Jackson Hole Traveler - Visitor Guide


Jackson Hole &
Grand Teton N.P.
Visitor Guide

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Jackson Hole Water Fun

Whether it's the excitement of a whitewater trip or the solitude of paddling a mountain lake, there are plenty of ways to enjoy some Jackson Hole water fun.
Aerial View of Jackson Lake and Grand Teton National Park

Jackson Hole: Water Playground

For views, hardy exercise and good old-fashioned "beachside" relaxation, Jackson Hole's offerings run deep.  Winter snows are long gone by July and August, but the many lakes, rivers and streams fed by snowmelt—including the Snake River watershed—offer a bounty of ways to fend off the heat while enhancing the already fantastic views. 

Time for H2O

Though Jackson Hole is world-famous for epic ski terrain and the "Cowboy powder" that falls from the sky each winter, the area gets quite hot and arid during the summer months.  The alpine desert climate would be downright hostile were it not for a serpentine waterway churning through the Hole.

Born in the trickles of melting snow high in the Teton Wilderness, the Snake River is America's 10th-longest river, running roughly 1,000 miles from its origins in the Wyoming high country to its confluence with the Columbia River near Pasco, Washington. 

The Snake's whispering riffles and roaring rapids provide a haven for wildlife and recreation and the 69 miles that wind through Jackson Hole comprise one of the most scenic and pristine stretches of river in America. Close to 300,000 folks float, fish, and paddle the Snake each summer. 

Floating on the Snake River can begin at the northern end of Grand Teton National Park, just below Jackson Lake. From here, there are more than 70 navigable river miles, offering something for everyone.  The first 60-plus miles consist of swift yet smooth water and one fun, eight-mile whitewater stretch for the finale.  Not many rivers flow from a valley to a canyon and head north on the continent before merging with an ocean—yet another testament to the uniqueness of Wyoming's Snake River. 

  • Barker-Ewing Whitewater

    Barker-Ewing Whitewater "Ten of the most beautiful miles of river in the world," and that's why we run our float trips only inside Grand Teton National Park.  For more than 50 years, Barker-Ewing (barker-ewing.com) has provided scenic and wildlife viewing opportunities that are unique to this portion of the Snake River, now recognized by special designation under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.  Come join us on an experience that will be a highlight of your visit to Jackson Hole.  
    307-733-1000 | 945 W Broadway, Jackson

Rafting the Snake

For a first-time visitor, the best way to experience the river's grandeur is to take a guided float trip.  There are three main stretches of water where Jackson Hole's commercial operators run trips: Grand Teton National Park, South Park and the Snake River Canyon.  

The first two are used for scenic tours and fishing trips that are usually 10 or 13 miles in length and last about three to four hours.  Further south, the Snake River Canyon is home to a popular eight-mile stretch of whitewater that takes an outfitted trip around four hours to float. 

Beneath the Tetons

In the park, the Tetons tower above the river, only a couple of miles from the islands and gravel bars that send the calm Snake meandering through braided channels.  This spectacular panorama is sure to coax many a photograph, particularly during the early morning when the light is brightest on the east-facing peaks.  The river corridor is rich with wildlife, too: Bald eagles, moose, mule deer, elk and white pelicans are often spotted near the water, with beavers sometimes making an appearance around dusk. Otters and bears offer rare, magical sightings.

South Park

In South Park, the river flows mostly through ranch land and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land.  Float outfitters run 13-mile trips from the Wilson Bridge to the South Park Bridge that generally feature a lunch or dinner stop.  This stretch provides a different feel from both the Grand Teton and canyon sections, with long views of the Teton, Gros Ventre and Snake River ranges, as well as an abundance of birds including pelicans and bald eagle nesting sites.

Thrills and Chills in Snake River Canyon

For those thirsty for whitewater, the party is in the canyon, where a narrower channel, steeper gradient and a series of rock ledges produce Class II and III rapids.  The spring runoff makes features such as Lunch Counter and Cottonwood rapids fearsome; Big Kahuna and Rope rear their frothy heads later in the summer when the river settles into a sparkling emerald.  With the water temperature rarely above 60 degrees, each splash is especially exhilarating.

