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Take a Scenic Float Trip in Jackson Hole through Grand Teton National Park

Floating 10 miles down the Snake River past the Teton Range in Grand Teton National Park should be on every Jackson Hole visitor’s to-do list.

The Snake River winds an ever-changing route through the valley in and around Jackson Hole and taking a scenic float on the river provides a spectacular raft-side perspective to soak in the varied scenery of Grand Teton National Park.

While on the river you can see, hear, feel and smell wilderness in a way the park’s casual visitor never can. And who better to guide your boat than Barker-Ewing Scenic Float Trips, the 54-year-old float outfitter?

Grand Teton Splendor

Sure, anybody can see Grand Teton National Park on foot or by vehicle—and of course, they should! But experiencing the park from the water is simply extraordinary, especially the jaw-dropping, 10-mile stretch of the Snake River from Deadman’s Bar to Dornan’s in Moose.

Taking a guided float down the river with Barker-Ewing Scenic Float Trips allows you to truly connect with nature and the Teton Range that seemingly travels right along with you on your journey.

Barker-Ewing is one of only a handful of companies allowed to operate Snake River float trips in Grand Teton National Park and the outfitter's boatmen know that magnificent stretch of the river like no other. They will educate you and your fellow raft-mates on the history of Grand Teton National Park and the pristine Greater Yellowstone ecosystem, as well as regale you with river lore from Jackson Hole’s pioneering period.

Of course, the stunning beauty of the Tetons and surrounding mountains aren’t the only things to look at—the wildlife that can be observed on your float trip is equally as memorable an experience. After all, Grand Teton National Park is home to the greatest variety of wildlife in the 48 contiguous states!

Because the Snake River is a lifeline to 300 different species of birds, including osprey and eagles, you will be treated to the sight of many fine-feathered friends.

From the safe comfort of your raft you may also spot moose, deer, occasionally a bison or pronghorn, and even beaver, especially in the evening. If you’re lucky, a bear, wolf, coyote, or fox sighting will be part of your experience on the water.

Veteran Barker-Ewing river guide Reed Finlay says that he knows  where certain animals’ habitats are on the water, but then he'll see an animal in a totally different place—an animal like a moose or a bear.

“'Oh wow!' I'll say. 'I’ve never seen a bear here before'… and that’s exciting, for both me and the passengers," Reed says.

Quick Facts

  • River trips take place between May and September.
  • Scenic floats are 3 hours in length, round trip. Between June 10-July 15, daily launch times are 8 a.m., 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m., and 7 p.m. From July 16 through August, trip times adjust according to the river’s water flow and length of daylight.
  • Cost: $75 per adult; $50 children age 6-15
  • What to wear: Casual clothing such as slacks or jeans and comfortable soft-soled shoes are most suitable for these trips. For the cooler temperatures of the early morning or an evening float, a jacket, fleece or thick sweater is suggested.
  • Reservations: 800-365-1800 or 307-733-1800
  • Website: barkerewing.com

Original 10-Mile Scenic Float Operator

Legendary Jackson Hole boatman Dick Barker founded Barker-Ewing Scenic Float Trips in 1963. Barker—who died in 2012—was originally a fishing guide, but he had enough people asking him to float down the Snake River without fishing lines that he began to do just that. His route was the incredibly scenic 10-mile stretch from Deadman’s Bar to Dornan’s in Moose through Grand Teton National Park.

The legacy of Jackson Hole river guide Dick Barker lives on with the float company he founded more than 50 years ago.

Barker is credited with being the first guide in the valley to helm a scenic float on a one-boatman craft on that part of the river.

Ever since, Barker-Ewing Scenic Float Trips has offered tens of thousands of visitors an unparalleled opportunity to experience the Teton Range from this most intimate perspective.

Snake River float trip Grand Teton National Park

Experienced Boatmen

Taking a scenic float is the stuff of great memories and to make the right memory you have to have the right staff. The men with the oars on a Baker-Ewing scenic float have an average of eight years experience on the river and some have been with the outfitter for more than two decades.

Most of the guides live and work here in Jackson Hole year-round and they love sharing their passion for the Snake River and its environs with their passengers; this has always been a fortè for Barker-Ewing.

Offering a first-rate interpretive trip is in the boatmen's DNA. And their stories of the area often go beyond the obvious.

For instance, if you ask your river guide—and sometimes even if you don't—you'll learn how Deadman's Bar got its name. The story of some gruesome murders in the late 1800's and the subsequent trial are well known to Snake River boatmen.

"All you have to do is ask, and I’ll happily regale you with the tale," says Dick Barker's son and guide, Eric Barker. "And if you don’t ask, I’ll tell you anyway."

Float trips take place several times a day and the prime time for spotting wildlife are in the early morning or early evening.

Barker-Ewing provides transportation from Moose Village, located across from the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center, to the launch site (you’ll end the float trip about a hundred yards from where you parked your car). The average round trip time for your adventure will be about three hours.

For more information and reservations, call 800-365-1800 or 307-733-1800, or visit barkerewing.com.

Fun Fact

In the late 1960’s, Dick Barker, along with his former partner Frank Ewing, designed the rafts Barker-Ewing Scenic Float Trips and other local float companies still use today. The design has been tweaked over the years but the rafts still provide scenic passengers with the same drier and more comfortable river experience they have for decades.