Best Places to Go White Water Rafting for Beginners

Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is known for its breathtaking landscapes, rugged mountains, and diverse wildlife. But another thrilling adventure awaits both locals and visitors alike: white water rafting. With several rivers flowing through and near the region, Jackson Hole provides unparalleled opportunities for rafting enthusiasts of all skill levels. If you’re a beginner looking to experience the thrill of white water rafting in a beautiful and safe setting, here are the best places to go rafting in and around Jackson Hole.

 1. Snake River – Upper Section

The Snake River’s Upper Section is a great starting point for beginners seeking a mix of excitement and scenic beauty. While it includes class II and III rapids, suitable for those new to the sport, it also offers a few more challenging rapids for those seeking to progress. Rapids like “The Big Kahuna” and “Lunch Counter” deliver moderate thrills, while calmer stretches let you relax and enjoy stunning views of the Tetons and the surrounding landscapes.

  • Best Time to Visit: Late May through September
  • Highlights: Teton views, diverse wildlife, family-friendly

 2. Snake River – Scenic Section

For a more relaxed introduction to white water rafting, the Scenic Section of the Snake River is ideal. This stretch features gentle class I and II rapids, allowing beginners to focus on the surrounding beauty rather than navigating intense waves. Enjoy a peaceful float through Snake River Canyon while taking in breathtaking views of the Gros Ventre Mountain Range and spotting native wildlife like bald eagles and river otters.

  • Best Time to Visit: June through September
  • Highlights: Wildlife spotting, calm waters, photography opportunities

 3. Green River – Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge

Located about 100 miles south of Jackson Hole, the Green River flows through the Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge, offering excellent rafting opportunities. This beginner-friendly stretch is perfect for those who want a calmer ride with a chance to observe wildlife such as moose, beavers, and migratory birds. The gentle class I and II rapids suit families with young children and individuals looking for a leisurely float.

  • Best Time to Visit: June through August
  • Highlights: Wildlife viewing, family-friendly, scenic landscapes

 4. Gros Ventre River

The Gros Ventre River, east of Jackson, is an excellent option for beginners who want to avoid the crowds but still enjoy white water rafting in a stunning setting. The river offers a combination of class I to III rapids, providing a range of challenges without being too intimidating. The picturesque journey passes through the Bridger-Teton National Forest, allowing rafters to soak in the unspoiled wilderness.

  • Best Time to Visit: June through September
  • Highlights: Secluded wilderness, diverse rapids, relaxed atmosphere

 5. Yellowstone River

While not directly in Jackson Hole, the Yellowstone River is worth the two-hour drive north to Gardiner, Montana, where you can embark on a rafting adventure outside Yellowstone National Park. With class II and III rapids, the Yellowstone River combines gentle and moderately challenging rapids suitable for beginners. The rugged canyons and abundant wildlife create a memorable backdrop for rafting.

  • Best Time to Visit: June through September
  • Highlights: Yellowstone National Park views, moderate rapids, diverse wildlife

 Safety Tips for Beginners

To ensure a fun and memorable experience while rafting in Jackson Hole, it’s essential to prioritize safety and preparedness. Here are some key safety tips for beginners to keep in mind:

  • Choose the Right Outfitter: Select a reputable outfitter with knowledgeable guides who are experienced in leading beginner trips.
  • Wear Safety Gear: Always wear a helmet and personal flotation device (PFD) the outfitter provides.
  • Listen to Your Guide: Listen to your guide’s safety instructions before and during the trip.
  • Dress Appropriately: Wear quick-drying clothing and secure footwear. Wetsuits are recommended for colder days.

White water rafting in and around Jackson Hole is a thrilling experience for beginners and experts alike. From the wild yet approachable rapids of the Snake River to the serene floats through scenic landscapes, these rivers offer something for everyone. By choosing one of these beginner-friendly spots, you can safely explore the exhilaration of rafting while immersing yourself in the natural beauty of Wyoming.

Jackson Hole Whitewater (jhww.com) is a well-established outfitter offering guided rafting trips for all skill levels in the Jackson Hole area. Their knowledgeable guides ensure a safe and enjoyable experience while exploring the beauty of the Snake River and surrounding landscapes.