RELATED STORY: Whitewater Rafting: The Essentials


Those looking to paddle their own boat can rent rafts, canoes and inflatable "duckies."  The best stretches on the Snake for canoeists and novice boaters are from the Jackson Lake Dam to Pacific Creek—where the placid river glides through the wildlife paradise of the Oxbow Bend—and South Park to Astoria, where the current is faster but only one minor rapid, King's Wave, challenges paddlers to stay upright.  

For the experienced whitewater paddler or those looking to learn more, the kayaking in and around Jackson Hole is top-notch.  Though the season is relatively short, there is plenty of challenging paddling to be had.  Check in with one of the knowledgeable whitewater outfits, such as Leisure Sports or  Rendezvous River Sports, for timely local tips on paddle-friendly sections of the Hoback, Greys and Gros Ventre rivers

Jenny Lake Scenic Cruise

Beyond the Snake

The Snake River isn't the only aquatic oasis in Jackson Hole. Boaters also have a variety of excursions to choose from on Jenny, Jackson, String and Leigh lakes.  There is a quick shuttle to ferry hikers and sightseers across Jenny Lake to Hidden Falls, and the Grand Teton Lodge Company offers tours (with and without meals) whisking boaters across the vast expanses of Jackson Lake to spots such as Elk Island in the shadow of Mount Moran.  Motorboating is allowed on Jackson Lake, where one will find cruisers intermingling with water skiers and wakeboarders.  Though sailing is also popular on Jackson Lake, it is often made especially challenging by quickly changing conditions and mountain weather.  


The many waterways of Jackson Hole and Yellowstone are fast becoming attractions for paddlers of the touring family.  Canoeists and sea kayakers will find solitude plying waters including String and Leigh lakes in Grand Teton National Park, Slide Lake in the Gros Ventre River valley and the lakes of Yellowstone, such as Lewis, Shoshone and Yellowstone.  Boats are available for rent from several outfitters, some of which also offer multi-day touring packages.   

There is something magical about every trip on the water in Jackson Hole.  The Oglala Sioux writer Zitkala-Sa said the Great Spirit could be heard in the "rippling of the mighty waters."  Anyone who has taken a trip on the Snake River or spent a day on an area lake will agree. 

Jackson Hole Water Sports Companies

“Ten of the most beautiful miles of river in the world,” and that’s why we run our float trips only inside Grand Teton National Park. For more than 60 years, Barker-Ewing has provided scenic and wildlife viewing opportunities that are unique to this portion ...

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Voted Best Rafting Company in Jackson Hole by locals 11 years in a row! Home of the 8-man raft, whitewater and scenic river trips. 50+ years of experience getting people soaked on the Snake River. What will your splash face be?!

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Snake River Scenic Rafting, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Cruise through the Snake River Range and the Gros Ventre Range in a comfortable, secure ride. The Tetons and Snake River views along the way are magnificent, so bring your camera—you may spot a moose wading in a back eddy or an osprey diving in the river ben...

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The absolute best way to experience Jackson Hole is by taking a scenic float trip down the Snake River. Our river trips cover 13 scenic miles through the heart of the Jackson Hole, WY. Trips are informative, fun, and enjoyable for any age group, and our appr...

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Offers daily whitewater on the Snake River. Mad River has the most highly certified and professional Snake River guides in the valley to put you at ease and make your river experience more comfortable. Book today and check rafting off your bucket list this s...

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The natural beauty seen while on one of our float trips lets Grand Teton National Park visitors discover the magic of the Snake River from a ver unique perspective. Get off the beaten path and discover the Snake River corridor, which is a lifeline to many of...

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OFFERS KAYAKING, STAND-UP PADDLEBOARDING and rafting on the Snake and Hoback rivers and in Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks. Enjoy a personalized experience on a private half-, full- or multi-day water sports adventure. Trips for all ages and abili...

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with family & friends by taking advantage of our convenient watersports rental & delivery service. Choose from our brand-new fleet of stand-up Paddleboards, Inflatable Kayaks, Float Tubes and accessories to make floating a highlight of your Jackson experienc...

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