First-timers in the Tetons naturally gravitate to the tall peaks around the Grand. But veterans return time and again to the sprawling high country between Fox Creek Pass and WY 22. The scenery comes straight out of an old Western: big, forested canyons flanked by cliffs stretching for miles; wildflower-filled meadows; peaks hardly touched by boots; and less severe terrain than the picture-book Tetons—which means off-trail opportunities abound. The mountain views are almost constant, moose are abundant, and there’s hardly anyone out there. The author’s roughly 24-mile route (including side trips) was done in spring on skis and is partly off-trail, but you could parallel it almost entirely on trails.
From WY 22, follow the Phillips Pass/Teton Crest Trail for 3.9 miles to Phillips Pass. Climb east off-trail to the open crest of the ridge running southwest from Rendezvous Peak, which has an amazing 360-degree view. Continue north over Point 9815 and follow the Teton Crest Trail to Marion Lake. From there, spend a day exploring the high plateau around the striking pinnacle of Spearhead Peak and Fox Creek Pass before descending the cliff-walled defile of Granite Canyon on its namesake trail.
INFO For information on permits, current trail and camp conditions, and wilderness guidelines, go to nps.gov/grte/planyourvisit/things2know.htm.
PERMIT A wilderness permit is required for all overnight camping in the backcountry. Reservations accepted ($20 administrative fee for permits during peak season). nps.gov/grte/planyourvisit/back.htm
CONTACT Grand Teton National Park, (307) 739-3300; nps.gov/grte/
-Mapped by Michael Lanza