people in a river raft

by Matt, May 2022

One of the BEST ways to see the Teton Mountain range is from the river!

You’ll get closer to wildlife such as moose, eagles, and osprey, and you’ll enjoy the peacefulness of being away from the crowds.

In this article, I’ll provide 10 things you need to know if you’re thinking about river rafting in Jackson Hole, as well as a list of companies below from which to choose!

1. Understand the Terminology

Sometimes people are confused by terms used when discussing this area, so it is important to clarify: 

2. The Snake River

All river rafting trips in Grand Teton and Jackson Hole are on the Snake River. The Snake River originates in Yellowstone and flows through Jackson Hole before entering Idaho.

3. Whitewater vs Scenic Floats

There are two kinds of river rafting trips in Jackson Hole.

Scenic Floats

Scenic floats all go along the calm section of the Snake River. These are all located in the relatively flat Jackson Hole Valley. They are often referred to as “dry floats,” although it’s always possible you can get wet, of course.

Although many of the companies have “whitewater” in their name, they all offer scenic floats as well.

people rafting the river

Whitewater Trips

Whitewater trips all go through the Snake River Canyon, which is just south of Jackson Hole. This is a stunningly gorgeous canyon. This canyon is world-famous.

It has class III rapids (class V is the most difficult). This means they are wild, but not too wild. They are family-friendly (must be 6 or older), though it’s definitely possible you can get thrown from the raft.

We’ve had multiple family members thrown from the raft before. We have used our own raft and my father-in-law serves as our tour guide. I don’t know how he stacks up compared to the professional guides.

If you’re concerned about getting tossed, ask the company you choose how often it happens.

4. Families and Kids

Whitewater trips

The whitewater trips all require kids to be 6 or older.

Almost all companies offer larger rafts of 14-16 people. Having this many people means you can have “non-paddlers” in your party, such as kids.

All companies also offer smaller rafts of 8 people, in which everyone must paddle.

Scenic floats

All scenic floats are family-friendly. Most allow 4- and 5-year-olds, but some allow younger ones. If you have young kids, read the details for each company carefully below.

5. Trip length

Almost all trips are 3-4 hours long. This includes scenic floats and whitewater trips. This also includes the transportation time to shuttle to the dock.

Scenic floats range from 8 miles to 13 miles, and the whitewater trips are almost all 8 miles.

Some companies offer combination trips, which essentially doubles the time. Combo trips include a meal in between the scenic floats and whitewater trips.

6. Inside vs Outside of Grand Teton National Park

River rafting trips are offered both inside Grand Teton National Park and outside the park.

The entire area is gorgeous, so don’t necessarily assume that inside the park is a better option. However, the best views of the Grand Teton, Middle Teton, and South Teton peaks are inside the park.

The companies that offer floats inside Grand Teton National Park are:

CompanyCostAgesExtras
Grand Teton Lodge Company$90/$656+None
Solitude Float Trips$95/$755+Private boats
Triangle X$90/$705+Sunrise & dinner floats

The companies that offer floats outside Grand Teton National Park are:

CompanyStarting CostAges
Jackson Hole Whitewater$100/$856+
Mad River$924+
Dave Hansen$100/$856+
Teton Whitewater$75/$654+
Sands Whitewater$80/$604+
Lewis and Clark $85/$753+
Black DogCheck siteAll

7. Rafting Season

The river rafting season is generally from May to September. The Snake River is controlled by the Snake River dam, so the amount of water that is released varies, and each company makes changes (sometimes on the fly) based on the amount of water flow.

For example, if the water flow is faster, you’ll cover more mileage, so they may extend your distance in order to meet the average float time.

8. Rafting costs

Rates vary slightly between companies, but here are the averages:

All pricing for each company listed below is based on 2022 rates.

9. Private boats

Almost all companies offer private boats if you have a large party or just want your own boat. I did not list them under each company below, but they generally range from $700-$1000 for a private boat.

10. Packages

Most companies offer longer rafting trips that include a scenic float AND a whitewater trip.

Almost all companies offer lunch or dinner floats for an extra charge.

Many companies have teamed up with hotels, horseback companies, the Jackson Hole Rodeo, or wildlife tours to offer discounts if you book both.

Companies inside Grand Teton

Grand Teton Lodge Company

The Grand Teton Lodge Company is one of the official concessionaires of Grand Teton National Park. It runs multiple lodges in the park and is authorized to give river rafting trips within the park boundaries.

Solitude Float Trips

Solitude Float Trips has a contract with Grand Teton National Park to give float tours INSIDE Grand Teton National Park.

Triangle X

Triangle X is a dude ranch that operates within Grand Teton National Park. But you don’t have to stay at the dude ranch to enjoy one of their scenic floats!

people river rafting

Companies outside Grand Teton

Jackson Hole Whitewater

They’ve been around since the 1960s and they recently merged with Barker Ewing.

Whitewater trips

White water trips go through a canyon just south of Jackson Hole with rapids rated class 3 (out of 5).

Scenic floats

Scenic float trips go through a privately-owned section on the Snake River Ranch that is closer to Grand Teton National Park and provides views of the mountains.

Combo

Combination of scenic float and whitewater trip

Packages

They also offer a variety of other combination packages:

Mad River Boat Trips

Whitewater

Scenic float

Scenic floats start in Wilson (just south of Teton Village) and go south for 13 miles.

Dave Hansen Whitewater

Whitewater

Scenic floats

Packages

They also offer combo packages for lodging and other experiences in Grand Teton:

Teton Whitewater

Whitewater

Calm Floats

Combos

Sands Whitewater

Whitewater

Scenic floats

Lewis and Clark River Expeditions

Whitewater

Scenic Float

Black Dog Raft Company

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