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Hike to Phelps Lake

Alta, Wyoming

4.9/5
based on 12 reviews

Details

Distance

4.22 miles

Elevation Gain

974 ft

Route Type

Out-and-Back

Description

Added by IdleTheoryBus

Enjoy epic cliff jumping with equally as great scenery! It's a moderate hike to one of the best swimming holes in the Tetons. 

Don’t look down! You’re about to cliff jump 40 feet from a granite boulder into a lake cold with Glacier runoff. This short and beautiful hike, with a four hundred foot climb, will lead you to our favorite summertime activity…jumping and swimming!

If you park at the Preserve trailhead, plan to get there early during summer months; the lot fills up fast. Using this trail the hike is flat out to Phelps Lake. When you reach the lake take a right in a north eastern direction and in a mile or so you will reach the jumping rock.

The insider/adventurous way to go is to park by the trailhead for Death Canyon. This trailhead is #12 on the paper park map. Down the dirt road there is unlimited parking, a major plus. Just don’t drive too far down the road; it becomes four wheel drive in a very obvious way. On this alternate entrance you will hike up 450 feet to Phelps Lake Overlook for a fantastic view down on the lake. Hike down the other side of the overlook and take a left south eastward around the lake to reach the jumping rock. This direction is a bit more strenuous but it is the way to go if you prefer quiet hikes.

The jumping rock is on the east side of the lake, and is visible from most open sections of its circumference. Its backdrop, looking north west into Death Canyon, is simply majestic. Likely, you will hear the screams of others taking the plunge as you near the water. Follow them to the adventure.

The top of the rock is wide enough for small groups of people to hang out, sun, and watch others leap. Be considerate of others on busy days and don’t occupy the space the entire afternoon.

In the Tetons, you must be bear aware. There are often black bears and grizzlies around the lake. Bear spray is recommended by the rangers, and we did see a bit of scat. Make sure to bring some food, maybe an adult beverage. Kids love this place; they'll take the plunge over and over. You should too; as today's deep philosophers put it, YOLO.

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Features

Photography
Hiking
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Forest
Groups
Lake
Picnic Area
Romantic
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Swimming Hole

Reviews

After a long hike up Death Canyon we hit Phelps Lake on our way back to the car. It's a great spot to jump, but there were at least 30 others there, making it pretty crowded. I would recommend trying to get there earlier in the day!

The hike itself is gorgeous, but the lake is outstanding. The hike is simple and quick, with Jump Rock providing an easy way to cool off quickly. I'm not much on cliff jumping, but it was easy enough for me to get down to the water and just swim as some of the other members of my party jumped!

This is a great place to go. I would go during the week if possible. There are tons of people over the weekend. Also, please be careful while you are there. Yesterday, I saw two people jump from the rock that did not know how to swim and another that kept running to edge and stopping right before jumping. Needless to say they were asking to get hurt. Other than that it is a blast and would recommend to anyone visiting. We started at the Granite Canyon Trailhead which is about a 5.5 mile hike to the rock.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Nearby

Patrol Cabin at Death Canyon via Death Canyon Trail

Death Canyon to Fox Creek Pass

Huckleberry Point via Death Canyon Trailhead

Backpack to the Death Canyon Shelf

Backpack to Alaska Basin via Death Canyon

Phelps Lake Overlook

Let Adventure be your Destination in Wyoming

Wyoming’s wide-open spaces make it easy to get off the grid and on a trail, through a park, into a forest, up a mountain or down a river. During your journey through Wyoming’s Black to Yellow Region, discover geologic marvels, dense evergreen forests and sprawling prairielands.

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