Popular for a reason, the hike to the Grand Teton National Park’s Inspiration Point offers stunning views that are relatively easy to reach. Adding to its popularity, it passes through an area where moose are often spotted and is the start of a much longer hike to the breathtaking Cascade Canyon. So, it has a lot going for it.
With so many ways to tackle the hike to Inspiration Point, we go through the most popular routes and pass on some tips from our experience.
Jenny Lake Visitor Center is the best starting place for Grand Teton National Park’s Inspiration Point.
Across the lake from the visitor center, the motivational viewpoint sits atop a rocky hill at the opening of Cascade Canyon. The jagged outcropping descends into Jenny Lake, where a ferry dock floats along the shoreline.
Jenny Lake Loop Trail encompasses the lake as it follows the shoreline. Branching off from the loop trail, Cascade Canyon Trail heads up the hill and takes hikers to Inspiration Point before leading off into the canyon.
Best Options for Reaching Inspiration Point
The ferry dock and Jenny Lake Visitor Center parking area offer the best options for hiking to Grand Teton National Park’s Inspiration Point.
- Using the ferry: 1.8 mi (2.9 km) Round Trip
- Hiking from Jenny Lake Visitor Center parking area: 5.7 mi (9.2 km) Round Trip
As the ferry also sells one-way tickets, a third option is to use the ferry one-way and hike back the other. This is what we chose to do and felt it gave us the best of both worlds.
Both trails, from the ferry and the visitor center, meet up with the Cascade Canyon Trail for the short detour to Hidden Falls and the climb to Inspiration Point.
In other words, using the ferry gets you out of the long walk, but you still need to conquer the 550 ft (170 m) elevation gain before reaching the viewpoint.
Though the climb is easy, as it’s gradual, lots of folks getting off the ferry weren’t prepared for any hiking. Wearing flip flops and crocks, sadly many turned around before reaching the top. Come prepared.
Fastest Way to Reach Inspiration Point - By Ferry
As storms surrounded the area, we wanted to get to the viewpoint as quickly as possible, so we started with the ferry ride across the lake.
If you’re not much of a hiker or are planning to do the much longer Cascade Canyon hike (9.1-miles out-and-back), taking the ferry is for you.
As mentioned, boat tickets are available for round trips, but also one-way. We found taking the boat out but hiking back to the Jenny Lake Visitor Center was the right option for us.
Check the Jenny Lake Boating website for the latest hours of operation and prices.
From the ferry, the hike is a moderately easy 1.8 mi (2.9 km) out and back, which includes the climb to Inspiration Point.
The Ferry to Hidden Falls
From the ferry dock, there were two routes.
- As the hike can get busy, the trail was set up for people getting off the boats to head down the obvious path to the left of the boat dock.
- Those following the signage to come back to the boats will return via the trail on the right side of the dock. Unless you feel like walking against the flow, this felt like a good set up.
Following the trail, we quickly came to a small bridge over a creek and then signage to Hidden Falls. The trail from the Jenny Lake Visitor Center joins the trail from here.
Well worth the stop off, Hidden Falls was a lovely place to relax before starting the main climb to Inspiration Point.
The Hike to Inspiration Point
The well-marked path ascended via rock stairs along the side of the cliff wall.
Though the climb looked intimidating from a few angles, which I believe is what led people to turn back, we found ourselves at the top before we even realized.
Looking Out from Inspiration Point, Grand Teton National Park
With storms in the distance, the overcast day took away from the beauty of the view over Jenny Lake. Luckily, it did add to the drama of Cascade Canyon behind us.
From Inspiration Point, the trail continued into Cascade Canyon. Since it was late in the day and we were concerned about the storms, we enjoyed our views then headed back down the way we came.
If you choose to continue, the trail goes on for miles without an obvious turn-around spot. If you’re taking the ferry back, be sure to keep an eye on the time so you don’t miss the last boat.
Following the Trail to Jenny Lake Visitor Center
Signage was very easy to follow. As we reached the intersection with Hidden Falls, the signs pointed back to the ferry or back to the visitor center parking lot via the Jenny Lake Trail. Just make sure you follow it south.
Skirting the shore most of the way, we had lovely views across the lake.
It’s worth noting how narrow the trail was along this section. During the day, this trail can get quite busy; however, as our hike was just before sunset, we were the only people on the trail.
This may be a good time to mention that bears frequent this area (and I was a bit nervous). Actually, the boat operator mentioned a bear was hanging around the dock earlier that morning. As a precaution, we carried bear spray on all our hikes in the Grand Teton National Park.
A View of Moose Pond
As the trail curved away from the lake it widened. From this point we ran into several other hikers who were only after views of Moose Pond.
Between the bushes we had a decent view of a moose wading in the pond. Other hikers said there was a baby viewable earlier, but disappointingly we didn’t get to see it.
Back to the Jenny Lake Visitor Center
From the viewpoint over Moose Pond, it was about a 20-minute walk back to the visitor center via a flat trail.
Just before reaching the visitor center, we had one last animal encounter before finishing our hike. A small herd of large mule deer bucks grazed the fields as we frantically took photos from a safe distance.
Our timing was amazing, just as we got to the car the skies opened in a flood of rain. Sometimes going out on a hike, despite the weather forecast, pays off. Though, honestly, we are rarely this lucky.
Where to Stay in Grand Teton National Park
As we didn’t want to waste time traveling in an out of the park everyday, we stayed in one of the historic cabins at Colter Bay Village in the park. Close to a visitor center, and one of the best sunrises in the park along the shore of Jackson Lake, we were happy with our choice.
The nearby Jackson Lake Lodge would be another fantastic choice within the park. Even if you don’t stay here, the lobby view is worth going in for.
Books on Grand Teton National Park
- We picked up the Lonely Planet Travel Guide for Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks as we were visiting both parks on this trip.
- As we only had a few days, our Lonely Planet book was all we needed to find a few hikes in the Grand Teton. If you plan on spending more time in the park, considering grabbing the Best Easy Day Hikes Grand Teton National Park. We use this series of books to find hikes in the Blue Ridge Parkway, Smoky Mountains,and the Shenandoah National Park, and find them invaluable.