Jackson Hole is an outdoor lover’s dream. And tops on the list of these adventures is whitewater rafting. Rip-roaring rapids and smooth sections of Snake River await with Barker-Ewing Whitewater. This family-owned company impressed us with this fun, fast, and fearless excursion. Cowboy up and try this thrilling activity; it’s a wild and wooly Western ride!
Barker-Ewing started in 1963 as a small family run business, and has remained true to its roots. Offering both whitewater rafting and scenic float trips, THIS is the ultimate summer Western outdoors experience. This experience is all about memory making and appreciation of our surroundings and environment. Couldn’t ask for a better combination in such a beautiful landscape as Jackson Hole!
Thanks to Barker-Ewing for hosting our fun adventures in the Jackson Hole area. As always, you can count on my honest feedback.
I have to be completely honest: our family was on edge when we arrived for our whitewater experience. For starters, I took us to the wrong Barker-Ewing office that’s in town instead of the one the rafting trips leave from. Not a good start! Between leaving the dude ranch we were staying at and being tired, none of our hearts were in whitewater rafting.This is the ugly underbelly of travel blogging: sometimes you push your family past their breaking point. Despite this, I am so glad we pushed through and did it! It turned out to be one of the best family outdoor experiences we’ve had.
We climbed onboard the Barker-Ewing bus and made the 45 minute ride to the launch spot. After going over safety rules, we put on our lifejackets and decided who would paddle. Our classic paddle raft was enormous, which it had to be considering we had 14 of us going on our adventure.
Austin, our whitewater guide was incredible. Enthusiastic, great with the kids, and just a joy to be around. He cracked us up with his humor and shared stories about the rapids we were about to attack. Named Big Kahuna and Lunch Counter, it’s a good thing I couldn’t see these rapids before we rafted them!
My son loved the opportunities to freestyle off the raft with flips and belly flops, and he had lots of company with the other kids on our trip. Check out our Go Pro footage from our adventure:
The whitewater wasn’t nearly as strenuous or constant as I had imagined. We had plenty of opportunities to look around and take in the gorgeous scenery of the Snake River Canyon.
Float Trips Too
Can’t decide between whitewater rafting and float trip? Then choose the Jackson Hole Scenic & Whitewater Breakfast Trip for the best of both worlds. The 8-mile scenic float trip takes guests to a private camp where breakfast featuring wild rice pancakes, maple sausage, scrambled eggs with fresh fruit is ready to eat! Then follow it with the whitewater for 8 miles of whitewater rafting fun.
All the Details:
The season runs May 15 through September 15. Allow approximately 3 to 3.5 hours for the trek from Barker-Ewing office to the launch location on Snake River and back.
The whitewater rafting section of the Snake River is a Class III river, perfect for people of all ages and experience. (River classifications are graded on a scale of I to VI.) Of course, the highlight for the kids was “riding the bull” in the front of the raft.
- Classic paddle raft: Adults $82, Youth (ages 6-12) $65
- Small Boat Paddle Raft: Adults $88, Youth (ages 6-12) $88
- Combo Float Trip and Whitewater: Adults $132, Youth (ages 6-12) $110
The minimum age for kids to participate in whitewater rafting is 6 years old/approximately 45 pounds for most of the summer season. One thing that is impressive is the constant reference to safety being paramount. For example, when water levels are high during the early season, Barker-Ewing may increase the minimum age up to 8-10 years old. For scenic float trips, the minimum age for children is 4 years old/approximately 40 pounds (again subject to change depending on water levels). Safety first-I like that!
What to Wear:
Wear a swimsuit or clothes that you don’t mind getting wet. Whatever you wear or bring, know that it COULD get wet. In other words, pretty much count on it. Cotton is the least desirable material to wear on the river; synthetic fabrics such as nylon and polypropylene work the best because they dry quickly.
Neoprene wetsuits, booties and fleece are available for rental at check-in. Our rafting trip was at 2pm, so we were plenty warm and didn’t need wetsuits. But the water is chilly! I did go with a pair of booties-not fashionable but they kept my feet warm. (If my feet get cold, then I’m cold and I feel miserable.)
Complimentary splash jackets and pants are provided for all of Barker-Ewing’s river trips. Shoes must be secure on your feet; NO flip-flops allowed.
Tip: Purchase at least one photo of your adventure from Float-O-Graphs. Their photographers will be taking photos at the rapids to capture the big SPLASH images.
What to Bring and NOT to bring:
Bring a towel and/or dry clothes to change into at the end of your trip so you’re comfortable on the 45-minute return ride back to Jackson. Sunglasses and hats are helpful, but may need to be secured. Do not forget the sunscreen! Cameras and binoculars are NOT recommended on whitewater rafting trips. Which is why I highly recommend a GoPro to document the fun. I always rest easy knowing the camera can get wet.