Shoshoko Falls, Grand Teton National Park

Ron Niebrugge Grand Tetons, Photos, Travel, Wyoming 10 Comments

Shoshoko Falls, Grand Teton National Park

Shoshoko Falls is a really beautiful spot with wonderful scenery and wildflowers; I would love to return to one day to do it justice.  In this photo I was looking somewhat into the sun and had terrible light, and was worried about having to hike out in the dark, so I was really rushed and shot what I could in a hurry.  I think the best way to shoot this spot is to try to get a backcountry permit and spend the night.  This would give me the time to explore compositions.  At the top of this waterfall is a high mountain lake – Lake Taminah.

Why was I so hurried?  Well frankly we left way too late in the day for such a long hike.  It is 10 miles round trip, and climbs about 2,500 feet into Avalanche Canyon – the best viewpoint of Lake Taminah is 9,200 feet, we definitely felt the altitude and the 85 degree temperatures!

You find Avalanche Canyon at the far end of Taggart Lake, but here is the other challenge – there isn’t a maintained trail up the canyon so you won’t find this hike listed in a typical guide book on the area.  You follow what locals told us is a combination animal / climbers trail.  This slowed our progress down as you had to climb over and under logs, large rocks and do some occasional route finding.  Janine was a real trooper, although she was quick to point out her numerous scratches and bruises this morning. 🙂

The “trail” basically follows the north side of the crystal clear Taggart Creek as it winds through some large old growth forest.  The last half mile is the hardest – it climbs about 1,500 feet up a large boulder field.  It took us 6 hours round trip and we moved at a steady pace.  The guides at Exum do it much faster, but I’m not surprised – they are young and climb mountains for a living!  And they probably aren’t hauling camera gear and a tripod.

We were pushing darkness on the way out, but we did get out in time to hit the restaurant at Dornan’s at about 8:30 for one of the best tasting meals and cold beers I think I have had in a long time, as we sat on the outside deck and watched the sunset on the Tetons.  They could have served water and shoe leather and I would have still felt the same way!

  I do think I would recommend one of the more established hikes like Cascade Canyon before this one – but if you want to hike in to some amazing country without seeing another person, this would be the place to go – at least in the Tetons. 

Comments 10

  1. wow man. That sounds like a rough hike. I’m not sure I would have brought a tripod, maybe a real small one. but then again maybe you are in better condition. the extra pound or two makes a big difference.

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  3. wow, had no idea that we could get injuries just from carrying gear. how high does your tripod extend w/o the center column? For the majority of my landscapes I used a Gitzo 1001 weekender tripod. it’s like 1.5 lbs. the drawback though is that it does not extend all that high. I don’t think they make that model anymore for $150 and mine is messed up unforutnately. I think the newer version costs over $300!

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    Yeah, I didn’t think they made yours either. Mine goes fairly high – I’ll have to measure it. I still have to bend over to use it, but I guess it is better then no tripod!

  5. I just looked up your tripod. Spec wise it sounds almost identical to my old tripod + the carbon fiber and 3rd level of leg locks. I wonder why it costs $200 more though. the metal does get really cold at times though hence the “mountaineer” title. sounds like it is good for travel shooting though. i took my small tripod to a nightclub before even.

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    Carbon fiber doesn’t come cheap.

    I have never taken my tripod into a night club but I was checking out some of the colorful bars here in Jackson and wondered if I could sneak a tripod in for a long exposure. At least with digital you can always bump that iso up.

  7. Still a great, maybe just not perfect! So far, my shots have been largely limited to whatever is is front of me when I’m there, passing thru. Might find the time to seek the best light one of these days!

  8. Hi Ron, Found your photo blog while searching Shoshoko Falls. My wife and I are doing some day hikes starting this Friday Au. 27. We are from Chicago and have great day hike equipment and somehiking experience. Mainly on maintained trails in Alberta. I was wondering if you think we could do the Shoshoko Falls hike while not having lots of experience. I do have a Tetons map and compass. I was looking at the area and I see that on the North side of route is all canyon/mountains and to the south is Taggart Creek. So as long as you do not cross the creek or climb over the ridges you’ll hit Shoshoko Falls. Is it difficult to travel this route and not get lost? Also where exactly is the unmaintained trail head by Taggert Lake? We would start the hike about 7 am. As a side note I am an art director and love your photos. Any reply would be appreciated.

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    Hi Steve,

    Thanks a lot for the kind words!

    You really can’t get lost in that area because you are heading up a long, steep valley, but I finding the “trail” was often difficult a times and involved pushing through thick vegetation and about a 500 foot vertical climb up lose scree near the end. We do a fair amount of hiking here in Alaska, and I would call this a long, difficult hike. If you do tackle it, starting early is smart, we waited until after lunch and were fighting dark on the way home. I believe the turn off was signed – if not, is was fairly obvious. Good luck and have fun – that is a great area!

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