Must-See Destination #5: Mount Moran

We’re going to stay in the Jackson Lake area for a while yet. One feature that dominates the lake’s landscape and gets discussed regularly by visitors is Mount Moran. Rising to a height of 12,600 feet(!!!), it stands 6,000 feet above Jackson Lake.

While a centerpiece, we’ll tell you upfront that it’s a difficult climb—rated 5.4 to 5.7 on the climbing-difficulty scale—and trails haven’t been maintained. Many climbers choose to start their ascent over at Leigh Lake, and they wind up taking several days to make their climb.

The mountain is named after frontier landscape painter Thomas Moran. It was first scaled by a three-man team in 1922, and they did so via what may be the easiest route up the mountain, over Skiller Glacier. Mt. Moran has several glaciers, and it has a distinctive basalt feature known as the Blake Dike. If you’re going to climb across the glaciers, make sure you bring ice-climbing equipment, such as axes and crampons, with you.

This mountain is not for the faint of heart and may be best viewed from afar on the lakes.

Interesting tidbit: a C-47 cargo plane crashed on the mountain in 1950 during a storm, tragically killing all 21 aboard. Due to the site’s extreme location, the plane and bodies have not been recovered, and the Park Service strongly advises against trekking to the location.