December 29, 2017 by Deborah W. Trotter
Unlike Kenai Fjords in Alaska (see previous post), no one would ever suggest that Grand Teton National Park is best experienced from a boat. A float trip down the Snake River is an option, however, a chance to see some wildlife, and a very pleasant way to learn about the Park while unwinding for a couple of hours.
Through the years we have taken several such raft float trips. This time, we were up before sunrise one August morning to arrive on time at the Jackson Lake Lodge to board the van for the half hour ride to the launch site. There we huddled in the morning chill, as our guide and his assistants muscled the inflatable rubber raft into the river. We donned life preservers and absorbed our guide’s safety advisory, including how to get into the raft, how to sit on the not-entirely-stable rubber sidewalls, and what to do if someone falls overboard, although our guide said in his many trips down the river, it had only happened once.
Each raft has two sections, separated by the guide station in the middle from where he or she rows and controls the raft. The vessel has no designed front or back, so about half the time you have an unobstructed view ahead, depending on how the guide positions the raft in the current, and alternating views of both river banks. That morning we were two of eight passengers in a raft that would hold 16, so we spread out and had lots of room to turn and look in any direction during the approximately 10 – mile trip.
Photographing while floating is a challenge because you’re on a river in a bouncy rubber raft, but I took enough pictures to capture the flow of our experience on the Snake. We saw more wildlife than I was able to photograph, but fewer creatures than we had hoped. Highlights included seeing several bald eagles, a variety of water birds, hearing the cry of a wolf, and the thrumming sounds of a herd of bison on the riverbank above us.
If you have the time when you visit Grand Teton National Park, I recommend you take a float trip down the Snake River. It is relaxing, and you never know what you might encounter along the way. After all, it is never the same river twice.