Teton Crest

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Sierra Club MWROP Backpacking Trip:
Teton Crest Trail - Grand Teton National Park &
Heart Lake Trail - Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 

August 27 to September 5

Grand Teton & Yellowstone National Parks, Wyoming

Estimated cost, actual cost could be higher:
$1000.00 per person, $550.00 deposit, Jackson, WY is a pricey town

Date of last revision:

Trip Description

This eight day backpacking trip will cover 39 miles on the Teton Crest Trail in Grand Teton National Park which is the premier trail in Grand Teton National Park and was pioneered by the legendary Paul Petzold of NOLS fame. This will be followed by a three to four day backpack of 30 to 40 miles in Yellowstone National Park (YNP). We will stay in a motel the night in between trips and will resupply with food, fuel, and clean clothes. Breaking the trip into two separate backpacks allows us to visit both of these spectacular parks in a single trip.

This entire trip is rated strenuous and is suitable for experienced, physically fit backpackers with the appropriate gear. All participants must have previously and successfully completed at least three weekend backpacking trips within the past three years. They also must engage in a regular physical fitness program on a weekly basis - working out four to five days per week at a minimum. Individual pack weight will vary but most people will be carrying from 35 to 60 lbs. Each person is responsible for providing their own gear and meals. If people want to, they may elect to share tents, meals, stoves, first aid kits, and water purifiers/filters. A roster of trip participants will be posted, and I will try to coordinate this common gear somewhat.

 It was not possible to get permits in advance for this trip. Grand Teton National Park only allows 1/3 of their permits to be reserved in advance, the remaining 2/3 are available 24 hr before your intended departure. I called the permit office and discussed whether it was feasible for a group to fly in and still get permits for our preferred route. They said as long as we plan our trip between mid August and the first week in September and keep our group size to no more than six people we should be able to get whatever we want. The plan is to do a four day backpack of the Teton Crest Trail in (GTNP) followed by a three to four day backpack in Yellowstone National Park, trails to be determined.

Some rock scrambling is always a possibility on a backpacking trip, so participants should have good eye-hand-foot coordination. But this is a backpacking trip, not a technical mountain climbing trip. Participants will have to fill out an information form regarding their relevant medical history, physical condition and conditioning, prior backpacking experience, and backpacking gear – just like on any national Sierra Club backpacking trip. All participants must sign a liability release.


Some Necessary Gear

  • sturdy, waterproof, broken in hiking boots
  • Teva's or equivalent
  • two sets of socks
  • low gaiters ?
  • properly fitted and adjusted backpack, 3500 to 5500 cubic inches
  • small lightweight tent
  • sleeping bag plus pad, good down to 35 degrees F
  • light weight backpacking stove & fuel
  • personal first aid items
  • water purification tablets AND a water purifier/filter
  • rain suit or poncho & gaiters (a poncho is not a great idea above treeline)
  • extra clothes (include long sleeve shirt and long pants as well as shorts and T shirt)
  • swim suit
  • sunscreen, sunglasses, hat with visor or brim (very important)
  • wool sweater or fleece jacket
  • light but warm knit hat
  • light gloves ?
  • flashlight, extra bulb and batteries
  • compass readable to one or two degrees - declination correction strongly preferred
  • topographic map
  • toilet paper + trowel
  • matches in waterproof container
  • pocket knife
  • whistle
  • biodegradable soap, wash cloth, backpacker towel
  • backpacking food for two separate four day trips (first day lunch to last day lunch + energy snacks) 
  • 2 quarts or liters of water + 1 empty extra bladder with cap (some trails are pretty dry in Aug & Sep)
  • insect repellant, DEET
  • Gatorade, or equivalent
  • 40 to 60' of 1/8" nylon line for hanging food
  • dry waterproof bags for your sleeping bag, clothing, camera, film, electronics
  • huge, light, cheap duffle bag to protect backpack on airline
  • drivers license, health insurance card
  • money and credit card for gas, meals, and other expenses



Day Date Activity
Pretrip   Ship empty stoves & fuel bottles to motel, allow 10 days for ground shipping 
Saturday Aug 27 Fly from BWI to Jackson, WY, pick up rental cars, get permit if possible, check into motel, buy fuel for stoves
Sunday Aug 28 Pick up permit, start the Teton Crest Trail backpack
Wednesday Aug 31 Complete Teton Crest Trail, stay in cabin with access to rental car for resupply
Thursday Sep 1 Pick up permit, start Yellowstone National Park backpack
Sunday Sep 4 Complete backpack, drive to Jackson, stay in motel, ship stoves home
Monday Sep 5 Fly home


Common Items

If people want to share: tents, stoves & fuel, water purifiers/filters, first aid kits, or meals, you can work that out for yourselves from the trip roster. At a minimum we need one stove, extra fuel, purifier/filter, and first aid kit for every two to three people. I will try to coordinate this somewhat.

In addition to the above items there will be some other common gear that we will have to split up. Some common gear that I will carry myself includes an altimeter, and a large detailed topographic map.

Guidebook & Maps

Petzoldt's Teton Trail, Paul Petzoldt, Wasatch Publishers, 1976, out of print but available through Amazon.com. Because this book is out of print, and the author's stature in the outdoors world, it has become a collector's item and can be quite pricey. You do not need a copy of this book as I now have one. Two newer books are reasonably priced, are much larger, contain more information, and are more current:

Hiking Grand Teton National Park, 2nd Ed., Falcon Press, Bill Schneider

Hiking Yellowstone National Park, 2nd Ed., Falcon Press, Bill Schneider

Teton Trails: A Guide to the Trails of Grand Teton National Park, Katy Duffy

National Geographic - Trails Illustrated Topographic Map for Grand Teton National Park, #202

National Geographic - Trails Illustrated Topographic Map for Yellowstone National Park, #201
(there are also four more detailed topos available for Yellowstone - #302, 303, 304, 305)

The Grand Teton map (or equivalent) will be used for sure, I will decide which Yellowstone maps are required later. I also have topographic mapping software for all of the National Parks and will be using that as well for planning purposes.


Where possible we will be using bear boxes or poles at designated campsites otherwise we will have to hang all food in a bear bag -  using the counterbalanced bag technique. In addition to food we also have to store or hang, our garbage, and any toiletries that have an odor. Bears are attracted to anything with an odor and their noses are 10,000 times more sensitive than ours! Ladies, please don't bring cosmetics. Biodegradable soap, toothpaste, sun block,  lip balm, and insect repellent should be all we will need.



It can snow any day of the year in these two parks so bring appropriate gear. That includes a sleeping bag good down to 35 degrees F, a medium weight knit hat, light gloves, and long pants of some type. I will be bringing one set of long thermal underwear tops and bottoms. I will use the bottoms with my rain pants to keep legs warm rather than bringing a pair of pants. Nighttime temperatures could be in the 30's to 40's with daytime temperatures up to the 80's.


River & Stream Crossings

The trails in Yellowstone will most likely include some significant river and stream fords - bring a waterproof bag for your sleeping bag, clothing bag, and electronic or photographic gear. It's pretty late in the season, the fords should not be dangerous. Bring Teva's or equivalent foot protection for river crossings and around camp.



Both parks offer fantastic fishing for those who enjoy that, you will need a Wyoming state fishing license. Also many of the areas are catch & release only. Check with the specific park to determine where you can keep the fish. Frying fish in bear country is an added risk. Cook 100 yds from camp and hang the clothes you wore while cooking the fish - also wash up pretty well afterward. You do NOT want to smell like fish in bear country. Griz loves fish!!



Everyone is responsible for providing their own backpacking food for meals and snacks. This is not a commissary based trip - I refuse to do them, they are way too inefficient. Bring more food than you would normally eat at home, but don't over do it. We will be at a much higher altitude than we are used to and many people lose their appetite to some extent. As a backpacker, you will appreciate the concept of food as fuel. Bring things that are lightweight, tasty, and nutritious but easy to prepare, cook, and clean up after. Extra points for meals that pass the "Lick Test".

Don't plan on buying backpacking food out there, it's too time consuming and we really won't have time to do that. All of your food for the entire eight days should be packed before we get on the plane. If you see  some fresh food out there that looks good, add it to your pack but don't plan on it. The car will be parked at the trailhead and according to Park Rangers we can leave food in the trunk. Wyoming bears are not as smart as California Bears. These bears obviously didn't go to Cal - Go Bears - eat somebody else's lunch!

Plan food for two, four day backpacks from lunch on the first day to lunch on the last day plus snacks for each backpack. Split the food into two bags for four days each - we will leave the second bag in the car trunk. Plan to bring extra energy snacks, Gatorade, and salty snacks for hot days - we may be really exposed to the sun on some days. 



