Park Service approves Grand Teton plan to overhaul Jenny Lake area

A group paddles a canoe on Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park.

A group paddles a canoe on Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park.

A proposed overhaul of a popular hiking and recreation spot in Grand Teton National Park has been given the green light by regional managers with the National Park Service.

The Intermountain Region of the National Park Service (NPS) approved and signed a Finding of No Significant Impact for the Jenny Lake Renewal Plan, according to a statement released by the park’s public affairs office.

The purpose of the Jenny Lake renewal initiative is to design and implement a master plan that provides for a safe, environmentally sensitive and enhanced visitor experience in the Jenny Lake area of Grand Teton National Park.

The finding determined that none of the proposed actions in the approved alternative will have a significant impact on park operations or the following resources: ethnographic, archaeological or cultural resources, including historic structures and cultural landscapes; geologic resources and vegetation; wildlife, including special status species; wilderness and natural soundscapes; and visitor experience.

Park officials said these changes will, however, mitigate safety concerns, protect natural and cultural resources, and improve visitors’ experience of this area. The NPS, the Wyoming Historic Preservation officer, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation signed a programmatic agreement outlining stipulations that Grand Teton National Park will apply to mitigate any adverse effects to cultural resources as proposed in the selected alternative.

This plan was developed to address several unfavorable conditions in the Jenny Lake area, such as: aging and/or poorly designed trails and walkways that do not meet current trail and accessibility standards; aging and failing bridges in the backcountry;  user-created trails with resource degradation; compacted soils and bare ground in destination locations; limited self-guided interpretation and orientation opportunities; outdated water and wastewater systems; and inadequate restroom facilities.

The selected alternative is broken into two distinct areas:  front-country sites and backcountry locations. The front-country portion of the Jenny Lake renewal initiative will make improvements to the south Jenny Lake complex, Jenny Lake overlook, and String Lake outlet.

The renewal plan targets improvement of visitor circulation throughout the south Jenny Lake complex and creates enhanced visitor orientation and interpretation. The plan will also provide accessible trails, furnish additional restrooms, and rehabilitate the water and wastewater systems within the south Jenny Lake area.

Backcountry improvements will include rehabilitation of the west boat dock, improvements to the Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point viewing areas, and rehabilitation of trails connecting these two locations.

The plan calls for replacement of unsustainable bridges and other infrastructure, as well as the improvement of circulation and crowding within two miles of the west boat dock. Key areas addressed in the backcountry portion of the plan include Hidden Falls, Inspiration Point, and the Cascade Creek crossing.

Grand Teton National Park Foundation, the park’s primary fundraising partner, will help finance this project through their Inspiring Journeys campaign. This signature initiative to raise funds for the renewal of the Jenny Lake area will also help highlight the National Park Service’s 2016 centennial milestone.

For information about the Foundation or their Inspiring Journeys campaign, go to or call Leslie Mattson at 307.732.0629.

Implementation of the Jenny Lake Plan/EA is due to begin this spring. The full plan and finding can be reviewed online at

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