My Park, My Story: Jenny Lake Boatman Justin Eaton

My Park, My Story tells the stories of people who are passionate about Grand Teton National Park and are committed to protecting it for the enjoyment of future generations. In our third edition, Jenny Lake Boatman Justin Eaton shares details about his connection to Grand Teton and years of adventuring in the park while working at Jenny Lake.

Justin hiking
Justin hiking in Grand Teton National Park

Justin Eaton is from eastern Idaho and visited Grand Teton National Park every summer growing up. “I don’t remember my first visit because I was only one month old, but my family tells me that we took the boat across Jenny Lake and hiked to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. We have done the same hike as a family every summer for the last twenty three years,” Justin says. After one of these family excursions, Justin was riding the boat back to the east side of Jenny Lake when he had an idea, “Since I had been riding across the lake ever since I could remember, about 5 summers ago I leaned up to the captain driving us back and I asked how I could go about getting a job there. I was really interested in spending more time in the mountains and thought working there would be a great route.” Justin had an interview the following spring and has worked at Jenny Lake boating for the last four summers.

Justin at work
Justin at work

Justin’s passion for Jenny Lake and Grand Teton National Park is obvious while he navigates boats across the lake and interacts with visitors. He enthusiastically shares facts about the park and acts as an ambassador while sharing safety and hiking tips before docking the boat on the wild side of Jenny Lake as he likes to call it. Justin’s favorite part of his job is taking people on hour-long scenic tours where he gets to share more in-depth information about the area and has a longer opportunity to share the magic.

After four summers spent with Jenny Lake Boating, he finds the most challenging part of his job is getting people to slow down and enjoy the incredible, scenic destination. “People always seem like they are in a hurry. I try to draw their attention up to the mountains. While on the boat ride back across the lake, I like to point up at a peak and say that on their map it is labeled as Nez Perce, but that locals call it Howling Wolf. It always takes a few seconds for the person to realize what I’m saying, but it is so fun to see their face light up once they see the silhouette of a howling wolf,” Justin says.

Justin on top of the Grand
Justin on top of the Grand

While not working on Jenny Lake, Justin spends all of his free time exploring the park. He has hiked on almost every trail in Grand Teton, “Hurricane Pass is my favorite place in the park. There really aren’t any words to describe the beauty up there. I love going up there and just disconnecting from everything,” Justin says. As an avid hiker, Justin has already walked the newly restored trails on the west side of Jenny Lake as part of Inspiring Journeys: A Campaign for Jenny Lake. “The area has been loved to death. I got so excited when I went on the new trail for the first time because it was re-routed along Cascade Creek and is so beautiful. From a work perspective it is a little hectic, but long-term I think it is a great project.”

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