|MEETING PLACE:||Grant Village Boat Ramp|
|GPS LOCATION:||44.391859, -110.548103|
|MEETING TIME:||9:30 AM|
|RETURN TIME:||12:30 PM|
|AREA COVERED:||Shores of the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake, 4-5 miles roundtrip|
|PUT-IN/TAKE-OUT:||Grant Village Boat Ramp|
|AGE LIMIT:||Minimum age is 7|
|BOAT TYPE:||2-person touring kayak|
Yellowstone Lake, in the heart of Yellowstone National Park, is North America’s largest lake above 7000 feet. It lies at the center of an immense caldera left behind by the collapse of the Yellowstone super-volcano during its last massive eruption 600,000 years ago. The volcanic activity continues to this day, and there are many examples of the region’s characteristic geothermal activity along the shores of the Yellowstone Lake’s West Thumb, including geysers, hot springs, and mud pots. We’ll paddle a pine-fringed shoreline to view these geothermal features from the seat of our sleek and stable touring kayaks. This active outing is the perfect intermission during your road tour through America’s original national park!
- The Sea Kayak, the ultimate flat water explorer, is 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.
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. The following is a sample of what your trip might be like:
After meeting the guides, participants are introduced to the kayaks and given safety and instructional guidance. Once completed, we pack our personal gear into the boats and get into the water for a little practice session. When everyone has gotten the hang of paddling we begin our voyage by paddling north along the shore of the West Thumb.
Offshore hot springs can be identified by their rising bubbles when the water is calm. We’ll paddle past the Lakeshore Geyser, which on rare occasions can erupt in a fountain of boiling water up to 25-feet high. The Lakeshore group of geysers contains the most active hot springs in the area. Our guides will present an interpretive discussion of the Park’s fascinating geology.
- Skilled, professional guide service
- High quality kayaks and related equipment, including paddle and personal flotation device
What’s Not Included
- Transportation to and from Grant Village Boat Ramp
- Pre- and post-trip accommodations and meals
- Yellowstone National Park entrance fee
- Insurance of any kind, including a travel protection plan
- Items of a personal nature (see equipment and clothing list on the following pages)
Meeting Place & Time
We’ll meet you at 9:30 AM at the Grant Village Boat Ramp.
Getting to Grant Village
- Driving in Yellowstone can take much longer than expected; visitors often underestimate driving times based on mileage, so please allow additional driving time, especially if you are driving from another area of the park. Traffic, wildlife, road construction, and winding roads can add to driving delays.
Passengers are responsible for arriving on time and ready to paddle at your assigned meet time. It is always best to ask Yellowstone Park employees or check the recorded road conditions (307-344-2117) to plan your departure time.
- From Jackson (South): Take Highway 89 north to the South Gate of Yellowstone National Park. (For the scenic route through Grand Teton National Park, turn left at Moose Junction and follow the Teton Park Road until you hit Highway 89 again at the Jackson Lake Junction, then take a left onto 89.) At 19 miles north of the South Gate, turn right onto the Grant Village Road. At the General Store and first intersection, turn right and continue .8 mile to the boat ramp. Free parking is available nearby.
- From the North: Grant Village Road is a left hand turn approximately 2.5 miles south of the West Thumb Intersection. At the General Store and first intersection, turn right and continue .8 mile to the boat ramp where you can park for no charge.
|Mileage and Driving Times to Grant Village Marina|
|Jackson, WY||77 miles (2 hours)|
|Old Faithful||20 miles (1 hour)|
|Mammoth Hot Springs||49 miles (2 hours)|
|West Park Entrance||48 miles (1 ½ hours)|
|East Park Entrance||52 miles (1 ½ hours)|
|Salt Lake City, UT||370 miles (6 ½ hours)|
|Idaho Falls, ID||156 miles (3 hours)|
|Bozeman, MT||110 miles (3 hours)|
These are approximate driving times and do not take into account any delays, so please allow extra driving time. Additional maps of the area can be found at: www.maps.google.com
- Delta, American, Northwest and United airlines service the Jackson Hole airport (JAC). From the airport, a rental car is the most convenient way to visit Yellowstone National Park. A complete list of services can be found on Jackson Airport’s website: www.jacksonholeairport.com/index.htm.
- The closest major international airport is in Salt Lake City, UT (SLC).
Pre- and Post-Trip Accommodations (not included in your trip cost.)
- We recommend that you make reservations well in advance in order to guarantee lodging—Yellowstone is a popular destination and space is limited. Lodging is not included in the trip cost.
In Yellowstone National Park
- Yellowstone National Park, general info www.nps.gov/yell
- Yellowstone National Park, lodging www.yellowstonenationalparklodges.com
In Grand Teton National Park Area
- Signal Mountain Lodge 307-543-2831 www.nationalparkreservations.com
- Jackson Lake Lodge 307-543-3100 www.nationalparkreservations.com
- Snake River Lodge & Spa 866-975-7625 www.snakeriverlodge.com
- Grand Teton National Park, lodging 855.684.3403 www.nationalparkreservations.com
- The Lexington at Jackson Hole 307-733-2648 www.lexingtonatjacksonhole.com
Please mention you are an OARS guest for a 10% discount.
