|MEETING PLACE:||The Lexington, 285 North Cache Street, Jackson, WY 83001|
|MEETING TIME:||7:30 PM, the night before your trip|
|AREA COVERED:||Kayaking: Western shore to the Southern end of Jackson Lake
Rafting: Snake River (Pacific Creek to Deadman’s Bar – 10.5 river miles)
|RIVER RATING:||Class II|
|RETURN TIME:||4:00 – 6:00 PM on day 5|
|TRIP LENGTH:||5 Days / 4 Nights|
|AGE LIMIT:||Minimum age is 7|
|ACTIVITIES:||Sightseeing, hiking, kayaking, river rafting|
|BOAT TYPE:||2-person touring kayak, oar raft, stand up paddleboard|
Yellowstone National Park is far more than its famous geyser, Old Faithful. Half of the world’s geothermal features are in Yellowstone and the park has the largest concentration of wildlife in the “Lower 48” including black bears, wolves, wild horses, lynx, pronghorn antelope, moose, bison, badgers, otters, fox, trumpeter swans, pelicans, eagles, and close to 500 grizzlies. It is home to one of the largest herds of elk in the United States and one of the most remarkable fossil forests in the world. Yellowstone Lake, one of the largest high-altitude lakes in North America, is centered over the Yellowstone Caldera, the largest super-volcano on the continent. Established in 1872, this is America’s first national park. From the geothermal wonders of Yellowstone we take you to the cool, reflective waters and pristine wilderness of Jackson Lake and the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park. Experience the scenery, wildlife and natural history of two of the West’s most popular national parks and a multitude of adventure vacation activities from whitewater rafting and hiking to learning about geology, local history and more.
We pride ourselves in running a relaxed and flexible schedule. Every trip is different depending upon the group, other trips on the water and sometimes the weather. Please note the first two days of this trip are spent exploring Yellowstone’s front country. This includes extended time in touring vans. The following is a sample of what your trip might be like:
The Day before Your Trip
We meet at 7:30 pm at the Lexington of Jackson Hole for a pre-trip meeting. This is an opportunity to meet your fellow travelers and guides, and ask any last-minute questions. Your guides will give you a thorough trip orientation, and pass out your waterproof bag so you can pack your belongings that evening.
After an early departure from Jackson, we begin the first day of our adventure in Yellowstone National Park with a visit to Old Faithful, the world’s most renowned geyser. We’ll view its regularly occurring eruption and then meander along the extensive boardwalks that highlight the otherworldly geothermal features in the area, often sharing the experience with a stray bison from a nearby herd. Following a delicious lunch, we continue further into Yellowstone National Park, where we make exploratory stops along the way, which may include the Lower Geyser Basin and the Fountain Paint Pots. We then make our way to a campground in Madison or West Yellowstone, pitching our tents amidst the pines and enjoying a welcome dinner prepared by your guides.
After breakfast we venture to the Norris Geyser Basin and further into the heart of Yellowstone National Park. Near lunch time we’ll arrive at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, taking in the awesome power of the Upper and Lower Falls. Artist Point is must-see view—be sure to keep your camera or sketchpad handy! From the Canyon we’ll drive south to Yellowstone Lake, the largest high alpine lake in North America. Our final destination is Grant Village or Bridge Bay, were we’ll check into our campground for the night. The late afternoon is free for you to explore the grounds, reconvening for dinner as the sun sets behind the mountains.
In the morning we’ll be on our way to Grand Teton National Park. We’ll launch our kayaks from the Signal Mountain Boat Ramp and head out across the lake toward our camp on Grassy Island, located in Moran Bay. We’ll stop for a picnic lunch en-route, excited to arrive at our secluded island camp, which will be our home for the night. We’ll keep our eyes open for moose, elk, fox, beaver, black bear, mule deer and coyote that are found in the area.
We wake with breakfast and a morning hike to Leigh Lake. Now that we have conditioned sea legs we depart our Grassy Island camp and paddle to Spalding Bay. En route, we will stop for lunch along the southern shore of Jackson Lake and take in the majestic view of the Tetons. Spalding Bay camp is spectacular, and will be our destination for a delicious dinner and a night under the stars.
After breakfast we depart Spalding Bay for Signal Mountain Boat Ramp, where we leave the sea kayaks behind and transfer by van to the Snake River near Pacific Creek. Our rafts are waiting for the 10.5-mile peaceful meander along the base of the Grand Tetons on the Snake River. Look for wild trout as we float along, but fishing is not allowed. We may see moose browsing on willow, or yellow-bellied marmot sunning on the rocks. Take-out is near Deadman’s Bar, with a late afternoon return to Jackson.
Included in Your Trip Cost
- Skilled professional guide service
- All meals from lunch on day 1 through lunch on the last day
- 4 nights catered camping
- One waterproof bag to hold your gear for the trip (approximate sealed size: 33” diameter x 29” tall). Your sleeping bag and personal gear must fit into this one bag. (Tents and sleeping pads will be stored separately.) Please note: If you rent our gear it will come already packed in your issued waterproof bag. Your remaining gear, therefore, must also fit into that one
- One small waterproof bag for camera and other small items you’ll want during the day (approximate sealed size: 17” tall x 9” diameter)
- Two-person tents on a shared basis (there is a $30 charge for a private tent)
- Personal flotation device (PFD) which must be worn at all times on the river in compliance with safety regulations
- 12-ounce insulated Klean Kanteen with Café Lid to use for drinks in camp
- Camp chairs
- Eating utensils, cups and plates
- Highest quality inflatable rafts and related equipment
- Transfers from/to The Lexington at Jackson Hole
Not Included in Your Trip Cost
- Transportation to and from Jackson, Wyoming
- Pre- and post-trip accommodations and meals
- Sleeping bag & a deluxe 3-inch thick foam and air-filled sleeping pad (these items may be rented from OARS)
- Single supplement to guarantee use of a single tent ($30)
- Insurance of any kind, including a travel protection plan
- Alcoholic beverages
- Items of a personal nature (see included equipment list)
Available For Rent
Please indicate on your guest registration form whether you want to rent a sleep kit or if you prefer to bring your own.
