Backpack the Granite Canyon to Death Canyon Loop

    25 miles 4000 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

    Added by Julien Bacal

    Distance: 25 miles. Elevation gain: 4,000 ft. An easy 2 day backpacking trip in the Teton. Amazing views on Phelps Lake.

    This fairly easy 2-night backpacking trip in the Tetons can be started around noon, allowing you to finish around noon, 2 days later.

    From the visitor center, obtain a permit for 2 nights. Ask for a first night at Marion Lake (the Granite Canyon campsites are not my favorites), and for a second night in Dead Canyon. The first day is a 9 miles hike. The second day is just 7 miles, giving you time to enjoy the lake, and on the last day, the hike is around 8 to 9 miles.

    Begin the hike at the Granite Canyon Trailhead. Hike along the river for about 6 miles. There are some nice views on the river, but the trail is really enclosed in the canyon. Along the 6 miles there are several campsites alongside the river - the Marion Lake campsite is especially beautiful, however. The hike continues to Teton Crest Trail, where there are some amazing views of the Grand Teton, itself.

    At Fox Creek Pass, turn left, to descend down to Dead Canyon. The trails become easier, and it is beautiful, with flowers everywhere. Find a spot in the Dead Canyon for the night.

    On the last day, the hike continues to go downhill. The trail becomes really steep, and at this point you’re glad to have started the loop clockwise. There are amazing views on Phelps Lake, which is a really nice place to picnic. There is also a worthwhile trail that loops around the lake.

    Head back to the trailhead by the Open Canyon Trail, or to the main road to go faster (we saw a cub by choosing the road).

    Note that the campsites in Dead Canyon and Granite Canyon are widely spread out - almost one mile between two campsites. Considers this during your hike, especially when darkness falls.

    Note: Bears may be present in this area. 

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    Rate this Adventure

    🥇Top Contributor

    about 1 month ago


    This was our first backpacking trip in GTNP and it was great. My favorite segment was the second day between Marion Lake and Death Canyon. You are able to see much of the higher peaks from this open area. In early season, snow can make the trail a bit harder to follow here. Paintbrush loop is a bit more scenic, but this is less crowded.

    Perfect backing

    This is a moderate backpacking trip (for beginners). If your are not used to the elevation it can be strenuous at times but always manageable. The views are incredible and so different from mile to mile. We were glad to go clockwise like suggested because Death Canyon is a steep start. I’ve never seen a more beautiful landscape than Death Canyon at dawn! At Marion Lake we ran into a moose that didn’t want to get off the trail but missed the bears that others saw. Also, we regrettably took Valley Trail back to the trail head instead of going to the road. Go to the road. Overall we had the best time. Will do again!

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