Out of a chasm between Mt. Teewinot and Mt. St. John once flowed a large glacier that ceased to exist after the Pinedale Glaciation during the last years of the Pleistocene epoch, which ended about 11,700 years ago. Upon the demise of the glacier its legacy is Jenny Lake and upstream to Cascade Canyon.
While leading tours I often have people who are returning for the first time after a multi-decade absence I have found what these people remember most is the view of the Grand Tetons from Jenny Lake. As a photo spot it is far from a favorite for me, clearly however, it images much better on a person’s soul.
Jenny Lake Overlook is among the most stunning views in Grand Teton National Park; it is also a great geology lesson. Atop the overlook you are standing on a natural dam built by the glacier that once reached to here during the Pinedale Glaciation. Look directly over the edge of the overlook at the boulders, and then look at how this glacial moraine (the dam) is a big semi-circle that fans out from the mouth of Cascade Canyon. All these boulders and glacial debris were being pushed out in front of the glacier as it gouged a hole in the valley. When the glacier receded this beautiful lake was created. All eight lakes at the foot of the Grand Tetons were made from glaciers this same way but here is the best place to observe how it happened.
The second largest lake in the park, Jenny Lake has an elevation of 6,783 feet and a maximum depth of 256 feet. It was named for a Shoshone Indian woman who was the wife of an early day trapper and guide, Richard “ Beaver Dick Leigh”, for whom Leigh Lake was named. Beaver Dick guided the first survey party of Jackson Hole so the not only was Jenny Lake named for his wife, Leigh lake was named for him.
Jenny Lake Overlook is not to be missed; it is a splendid view of Mt Teewinot, Mt. St. John, Mt. Moran, Cascade Canyon and Jenny Lake. Good photos can be had at the overlook but the serious photographer will want to take the path to the lake for more intimate perspectives of the landscape. At the shore I like to incorporate the rocks on the beach and under its crystal clear water.
At nine AM during summer the Jenny Lake shuttle boat starts transporting hikers across the lake
Grand Teton Photo Portfolio – click through to buy print or license photo