Grand Teton was one of my favorite national parks long before I actually visited. There’s just something so mesmerizing about those distinctly rugged, craggy peaks. So as soon as I started planning a Bozeman > Big Sky > Yellowstone National Park > Jackson vacation, I knew that Jackson Hole float trips were an absolute must.
Don’t get me wrong: There are many heavy-hitting national parks in this country. Heck, there are several heavy-hitting national parks in the western United States alone! There are the magical canyons of Zion, Yosemite’s iconic Half Dome, the remote wilderness of Glacier, and of course, Grand Teton’s otherworldly neighbor, Yellowstone.
But for me, none of them hold a candle to the Tetons. Well, okay, maybe Glacier… Anyway, needless to say, a float trip in Grand Teton was high on my bucket list!
Planning the best Snake River float trip
As I started planning things to do in Grand Teton National Park, I remembered seeing photos of people on the water directly in front of the Tetons. I had no idea what that body of water was at the time (or what they were doing — were they on a boat? Fishing? Swimming?), but I knew I needed to be there.
I quickly learned that the pictures I saw were of people on one of the Jackson Hole float trips. As it turns out, a scenic float trip in Grand Teton is widely considered the thing to do. I usually avoid “touristy” attractions, preferring to explore on my own, but when in Rome, right? At least, when Rome happens to be insanely beautiful Jackson Hole.
My quest to find the best Jackson Hole float trips was a bit overwhelming at first. There are dozens of Jackson Hole tour companies, each promising the best Grand Teton float trips.
Almost all of them have wonderful reviews, but I noticed huge price disparities and distinct differences in people’s trip photos. Many — like mine — included head-on views of Grand Teton, but others, well, didn’t.
In the midst of obsessing over hundreds of Tripadvisor reviews, I finally figured out that only a few Jackson Hole float trips actually operate inside Grand Teton National Park. Aha!
Jackson Hole float trips inside GTNP
According to the National Park Service, only “authorized concessionaires” can take guests on Jackson Hole float trips within the boundaries of GTNP. The major difference between authorized concessionaires and other outfitters is their approved routes. To put it plainly, it’s a tremendous difference.
Authorized concessionaires run their Grand Teton float trips on a pristine 10-mile section beginning at Dead Man’s Bar and ending in Moose Landing. You’re inside Grand Teton National Park enjoying head-on, panoramic views of the Tetons the entire time. I can’t imagine a Snake River float trip any other way!
Can you think of any things to do in Grand Teton National Park that could possibly be better?!
The other best Snake River float trip outfitters operate their tours on a stretch that’s just south of GTNP, through mostly private land. I’m sure it’s beautiful — this is Jackson Hole, after all — but there’s no way it compares.
Eight companies are listed as authorized concessionaires for Jackson Hole float trips, but several are private guest ranches. I consistently came across three names in my research:
Triangle X Ranch (operating as National Park Float Trips)
After agonizing over more reviews (admittedly, I’m that girl — I don’t know how I survived before Yelp or TripAdvisor!), I settled on Triangle X float trips.
Triangle X Ranch has been offering the Snake River float trip for over 50 years, their reviews are near-perfect, and they offer both sunrise and sunset floats. In case you don’t know this about me, watching sunrises and sunsets from as many different places as possible is one of my “things.”
Triangle X float trips
To be fair, I’m sure we would have had a wonderful experience on any float trip in Grand Teton. At the same time, I can’t imagine anyone doing a better job than Triangle X float trips. Does that make sense?!
Our Snake River float trip was about three hours total. A Triangle X Ranch guide met us at the trip’s endpoint, then drove us to the starting point, about 15 minutes away. This way, our vehicle was right there waiting for us when we got off the boat.
We had the absolute best Grand Teton float trip guide. He’s a seasoned angler and a 20-plus-year Jackson native, so he’s a wealth of knowledge. Between expertly steering our raft and telling us when the best photo ops were coming up, he told us about the Tetons’ geology and taught us how to identify juvenile bald eagles.
Fun fact: they don’t get their signature white heads until adulthood. He also explained how mighty and “advanced” the Snake River is, even in this more calm section. In fact, on our Teton scenic float he pointed out a channel that wasn’t there just a few hours earlier!
Triangle X float trips generally run from mid-May to late September. Summer weather in Jackson Hole can be unpredictable, so wear layers. You will not (**should not) get wet while during your Snake River float trip. I wore leggings, a light long-sleeved top, North Face fleece jacket, Chacos, and a beanie. Halfway through, I ditched my jacket and hat. We paid $159 for two of us, plus a $40 tip — money very well spent.
If you’re looking for things to do in Grand Teton National Park, a Snake River float trip with Triangle X should be at the top of your list. They also offer guided fishing trips and although we didn’t stay at the Triangle X Ranch this trip, we got a sneak peek and it is to die for. #2021goals.
Looking for more things to do in Grand Teton National Park besides a Snake River scenic float trip?
One final note: we visited Jackson in August 2020, during the height of COVID-19 chaos. Triangle X Ranch had excellent safety protocols in place, including reduced capacity on the rafts from 20 to just 8-10 passengers. We had plenty of room to socially distance and felt safe at all times.
Our Snake River float trip was by far one of my favorite things to do in Grand Teton National Park. I hope you enjoy yours too! Don’t forget to pin this post for planning your own Jackson Hole float trips!