- Wyoming Inn 800-844-0035 www.wyominginn.com
- Central Reservations 800-329-9205 www.jacksonhole.net
Weather & Water Conditions
You may want to check one week prior to your trip for an up-to-date weather forecast. We recommend you check the following web site: http://www.accuweather.com for weather in Yellowstone National Park, WY.
Average Temperatures & Precipitation
|MONTH||DAY (°F)||NIGHT (°F)||PRECIPITATION||WATER|
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 floatation 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.
Clothing and Equipment
- Your feet will get wet as you get in and out of the kayaks. We recommend wearing shoes that you don’t mind getting wet or sport sandals with an ankle strap. For cold weather trips, wool or neoprene socks will help keep your feet warm. Find professional-grade options made by Chaco® at www.chacos.com, the official footwear sponsor of OARS guides.
- We recommend starting with a bathing suit / swim trunks and a synthetic shirt as a base layer. Additional layers, like long underwear, fleece and rain gear can be added and subtracted depending on the weather and temperature.
- Protecting yourself from the sun at high altitudes should be taken seriously. A hat, sunscreen, lip balm and sunglasses are a must when the sun is shining and when it is cloudy.
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.
What to Bring
☐ Sunscreen & lip protection: waterproof and SPF 30 or higher
☐ Water bottle with securing clip
☐ Shade hat/visor
☐ Sunglasses (preferably polarized) with securing strap
☐ Quick-dry shorts and shirt
☐ River/tennis shoes or sport sandals with heel strap
☐ Synthetic layers, depending on air temperature
☐ Rain jacket
- ALWAYS BE PREPARED FOR CHANGING WEATHER! Please be aware that the weather in Yellowstone National Park varies greatly throughout the season, and even throughout the day. Please be prepared for precipitation and extreme fluctuations in air temperature.
- To avoid being cold: Synthetic long underwear is a must-have for layering. It can be worn under shorts, rain gear, T-shirts, etc. and keeps you warm even when wet.
- Be aware that cotton items, once wet, do not insulate; only synthetic and wool materials will keep you warm during cool, wet weather.
Please let us know if you have any medical issues that we’ll need to consider in planning your trip.
We provide a small waterproof bag (17” tall x 9” diameter—approximate sealed size) to hold your camera and other items you might want to bring along. 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. Disposable waterproof and panorama cameras are also a fun option.
Each participant will need to complete the required trip forms online and submit them no later than 30 days prior to your trip.
We advise that you leave your valuables at home or in your private vehicle and take on the lake only what’s absolutely necessary.
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 fishable, swimmable and drinkable waterways worldwide. One-hundred percent of these funds go directly to worldwide watershed protection and your contribution is tax-deductible. This donation is voluntary and may be removed from your invoice if you choose not to participate. 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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Recommended Reading List
Watch our “How To Pack For A River Trip” video
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Terms and Conditions
Full payment is required at the time of booking. Payments may be made by check, money order or Visa/Mastercard (American Express and Discover incur a 3% processing fee). Receipt of the payment 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.
Cancellations and Refunds
If you find it necessary to cancel your trip, please notify us as soon as possible. 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|
|30 or more days prior||$15/person|
|29 to 7 days prior||Payment can be transferred to another trip for a fee of $30/person within the same year or $50/person to the following year. No refund.|
|6 days or less prior||50% of the trip cost can be credited to another trip (within the same year)|
|Late arrivals or “no shows”||No refund or credit|
Please note that different deposit/cancellation policies may apply for charter groups. Refer to the group organizer’s confirmation e-mail for details.
If we are within 30 days of your trip departure, you may transfer from one trip to another, within the same season, for a fee of $25/person fee up until 7 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 from 29 days prior up until 7 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 OARS trip. People with medical conditions, including pregnancy, should have a physician’s approval before taking an adventure travel trip.
We recommend that you protect yourself, your belongings and your vacation through the purchase of a comprehensive travel protection plan. A travel protection plan can help with reimbursement of your non-refundable payments in the event you have to cancel your trip (covered reasons for cancellation vary by policy and some reasons may not qualify for reimbursement). 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. For information about comprehensive travel protection plans visit https://www.roamright.com
For a more limited policy that includes coverage for emergency medical and evacuation situations, visit www.oars.com/tmp
Acknowledgement of Risk
Everyone, is required to sign a standard liability release form before the trip, acknowledging awareness that there are inherent risks associated with the trip. 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 OARS 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 sea kayaking, 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 and 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. 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. On advancement of deposit the depositor agrees to be bound by the above recited terms and conditions. Prices are 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.