Wake Surfing in Jackson Hole

August 4, 2015 at 5:48 pm Leave a comment

I was born and raised in a tiny coastal town just north of Boston, Massachusetts. When I was 12 years old 10542806_739654564315_2566956536650069290_omy parents bought a 13 foot Boston Whaler. After that, my summers changed. Sure, we would still go to the beach, but we also had the option to drop the boat in the water and motor out to a tiny island, or go waterskiing or wading for sand dollars. In high school my parents let me take my boat out with my friends. We would jet around for hours, exploring the coast line and keeping out trouble. Well, for the most part. There was that one time when I hit a sand bar and busted up the propeller. Oh and that other time when I put the boat in and forgot to put the plug in and it started to fill with water as I drove it over to the dock. Either way, I had a blast putting around in that little Boston Whaler, so I was disappointed when I moved to Jackson and didn’t know anyone with a boat. As much as I love the mountains, I love spending time on the water as well.

When my husband told me that one of his co-workers owned a boat I made it my mission to get invited onto his boat. The next time I saw him I walked up to him and asked “So when am I going to be invited to go out on your boat?” I hardly knew the guy, but that’s how desperate I was. The next week I found myself gliding across Jackson Lake, radio blaring, Tetons unfolded in front of me like a pop-up picture book, lake water spraying my face and a huge grin on my face. I was back, baby.

However, I was disappointed to find out that my new friend didn’t even own a water ski. 10506871_739654414615_3225558501693917807_oI grew up water skiing and dabbled a little in wake boarding. He told me that we were going to wake surf. I had the faintest idea what wake surfing entailed. Apparently, when wake surfing you want to intentionally sink part of your boat in order to create a bigger wave. We piled everyone in the back corner, filled a ballast bag with 400 pounds of water, tossed our friend a small surf board and a rope and took off at a blistering 12 miles per hour. It was really cool to see a wave that you can surf in Wyoming.

10397290_744516146665_3743789248589722853_oWhen it got to be my turn I hopped into the water and hoped for the best. Surprisingly, it only took a few tries for me to be able to get up.. and then fall back down. I had never surfed before in my life, so it was a new concept for me. But I am happy to say that over the past year I have gotten the hang of it and now I can let go of the rope and surf the wave. It’s a strange feeling, surfing a wave in the middle of the mountains. Obviously we have a lot of fun doing water sports on the lake, but everyone once in awhile you have to stop and take in the scenery. Jackson Lake is breathtaking. Being out of the water provides a different vista of the Tetons.

Are you planning on bringing your boat to Jackson?

There are two boat launches on the lake – Colter Bay and Signal Mountain Lodge. We typically launch at Signal Mountain Lodge and then head over to Spaulding Bay, Moran Bay or Half Moon Bay. Depending on the wind direction these bays tend to be the calmest on the lake. Moran and Half Moon Bay are by far the most scenic. If you bring your own boat in be aware that you may need to go through boat inspection where Wyoming Fish and Game inspect your boat for invasive species. The boat check is typically right before the Moose entrance to Grand Teton National Park. You can get gas on the water at Colter Bay, but I would recommend fueling up before you get on the water since it is cheaper.

Want to get out on the water but don’t have your own boat?

You can rent boats at Signal Mountain Lodge. They offer pontoon boat, deck cruiser, runabout and fishing boat rentals. As well as non-motorized boats, such as kayaks and canoes. Unfortunately, they don’t offer any ski boat rentals. You can also do a tour of the lake with Grand Teton Lodge Company, based out of Colter Bay. For information about their scenic tours visit their website.

If you are considering trailering your boat to Jackson Hole, be sure to check out Jackson Lake. Or, if the water in Jackson Lake is too cold, head down to the Palisades Reservoir in Alpine, Wyoming. The water tends to be warmer there, making it the prime choice for early season and late season water sports. Either way, there are no bad days spent boating on the lakes in the Jackson Hole area. Be sure to enjoy the scenery as well as the sunshine. Because like all good things, summertime in Jackson doesn’t last.


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

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