Be it through whitewater rafting or on a slower, scenic tour, floating down the Snake River offers breathtaking views, wildlife viewing opportunities, and thrills.
Even in calm water, the river is unpredictable. Scenic stretches are braided and can be hard to navigate without expert experience. The best way to get on the river is with a guide. Your guide will give you all the gear you need and have local insider knowledge about the scenery and wildlife you'll pass along the way. On a whitewater rafting trip, you’ll paddle through class III and IV whitewater, including the famous Big Kahuna. It won’t take long for you to feel the cold refreshing river splash your face. Outfitters will offer you a wetsuit or drysuit, and you will almost certainly get wet. Eagles frequently fly overhead. Scenic floats move at a more mellow pace. Guides will keep a sharp eye out for wildlife that call the river and its banks home.
Water in the spring is faster and colder as snow melts and runs off the mountains. Water in the fall will be slow and shallow. Both offer unique experiences if you're trying to avoid peak summer crowds. Summer is peak river season, and there's no better way to cool off than a splash of cold Snake River water. But the warmer the weather, the busier the water. If you're planning a trip in the summer, be sure to plan ahead and reserve your spot in advance.
No matter the pace, the river is wild, and the wild rules. If you go Snake River rafting it’s best to go with an experienced guide who knows the water. Luckily, there’s no shortage of them in Jackson. Local outfitters will equip you with the gear you need to stay safe and warm, and guides are experts at navigating the river. Wear clothes that dry quickly (cotton not recommended), protect your skin from the sun with a hat and some sunscreen, and prepare to get a little wet!
Remember to practice Leave No Trace, even on the river. You should always bring water (ideally in a reusable bottle), but if you have the chance to bring refreshments, avoid glass containers. Pack all of your trash out with you.
“Wild and scenic” are apt descriptors of the Snake River that famously winds through Jackson Hole. The Snake River Headwaters, much of which travel through Jackson Hole, are protected in perpetuity by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 2009. That means they will flow freely forever. But it’s more than just one river. It’s a network of 13 rivers and 25 separate segments, including the Gros Ventre River, Hoback River, and Pacific Creek, all of which are easy to encounter from your homebase in Jackson Hole. The Wild And Scenic Rivers Act is a profound reminder of how valuable our waterways are and how important it is to protect them. Learn more about the act and how to get involved with river stewardship through the Snake River Fund.
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