Whitewater Rafting vs. Scenic Float Trip: Which Should I Choose?

Whitewater Rafting vs. Scenic Float Trip: Which Should I Choose?

Looking for outdoor recreation ideas for this summer? If you’re planning your summer vacation, one of the best ways to stay cool while enjoying a beautiful natural landscape is to spend some time on the water. Wyoming, especially Jackson Hole, has some amazing scenery (like The Grand Tetons) along the Snake River. Parts of the river are full of rapids for exciting whitewater rafting adventures, while other parts are calmer, allowing you to drift along lazily in the cool water while enjoying the beauty around you.

If both of these options sound nice, it may be hard to decide which option is right for you. Read on for more detailed descriptions of what each experience is like to help you decide which type of trip you would prefer.

White Water Rafting 

The Snake River in Jackson Hole, WY is one of the best places for white water rafting. With rapids ranging from class I to VI (with I being calm water and V being large rapids) you’ll experience an ideal mix of exciting rapids and calm waters to rest your arms.

White river rafting is a thrill-seeker’s dream. The boat will hit rapids like a brick wall, rise over the top and fall back down to the water like a roller coaster, and potentially even flip over. You will certainly get wet, it’s just a matter of how wet.

Even so, whitewater rafting is very safe. You’ll wear a helmet and a life jacket. Falling out of the boat is common and not a big deal.

Benefits of Whitewater Adventures

  • Fun and excitement. If you like adventure, you’re sure to like whitewater rafting. There is nothing boring about it. You’ll be kept busy paddling, experience the ride of your life, and all with an excellent view of the Grand Teton Mountains.
  • Family bonding. Family river rafting is quality time together that doesn’t involve a screen. Working as a team to paddle your raft is one of the best ways to bond with each other, even siblings who seem to never get along. Children as young as 6 years old can participate in rafting when the water level is low enough.
  • Team building. Group rafting trips are a great team-building exercise for coworkers, church groups, and other teams of people. Working together toward a common cause (paddling the boat and conquering the rapids) is an effective way to strengthen the bonds between members of a group.
  • Appropriate for beginners and those with experience. You don’t have to have whitewater rafting experience to go on a guided adventure. You can learn everything you need to know before you get in the raft and during the trip itself.

Scenic Float Trip

If you’re looking for a scenic view while you gently drift down the river, a scenic float trip may be just right for you. You’ll have amazing views of the Grand Tetons as well as plenty of wildlife sightings along the way.

You can expect to stay dry during this trip, so feel free to bring along your camera to capture the scenery and wildlife you spot along the way. There’s virtually no chance of your boat turning over or getting caught in the rapids.

This is a relaxing trip. Nothing strenuous, no paddling involved. Your guide will paddle as needed and gently steer the boat down the calmer waters of the Snake River. You can take the half-day trip or the full day trip, depending on the time you have available.

Benefits of the Scenic Float Trip

  • Time to enjoy the scenery. Jackson Hole float trips move at a much slower pace. You’ll have time to take in all the beautiful views around you and even capture photos if you wish.
  • Relaxing. Do you prefer your vacations to be restful and peaceful? The Grand Teton float trip will be very laid back. You can sit back and relax and take deep breaths of crisp mountain air as your boat gently bobs and floats on the water.
  • Appropriate for children as young as 4. Some Teton scenic float tours allow children as young as 4 to go along while others require children to be at least 6. If you want an excursion that will allow younger children to participate, the float trip would be a better option than whitewater rafting.
  • Appropriate for older adults. For adults who would find whitewater rafting too strenuous, the Snake River scenic float trip would be more pleasurable.

Still, Having Trouble Choosing? Try Both

The good news is that you don’t have to choose between the two types of excursions. Barker Ewing Whitewater is one of the best places for white water rafting and scenic float tours alike in Jackson Hole, WY. We offer white water rafting for beginners as well as experienced paddlers so that everyone can have a good time.

Call us to book your trip or if you have any questions! 800-448-4202

What to Wear on Your Whitewater Rafting or Scenic Float Trip

One of the most common questions we get asked by people who are booking a Jackson Hole whitewater rafting or scenic float trip is what they should wear on their excursion. Above all else, the one requirement for both trips is that you should wear something comfortable. Other than that, the two experiences couldn’t be any more different. Here’s what you should know before your rafting trip.

What Do You Wear on a Float Trip?

