Fun on the Water in Grand Teton National Park

By Tori Peglar ,

With temperatures reaching new highs, figuring out how to stay cool is key to enjoying your summer, especially when you enter Grand Teton National Park. At an average elevation of 6,800 feet, the intensity of the sun is palpable. In addition to packing sunscreen, a hat and plenty of water, here are some great activities to beat the heat.

Paddle Away: Kayaking and Canoeing in Grand Teton

Kayaking on Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park

Find your perfect paddling adventure this summer near or in Grand Teton National Park.

Really get away from it all by spending two days sea kayaking Jackson Lake, hiking in the park and sleeping on Grassy Island with OARS on a guided and catered kayaking and camping trip. This trip is great for first-time kayakers and families and more seasoned paddlers alike.

Because OARS is the only commercial outfitter permitted for overnights on the lake, this kayaking trip guarantees you a rare sense of solitude.

“You have the best views of the Tetons, and you are sharing these areas with no one else in the park,” says OARS spokesman Steve Markle.

OARS also offers a three-day Jackson Lake kayaking and Snake River Rafting combo. It’s two days of kayaking Jackson Lake and a half-day of rafting along the Snake River, which travels more than 1,000 miles through Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon and Washington to become the Columbia River’s largest tributary. In the Grand Teton area, it offers mellow floats and splashy whitewater. You may even spot moose hanging out on the banks of the river. For more information about O.A.R.S., visit oars.com/wyoming or call (855) 541-4793. 

You can rent kayaks and canoes from Grand Teton Kayaking & Canoeing per hour with a minimum of 2 hours. Reservations are not available and rentals are on a first come, first served basis. You can rent them at the Colter Bay Village Marina. Canoe and kayak rental times vary depending on the season and are open to all ages. Find more information at www.gtlc.com/activities/kayak-canoe-motorboat-rentals.

Rafting: Scenic Floats and Whitewater in Grand Teton

Scenic Float on the Snake River with Mad River Rafting.

For rafting fanatics or first-time boaters, there are other companies that offer wet adventures in the Jackson area. For more than 50 years, Barker-Ewing has offered adventures on the Snake River. See Grand Teton National Park from a totally different perspective on these float trips that take you down 10 miles of the Snake River. More info at www.barker-ewing.com.

Grand Teton Lodge Co., which is Grand Teton National Park’s authorized concessionaire, offers non-whitewater rafting trips on a 10-mile stretch of the Snake River, as well. Choose a lunch or dinner float for epic food, scenery and wildlife-viewing or sign up for a non-meal float. More information at www.gtlc.com/activities/rafting-the-snake-river.

Whitewater rafting on the Snake River

When you head down the Snake River with Mad River Boat Trips, you’re traveling with guides that are knowledgeable in local lore, Wyoming’s rugged and beautiful waters, and rafting safety. For those wanting a wild ride, Mad River has whitewater trips in four different boat sizes – the smaller the boat, the bigger the thrills! More info at mad-river.com.

Lewis & Clark Expeditions in Jackson, Wyoming offers both scenic float trips and whitewater trips on the Snake River with the smallest boats available on the Snake River, and, during midsummer, also offers riverside steak dinners. Half-day whitewater trips run on the 8-mile, Class III stretch of the Snake River from West Table Creek to Sheep Gulch. The trips are fantastic for families. The legendary Lunch Counter Rapids, along with Big Kahuna and other Class III rapids, will get everybody soaked. Whitewater and scenic Floats can be combined for an all-day excursion. More info at www.lewisandclarkriverrafting.com

Learn more about rafting in Yellowstone/Grand Teton area.

Boat Tours of Jackson Lake in Grand Teton

Colter Bay Scenic Lake Cruise on the Rendezvous. 

If you’re looking for a fun way to enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner, then Jackson Lake Cruise is an awesome opportunity to explore Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park. Jackson Lake Cruise offers two opportunities to enjoy the views of Grand Teton National Park. You can simply tour the lake or take the cruise out to Elk Island and dine there. Once at Elk Island, you’ll have the opportunity to explore and take in the panoramic views of the Teton Range. The cruises require a minimum of six or more guests to sign up in order for it to take off.

“The excellent meals are combined with a guided tour; you learn about the flora and history of the Tetons,” says Peter Uzielbo, who’s working his second season in 2016 at the Colter Bay Marina Rentals. “It’s not only a meal. It’s also educational.”

If you sign up for the breakfast cruise, you can look forward to hot and fresh eggs, trout, cowboy potatoes, pancakes, bacon, sausage and more. The lunch cruise provides you with a delicious sack lunch including a sandwich, fruit, chips and drinks. The dinner cruise serves grilled steak, trout, roasted potatoes and more.

If you are interested in a simple boat tour of Jackson Lake, there are three different options available.

There’s the Jackson Lake Scenic Cruise - NPS 100, which celebrates the 100th centennial celebration of the National Park Service and explores how the national parks came to be what they are today, which departs daily from May 26 to Sept. 16, 2016.

Then there’s the Jackson Lake Scenic Cruise - Every Kid in a Park, which departs daily at 1:15 p.m. from May 26 to Sept. 16, 2016. This cruise provides kids with physical examples of what they may find in Grand Teton National Park. It’s free for any fourth grader with a national park fourth grade voucher.

Finally, there’s Jackson Lake Scenic Cruise - Fire & Ice that offers information on how fire and ice molded the landscape of Grand Teton National Park. It departs daily at 3:15 p.m. from May 26 to Sept. 16, 2016.

You can sign up for these cruises over the phone or in person at one of three locations. You can sign up in person at Jackson Lake Lodge, Coulter Bay Village Activities Desk or at Jackson Lake Marina. Jackson Lake Marina tends to get busy during peak season, so it is recommended to try the other two locations first. (gtlc.com/activities/jackson-lake-boat-cruises)

Boating in Grand Teton National Park

Colter Bay. 

In Grand Teton, Jackson and Jenny Lakes are open to motorized vessels, and sailboats are also allowed on Jackson Lake. Boat permit required ($20/week; purchase at Moose, Jenny Lake, or Colter Bay Visitor Centers). Rentals available at Colter Bay Marina, Jenny Lake Boating and Signal Mountain Marina.

Fishing in Grand Teton National Park

All waters in the Tetons are open to fishing with some seasonal restrictions. Wyoming fishing license required; $6/day resident, $14/day non-resident.