We backpacked the Teton Crest Trail in August 2021, adding on a stop in Yellowstone National Park before and backpacking in the Wind River Range after. Our two-week Wyoming trip included two days of walks and day hikes in Yellowstone, five days on the Teton Crest Trail, and four days in the Winds.
The Teton Crest Trail stretches 40 miles through western Wyoming, from Philips Pass to String Lake. Along the way, it crosses some of the most spectacular scenery in the Tetons. The stunning views, wildflowers, and wildlife have led many outdoor publications to declare it one of the best backpacking trips in the world.
We first tried to get permits for the Teton Crest Trail for summer 2020. Usability issues with the permit system on Recreation.gov prevented from getting the itinerary we wanted: we could not figure out how to add additional campsites onto a trip. For 2021, we came prepared and got exactly the itinerary we wanted: Marion Lake, Death Canyon Shelf, North Fork Cascade Canyon, and Holly Lake.
We planned to start from the Rendezvous Mountain Tram, so our route would not include the full Teton Crest Trail. As summer got closer, we learned that the tram would closed for the season. We instead decided to enter via Granite Canyon.
Additional destinations: Yellowstone and the Wind River Range
With our permit secured, we considered other Wyoming destinations to add. Kyle had visited Yellowstone only briefly before, while moving across the county, so we decided to prioritize that. A stop in Yellowstone would also give us a chance to get acclimated to altitude before starting the backpacking portion of our trip.
We had also loved our 2020 backpacking trips in the Wind River Range, prompting us to add on four days for backpacking somewhere in the Winds after the Tetons. We found lots of inspiration in various blogs and on Flickr. Hiking & Walking’s excellent trail overviews, along with our Beartooth Publishing Wind River Range map, helped us piece together options.
When we left for our trip, we still had four enticing options. They varied in difficulty, but each would be 4-days and 3 nights. We decided to pick based on weather forecasts and how we felt once we finished the Teton Crest Trail. We ended up deciding to explore the Middle Fork Valley.
Our summer 2021 trip to Wyoming
In the end, our trip consisted of:
- A day to drive from Seattle and two days in Yellowstone National Park,
- Five days on the Teton Crest Trail in Grand Teton National Park,
- Four days backpacking the Middle Fork area of the Wind River Range,
- a night in Idaho Falls and drive home the next day.
We experienced challenging weather in the Tetons, but this did not detract from an overall excellent trip.