Adventure Journal: Stand Up Paddleboard Grand Teton

Photo by Latham Jenkins

In the last several years, a new trend has taken over the waterways in Grand Teton. Stand up paddleboarding (SUP) has become an exhilarating and popular way to explore the glacial lakes and rivers of the Tetons. Whether you are a SUP novice or a pro, the Jackson Hole valley has all of the resources you need to get out on the water.

SUPing has been increasing in popularity around the globe for the last decade. SUPs are buoyant, long surf boards that were originally built to allow surfers access to outer breaks far from the beach. Now an international trend, SUPing has become a way for people to explore various bodies of water and exercise at the same time. A SUP forces the user to balance and engage both core and upper body strength to paddle around a body of water. It is no wonder that active visitors to Grand Teton have fully embraced the SUP movement.

A major contributor to the rising SUP trend in Jackson is the abundance of beautiful waterways to explore. Whether it is calm glacial lakes at the base of the mountains or the meandering Snake River, Grand Teton has several suitable venues for SUPing.

If you are a beginner, String Lake is a fantastic spot to test your balance on a board for the first time. It is quite shallow and easily accessible from the parking lot. String Lake also offers stunning, unobstructed views of the Cathedral Group and Mount Moran. This area can be quite busy during peak summer season, so be sure to arrive early in the day or later in the afternoon to ensure you can find parking.

If you have tested out your skills at String Lake and need something a little more challenging, there are several places in Grand Teton that will do. Leigh, Jenny, and Two Ocean lakes all offer easy access and a larger area to explore. Also, several smaller bays on Jackson Lake, like Colter and Spaulding bays, are great places to paddle. For SUPers who feel very comfortable on calm, flat water, the Snake River can be a thrilling place to test your paddling skills. Launching from the Jackson Lake Dam and taking out at Pacific Creek allows users to experience a more mellow section of the Snake. Sections of the river below the Oxbow, including Pacific Creek to Deadman’s or Deadman’s to Moose, are a bit longer, more committing, and require expert level river navigation skills. The options are plenty in Grand Teton, and spectacular views and opportunity for spotting wildlife are available at all of them.

Remember to purchase the $12 non-motorized permit at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center and an Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) decal from a local fishing gear store or online at for any paddleboard taken into the park. Another option is to rent. Several businesses in town have SUPs with both the non-motorized and AIS permit available as rentals for $35 to $50 for one day.

Wherever your skill level and experience may lead you, it is very important to remember safety when engaging in any water sport. It is crucial to know how to swim, stay up-to-date on weather conditions and water temperatures, and always wear a personal floatation device (PFD). All SUP users are required to have PFDs on board, and children who are thirteen or younger are required to be wearing their PFD’s at all times.

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