In the Spotlight: Sands Whitewater & Scenic River Trips


Sands Whitewater & Scenic River Trips is one of the largest and most seasoned rafting companies in Jackson Hole, offering a variety of whitewater and scenic floats. Long-time locals Charlie Sands and John Simms created a partnership in the 1960s and entered the river business as a whitewater rafting company. In 1975, Charlie bought John out of the partnership and still runs the business today. We recently had the opportunity to speak with Charlie to gain some insight into Sands Whitewater & Scenic River Trips history and his passion for Grand Teton National Park.

Sands Whitewater & Scenic River Trips is celebrating 52 years in business, can you tell us a little about the history of Sands Whitewater and its Wyoming roots?

I left New England for Jackson in 1957 and had a job digging ditches at Jackson Lake Lodge. After ski patrolling and ditch digging, I finally took to the river in 1960. It all started with a few friends jumping into a raft. A few years later, I took a loan out from the bank for $600 and John Simms and I started the business. It certainly has changed over the years and morphed into something I couldn’t have expected, considering I was just another ski bum that stumbled upon this little valley.

You offer a variety of trips, which is your most popular?

The most popular trip is our Breakfast Combo trip. The day starts with a 13 mile scenic float and then breakfast at our campsite located right on the river. Afterwards, the float concludes with 8 miles of whitewater. It’s a favorite because you get it all in one day.

What prompted Sands Whitewater & Scenic River Trips to become a supporter of Grand Teton National Park Foundation?

It seemed like a good idea since I spent my fair share of time in the park and called it home in my early years here. I pitched a tent and slept next to the river in those days. As the valley continues to change each year I wanted to make sure we keep the park pristine so it can be enjoyed for many years to come.

CharlieSands _first trip down snake 1960

Charlie Sands during his first trip down the river in 1960

Charlie, as a long time local what is your favorite way to enjoy Grand Teton and what places in the park do you enjoy the most?

I like driving through the park when there isn’t any traffic and the season begins to slow down. I enjoy the scenes of the park when it’s most peaceful. My favorite place is Berry Creek on the north end of Jackson Lake. We used to boat across the lake to access some of my favorite spots on the other side.

In addition, what is your wildest or favorite memory of Grand Teton National Park?

In my daredevil days, I was totally unprepared to bivouac on cloud veil dome, but it happened. I froze my butt off and we skied out the next morning.

Thank you Charlie and Sands Whitewater & Scenic River Trips for your support of Grand Teton National Park Foundation!

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