Unlike rock climbing or skiing, whitewater rafting requires very few pieces of gear. At the bare minimum, river-runners need a paddle, life vest, and raft. The good news: whichever outfitter you choose will provide you with these essentials, as well as seasoned river expertise. Beyond that, it’s up to you, so we consulted with local river guides and put together the following list to prepare you for your splashtastic journey down the Snake River.
Rule #1: Don’t wear anything you wouldn’t want to get wet! River shoes or Chaco-style sandals are the ideal footwear, though standard flip-flops or a disposable pair of sneakers will do. To avoid getting chilly after you’ve been soaked, sport synthetic materials that wick moisture away from your skin—swimsuits and waterproof shorts are great. Bring a towel, dry clothes, and a sweatshirt for the bus ride back to Jackson. There will be changing rooms at the end of the river trip, known as the takeout point.
Sunglasses are a must, but be sure they’re secured to your head in case you get splashed! A hat is also a good idea, as you’ll be in consistent sunshine.
If you’re headed out on a colder day, you can rent a wetsuit and wetsuit booties from your guide booties. Check with your chosen company ahead of time to ask about their available rentals.
Cameras & Cellphone
Don’t bring your camera, unless it’s protected by a waterproof case or is water-friendly. Same goes for your smartphone. Most outfitters contract with professional photographers to snap pictures of you during your adventure. Favorite photo spots are big-wave spots at the Lunch Counter and Big Kahuna rapids. It’s also a good idea to keep any cameras secured in a zipper pocket or attached to your wrist.
Ask your outfitter if they rent waterproof cameras, which is another option.
Leave this in the bus to rehydrate after you get off the water.
Everyone knows a deep-fried sunburn can derail an otherwise perfect vacation. Here in Jackson Hole, the cool air and cooler water temperatures can often mask the sensation of being sunburned. Waterproof/sweatproof sunscreen formulations are the best for this activity.
Looks like these folks are having a good time, doesn't it?
Traveler Tip: During your 8-mile whitewater trip down the Snake River Canyon, you'll be spending around an hour and a half on the water, with about 3.5 hours total from start to finish, including transportation to and from Jackson. Most companies recommend allocating 4 hours of your day for your whitewater trip so that you leave yourself ample time to make it to your next planned activity.