
  • Flat Creek Inn is a standard roadside motel located on the outskirts of town in a nature reserve, but there is a market on-site for convenience. It uses 100% renewable energy, has free wifi and free parking, an in-room refrigerator and microwave, and clean rooms with a friendly staff. During certain months, you might even see elk outside the property!

Moose, Wyoming is only 8 miles south of Delta Lake but it’s a very small town.

Moron, Wyoming is 30 mins and 20 miles north of the Delta Lake parking lot.

Things to do in Jackson, Wyoming

Hiking in Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton Entrance Fees 

The national park entrance fee costs $35 per vehicle, $30 per motorcycle, or $20 per person if you park outside and hike or bike in. Those passes are only good for 7 days.

An annual National Park Pass costs $70 so I’d recommend getting this instead – it gives you access to all of the US National Parks for the 12 months so if you just visit a national park twice, it already pays for itself!

Many people visit Yellowstone &/or Glacier National Park on the same trip since they are relatively close, so the annual pass would be worth it for those visitors.

Click here to purchase your Annual National Parks Pass ahead of time.

Wilderness – Be Bear Aware 

The Rocky Mountains are an active bear area, but Wyoming in particular has grizzly bears. Always be prepared with proper food storage in bear areas, but in this area with grizzlies instead of black bears, I highly recommend each person carry bear spray on all of your hikes! Better safe than sorry.

Remember, black bears are the ones you can look big and scare away. Grizzlies/ brown bears are not the one you play dead with.

Click here to purchase bear spray.

Wyoming Weather

Afternoon thunderstorms are common in the mountains but it can really hit at any time. Be prepared with a rain jacket and a waterproof sun hat.

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