Adventure Journal: Time to Get on the Water

When it comes to enjoyable water activities, Grand Teton National Park has a multitude of opportunities. The wild and scenic Snake River flows through the park and has world-renowned fishing, incredible wildlife viewing opportunities, and stretches that are suited to a variety of skill levels. Many lakes, accessible by road, are open for a variety of activities including motor boating, canoeing, kayaking, and stand-up paddle boarding.


A family float on the Snake River. Photo courtesy of Scott McGee.

Warm weather has melted much of the high mountain snowpack and the Snake River is running clear. Jackson Lake is 96% full, which means there will be consistent flows of water released from the Jackson Lake Dam throughout the summer, ensuring great boating as well as fishing.

Remember that the Snake River is complex and expert paddling and rowing skills are necessary for those who choose to float the river. There are sections of river that have channels containing logjams and it can be difficult to maneuver. This is especially true for the challenging ten mile reach between Deadman’s Bar and Moose.

Here are some important things to remember before you head out to the park and put your boat on the water, whether on a lake or on the Snake River.

• Always check water levels and the weather forecast before your trip as river conditions can change overnight and summer storms can make any calm lake turn into a white-capped nightmare. The visitor centers at Moose, Jenny Lake, and Colter Bay can give you the most up-to-date information.

• You will need to purchase a 2016 Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) decal which you can get at any store that sells fishing licenses, a local Wyoming Game and Fish office, or online . Exceptions include inflatable boats 10 feet or less, SUPS, or similar water toys.

All watercraft need to go through an inspection for AIS in either Moose or Moran. This doesn’t take much time but is so important to ensure that we keep invasive species out of our rivers and lakes.

• Fishing is regulated according to Wyoming state laws. A license is required. For more information visit the Wyoming Game and Fish website. or this GTNP site.

• You need a 2016 park permit for both non-motorized craft (canoes, kayaks, drift boats, and SUPs) and motorized craft. The permit for motorized is $40 and non-motorized is $10. Both can be purchased at visitor centers in Moose, Jenny Lake, or Colter Bay.

• Sailboats, waterskiing, windsurfers, and kite boarders are only allowed on Jackson Lake.

• Personal watercraft or Jet Ski type boats, inner tubes, air mattresses, float tubes, and anything similar are not allowed on any rivers or lakes.

Jenny Lake, Grand Teton National Park, WY

Canoeing on Jenny Lake.

• Human-powered vessels like rafts, canoes, kayaks, SUPS, and drift boats are allowed on Jenny, Phelps, Emma Matilda, Two Ocean, Taggart, Bradley, Bearpaw, Leigh, and String Lakes, and on the Snake River 1,000 feet downstream of the Jackson Lake Dam.

• All other waters within the park are closed to watercraft including Pacific Creek, Buffalo Fork, Cottonwood Creek, and the Gros Ventre River.

• If you are floating the river, keep your pets at home. If get on the river in Moose to float to Wilson dogs are not allowed, even though only five miles of this fifteen mile float are in the park.

• When you are on the water, wear a life jacket. Children under 13 years old are required by law to wear life jackets.

Enjoy your adventures on the water this summer! For more information on boating in the park, visit this site.

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