Grand Tetons whitewater rafting

The De Anza College Outdoor Club trips to Grand Teton National Park are set up for quiet water kayaking or canoeing Grand Tetons kayaking . Any whitewater rafting done by students on the trip(s) is not an official college event. But since people have rafted on trips, I offer this information:


photos below used with permission from Ron Niebrugge:

wyoming rafting by Ron Niebrugge: the front of a white water raft is lifted into the air, photo used with permission from the photographer Ron Niebrugge whitewater rafting by Ron Niebrugge: people in a raft, the front of which is partially submerged in white water, used with permission from the photogrpher, Ron Niebrugge rafting by Ron Niebrugge: white water rafting, with the raft tipped up and half the people going into the water, photo used with permission from the photographer Ron Niebrugge

Rafting companies describe the 8.5 mile whitewater section of the Snake River this way:

West Table Creek “The eight-mile trip starts here. Watch for Osprey nesting along the stretch of the river.” “the current is swift and Osprey are commonly seen nesting”

The S Turns “sharp ninety degree turns keep everyone swinging a paddle”

Cutbanks 1& 2 “roller coaster ride”

Wolf Creek “a rare, but rewarding sight is a bald eagle fishing along this tranquil stretch”

Big Kahuna “when the river level drops this rapid seems to appear from nowhere”

Lunch Counter “the river narrows and compresses itself into a series of dramatic and exciting waves forming our most famous rapid”

Rope Rapids “the current coils upon itself under the shadow of the spectacular limestone cliffs” “The resemblence of water to braided rope occurs when current piles up on smooth rock benches and tumbles over itself.”

Champagne “watch the millions of bubbles rising to the jade green surface” “This “bubbly” section of the river is the product of millions of tiny air bubbles rising to the surface after having been trapped by the rushing water.”

Holy City “hidden ledges and protruding rocks put your skills to a test on the longest and most technical rapid”

An article in the Jackson Hole News and Guide noted that in low water years or at the end of the season, “Big Kahuna and Rope rapids are known as low water rapids whose size and intensity increase with lower water.”

If you go white water rafting, you should probably also budget money for photos of your trip. (Photos are usually taken at Big Kahuna or Lunch Counter). Expect to spend a bit of money. Go to

If you look there for photos taken today, you can see how the river is running, get an idea of the kind and size of boats each company uses and maybe even decide where you want to sit on the boat for the best picture.

The over a half dozen area companies offer various combinations of whitewater and/or scenic floats with or without overnights and meals. Whitewater trips can be done in 8- or 14 person boats; some companies advertise that they provide (or will rent you) rain jackets/pants, others mention wetsuits, booties and gloves. There are links to many of the current companies at

Note that a 3-4 our round trip is from their office, (in town) and the actual time on the river is likely only 1 to 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Check-in time may be 1/2 hour before departure time.

They might have a 48 hour or even a one week cancellation for a refund policy.

Rain is not likely to cancel a trip.


“Swimsuits and sturdy footwear are encouraged.” The larger waves splash up into the raft to your waist level or neck level or higher. Bring good quality retainers to hold-your-glasses-on-no-matter-what. Bring a swim cap for warmth, and in case the rafting guide offers the opportunity, at a calm water section of the river, to hop out of the raft and swim a little. Even better, bring (wear) a vinyl swim cap right on top of your head, with a fabric one over it – layered for more warmth.

Braids could be advised rather than loose long hair. No flip flops. No jewelry, watches, car keys that won’t really stay in your pocket that you don’t want to lose.

READ advice the company has online before you choose which company.

people in raft with lots of water spray
How much water is flowing in the Grand Teton and Yellowstone rivers right now?

Each of the following has the current streamflow and the median daily based on 100 years of records
plus daily mean flow statistics based on 100 years of record in ft3/sec

SNAKE RIVER AT JACKSON LAKE AT FLAGG RANCH WY (50 ft upstream from State Highway 89 bridge, 2 miles downstream from the south boundary of Yellowstone National Park, 600 ft
downstream from the confluence with Sheffield Creek.)

SNAKE RIVER NEAR MORAN WY (1,000 ft downstream from Jackson Lake Dam)


For stats from a monitor on the right bank 0.3 mi downstream from Wolf Creek, 6.4 mi upstream from Greys River, 7.4 mi east of Alpine, 16.1 mi upstream from Palisades Dam, and at mile 917.5. go to:


OutdoorClubgroupphoto2011raft 150 pixels: white water rafters, some with their paddles On some trips (this photo 2011 trip) there have been enough people who wanted to go rafting that they reserved their own raft from a guide company and did not have to share with strangers. And they did not have a screaming child seated right behind them.

For details about our next club trip to Grand Teton National Park, go to: Grand Tetons.

Grand Tetons trip pages index has brief descriptions of most of the pages about this trip.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Grand Teton National Park boat launch access has maps and answers to questions:

When do Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Lake boat ramps open and close?
Where and how long can I park my boat trailer in Grand Teton National Park?
Can I bring my dog on my boat in Grand Teton National park?

and photos, details & maps about marinas and/or free boat launch ramps at Leeks Marina, Colter Bay, Jackson Lake Dam, Snake River Launch to Pacific Creek Landing, Snake River Launch and take out, Signal Mountain Lodge, and a String Lake launch ramp for non-motorized, hand carried boats

as well as details and maps of boat-in camping on Jackson Lake.

We paddle part of the Snake river on our trips, including Jackson Lake Dam to Pacific Creek Landing. But downriver from the Pacific Creek takeout the Snake River has many braided sections. Professional guides can take people on this stretch, but the general public, (even experienced boaters) are discouraged due to risk of getting lost, capsized or having their canoe wrap around a tree in the sometimes fast moving sections of the river.

The park service notes: “Though the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park does not consist of any whitewater, it is a complex and unpredictable braided river. A strong current, shifting channels, numerous logjams, eddies, and snags all combine to make floating the Snake a challenging proposition. These obstacles often require floaters to set up maneuvers well in advance, and inexperienced pilots often make maneuvers too late.”

You might not survive this, even with a lifejacket:
overturned raft stuck on a snag in river

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Why you should wear a lifejacket

A sculpture on a roof in Jackson, Wyoming of bears enjoying rafting:

sculpture of bears enjoying rafting