String Lake in Grand Teton National Park is located right up next to the mountains.
It isn’t really a lake, it’s actually a wide section of a river. But its slow current makes it feel and look like a lake. It is often called a flat water lake because there are less waves, but when the wind comes up in the afternoon it can have mini-waves or even whitewater.
The relatively flat water makes it a better swim area than many of the other lakes in Grand Teton National Park
and great for SUPs (stand-up paddleboards) and practice paddling.
Overnight parking is only permitted for those with a backcountry permit and when you pick up your permit you give the ranger the description of the vehicle(s) you will be parking overnight.
The biggest parking lot at the top of the map is the main lot for hikers going out on the trails (see map further below of trails) people using the lake for most activities (with picnic tables and bear boxes along the edge of the parking lot), the two tiny orange squares are the restrooms. Bears frequent the area so people need to stay next to any food they have out, or keep food in a bear box (see right hand edge of the photo below).
When you are about to leave, check your picnic area for microtrash
look for bandages, twist ties, fruit peels, bits of wrappers, stray potato chips, torn corners of candy bar wrappers and power bars, plastic bottle caps, bits of G.O.R.P. etc.
and maybe even pick up what others have left behind.
The second lot down on the map is for parking for people with canoes/kayaks to use the launch ramp, and people are discouraged from using that lot if they will not be launching a boat.
The third parking lot down on the map, at the end of String Lake, usually used mostly by hikers and backpackers.
When the Jenny Lake Loop road goes past the side road to String Lake, it then becomes a one way road past Jenny Lake Lodge (biggest of the orange buildings in the lower right hand corner of the map is the Lodge reception area and dining room). See details about the lodge and other hotels at overnight accommodations page.
You can find a larger copy of the NPS photo trail map below of Jenny Lake on the left, String Lake in the center, Leigh Lake on the right and the trails leading from, in effect each of these three lakes,
Each year that the De Anza Outdoor Club has gone paddling in the Tetons we have launched on String Lake. Sometimes we go there for a beginners paddling lesson, sometimes we have portaged (carrying the craft) to Leigh Lake.
Parts of String ‘Lake’ are so shallow that you can easily get stuck. You might see lines in the sand on the bottom that the keels of canoes and kayaks have left. And we frequently find prints from elk, deer or moose.
Here a trip member balances on his kayak after it got stuck.
During a thunderstorm, don’t swim, paddle, take a shower or use a sink, including washing dishes. Don’t talk on a land line phone. Don’t use your I pod. Don’t get zapped! Please read Thunderstorm and lightning safety
Food storage and staying close to your food is important even at a picnic area. Unfortunately, people regularly leave food unattended.
A park service study of people at String Lake found:
“Study technicians observed and recorded Behaviors of Interest (BOI) along the eastern shore of String Lake. BOI include any person violating GRTE rules and regulations and/or Leave no Trace Principles, and people engaging in any behavior that may negatively impact another user’s experience.
The most frequent behaviors are improper food storage (i.e. leaving food unattended), loud human-caused noise making, hiking off trail, and lacking a visible personal floatation device while on a watercraft. Each behavior accounts for about 20% of rule-breaking behavior. These behaviors are more prominent in the earlier part of the sampling season (mid-July through mid- August). Interestingly, as the sampling season progresses into mid-August, the frequency of improper food storage decreases to 7%, while loud human-caused noise increases to 33%.”
The study also notes the number of people parking in illegal parking spaces, hiker density on trails and around the shoreline, what time of the day the parking lots filled.
It had these comments from visitors:
“During our picnic one of them left a sandwich on a plate, they were all kind of sitting here, and bird flew down and snatched the sandwich.”
“This is not wilderness. If you want wildness you need to go out a little deeper into the park.”
“You know I will admit I try not to be too judgmental. String Lake has gotten so noisy. So unbelievably noisy. I personally think even though this is really awful. The only way to deal with it, is to ban stand ups, they have taken over the lake. They come with a certain attitude: “I’m at the beach. I’m hanging out. I’m getting sun.” SLL has totally shifted. It’s madness out here. Fortunately, you can head over to Leigh and escape it if you go way back by Moran because no one wants to paddle that far.”
Jenny Lake campground, a short distance from Jenny Lake, 49 sites, tents only, one vehicle only less than 14 feet long, is the first Grand Teton National Park campground to fill each day, often early in the morning.
Signal Mountain (86 campsites) is the campground with some sites with views across the lake to the mountains.
Lizard Creek campground also has sites on Jackson Lake, some with views.
Gros Ventre campground, 4.5 miles from Gros Ventre junction, is the closest campground to the town of Jackson (9 miles +/- Northeast). Sites vary in size and can accommodate RVs up to 45ft. Thirty-six sites have electricity. Ten are ADA compliant with the adjacent restroom being ADA compliant. It has cottonwood trees and sagebrush along the Gros Ventre river. You might see a moose wander through the campground and sometimes can find one along the river.
Headwaters campground, near the Yellowstone National Park border, has 100 trailer sites and 75 tent sites.
Colter Bay campground includes 335 individual campsites (160 tent spots with tent pads), 11 large group campsites (by reservation only), 13 electric sites, and ADA-accessible hookups. None of these campsites are on the lake and none have views.
There are no restrooms, privies or outhouses on the trails going from String Lake.
To truly be able to leave no trace and follow backcountry rules about digging your personal latrine hole the proper distance from water, you will need to know how far 200 feet is.
Lay out a tape measure at home and walk it and count your paces.
How to poop in the woods.
The main website page about our Grand Tetons trips is:
Grand Teton National Park birds has photos and details about the most common ones we can hope to see
including Bald Eagle, Red-winged Blackbird, Canada Geese, Clark’s Nutcracker, Golden Eagle, Great Blue Heron.Great Gray Owl, Harlequin duck, Loon, Magpie, Merganser, Northern Flicker (woodpecker), Osprey, Ouzel, Pelican, Peregrine Falcon, Ptarmigan, Raven, Sandhill Cranes, Steller’s Jays, Trumpeter Swan, Western Meadowlark and Western Tanager, with links to calls / songs from most of them to listen to.
and you can Download photos of over a hundred birds of Grand Teton National Park
Was that a black bear or a grizzly, a coyote or a wolf or a fox we just saw?
Rocky Mountain mammal size comparisons has photos and comparisons of beavers, squirrels, pika, marmot, elk, moose, bison, fox, coyote, wolf, golden-mantled ground squirrel, chipmunk, Red Squirrel (also known as) Chickaree, Unita Ground squirrels, bobcat, lynx, mountain lion (cougar), pine marten, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, grizzly and black bears, tundra swan, trumpeter swan, adult and juvenile Bald Eagles.