- Sleep Kit: Can be rented for $40 per person. Sleep kits consist of a sleeping bag, deluxe 3-inch thick foam and air-filled sleeping pad, ground tarp, sheet, pillow and pillowcase.
- Sleeping Pad Only: The deluxe 3-inch thick foam and air-filled pad only may be rented for $15
- Single Tent: We provide 2 person tents. It is assumed you will share this tent with another person. You can (if you prefer) have a tent to yourself for an additional charge of $30 per tent.
TRIP PREPARATION CHECK LIST
☐ Consider Purchasing Travel Protection: We recommend the purchase of the OARS Travel Protection Plan to help protect you before and during your trip. A travel protection plan can help with reimbursement of your non-refundable payments in the event you have to cancel your trip due to listed reasons such as a covered illness or injury. Because we begin working to prepare for your trip upon receipt of your deposit and may be turning other prospective guests away while holding space for you, there are cancellation fees that will apply regardless of why or when you might need to cancel. We list the cost for the optional OARS Travel Protection Plan on your trip invoice.
Beginning December 10, 2018, OARS will offer a travel protection plan that is administered by Arch Insurance Company.
Insurance coverages are underwritten by Arch Insurance Company, NAIC #11150, under policy series LTP 2013 and endorsements thereto. Policies are administered by Arch Insurance Solutions Inc., 855-286-8351, CA license #0I18111, TX license #1787195. Your policy is the contract that specifically and fully describes your coverage. Certain restrictions and exclusions apply and coverages may vary in certain states. Please refer to your policy for detailed terms and conditions; online at: https://www.oars.com/tpp
Consumer disclosures can be found at: https://oars.archinsurancesolutions.com/disclosures
If you enrolled in a Trip Mate policy through OARS on or before December 9, 2018, the policy is still in place and will be administered by Trip Mate through the end date of your scheduled travel with OARS. All information provided in regards to the Trip Mate policy remains relevant. For a complete description of your Trip Mate policy, go online to: http://www.tripmate.com/wpF431Y or call Trip Mate at 800-888-7292 (reference Plan # F431Y).
☐ Trip Forms (online): Each participant will need to complete the required trip forms within two weeks of making a booking. Refer to your confirmation e-mail for the link to the online forms. If you prefer to fill out paper forms, please let us know right away. If you are reserving within 60 days of departure, your forms must be completed immediately to ensure we can properly plan for your trip.
☐ Reserve flights, shuttles and lodging: Reserve flights, shuttles and lodging: Verify with your adventure consultant that your trip has met minimum numbers prior to booking flights and/or reserving overnight lodging for the night before and after your trip, if applicable.
☐ Whitewater Orientation: To increase your safety, we expect everyone to watch our 23-minute Whitewater Orientation video before joining us. Watch at https://www.oars.com/experience/safety/ or call 800-346-6277 to request a free DVD. Please don’t leave home without watching.
☐ Physical Requirements: Your outdoor adventure will be an active participatory trip. Please inform us of any physical limitation you may have as soon as possible. Make sure you are exercising frequently in the months leading up to your trip.
☐ Payments: Final payment is due in our office 90 days prior to your trip (refer to your invoice for final payment date). Please let us know if you would like us to automatically charge your credit card on file when final payment is due.
Meeting Place & Time
The day before your trip we will meet at 7:30 PM in the lobby of the Lexington Hotel at Jackson Hole (285 N Cache Street, 307-733-2648) in Jackson, Wyoming for a pre-trip meeting. Your trip leader will provide a thorough trip orientation and pass out your waterproof bags so that you can pack your belongings that evening. The trip leader will also reconfirm the meeting time for the following morning and give you an opportunity to ask any last-minute questions.
Getting to Jackson, Wyoming
Five major highways lead into the Jackson Hole area: US 26, 89, 189, 191 and 287.
Mileage and Driving Times to Jackson, WY
|Jackson Airport to the meeting point||8.6 miles (12 min)|
|Idaho Falls, ID||91 miles (2 ½ hours)|
|Cody, WY||177 miles (4 ½ hours)|
|Bozeman, MT||215 miles (4 ½ hours)|
|Salt Lake City, UT||300 miles (5 ½ hours)|
If you are arriving by car, parking in Jackson is extremely hard to come by. Street and lot parking are limited to 72 hours. Please check with your hotel to see if extended parking is available. The airport also offers long term parking for $10 per night, but space there is limited.
The closest airport is the Jackson Hole Airport (JAC). American, Delta, United and Frontier airlines all service Jackson. There are many taxi companies, shuttle services and rental car agencies available on site at the airport. A complete list can be found on the Jackson Hole Airport’s website: www.jacksonholeairport.com.
Alltrans (800) 443-6133 / www.jacksonholealltrans.com will meet incoming flights and provide round-trip and one-way shuttle service to area properties. Advance reservations are required.
