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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

So a friend of mine suggested to come down to this rock and jump off so I came to The Outbound for more specific instruction and found this post which was very helpful. I GPS tracked my hike down there and found it was 2.8 miles from Devils Canyon Trailhead which I hiked in about 45 minutes, but I was going at a pretty brisk pace. I met a ton of really cool people there and had a blast jumping, though the water is as expected and pretty cold. Though in the description of this jump it says it is 40ft when in reality I found it to be more like 25ft max. Anyways you can get some great shots with the mountains in the background as you jump!

Not only is this a sweet spot but the hike is amazing regardless of where your staring point is. It can be enjoyed safely but an irresponsible decision could lead to disaster. Try it if you feel confident but don't pressure other to do so. I normally jump at least 5 times, super fun! Go in feet first. I did however give myself a concussion the first visit (even going in feet first) so be careful.

This is a must-do for the Tetons. I definitely prefer to hike in from the Preserve because I find the hike prettier (and flatter if you prefer a lazy day) and why not stop by the Laurence S Rockefeller Preserve Center while you're in the area? I definitely second bringing bear spray and I would also suggest maybe adding water shoes to the list.

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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