Jackson Hole

May through July the sun is high and our creeks are too. Besides the usual roadside runs there are some great packrafting day trips. Be on the lookout for log jams and strainers. Always be ready to get out fast. Some of my Favorites include:

Willow Creek: A four mile hike in from the trail head takes one to Adams Canyon wich is the best put in. Right below is a Class III+ drop called Adams Apple. Below that there is one more Class III- drop and whole lot of class II while you drop down to the Hoback River and the take out.

South Fork of the Buffalo: Starting behind Togwotee Mountain Lodge hike a couple miles down to a trail junction. At the junction make a left for short walk to the River for a great class II (III) float out to Turpine Meadows. If you make a right put in at the ford for a class IV adrenaline rush. Above the ford is a class V section.

North Fork of the Buffalo : This is a great loop hike/float with a lot of bang for the buck. Park at Turpine Meadows and hike 5 miles up the North Fork Trail to Soda Fork Meadows and blow up your boats. Enjoy a 10 mile Clas II (III) wilderness float back to you car.

Crystal Creek: Can you say Creeking? Yeha! This is a fun Class IV out and back. Park at the Crystal Creek Trail head. After fording the Creek follow the trail less the two miles to the big obvious meadow. From there back to you car is a non stop whitewater adrenaline rush. To squeeze more out of it hike further and put in at Jag Creek.

I spent yesterday afternoon clearing wood out of the first rapid on Willow Creek (Adams Apple PR 3/4). The river wide log at the bottom of the second drop is now gone. There is still a lot of wood lower in Willow Creek. I am hoping to clear more of it this fall.

I have cleared most of the wood out of Willow Creek from Adam Creek to the confluence with the Hoback River. There are still two large log jams and one river wide log that were not removed and are mandatory portages. Additionally, there are three logs that may or may not be portaged depending on flow levels and packrafting skill. These were left in place due to the work involved in their removal and their ecological role in creating trout habitat.

Willow Creek is now much safer and enjoyable. I engaged in the project with the goals of removing the largest hazards and creating a navigable path though previously highly wooded sections. Strainers and snags still exist. New hazards could materialize at any time. Packrafters need to be always on the watch for wood and prepared to evacuate their boats.

I plan on running it in April and will post more details when I do.

Yesterday three of us ran the lower section of Willow Creek from Adam’s Canyon down. Even with the cloudy skies there was plenty of water. It was running around 350 CFS. It took us two hours to float the 8 miles from Adam’s Canyon to the take out on the Hoback. We even did two laps of Adam’s Apple Rapid. Adam’s Apple Rapid is PR 4. There are three more tight sections of the river that contain PR 3 rapids. There are still three mandatory portages from wood. All these portages are during flat water sections with plenty of time to get out. There is one big river wide log on one of the lower whitewater sections. The branches I removed from the underside last fall to allow the intrepid packrafter to float under it.

This is one of the best packrafting day floats in the JH area. It used to be realy good. With much of the wood removed it is fantastic. With all our snow this season in will be runnable through at least June.

A posy from JH paddled the North Fork of the Buffalo from Soda Fork meadows to Turpine Meadows this afternoon. The Buffalo gage was at about 1,600 CFS. This is highest water I have floated this section. And it was really, really fun. At this level the North Fork above the confluence contained some PR 3 sections. The final gorge, below the confluence with the South Fork, was a solid and exciting PR 4. The entire 10 miles was sustained splashy whitewater with lots of big waves. We encountered no wood. Lots of fresh grizzly tracks and scat on the hike in.

Forrest - any recommendations for moderate floats around Jackson Hole in late July? I will be there climbing and hope to do some packrafting on the rest days. Thanks!


We have so much snow this year many of our creeks will undoubtedly still be running late into the summer. There is lots of roadside fun like the Granite Creek, Hoback River, Grays River, Gros Ventre River and the Snake River that have enjoyable Class II and III sections. These would all be great floats on hot summer day when recovering from a long Teton Climb.

You should plan a day for a true packrafting adventure. A great day trip is an out and back on Pacific Creek. Another Classic is either forks of the Buffalo. By the end of the July they should be a lot tamer then when we ran the North Fork on Sunday. Both Pacific Creek and the Buffalo Fork have very enjoyable PR 2/3 options. Get in touch with me when you are here and hopefully I can get out for a paddle with you.

All the creeks and rivers that Forrest mentioned look really good. I’d bring a farmer john wet suit with paddle jacket instead of dry suit.

For an Alaskan, packrafting in the JH area is a bit like climbing in Yosemite or skiing in Colorado. Great weather and great terrain and access.

Nice! Some gnarific boating there.

Over several million years the Yellowstone Supervolcano blanketed eastern Idaho in hundreds of feet of volcanic ash, or tuft. Nearby, the Teton River drains the snowy western flank of the mighty Teton Range and has carved its way through the Yellowstone ash creating a wild, turbulent and beautiful canyon.

On July 25, 2010 Derek Collins and Forrest McCarthy put in at Harrops Bridge on Highway 33 and navigated 18 miles of the Teton River to the Linderman Dam. With the exception of the Felt Power Plan they ran everything. The gage above Leigh Creek reported 350 cfs.