Whitewater Rafting in Jackson Hole

July 8, 2015 at 2:49 pm 5 comments

I rarely surprise myself. However, this morning I was talking with a guest about their upcoming rafting trip and it dawned on me that I haven’t blogged about whitewater rafting in 10535677_10152598758107838_4954607393974653307_oJackson Hole. Really?? I am shocked. It is one of the most popular summer activities in Jackson Hole. There are tons of rafting companies in Jackson, twelve, to be exact. Most of them offer a scenic float option and a whitewater rafting trip. The whitewater trip is on an 8 mile stretch of the Snake River in the Snake River Canyon south of town. Most whitewater companies have an office where you go to sign your waiver and sign up for the trips. They will bus you to the river from their office. Some will do pick ups at your hotel.

Here are some of the most common questions that we receive regarding whitewater trips:

Do I need to book the rafting trip in advance?

Nope! While reservations are recommended, they aren’t required. Many companies have two to four departures daily and most will have some empty spaces on the day of. If you are planning on being in Jackson for a couple of days I would wait to see what day looks like it has the best weather and then sign up the day before. Of course, if you only have one day that you are going to be in Jackson and you want to do the trip I would recommend booking in advance so that you can get on the trip that you want (whether it be a 10AM departure or 4PM departure). I would also recommend advance reservations if you are part of a larger group (5 or more people).

Can my kids go whitewater rafting?

As long as they are 6 years old or older, yes! The age restriction is mostly based on height and weight. Kids who are younger than 6 years old aren’t able to be properly fit for a life jacket so it can be dangerous if they fall out of the boat. When families ask whether I recommend a scenic float or a whitewater trip for their kids I always suggest whitewater rafting. The classic raft trip is in large boats and they have plenty of place for the kids to sit in the middle of the raft while the parents paddle. Kids love getting wet and the rapids are rather mild.

How big are the rapids?

They range from a class 2 rapid to a class 4 rapid (out of 5 classes of rapids). The two big rapids are Big Kahuna and Lunch Counter. When one is “up” due to high or low water the other one is virtually non-existent. Big Kahuna is essentially a giant wave that you crash into – getting you soaking wet! This rapid tends to be present later in the season during lower water flow. Lunch Counter is a series of waves that seem relentless when you’re paddling through them. If you raft early, in May or June, you will be able to raft Lunch Counter. These two rapids are exciting. I wouldn’t call them scary – especially if you are in a big boat (as opposed to an 8 man boat).

What’s an 8 man boat?

For those who are adrenaline junkies like myself, you may prefer to raft in an 8 man boat. With a smaller boat the rapids seem larger and the ride is more exciting. Bigger boats, like the classic raft, can absorb a lot of the rapid and are more stable based on their size. In an 8 man boat everyone is paddling and the smaller boat gives you a more thrilling ride. They tend to cost more because there are less people in the boat. But if you have a group of 8 people it can be more fun because it’s your group exclusively in the boat.

Can I get photos of my10830838_10152966103662838_5228356777925539353_o rafting trip?
Yes! There are two companies that take your photo at Big Kahuna or Lunch Counter – Floatographs or Snake River Photo. You are also welcome to bring your camera with you, but be aware that it will get wet so make sure it is a waterproof camera or a Go Pro.

What should I bring?

Make sure to bring a towel, suntan lotion, wear your bathing suit and chacos or river shoes if you have them. If not, you can go barefoot or rent booties from the rafting company. I would also suggest bringing a sweatshirt or jacket and a change of clothes. After you are done rafting there are changing rooms where you can change out of your wet bathing suit into dry clothes. You can leave anything that you want after rafting on the bus so feel free to bring your towel and clothes with you on the bus to the river.

If it’s cold out you can also rent a wet suit from the rafting companies. The canyon doesn’t always get sun early in the morning or late at night so sometimes it can get chilly. Most raft companies will also have splash guards – a waterproof jacket that you can rent. You also may want to bring a snack – the drive to the river is about half an hour and the drive back is about 40 minutes. The time on the river varies based on how high the water is. Early season in May the trip could take 45 minutes. Later in the summer, in September, it can take up to an hour and a half.

What can I bring on the raft?

As I have stated before, you are going to get wet. So don’t bring anything you don’t want to get wet or lose. I also like to swim when I am rafting so I typically leave all of my jewelry at home. I have friend who lost his wedding ring to the river, so I would encourage you to remove your rings (unless they are on really tight) and leave them in the car or at the hotel. If you have a waterproof camera that you can attach to your life jacket you can bring it. But don’t bring anything that can’t be tied to the raft or yourself because there is a good chance that it will end up in the water.

Do you have a company that you would recommend?

I like to recommend Lewis and Clark River Rafting and Dave Hansen Whitewater. Both are owned and operated by local families and do a wonderful job. Most of the rafting companies do a great job and are priced similarly. They all run the same stretch of river and most have very knowledgeable and capable guides. When selecting a rafting company I would suggest finding one that offers the trip you want to go on – if it’s an the 8-man whitewater trip or a combination whitewater and scenic trip – and then finding a company that has availability for departure time that you want.

So there you have it! Do you have a question about whitewater rafting that I didn’t cover above? Let me know in the comments! And if you have a chance to go rafting in Jackson Hole, make it a whitewater trip instead of a scenic float. It’s more fun for the kids and parents alike. After all, who doesn’t enjoy wet and wild fun? It is sure to be a highlight of your trip!


Entry filed under: Summer Activities. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

Jalene’s Ideal 5 Day Trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park Wake Surfing in Jackson Hole

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Colorado River Discovery  |  September 30, 2015 at 9:24 pm

    Love these photos, and also the info on how I can prepare myself, thanks for sharing.

    • 2. Painted Buffalo Inn  |  September 30, 2015 at 9:34 pm

      You’re welcome! I am happy to hear that you found it helpful. -Alex

  • 3. Whitewater Rafting  |  December 4, 2015 at 10:14 am

    Great Post, thanks for sharing. I am also planning to visit Columbus, GA with my friends and do Whitewater Rafting. These tips are helpful to me.

  • 4. James Bergman  |  March 2, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    I think that going white water rafting is the best way to see any area. It is one of the reasons I plan on rafting the Grand Canyon one day. Once you have done it once then you will be hooked for life. I think whitewater rafting is better than going to a theme park. However, if you are trying it for the first time, use an 8 man raft. It is still tons of fun, but a much safer way to learn how to deal with rapids.

  • 5. Larry Johnson  |  April 4, 2016 at 9:22 am

    I had an immense fun doing river rafting very first time in Colorado. There was plenty of gorgeous scenery to watch. Truly, it was an excitement beyond expectations.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Painted Buffalo Inn

Blogging on activities and happening in Jackson, Wyoming. We are more than just a hotel, use us as a resource!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 749 other followers

Follow Us on Twitter

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

Find us on Facebook!

Newsletter Sign Up Form

Learn about special deals, updates and lodging packages.

Sign up to receive our newsletter!


Recent Posts

%d bloggers like this: