If you plan to bring your own boat to Grand Teton National Park, you must register your boat with the park. There is a fee for this registration, and you may either register your boat for a 7-day period, or for the entire season. You may purchase these permits at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center, the Jenny Lake Visitor Center, or the Colter Bay Visitor Center. Non-motorized boat permits are also available at the Buffalo Ranger Station during the summer. You will be given a sticker to put on the port side of your boat near the stern.
Motorized boats are only allowed on Jackson and Jenny Lakes, and you can not use motors exceeding 10 horsepower. Non-motorized boats are permitted on a number of lakes, be sure to inquire at the ranger station, or the Visitor Centers about which lakes you may paddle on. Only human powered boats such as rubber rafts, canoes, dories, and kayaks are allowed on the Snake River within the park.
For more detailed information, and a list of rules and regulations, visit the web page below.
Equipment: All boats must have U.S. Coast Guard life jackets of the appropriate size for each person on the boat. Children under age 13 must wear their life jacket at all times, even if inside the cabin of a boat. All vessels must have navigation lights if you will be out after sunset or before sun rise. All motorboats must have fire extinguishers, and a horn.
With the mountains towering above them, the lakes in Grand Teton National Park are beautiful. Paddling a kayak or canoe on Jackson Lake, with its stunning views, and the possibility of seeing wildlife along its shores, can be a special activity that will let you get away from the crowds, and bring you closer to nature. If you don’t have your own, you may rent a kayak or canoe from the Colter Bay Village marina. If you would like to try a few hours of fishing, or if paddling isn’t something you would enjoy, you can also rent small aluminum motorboats with 9.9 HP motors from the marina. You may rent boats either by the hour (a two hour minimum is required), or for an 8 hour day. Reservations are not available, so the boats are available on a first come first served basis only.
Equipment: You will need a life preserver, and these are also available at the marina.
Float trips can be a fun activity, and add a new dimension to your visit. There are calm, narrated trips, or wild whitewater trips offered by Grand Teton Lodge Company. For many people, this is one of their favorite activities in the park.
On the Wild and Scenic Raft trips, you will float for 10 miles along the snake River, while the guides tell you about the environment that is all around you, including information about the plants, birds, and animals in the area. You may be lucky enough to spot moose, elk, bison, or beaver. Also scan the trees and sky as you float along the river, as bald eagles and osprey live along the river. There are a variety of trips to choose from, including trips that include lunch or dinner. If you choose one of these, you will stop at a private Snake River site for your meal. The standard Wild and Scenic raft trips last about 3 hours. The dinner and lunch trips last about 4 hours. No children under age 6 will be allowed on these trips.
If you would prefer a Whitewater Rafting experience, Grand Teton Lodge Company has partnered with a Whitewater Rafting Company based in Jackson. With this option you can choose between a standard 8 or 12 man raft, a combination scenic and whitewater trip, or you can even do an overnight whitewater adventure. Depending on which trip you choose, your raft will float from 8 to 21 miles
For additional information on rafting trips visit the web site below, then click ACTIVITIES and choose Outdoor Fun, then click the Wild & Scenic Raft Trips tab.
I would recommend reserving a trip ahead of time. You may make reservations on line from the website below, or if you are in the park and want to make reservations, stop at one of the lodges, or inquire at a visitor center.
The Grand Teton Lodge Company www.gtlc.com, offers 1-2 hour trail rides out of Jackson Lake Lodge and Colter Bay Village corrals. Horseback rides are scheduled daily, generally June through August, however, dates do vary. No child under the age of 8 years old will be permitted on a trail ride. I would recommend that you call ahead to make reservations, as the trail rides can be booked up ahead of time. If you do not reserve ahead of time, and would like to see if there are any openings available, check at the activity booth area next to the Colter Bay General Grocery Store, or the activity desk in the Jackson Lake Lodge. For additional information about Grand Teton Lodge Company riding choices and reservations, call 307-543-2811.
Flagg Ranch www.flaggranch.com located between Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks also offers horseback riding, including an all day ride. Again, no children under age 8 will be allowed to participate. You may call 800-443-2311 for additional information.
Backpacking is a great sport and there is no better place to do it than in Grand Teton National Park. With no shortage of incredible scenic beauty and an extensive network of trails traversing it, there are trails to suite all levels of backpackers. As a general rule, lakes along the eastern side of the range will provide the flattest trails with the least elevation gain. Any hike into the Tetons themselves will involve considerable climbing but you will be rewarded with fairy tale views of mountains only dreamt of. Mirror lakes seem to be the norm and moose are fairly common.
This is bear country so precautions need to be taken with food. Bear storage containers much like organized car campgrounds are provided at lower elevation lakeside campgrounds and free bear cannisters are available from backcountry ranger stations when you pick up your permit. This makes hanging food, always a risky proposition, unnecessary.
You will need to carry everything you need for the trip with you and also everything back out. A good backpack makes that easier so don't scrimp on that part of your equipment. Make sure to get one that fits your body too. We are all different and so are the packs. Get yourself a good pair of waterproof boots and break them in before the trip. Thick cushiony socks are a blessing when hiking long distances over rock terrain. When you buy boots, wear the same socks you plan on hiking in so they fit together. We never hike in shorts. We prefer very light long pants which dry easily and provide protection from not only the sun but also bushes, rocky surfaces, and biting insects. Likewise, a light long-sleeved short helps up top. Synthetic layers are the key to keeping warm and dry. Rain gear is essentials no matter how dry it is when you start. It can rain at any time, especially in the mountains. Long underwear is great for chilly mornings and evenings if you plan on spending any time out of your sleeping bag. Warm hat, warm hat, warm hat, warm hat. Don't forget one.
What types of food should you be carrying? Dried food is the lightest though it comes at a cost. We find Mountain House to make a good product. It is not gourmet food but it's tasty enough, light to carry and very easy to prepare. You basically boil water, pour it into the plastic pouch the food comes in and close it for ten minutes. We eat some nuts while we're waiting for extra protein. The two-serving pouches from Mountain House are a bit meager. It might be enough for two small people but when you are carrying so much weight over passes, you need more calories. We generally add some starches to the pouch to flesh them out: instant mashed potatoes for the stews and instant rice for Asian style meals. We follow up the meal with a liquid soup like ramen noodles which provides warmth, liquid, sodium, and also helps clean out the cup we just ate our meals from. Breakfasts are either cereal bars or oatmeal. Tea is easier to deal with than coffee and hot chocolate seems to taste great in the mountains on a cold morning. It's also less to carry back as wet tea bags can get heavy. You will need a small camp stove as fires are not permitted nor practical for cooking in the backcountry.
Equipment: Bring a sleeping bag appropriate for the temperatures you will be sleeping in. If it will get down to 0F, don't count on staying warm in a 32F bag. I cannot stress how important a good sleeping mat is. It will go a long way in keeping you warm and comfortable: two things you do want after a long day of backpacking. A good quality tent will round out what you need to be comfortable in the mountains. Get a light one but one big enough for the number of people who will be sleeping in it. We find we need a three-person tent even though we are just two people. It's a bit heavier but we enjoy our time in the tent more with the extra space. It is also our car camping tent and we would not go with a super small tent for a six-month trip like we were on. It would be nice and ideal to have two tents.
Oh, bring a shovel to the Grand Tetons. They do not have pit toilets at their backcountry camping zones. You will need to dig a hole for that.
Signal Mountain Lodge organizes float trips down the Snake River. We had planned on doing this, but the weather was kinda chilly so we opted out. Our only other chance would have been on our last day, ah well next time!
The float trips start either early in the morning or at about 5pm. They last for approximately 3 hours.
Equipment: The raft and life jackets are provided.
We rented skis in Jackson, then drove up to where the park road is closed (about 3 miles from the park HQ). Out to Jenni Lake and back is 9 or 10 miles, which is a good workout. We went out by the road and back through the forest. Navigation on the return leg got a bit exciting a couple of times as the trail we were following was not marked. There was one frozen river crossing. Tremendous stuff.
Equipment: We rented from "Skinny Skis" in Jackson. Good quality gear.