We will have to treat all drinking water either with a purifier, filter, or tablets. I would strongly recommend using a purifier but the choice is yours. I want each person to have a total of THREE water bottles or bladders with at least one bladder with a cap. Some trails in August and September are very dry and I want everyone to have the option of carrying a third water container. An empty bladder weighs almost nothing and consumes almost no room - make sure you don't forget the cap to close it. I will be bringing a 1 quart bottle, a 1 liter bladder with drinking tube, and an extra 1 liter bladder with cap to be carried inside my pack with extra water if needed.

Leave No Trace

We will practice "Leave No Trace" backcountry ethics. This means that we pack out all of our trash and garbage. It also means that we do not use soap or shampoo to wash in mountain lakes or streams. Just swimming in the water without using soap works pretty well all by itself for getting your body clean. Use a folding basin and/or wash cloth and soap a reasonable distance away from lakes or streams to wash more thoroughly. It's okay to use a tiny amount of biodegradable soap in the lake or stream just to wash your hands and face.

Stove Fuel

We will be shipping our empty stoves and empty fuel bottles to the starting motel. We cannot carry our stoves or fuel bottles with us on the airplane unless they are brand new and have NEVER been used. Once used they will contain fuel residue and cannot be taken onboard the plane. Although this policy varies from airline to airline. NO AIRLINE WILL ALLOW FUEL OF ANY KIND ON THE AIRPLANE. We will ship the stoves via Parcel Plus, or Mail Boxes Etc. We will have to buy fuel out there before the trip, and ship the empty stoves and empty fuel bottles back the same way in the same boxes. We need to ship the stoves about 10 days prior to our trip departure to ensure that they are there as we must use regular ground transportation.


The trip cost includes: round trip airfare from the Baltimore – Washington airport to Jackson, WY,  your share of a rental car, three nights in a motel before, after, and in-between the two backpacks, a shuttle from the ending trailhead, and the required NPS fees. Not included: everything else, such as: any motel meals, necessary backpacking food and gear, rental car gas, tips, personal expenses, and any other necessary but excluded expenses. Jackson, WY is a pricey town.

The cost of the trip is influenced primarily by the airfare, motels, rental car, and shuttle. It is to our advantage to book the airline as soon as possible to take advantage of lower priced seats. Also the participant costs are heavily influenced by the number of people in the rental car and the number of people splitting the return shuttle. Also rental car fees are notoriously hard to estimate due to additional charges that are tacked onto the final amount plus possibly a required upgrade in size to accommodate all of our gear. Because MWROP is not  financially underwriting this trip the air fare, and other necessary, upfront deposits, must be paid from trip participant deposits. This is why the deposit is a little high and we need to get deposits as soon as possible. Also these motels do not accept deposits, they needed payment up front just to make the reservations.

It is important that each participant bring sufficient cash/credit cards for incidental personal expenses. Also if the trip plans should change for any reason such as injuries, or the backpack being shortened or extended by a few days due to circumstances beyond our control, such as weather, fires, etc - it could have an impact on your individual cost. 

Make checks payable to: Sierra Club MWROP and mail to the leader.


Cost Comparison

In 2000 I led a one week Paria Canyon backpacking trip to Utah & Arizona for Sierra Club MWROP. The cost of that trip was $900.00 per participant and included RT. airfare from BWI to Phoenix, the participants share of a rental car, two nights in a motel before the backpack and two additional nights after the backpack, plus the BLM permit fees. In comparison the national Sierra Club was running the same week long backpacking trip to Paria Canyon and they were charging $695.00 which included the BLM permits and $50 worth of backpacking food. The airfare, rental cars or shuttles, and motel costs were all extra. I've been on two national Sierra Club backpacking trips and they were both great trips with excellent leaders and I believe that it is a worthwhile and important financial cause but there are limits to my generosity. Spending $100.00 a night to sleep in your own tent is unreasonable. Also the national Sierra Club backpacks require participants to participate in mandatory commissary cooking. They bring way too much cooking and cleaning gear, my pack weight is approximately 6 to 10 lbs heavier per week doing it their way. I would rather carry 6 to 10 lbs of photography gear than pots and pans. Their trips are really best suited to beginners.


First Night Motel Address

Grand Vista Lodge
400 East Snow King
Jackson, WY 83001

Ship any gear to them "c/o Ted Fryberger" as the reservation is in my name

Trip Leader:

Ted Fryberger
6259 Deep River Canyon
Columbia, MD 21045
Phone: 443-917-2902(W/H)

Copyright 2000 - 2023 by Ted Fryberger & DeepSoft, LLC, All Rights Reserved