and Teton Parks and would like info on half day and day paddles on the lakes. Or any half or day paddles you have done there and enjoyed on the lakes. Headed up there next week. Chris
Absolutely a beautiful area, just returned from the Tetons last weekend. A must do paddle is String Lake to Leigh Lake. String lake is very shallow and not very large, but you have to paddle it to get to Leigh. The is a 150 yard partage between the two, but I assure you it is worth it! Your chances of seeing deer, elk, and moose are quite high on this paddle. You must do the Oxbow bend on the Snake river, it has a lake like setting and your chances of seeing moose and other wildlife is assured if you launch before 6:00am. Two Ocean lake is very interesting with the vegitation that covers the entire bottom of the lake, but it is more remote than the other lakes. However, it is very rarely paddled and you see great wildlife such as moose swimming across. Jenny lake is beautiful but busier than the others. Jackson lake is quite large and not particularly fun to paddle. If you have time, drive down to Lower Slide lake, it has a beautiful setting and some interesting history—your chances of seeing Bald Eagles is quite good here. If you would like more info, or some pics to help make your decision, feel free to email me. We have gone to the Grand Tetons twice, and on our last visit we skipped Yellowstone entirely and focussed on paddling in the Tetons. It will take your breath away!
Paddled Yellowstone Lake last May
I paddled out from Bridge Bay around the east side of Stevenson Island south to Dot Island and back to Bridge Bay along the western shore. Pics here.
Have fun. I am bringing my wife next month after the crowds are gone.
We a had a good paddle on Lewis Lake
There is a boat ramp on the south end of the lake where pou can put in and park.
-Paddle a short distance across the lake to the west side and then turn right heading north.
After about four miles you can turn left into the Lewis River and head up stream for two miles until you come to some small rapids.
We turned around there, but you can pull through the rapids and get to the next lake if you want to, (don’t know how far though).
On the way we paddled through some hot springs which was kind of neat. They were bubbling right out of the lake near the shoreline.
We also paddled by a bison which was grazing on the grass at the shore line.
In the river we were accompanied by a coyote for a bit.
Be prepared for strong wind on the lake in the PPM.
That water temp is cold, so be prepared.
If you want to paddle in Y-Stone then I would pass on the big lake - you need a couple days minimum to mess around. Instead put in at Lewis Lake and head up to Shoshone Lake - it is a pretty neat lake with some really good fishing and thermal features not too many see.
The tetons are a neat place to paddle and I second some of the other suggestions.
You could also raft the snake (out of jackson) or yellowstone (north park of the park) (snake is better in my opinion).
Almost forgot - don’t leave out Idaho. Nice lakes and some really good rivers.
YNP and GTNP paddles
1. The String Lake paddle already mentioned is an easy 1/2 or even 1/4 day. Lots of other paddlers, swimmers, picnickers etc.
2. Jenny Lake is 6.5 miles around. Once away from the launch and the two commercial water taxi boat docks, you will be rather alone. There are well travelled trails all around the Lake, so there will not be a great amount of large wildlife present. (The trail also gives you an excape if the weather suddenly goes bad). You will probably get to see a bald eagle though. The water taxis do create wakes which produce weird wave patterns, which adds interest to the trip. Do this trip in the morning before the afternoon winds kick up. My 15 year old son and I did it twice this summer easily in less than 3 hours; stopping on some nice beaches for lunch and stretching. We stay within 50’ of shore.
3. Jackson Lake is not as pretty, because it is a resevoir with severe draw down at this time of year. But it sits at the base of the awesome Mt. Moran to the south. Launch from Signal Mountain or Spaulding Bay for some incredible sights.
4. The Oxbow on the Snake River; just downsteam from the Jackson Lake Dam. This is THE premier wildlife viewing bit of water in the Park. You can put in just below the Dam and float/paddle into the Oxbow; re-enter the Snake and take out at Pacific Creek. OR you can launch directly from the overlook pullout. It is 100’+ down a mild embankment to the water. There is another put in just to the West of the Oxbow, but it was closed last week due to nesting eagles. This may be open now.
