One of the wildest parts of the US is the little pocket of outdoor paradise known as the Tetons. During a long road trip of hiking around and camping in Grand Teton National Park, I decided to take a break and see what water activities I could enjoy.
Since it was summer, I wasn’t surprised to find out that many white-water rafting tours were sold out ahead of time, but then I found out about the Snake River float trips. What is a float trip? Essentially you’re in an extra-large raft, with a bit more comfort than your white-water rafts. You can almost always safely sit on the edge of the raft. It’s a much more relaxing paddle down the river – and in most cases your guide does all the paddling for you!
The Snake River was moving pretty fast when I was there in early summer, so floating down the river was quicker than expected. Most of the work you need to do on a float trip is keep your eyes peeled ahead for any debris or dangers in the water and, perhaps, help with a bit of steering, but probably not. These rafting trips are all about soaking up the scenery.
On a white-water rafting trip you’re splashing through rapids, whizzing by trees and paddling hard. It’s a fun workout and you get soaked. Conversely, the float trips are fine for people of almost any age (generally any child over 6 years is good to go!)
What attracted me to the float trip was that you could choose from early morning, lunch time, dinner and sunset float trips. Some trips are as short as 5 miles, while others are as long as 14 miles. My preference was for the early morning float trip – as it has the best wildlife viewing opportunities. Moose, bears, deer, bison, bald eagles, otters and plenty of other creatures are found along the Snake River in Wyoming.
If you’re also keen to get in on an early morning float trip for wildlife viewing, book early, as I found out I waited too late and had to settle for a sunset float trip. But once we got going, and the streaming rays of sunshine began to fade away behind the Grand Tetons, I was more than happy to have taken the evening trip.
Wildlife was still quite plentiful on the trip, so everyone had their cameras clicking and the kids in the raft had a great time trying to spot moose and deer along the riverbanks. We saw about four Moose along the trip, which lasted a couple of hours. We also saw a bald eagle perched in a tree and many deer.
Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park are known for their rock-climbing, hiking, biking and rafting activities. But if your muscles need a break and you want to take it easy one day, then the float trip is the way to go, especially if you can snag a spot on an early morning trip!
There are plenty of suppliers out there, so ask around in town or book online ahead of time. I ended up going with Barker-Ewing, and their guides were very knowledgeable about the area and kept the kitschy jokes at a level that kept people laughing and having fun. Good times for everyone!