Rafting, Kayaking, Boating & Swimming

Self-Guided Canoeing and Kayaking in Yellowstone and Grand Teton Parks

One of the best ways to enjoy this region is to canoe a beautiful stretch of water.

It provides a simple way to enjoy some of the most stunning places on the planet. Imagine drifting within sight of elk, moose, deer, badgers, eagles, coyotes and wolves while enjoying mountain vistas that can’t be seen from a car or road.

While paddling in the Yellowstone region, the views you see are similar to those enjoyed by Lewis and Clark during their landmark explorations.

Inside Yellowstone Park, canoe the Lewis River Channel to Shoshone Lake, a very popular and heavily used route. The 9-mile route is suitable for beginners.

Put-in at the Lewis Lake boat dock, and follow the west shore. Then head north, passing a small thermal basin before entering Lewis Lake Channel. Crossing the open water of Lewis Lake is not recommended, due to sudden storms. Stay close to shore and start early to avoid the wind. Allow four to six hours of paddling to reach Shoshone Lake. (Expect to portage your canoe through the upper sections of the channel.)

Inside Grand Teton National Park, paddle from Jackson Lake Dam to Pacific Creek. This is a great half-day trip with excellent opportunities to fish for cutthroat trout. You’ll also likely see eagles nesting. We recommend a side trip to the Oxbow Bend area. This 5-mile trip is best suited for intermediate paddlers, and takes about two to four hours. Put-in at Jackson Lake Dam, and takeout at Pacific Creek Landing.

For paddlers looking to camp overnight, a backcountry permit is required. Stop in at a ranger station for information on obtaining a permit.