5. And lastly, Yellowstone Lake is a serious body of water. There is some nice stuff along the shore west of Grant (Stop at the Backcountry Office there). Other places are between Bridge Bay and Gull Point AND on the NE side Sedge Bay is a good launch. This is a serious place; cold water, big wind etc. Stay really close to shore AND wear your PFD!!!
RULES/REGS: Non-motorized permit for both parks is $5/boat. Stop at the Moose Visitors’ Center or the Grant Office.
Get The Book
As far as I know, there is only one paddling guide to Yellowstone and Teton parks, and it’s a good one. I think the link to books from this site lists it.
Also buy a couple of maps: the Earthwalk coated plastic map (my favorite) of the entire park, and the National Geographic (Trails Illustrated) one of Yellowstone Lake (do NOT get their map of the entire park; it is inferior to Earthwalk’s map). Both my recommendations show backcountry campsites on the lakes, as well as the usual features.
I agree that Jackson Lake is not as pretty as Yellowstone Lake, Shoshone Lake, or the String/Leigh pair of lakes. Jackson gets more powerboaters and even jetskiers, and the fluctuating water levels (it’s a reservoir, unlike Yellowstone and Shoshone) make for some ugly “ring around the collar” effects. But it does have incredible views of the Tetons.
I have paddled around the entirety of Lewis Lake as part of a day trip. Almost everybody cuts out the eastern part of the lake so they can get to the Lewis River channel more quickly. If you are heading to Shoshone Lake for a multi-day camping trip, that makes sense, because lining or portaging the last mile or 1.5 miles of the Lewis River is slow. But if you are only going for a day paddle AND if the weather is calm, I recommend doing the entire circumference of Lewis Lake as well as going part way up the river channel. Lewis Lake isn’t that big…about 12 miles total for going around the whole thing and halfway up and back the river channel. Just make sure the weather will be calm, because the east side of Lewis Lake gets the main brunt of the wind.
If you camp on Shoshone, also don’t overlook going around THAT whole lake. Again, most people don’t do the northeast section of it, probably because there is a long stretch from the most northern campsite to the next one, near the Lewis River.
Good day paddles on Yellowstone Lake:
- Bridge Bay to Fishing Bridge and back. I think this part of the lake has much better mountain views than the more-popular Grant Village launches. I even saw the Grand Tetons peaking through during a paddle in this area. As a bonus, you can land your kayak below the ranger station on top of some low cliffs near Lake Lodge and walk to the general store’s grille to buy a good lunch.
- Bridge Bay to Gull Point, out to Stevenson Island, and back to Bridge Bay. Crossing to Stevenson is about 2 miles each way, so don’t do this if crossings freak you out.
- Grant Village to the West Thumb geyser areas. You are not allowed to land on any thermal areas, but if you go north of the main zoo…er, I mean the touristy boardwalk area…and continue past the last steam vents, you can land a short distance away. There are signs telling you where landing is forbidden.
If you want to paddle Two Ocean or String/Leigh lakes in Grand Teton NP, ask rangers about water levels. The year we did String and Leigh, the water levels were down and the lakes were not the beautiful clear aquamarine we’d seen in photos. Still pretty. Two Ocean looked downright ugly and shrunken, but it’s supposed to be very nice in a normal water year. Jenny Lake looks pretty from the highway, but it is relatively crowded, esp. since a tourist shuttleboat powers along it.
What a great bunch of folks, thanks for
all the info. I plan on putting it to good use. We will have time for a few half day and day paddles while we are in that part of the world. We will use canoe and Kayak staying close to shore.If any one else has any opinions or ideas please chime in for it is informative and enjoyable reading! Chris
Also consider some runs on Henry’s Fork
which is in Idaho near the NW Yellowstone entrance. Although some sections are difficult whitewater, there is a section just below a major spring which runs through a wildlife refuge in marshy conditions. Also, the Box Canyon section is very scenic and easy class 2.
Thanks to all the advice @Yellowstone and Tetons. Will be looking to paddle there in Aug of next year. Can you rent out there? any good places to rent? Looking for good experiences.