I posted awhile ago seeking some advice for Teton/Yellowstone paddling. I got some excellent suggestions and picked up Don Nelson’s book. Here are my follow-up questions. I’ve got a reservation for Leigh Lake for two nights. We’ll be in GTNP for an additional three nights. Any advice on campgrounds? Ideally, I’d like to be able to carry my canoe to water from my site and go for an evening/early morning paddle/fish. Jenny lake sounds ideal but crazy competitive to get a site. Any insider paddler info for the three campgrounds on Jackson Lake?
I swung and missed on my reservations for Shoshone Lake. I postmarked my letter April 1 and every site was already taken. The friendly ranger called me to deliver the bad news but said that they keep two permits open until 48 hrs. before entry. How tough will it be to snag one of those permits in the first week of August? Any advice? Also, are outfitters gobbling up the Shoshone Lake permits or are there just that many people who want to go there?
Probably hogged by outfitters
Wow, I can’t believe Shoshone was booked by early April.
It’s probably the outfitters. I hope not. We were not able to book all the sites we wanted when we reserved (sometime in April) for Yellowstone Lake in July 2005. I remember having to take 2nd choice or 3rd choice for several days. But at least there were sites available.
When we arrrived at the lake, I looked around whenever we went by a campsite, expecting them all to be filled. Nope. In fact, most of them were unoccupied. We only saw two other groups out: one family at one site, and then a huge outfitter group that had booked the site we wanted (of course). I wonder if the outfitters are booking the prime sites right on April 1st, “in case” they have trips that fill and go. If they don’t go, you won’t know about it till right before the reservation date.
Contrast that visit to our first visit, in 2002, when we simply showed up a day ahead and booked the sites in person (for Shoshone). We got every site we wanted as first choice. Yes, the outfitters probably do grab the prime sites right on April 1st and just hang onto them even if the trip ends up not going. Because I can tell you that on NONE of our trips has either lake’s campsites ever been all occupied.
The NPS gets a nice amount in advance reservation fees (there is no fee if you simply show up within 48 hrs and hope for something), so they don’t care that regular paddlers get screwed by the system.
Why not camp on Leigh the whole time?
Jenny is right on the water. You have Colter Bay Campground too. You know I think there may a be an unmarked camping spot on Jackson Lake just north of the Jenny Lake area. I dont have my map in front of me but look at yours…there a small dirt road that works its way to a small bay on the south side of the lake…see it?(i cant recall the name of the bay but i think it begins with an “s”) Its only a mile in by road at most. There MAY be a couple sites there but I could be wrong. BUT i do know that there is a registered camp spot if you leave from this boat site just mentioned and paddle maybe 20 minutes down the shore. Ive camped there. Good Views. I think I have a bunch of my photos from Leigh and Jackson in the photo section of solotripping.com .
YOu could camp at Lizard Bay at the north end of Jackson lake too and put on right there and paddle.
Leigh is great…put in at String lake and paddle to the portage, then carry over to Leigh. I camped at the bay on the far west end of LEigh, there is a few three hundred year old pine trees there and makes a great camp. Watch out of the evening WINDS which can be gale force+ 70mph that come out of nowhere and suddenly, oan usually see the foaming whitecaps ahead of you about 30 seconds before you get blown over. I usually paddle withing 40=50 feet of shore in the evenings on those lakes.
email me if you got more questions.