The Lexington at Jackson Hole, the location of the pre-trip meeting, offers complimentary van transportation exclusively for its guests to/from the airport. Call the Lexington at Jackson Hole at 307-733-2648 upon arrival at the airport for van pick-up (if you are staying at the Inn). The Rustic Inn and Spa also offers complimentary shuttle service for its guests. Please call 307-733-2357 upon arrival.
Jackson also has a public shuttle bus that transports people around the town of Jackson for free within Jackson town limits and, for a small fare, to limited outside of town locations.
By Shuttle from Salt Lake City
Mountain States Express (Alltrans) (800) 652-9510 / www.jacksonholealltrans.com provides a daily shuttle service to Jackson from Salt Lake City.
Salt Lake Express (800) 356-9796 / www.saltlakeexpress.com/ also offers daily shuttle options between Jackson and multiple gateway cities. Please visit their website for details.
After Your Trip
After your trip, you will be dropped off at the Lexington at Jackson Hole between 4:00–6:00 PM. If it’s not essential that you leave immediately, we recommend you overnight and enjoy a hot shower followed by a good night’s rest or a night on the town.
Pre- and Post-Trip Accommodations
We recommend that you make reservations well in advance in order to guarantee lodging. (Pre- and post-trip lodging is not included in the trip cost. If you’re driving into Jackson, check with your hotel about extended parking during your trip.)
- The Lexington at Jackson Hole 877-539-7070 lexingtonatjacksonhole.com
Please mention you are an OARS guest for 10% discount.
- Wyoming Inn 800-844-0035 wyominginn.com
- Rustic Inn and Spa 800-323-9279 rusticinnatjh.com
- Motel 6 307-733-1620
- Anglers Inn 800-867-4667
- Central Reservations 800-329-9205
In Grand Teton National Park Area
- Signal Mountain Lodge 307-543-2831 signalmountainlodge.com
- Jackson Lake Lodge 800-628-9988 gtlc.com/lodging/jackson-lake-lodge-overview.aspx
- Snake River Lodge & Spa 866-975-7625 snakeriverlodge.com
- Grand Teton National Park, general
- Grand Teton National Park, lodging 800-628-9988
In Yellowstone National Park
The first two nights will be spent camping within Yellowstone National Park and in West Yellowstone. The final two nights of the trip will be spent camping on Grassy Island, or along the lakeshore of Jackson Lake at Coulter Camp or Spalding Bay in Grand Tetons National Park.
- Sea Kayak—The ultimate flat water explorer—at home in open seas or inches from shore. Stealthy, quiet and quick, sea kayaks are the premier platform for wildlife viewing. From alpine lakes in Wyoming to island hopping in Baja or the Galapagos, sea kayaks are a low-impact way to get out on the water. Generally two-person kayaks are provided; single kayaks may be available upon request.
- Children as young as 7 may accompany the trip. Due to kayak design and the pace of our trips we must restrict requests for single kayaks to those with a height of 4’11” or taller, and 14 years or older. Previous paddling experience is also suggested. Children younger than 14 must ride in a double kayak with an accompanying adult. We’re very sorry that we’re unable to accommodate children younger than 14 if there isn’t an adult in your party to paddle with them.
- Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP)-Rigid like a surfboard, but inflatable like a raft, stand up paddleboards are 10-feet long and surprisingly stable at close to three-feet wide. Helmets required. (* The use of SUPs is only allowed in camp- not for lake crossings. Fun for one paddler at a time)
Please Note: A motorized raft is used as a support boat on the lake.
- Oar Raft—The OARS flagship. Oar rafts are the most stable of whitewater craft. They are inflatable rafts that your guide pilots with long oars from a center-mounted aluminum frame. Ample deck space allows for lounging in calm stretches. (Three to five passengers.)
After an active day of paddling or hiking and exploring, we prepare to camp for the night. Upon arrival, our first task is to unload the vans or the boat (depending on where we are camping) using a fire line of crew and passengers to expedite the process. Individuals then collect their waterproof bags and locate an area on the beach to camp for the night. On the first night in camp, a crew member will give a demonstration on setting up a tent, which you’ll see is quick and easy. The guides will set up the kitchen and central dining/seating area with camp chairs. They will also locate a secluded area away from camp to set up the portable toilet, where privacy is assured.
As dinner is being prepared by the guides, hors d’oeuvres will be served and you will have an opportunity to relax, enjoy a drink if you wish, and reflect on the day with your fellow traveling companions.
In the morning, the first wake-up call will let you know that coffee, hot water for tea or cocoa, juice, fresh fruit and cold cereal are ready on the hors d’oeuvres table. You can fill your mug and grab a bite, then begin to pack up your personal belongings and sleep gear as the guides prepare breakfast. After breakfast is served, the entire camp will be broken down and packing will be completed. The gear will then be loaded onto the boat and we’ll head out to see what new adventures await us.
The meals we serve are hearty and delicious, complete with fresh ingredients and a variety of foods. A typical morning on a multi-day trip might start with French toast, bacon, fruit, orange juice, and coffee or tea. Lunch might be a delicious spread of cold cuts and cheeses with several types of bread, or pitas stuffed with veggies and hummus. There are always cookies and a cooling drink to top it off. At dinner, our guides’ cooking skills truly shine—sizzling steaks or salmon, chicken enchiladas, and delicious pasta dishes are all part of their repertoire. Dinner generally includes a salad, and desserts are frequent. Hors d’oeuvres are a pleasant surprise before many meals.
We need to know as soon as possible about any dietary restrictions we should consider in planning your trip. If you have food allergies or restrictions, we will do our best to accommodate your needs. However, there may be a supplemental menu fee, ranging from $5-25 per person per day, to cover any increase in our costs.
Beyond our standard menu, we can provide options for vegetarian, vegan and many allergy-restricted diets without applying a fee. However, we cannot always provide the same diversity or sophistication for restricted diets as we do for our regular menu. Similarly, certain allergen-free snack foods are difficult or impossible to source in our locations, so feel free to bring your own favorite snacks to supplement our provisions. Please let your Adventure Consultant know if you intend to do so.
We cannot guarantee that cross-contamination from allergens will not occur during meal prep, and reserve the right to refuse service to anyone as it relates to safety, including the potential for a medical emergency caused by a severe food allergy. Also, due to the constraints of cooking for a large group in a wilderness setting, availability of ingredients or specialty items in remote locations, and limited packing space, we are unable to cater to dietary preferences (likes or dislikes).
Beverages / Alcohol
We provide two sodas per person per day, water and lemonade in cans. Commercial outfitters in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks may not provide any type of alcohol for their guests. You are welcome to bring your own favorite beverages, alcoholic or non-alcoholic, in non-glass containers. If you choose to bring additional drinks or alcoholic beverages, please let us know in advance. For your safety and the safety of others, the consumption of alcoholic beverages is limited to camp.
We are obligated to adhere to the regulations established by the managing agency with jurisdiction over the area in which our trip operates. Use of marijuana on federal lands, whether it be medicinal or recreational, is illegal and therefore we ask that you refrain from bringing it with you on your OARS trip.
We carry sufficient drinking water along with us to provide for your needs throughout the trip. Water jugs are accessible in camp, at lunch time and before hikes for filling personal water bottles.
Each day varies, and on the days we paddle Jackson Lake you’ll spend 2-4 hours a day in the boats. Other activities can include hiking and exploring, swimming, beach activities or enjoying the tasty meals while just relaxing in camp. While we generally plan at least one guided hike on each trip, we also try to provide ample opportunity for the curious to explore the area at length, but because these trips are in bear country, we limit the amount of exploration clients can do on their own. Please let your trip leader know if you are an avid hiker, and plan to bring extra water bottles and good shoes.
Fish in Grand Teton National Park are plentiful and include brown, cutthroat, Mackinaw and rainbow trout. A Wyoming fishing license is required to cast your line in the abundant streams, creeks, rivers and lakes however fishing is limited to camp (by the terms of our permit). You can purchase a non-resident Wyoming fishing license in Jackson or at the Signal Mountain Lodge store for approximately $14 per day. Children under 14 years of age and accompanied by a person possessing a valid Wyoming license may fish free (and their fish are included in the accompanying adult’s creel limit). You’ll need to provide your own fishing gear. For local fishing information call Orvis Jackson Hole (307-733-5407), Jack Dennis’ Outdoor Shop (307-733-3270) or Snake River Anglers at Dornan’s (307-733-3699).
The Portable Toilet
While the idea of a river trip is appealing to most people, many are inhibited or reluctant because of modesty or uncertainty. To minimize our impacts, we carry out all solid human waste and use a portable toilet system that is set up each day at camp in a secluded location a discrete distance from tent sites. It is essentially a toilet without plumbing and is available from the time you pull into camp each afternoon until you leave camp the next day. Toilet paper and a convenient hand-washing station are provided.
We also carry a small container called the “day tripper” that can be easily accessed during the day should the need arise. It is a personal disposable toilet, which includes an odor-proof transport bag, chemical solidifier and odor eliminator, toilet paper and oversized hand wipe.
Urination is done away from water sources on rocky or sandy areas, or on pine duff. We encourage you to carry water with you to dilute your urine to avoid concentrating urine odors, which can attract animals.
Bathing is not allowed in the lake or in any of the side streams. You may want to bring a solar shower or you can borrow a bailing bucket from one of the rafts to rinse off after soaping up. Both are to be used at least 200 feet away from the water source in an area that will absorb the runoff. We recommend using a liquid biodegradable soap such as Campsuds or Dr. Bronner’s www.drbronner.com which can be purchased in most stores that have a camping section and can also be used to wash clothes. You may also find a good selection at your local health food store. Disposable anti-bacterial towelettes (Coleman Swash Cloths, baby wipes, etc.) are especially convenient.
For Women Only
Even if you aren’t anticipating your menstrual period, come prepared for it. You can use sandwich-sized Ziploc baggies during the day to store feminine products while you are on the river or hiking, and you can then discretely dispose of the baggies when you reach camp. When possible, we recommend o.b.® tampons, which are 1/3 the size of regular tampons, tuck discreetly into pockets and have less paper wrapping. If you use pads, be sure to bring extras. Many women suggest bringing a small supply of baby wipes. We provide some feminine products on most trips for emergencies.
We provide a small waterproof bag (17” tall x 9” diameter—approximate sealed size) to hold your camera and other items you might need during the day. While these bags are designed to be waterproof, you may wish to place your camera in a zip-lock plastic bag or waterproof casing for additional protection. We also strongly recommend you take out a rider on your homeowner’s policy to cover your camera—especially if it’s fine equipment. Make sure to bring additional memory cards, batteries and any other extras you will need. Disposable waterproof and panorama cameras are also a fun option.
Electronics & Technology
The use of electronic devices, especially music players and flying drones, on your trip may represent an intrusion into the wilderness experience of your fellow guests. We ask that you be mindful of the impacts to others and respect the wilderness nature of the trip. Please bring headphones if you intend to listen to music during the trip and leave your drone at home*.
Many of our guests travel with their smartphone even though there is no cell service. On a trip like this, there is always the risk of water damage to smartphones and other electronic devices, even when they are stowed in a dry bag. If you intend to take your phone with you on the river, consider investing in a small, waterproof container just for your phone.
*The use of drones is prohibited by Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Park
We are not able to provide a power source for recharging devices. To keep cameras, phones, GPS and other devices working you may need spare batteries or portable power. Options include compact portable solar panels that can recharge devices directly, portable power banks that store power, or a combo unit that can be charged before the trip and recharged with a built-in solar panel.
Once you are on the river there is limited communication with the “outside world.” Cell phone service is not always available. Our guides carry satellite phones which are strictly used to call out in case of an emergency situation on the river. They can call out, but we cannot call them. Periodically the trip leader will check in with our office. If you have someone that needs to contact you about an emergency at home, they should call our office (800-346-6277). If possible, we will relay the message to you. For your family at home you should define for them what you consider an emergency and provide them with instructions to call our office in the event one occurs during your vacation.
Fire activity frequently impacts the air quality on our trips, and occasionally wildfires may be present in the immediate vicinity of where we’re traveling. Smoke impacts are more likely in the latter-half of the summer season, so those with asthma or other respiratory conditions may wish to steer clear of this time frame. In general, we will not cancel a trip on account of smoky conditions, except in cases of clear danger to life or property. Necessary changes to logistics and/or destination may occur with very short notice as fire conditions are constantly changing. We will do our best to keep you apprised of excessively smoky conditions that can be foreseen for your upcoming trip, but we also encourage you to stay informed about local fire activity: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/
Our standard cancellation terms & conditions apply should you choose to cancel due to environmental conditions resulting from a wildfire near to where our trip operates. Please review our Terms & Conditions section in this document, below. Furthermore, we recommend you consider investing in a comprehensive Travel Protection Plan that provides you the ability to “cancel for any reason” should you feel conditions from a nearby wildfire may result in you canceling your reservation.
Our guides do not carry firearms on our trips, and in most cases are prohibited from doing so by the managing agency. As a matter of preference, we ask all our guests to kindly leave your own firearms at home or in your vehicle.
You may want to check one week prior to your trip for an up-to-date weather forecast. We recommend the following website: www.wunderground.com for weather in Grand Teton National Park, WY.
Average Temperatures & Precipitation
|MONTH||DAY (°F)||NIGHT (°F)||PRECIPITATION||WATER|
The elevation at Jackson, Wyoming is 6,237 feet (1,901 m) above sea level.
Essential Eligibility Criteria for Flatwater Kayaking Trips
The following are the physical and mental eligibility criteria for all participants on any OARS flatwater kayaking trip.
- Ability to remain balanced while seated inside the cockpit of a touring kayak.
- Wear a Type III Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (maximum chest size of 56 inches). Wearing leg straps may be required to ensure proper fit.
- Ability to independently board and disembark a touring kayak four to ten times each day. This may require stepping into the boat, sitting down on the low seat, and then maneuvering your legs into a comfortable position.
- Ability to independently navigate shoreline terrain, including safely maneuvering around and across boulders, rocks, and slippery and uneven surfaces, under low branches, and around vegetation. This includes the ability to maintain your balance near precipitous ledges or cliffs.
- Ability to independently swim 100 yards in flat water while wearing a PFD. This includes being an active participant in your own rescue, including having the ability to (a) keep your airway passages sealed while underwater, and regain control of your breathing when being submitted to repeated submersion under waves or currents; (b) orient yourself to new “in-river” surroundings; (c) reposition yourself in the water to different swimming positions; (d) swim aggressively to a boat or to shore; (e) receive a rescue rope, paddle, or human assistance, and possibly let go of the same; (f) get out from under an overturned boat.
- Ability to follow both verbal and non-verbal instructions given by guides in all situations, including during stressful or dangerous situations, and to effectively communicate with guides and other guests.
- Ability to carry personal dry bags and other personal gear (as heavy as 20-30 pounds) uphill from the boats to your camping location and back the next morning, independently, or with the assistance of a friend or family member. (This only applies on multi-day trips).
- Ability to manage all personal care independently, or with the assistance of a friend or family member.
- If taking prescription medications, have the ability to maintain proper dosage by medicating independently, or with the assistance of a friend or family member.
- Ability to remain adequately fed, hydrated, and properly dressed so as to avoid environmental injuries such as hypothermia, heat related illness, sunburn and frostbite.
The above criteria, if not met, will disqualify a person from participating in a river trip with OARS. The criteria exist for your own safety and that of all trip participants. None of the criteria are meant to discriminate on the basis of any physical or mental disability, and are applied uniformly to all potential trip participants, irrespective of the presence or absence of any disability. OARS is committed to making reasonable modifications to any trip for any persons with a disability, so long as they do not fundamentally alter the nature of the trip.
Further Information About Our Expectations of Trip Participants
The following paragraphs are meant to further inform all potential participants of the expectations for all participants in order to promote a safe, enjoyable experience for everyone on a trip. There may be requirements, whether physical or mental, that are not specifically applied “essential eligibility criteria”, but that help our guests understand the reality of being on a wilderness river trip.
Our primary goal is to minimize the risks associated with adventure trips in a wilderness environment. The trip involves physical exertion and exposure to the elements, including cold water and the potential for heat, sun, wind, rain and snow. We have experience accommodating people with a wide range of physical disabilities and/or health conditions. However, individuals who are overweight, lack conditioning, or have other physical limitations or ailments that interfere with the realistic encounters on the wilderness can endanger themselves, other guests, and the guides. Please consult your doctor if you have medical or health conditions that could impact your ability to participate in this outdoor adventure.
It is very important that each trip participant take an active role in their own safety. You will likely encounter wilderness conditions that you are unfamiliar with, and those conditions may change rapidly. It is critical to pay attention at all times, to be aware of your surroundings, and to avoid taking unnecessary risks. Even a non-life threatening injury in a wilderness setting can become a major emergency for you, and can endanger the entire group. Swimming alone or hiking alone is discouraged. Excessive alcohol consumption or illicit drug use is not tolerated. Using common sense, and following both the explicit instruction and the lead of your guides can go a long way towards keeping yourself and the group safe. Some obvious things to avoid in camp and on shore (by way of example) are: walking around without shoes in camp, approaching wild animals, not paying attention to what is above or around your tent site that could harm you, not paying attention to hazards such as poison ivy and rattlesnakes, and walking near precipitous ledges.
Wilderness kayaking trips are inherently risky. While the risk of a trip is part of what makes it an exciting adventure, you must be entirely respectful of the risk that such a trip poses. It is important that you are confident in your swimming ability, and your ability to stay calm in the event you become a non-voluntary swimmer.
Due to the physical nature of this trip, we highly recommend that you engage in regular exercise for at least three months prior to departure to ensure preparedness. No gym membership required! Simple exercises like push-ups, sit-ups and squats go a long way to improving core fitness. Start with these exercises and do three sets of ten repetitions each, three to four times per week. Aerobic training is also easy to accomplish without expensive equipment. Take 30 – 40 minutes two to three times a week and go for a brisk walk, easy jog or bike ride around town. If you have access to a pool, lake or the ocean, swimming is obviously an ideal choice for aerobic exercise. It provides a full-body workout and is training that is useful in the event of an involuntary swim in a whitewater rapid. It is important to push yourself in the months leading up to your trip by increasing your strength training repetitions and the pace of your aerobic training. Check with your doctor prior to beginning any exercise program to be sure you are medically safe to participate. Starting an exercise program that is more strenuous than you are ready for may result in injury or risk exacerbating existing health conditions. Getting in shape will certainly add to your enjoyment of the trip.
Packing for Your Trip
Click on this link for helpful information about packing for your trip: https://www.oars.com/video/pack-river-rafting-trip/
During the day—Start with a swimsuit and/or swim trunks and synthetic or merino wool shirt as a base layer. Additional layers for sun protection or insulation can be added and subtracted depending on the weather, temperature and how wet you’re getting in the rapids.
In camp—When the weather is warm, lightweight cotton pants/skirt or shorts and shirt make great campwear. Anytime the forecast calls for cool evenings and cold nights, a dry set of long underwear is the perfect base layer under long pants and a fleece sweater.
During the day—The best choice is an amphibious shoe that drains water, protects your toes and won’t come off in swirling current. A retired pair of athletic shoes can work well, too. Sport sandals with a heel strap are a good option, especially on rivers with sandy beaches. Find professional-grade options made by Chaco® at www.chacos.com, the official footwear sponsor of OARS guides.
In camp—We recommend wearing shoes in camp due to risk of kicking a rock buried in the sand, or stepping on a sharp stick. The athletic shoes or light hikers you bring for hiking can double as your camp shoes. It’s nice to put on dry socks and shoes after a day on the water. Flip flops or slip-on sandals are OK for wearing in camp only.
Please note: If you buy new shoes or sandals for the trip, make sure you break them in first!
During the day—Wide-brimmed hats are a good choice for sun protection.
In camp—When the weather is cool or cold, you’ll want a beanie-style hat to wear in camp. They are the perfect remedy for bed-head as you rise from your sleeping bag to secure your morning cup of coffee or tea, or for retaining warmth in the evening hours after the sun sets.
Hot Weather Trips
During summer months, conditions on the river may be hot and sunny. These trips require less gear than spring or fall trips, but thoughtful packing is still required. Protection from the sun and heat will be critical to your enjoyment and health while on the river and during side hikes. To protect yourself from the sun’s rays, consider bringing long-sleeved shirts and pants.
A good way to keep cool is with long-sleeved cotton shirts. Old collared dress shirts work well. They can be soaked in the water and worn in the raft or carried on a hike for later use. This method of evaporative cooling is very effective. Bandanas are another useful item that can be used in this manner.
Camp-wear should be made of cotton and be loose-fitting. A combination of shorts/skirt and a lightweight top is ideal for staying cool on hot afternoons.
To Avoid Being Cold (It is generally always cold at night)
Synthetic or merino wool long underwear is a must-have on kayak trips. It can be worn under shorts, rain gear, T-shirts, etc., then stripped off when the chill of the morning has worn off. It keeps you warm even if it’s wet (which can happen easily), dries quickly, and it’s compact enough to be stuffed into your small waterproof bag or daypack after you take it off. It can be layered under your waterproof rain jacket and pants. In cooler weather a rain jacket and pants work better than a wetsuit, because the jacket and pants can be put on when it’s cold, then easily taken off when the sun comes out and it’s warmer. Be aware that cotton items, once wet, do not insulate; only synthetic and wool materials will keep you warm during cool, wet weather.
Something warm for your top & bottom: Bring a good fleece or wool top and bottom, along with a warm hat and gloves. You’ll want to double up on your synthetic layers so that you’ll have a set to wear in the kayaks and a set of warm, dry clothes for camp.
Rain gear protects you from rain, wind and the splash while paddling. It is one of the essential items that all passengers should have no matter what time of year you are traveling. Look for jacket and pants that are 100% waterproof, not just water resistant. A hooded jacket is recommended as well as good secure closures around your head, neck, wrists and ankles. Do not bring a rain poncho as it cannot be worn under your PFD.
Protecting yourself from the sun should be taken very seriously. A hat, sunscreen, lip balm and sunglasses are a must. In many cases, a long-sleeve shirt is the best method for preventing sunburn on your upper body. Light-weight long pants may also be appropriate to protect your legs. Be sure to bring a good hat that offers full coverage, such as a wide-brimmed hat.
Bugs & Mosquitoes
Bugs and mosquitoes can be very heavy at certain times of the year in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. Please come prepared with insect repellent. Long sleeved shirts and pants may also be desirable.
You can either bring your own sleeping bag, pad and ground tarp, or you can rent our sleep kit. If you are purchasing your own bag for the trip, keep in mind that a synthetic-fill bag rated to 20°F (the normal range for an all-around, “three-season” bag) is recommended.
Suggested Packing List
Equipment and Personal Items:
☐ Sleeping bag, pad, sheet liner, small pillow, 5×7-foot tarp. Sleep kits including these items may be rented for $40. (We suggest a synthetic-fill bag rated to 20 degrees Fahrenheit)
☐ Backpack: It should be large enough to carry water, lunch and camera, as well as a warm layer of clothing (750–2000 cu. in)
☐ Two 1-liter water bottles: durable and reusable
☐ Locking carabiner (for clipping a water bottle or personal dry bag into a raft or inflatable kayak
☐ Headlamp or flashlight (consider bringing extra batteries)
☐ Sunglasses (preferably polarized) with securing strap and a spare
☐ Small, quick-drying towel
☐ Toiletries, including biodegradable soap (such as Campsuds or Dr. Bronner’s)
☐ Sunscreen and lip protection: waterproof & SPF 30 or higher (aerosol sprays not recommended)
☐ Moisturizing lotion or cream
☐ Insect repellent
☐ Personal first aid kit (Band-aids, antibiotic ointment, ibuprofen, moleskin, eye drops, etc.)
☐ Spare pair of glasses and/or contacts
☐ Cash for gratuities
☐ River shoes or sandals with a heel strap (such as those made by Chaco®) “Aqua socks” strongly discouraged
☐ Athletic Shoes or light hikers
☐ Hiking socks
☐ Long-sleeved shirt: lightweight and light color for sun protection (old dress shirts work well)
☐ Long pants: lightweight and light color for sun protection
☐ Shade hat or visor with securing strap– flexible enough to fit under your helmet
☐ Rain jacket & pants: waterproof (not water resistant). A hooded jacket with secure closures is recommended
☐ Swimsuit / Trunks: 2-piece suits recommended for women. Tankinis are a great option
☐ Shorts: 1 pair
☐ T-shirts/tops: 1-2
☐ Synthetic or merino wool long underwear: 1 set top & bottom (light-, mid- or expedition-weight depending on the time of year, weather, location)
☐ Jacket: fleece or down/synthetic fill puffy (depending on the time of year, weather, location)
☐ Camp clothes: comfortable and appropriate for season. Cotton recommended for hot weather trips
Additional Essentials for cold weather in Wyoming:
☐ Wetsuit booties and/or neoprene socks, wool or synthetic socks (for wearing inside your river shoes)
☐ Fleece top & bottom
☐ Warm hat and gloves: synthetic or wool
☐ Extra set of synthetic or merino wool long underwear top and bottom
☐ Neoprene paddling gloves
☐ Camera and accessories
☐ Sarong: useful for sun protection/changing clothes
☐ Day pack/Hydration pack
☐ Small day pack, waist pack or hydration pack for side hikes
☐ Bathing wipes: pre-moistened disposable towels
☐ Plastic bags: for separating dirty clothes from clean
☐ Ear plugs
☐ Splash jacket and pants
☐ Lightweight cord and clothespins for drying clothes
☐ Sketchbook, notebook and pen, paperback book
☐ Feminine Urinary Device (for women only)
Find all the gear you need for your trip online in the OARStore and receive FREE SHIPPING in the U.S. + 15% of your purchase helps provide under-resourced youth with outdoor adventure experiences.
Packing Your Gear
At the pre-trip meeting each person will be given one large waterproof bag (approximate sealed size: 29” tall x 33” diameter). Tents and sleeping pads will be stored separately. Please note: If you rent our gear it will come already packed in your issued waterproof bag. Your remaining gear, therefore, must also fit in that one bag. We also provide a small waterproof bag for day use where you can keep items such as raingear, camera, sunscreen, lip balm, etc. (17” tall x 9” diameter―approximate sealed size). The bags are cylinder in shape and pack from the top. Please pack light, and keep in mind that river attire is casual: comfort, convenience and boat space take precedence over style. At the end of the trip, you will return to The Lexington at Jackson Hole with your waterproof bag, where you will be able to unpack your gear before your trip home.
If you have extra luggage it should be locked in your car or stored at your hotel.
We recommend that you leave your valuables at home. For personal items like wallets, purses and cell phones, we recommend putting them in a zip-lock bag at the bottom of your waterproof bag with your clothing.
Tipping is optional, but appreciated by our staff. If you are wondering how much to tip, you may consider that we operate in a service industry with a host of behind-the-scenes contributors in addition to the guides on your trip. In general, we suggest a gratuity based on 10 – 15% of the trip cost. It is customary on OARS trips for gratuities to be given to the Trip Leader in the form of cash or personal check, who will then distribute appropriately amongst all the guides and support staff.
