About the Site
Grand Teton National Park  


Park History

Teton Range

Grand Teton Peak

Mt. Moran

Scenic Turnouts

Jackson Lake

Other Lakes

Snake River

Oxbow Bend

Signal Mountain

Main Lodges

Other Buildings

Willow Flats


Park Features


Fall Foliage





Jackson Lake

The largest of several lakes along the base of the Teton Range is Jackson Lake. A natural lake, Jackson Lake was made larger and deeper by a dam constructed for irrigation purposes for the first time in 1906. This first dam was a log crib. The entire dam was replaced in 1916 with an earthen dam structure.

The dam which has enlarged the lake improves irrigation of crops downriver in Idaho. The dam has made the lake about 39 feet deeper and adds 8000 acres to its surface area. The lake is currently 17 miles long and up to 437 feet deep, so it is a sizeable body of water.

The source of Jackson Lake is the Snake River, with its source north of the park where it drains the southern portion of Yellowstone National Park. It enters the lake 5 miles north of the original point at which it entered, because of the backup of the waters due to the dam.

The only fish which is native to the lake, and the park, is the cutthroat trout, but mackinaw, brown, and brook trout were added as game fish.

Below is a view of the shore in the Colter Bay area. Colter Bay, originally known as Mackinaw Bay, was renamed for John Colter in 1948. It is a small inlet on the eastern side of Jackson Lake.

Not originally part of the park, Jackson Lake was first included in 1950 when the Jackson Hole areas were added to the park. There was some small controversy to adding a reservoir, or somewhat artificial lake, to a national park which usually preserves largely natural areas.

Jackson Lake was named for David E. Jackson, a trapper and partner in a fur company.

The shore of Jackson Lake stretches 81 miles, including a number of bays and inlets. The lake lies at an altitude of 6770 feet, lying at the very feet of the Teton slopes.

Although much of Jackson Hole is dry and desolate, the area around Jackson Lake and its neighboring lakes is quite fertile and is thickly wooded.

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  • All photographs ©Patrick Holleran, Shannon Digital Imaging, 1994-2013

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