Many people wonder if they’re going to get wet on a Snake River scenic float trip. Nope! There’s no splashing on this trip—if that’s what you’re after, we recommend a whitewater rafting trip instead. A scenic float trip takes place on calm waters, allowing you to enjoy the view as you leisurely float down the river.

It can be chilly on the river even in the summertime, so bring an extra layer of clothes if you’re going on one of the morning or lunch trips. Both your clothes and your shoes should be comfortable, and shoes should also be soft-soled. Wear sunscreen and bring the bottle with you; also bring a hat and sunglasses if you have them.

What Should I Take on a Float Trip?

In addition to sun protection, you are welcome to bring your camera (or smartphone) and binoculars.

What Do You Wear White Water Rafting in Jackson Hole?

The main difference between a Snake River float trip and whitewater rafting in Jackson Hole is that with whitewater rafting, you can expect to get wet! If it’s a warm summer day, you can wear a swimsuit or lightweight synthetic fabrics that dry quickly like nylon or polypropylene. When the weather is a bit cooler, you can rent neoprene wetsuits, river booties, and fleece.

You’ll need shoes that fit securely on your feet—no flip-flops, but make sure you’re wearing shoes you don’t mind getting them wet. We provide complimentary splash jackets and pants too.

What Do You Need for Whitewater Rafting?

Leave your camera, binoculars, and phone behind—you don’t want them to get wet and you won’t have much of a chance to use them anyway when you’re riding the rapids. Do bring a towel and dry clothes to change into once your whitewater rafting trip is done. The drive back to Jackson is 40 minutes and you won’t want to be sitting in wet clothes the entire time! It’s also a good idea to bring sunglasses, hats, and sunscreen to protect yourself from UV rays.

Book a Whitewater Rafting or Scenic Float Trip in Jackson Hole

If you’d like to learn more about our whitewater rafting trips or scenic float tours, contact us and we’ll be happy to answer any of your questions. Ready to reserve your place on one of our rafts? Book now and we’ll see you soon!

Jackson Hole Scenic Float: What to Expect

scenic float grand tetons

If you’ve never been on a scenic float trip before, you’re probably wondering what to expect. Or, maybe you have been on a float trip before, but this is your first Jackson Hole scenic float trip. At Barker Ewing, we’ve been taking folks down the Snake River on scenic float tours since 1963, so we know the perfect stretch of the river for the best views and our guides are full of fun facts and knowledge about the area. Here’s what to expect on your trip.

Expect Teton Views

There are many reasons why our Jackson Hole scenic float trips are well-loved and highly-rated on TripAdvisor, but the views are certainly at the top of the list. If you want the best views of the Tetons, you can’t beat our Teton Views Scenic Floats. 


We begin floating just outside the southern boundary of Grand Teton National Park, at the historic Snake River Ranch. No other scenic float trip has access to the river via the Snake River Ranch, so you’re getting an exclusive experience you won’t find anywhere else. You’ll float on the river and enjoy panoramic views of the Teton Range, Snake River Range, and Gros Ventre Range. Bring your binoculars or camera and watch for birds and wildlife. It’s an unforgettable experience that your whole family will enjoy.

Expect to Relax

Jackson Hole scenic float trips are not the same as whitewater rafting—you don’t need to paddle or do anything other than sit back, relax, and take in the scenery. If you’ve got an active vacation planned in Jackson Hole, a scenic float trip is a great way to get a little down time and give your feet a rest for a few hours. You’ll even get a gourmet picnic lunch on your trip, so you won’t have to worry about planning that either!

Expect to Learn

Our guides are the best in the business—they’re passionate about wildlife, nature, history, geology, local lore, and more, so you’ll come away from your Jackson Hole scenic float trip knowing a lot more about the area. Kids especially have fun asking our guides about the different animals that make the Tetons their home. 

Expect Weather Changes

Even at the height of summer, mornings can be chilly in Jackson Hole, especially on the river. Bring an extra layer of clothes if you’re booked for a float trip in the morning or for lunch. Even on days that are overcast, you’ll want to slather on the sunscreen before you go out on the water and wear a hat and sunglasses for your protection. We don’t want sunburn to ruin the rest of your vacation!


Oh, and one more thing—don’t expect to get wet unless it rains. Unlike whitewater rafting, scenic float trips are on calm waters, so there’s no bumps or splashing. 

Book a Jackson Hole Scenic Float Trip

Contact us today at 307-733-1000 to learn more about our Snake River scenic float trips or book online now. We look forward to seeing you in beautiful Jackson Hole!