In reviewing your statement, you’ll note a $1/person/day donation to Waterkeeper Alliance, a non-profit conservation organization dedicated to preserving and protecting fishable, swimmable and drinkable waterways worldwide. One-hundred percent of these funds go directly to worldwide watershed protection and your contribution is tax-deductible. Please notify our office if you would prefer to delete the donation from your balance.
If you enjoyed your trip, consider donating to The Pam & George Wendt Foundation. This organization is a not-for-profit 501 (c) 3 organization with the express goal of providing opportunities for young people to experience the magic of the outdoors. Visit https://www.oars.com/oars-foundation/ to learn more about how a tax-deductible donation can change young lives for the better.
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Terms & Conditions
Reservations and Deposits
A $400/person deposit is required at the time of booking. Deposits may be made by check, money order or Visa/Mastercard (American Express and Discover incur a 3% processing fee). Receipt of the initial deposit signifies acceptance of our complete Terms and Conditions. Individual departures and trip capacity are strictly limited by the managing agency. Cancelling your trip will incur cancellation fees because holding spots for you means we are likely turning others away who would like to book the trip. Final payment is due 90 days prior to departure. Accounts on which final payment has not been received 80 days prior to the departure date will be cancelled without exception.
Cancellations and Refunds
Your deposit is fully refundable for 7 days after you book when you submit a deposit 7 days or more prior to the final payment due date.
If you must cancel your reservation after the rescission period described above, your cancellation fee will be determined according to the schedule below. We do not make exceptions to the cancellation policy for any reason, including weather, wildfire, terrorism, civil unrest or personal emergencies. There is no refund for arriving late or leaving a trip early.
|Date of Cancellation||Cancellation Fee|
|180 or more days prior to your trip||$50 per person|
|179 – 90 days prior to your trip||$100 per person|
|89 – 60 days prior to your trip||$400 per person|
|59 days or less prior to your trip||Full Fare*|
*If we are able to fill the trip and replace the cancelled passengers, the fee will be reduced to $100/person.
Please note that different deposit/cancellation policies may apply for charter groups. Refer to the group organizer’s confirmation e-mail for details.
If you transfer from one trip to another within the same season, there is a $25/person fee up until 90 days prior to departure. You may choose to make a one-time transfer of your payments to a credit account for use during the following season, which incurs a $50/person fee up until 90 days prior to departure. Transfers made after this time will be treated as cancellations.
Under most circumstances, if you are of an adventurous spirit and in reasonably good health, you should have no problem enjoying an O.A.R.S. West, Inc. People with medical conditions, including pregnancy, should have a physician’s approval before taking an adventure travel trip.
We offer the OARS Travel Protection Plan to help protect you, your travel investment and your belongings before and during your trip. Travel Protection can reimburse you for non-refundable payments if you should have to cancel your trip for a covered reason such as your illness or the illness of an immediate family member. For complete details go online to: https://www.oars.com/tpp
If you enrolled in a Trip Mate policy through OARS on or before December 9, 2018, the policy is still in place and will be administered by Trip Mate through the end date of your scheduled travel with OARS. All information provided in regards to the Trip Mate policy remains relevant. For a complete description of your Trip Mate policy, go online to: http://www.tripmate.com/wpF431Y or call Trip Mate at 800-888-7292 (reference Plan # F431Y).
Everyone is required to sign a standard liability release form before the trip, acknowledging awareness that there are inherent risks associated with the Due to the nature of the activities, a condition of your participation is that you will sign this form and return it to our office before the trip begins. Anyone who refuses to sign the form will not be allowed to participate, and consistent with O.A.R.S. West, Inc. cancellation policy, there will be no refund of the trip fees at that time.
Responsibility – An Important Notice
O.A.R.S. West, Inc. and cooperating agencies act only in the capacity of agent for the participants in all matters relating to transportation and/or all other related travel services, and assume no responsibility however caused for injury, loss or damage to person or property in connection with any service, including but not limited to that resulting directly or indirectly from acts of God, detention, annoyance, delays and expenses arising from quarantine, strikes, theft, pilferage, force majeure, failure of any means of conveyance to arrive or depart as scheduled, civil disturbances, government restrictions or regulations, and discrepancies or change in transit over which it has no control. Reasonable changes in itinerary may be made where deemed advisable for the comfort and well being of the participants, including cancellation due to water fluctuation, insufficient bookings (this trip requires a minimum of 4 guests), and other factors. There is risk in whitewater rafting, particularly during high-water conditions. Rafts, dories and kayaks do capsize. You could be swept overboard. Your guide will make every attempt to assist, but you must be strong and agile enough to “self-help” and “float-it-out” without further endangering yourself or others. We reserve the right not to accept passengers weighing more than 260 pounds or with a waist/chest size exceeding 56 inches. We may decide, at any time, to exclude any person or group for any reason we feel is related to the safety of our trips. We are experienced at accommodating people with various disabilities. Please give us an opportunity to make you feel welcome. We need to discuss any special requirements ahead of time. On advancement of deposit the depositor agrees to be bound by the above recited terms and conditions. Prices subject to change without notice.
OARS trips occur in areas where unpredictable environmental conditions are to be expected. To moderate dangerous situations for our guests and guides, it is important that all travelers obey the rules and regulations as determined by the managing agencies and the Trip Leader and demonstrate reasonable consideration for other guests and OARS employees. We reserve the right to remove any guest from a trip if, in our opinion, that guest’s actions or behaviors pose a threat to the safety of her/himself or others, or if those actions or behaviors compromise the enjoyment of the trip for others. Should a guest be asked to leave a trip, there will be no refund for the unused portion, nor will OARS be responsible for additional expenses incurred by the guest for accommodations, return transport, change fees, etc.