Phelps Lake, Grand Teton National Park Fishing, Camping, Boating

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Phelps Lake

Situated in the southern end of Grand Teton National Park, Phelps Lake offers hikers and backpackers spectacular scenery, opportunity for viewing wildlife, picnic spots, and even a place to swim.

  • Located in the southern end of GTNP, Phelps Lake lies at the mouth of Death Canyon
  • Popular hiking destinations include Phelps Lake overlook, 1 mile from trail head, and "Jumping Rock" on the lake's northern end
  • Enjoy a picnic, swimming, and bird-watching
  • Winter-accessible via the Moose-Wilson Road from Moose


Situated in the southern end of Grand Teton National Park, Phelps Lake lies at the mouth of Death Canyon.  Whether continuing into Death Canyon or heading down to the lake, many hikers, climbers and backpackers enjoy spectacular scenery, wildlife, or even take a swim.


The best trail to take to Phelps Lake is the Death Canyon Trail, which begins at the Death Canyon parking area near Whitegrass Ranch.  After a mile of moderate hiking, you will reach a spectacular overview of Phelps Lake.  From here the trail becomes a series of steep switchbacks toward the lake.  At the bottom, continue left to the lake or right up and into Death Canyon.


As the snow melts and wildflowers being to appear, the summer months, particularly July and August, are very popular hikers and backpackers.  August and early September are the best months for swimming in the lake, as it is slightly warmer.  Fall brings colorful Aspen leaves and more opportunity for viewing wildlife.  Unlike other park lakes and canyons, there is winter road access to the trailhead.  Enjoy solitude in a true winter wonderland by snowshoe or cross country ski.


The main trail to Phelps Lake is highly popular due to it's relatively short distance and less strenuous nature. Many hikers visit Phelps Lake on their way to Death Canyon for an extended hiking excursion, backpacking, or climbing. 

After a long day in the mountains, locals and visitors alike enjoy swimming in Phelps Lake.  "Jumping Rock" is a popular rock that sits on the northern side of Phelps Lake, where one can picnic or use as a natural diving board.  For those who dare, it is a 10-15 foot drop into the lake.

Phelps Lake is not only known for its intense beauty, but the numerous wildlife that can be seen.  Bears, elk, marmots, and moose are commonly seen. From the Phelps Lake overlook, enjoy birdwatching of a variety of birds including hummingbirds, gilia, towhees, kinglets, bun-tings, flickers, warblers and tanagers.

Additional Information

To access the Phelps Lake/Death Canyon area in the winter, one must begin in Moose and then drive south on the Moose-Wilson Road.  After the Death Canyon trailhead the road is closed to Granite Canyon.

Other Phelps Lake Resources

Colorado Shadow Mountain Lake

Beautiful lake surrounded by the peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park.