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Jackson Hole

Enjoying Yellowstone Park Tours and Grand Teton Park Tours in the Age of Covid-19

Enjoying Yellowstone Park Tours and Grand Teton Park Tours in the Age of Covid-19

So, you are tired of being stuck indoors due to covid-19 and you are ready to get out and enjoy nature, right?  If you are reading this, you probably are planning a Jackson Hole vacation and want to enjoy one of the many Jackson Wyoming tours! One of the more popular Jackson Hole activities is to go out with a safari tour guide to experience the scenic beauty and abundant wildlife of Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. This blog post should give you some timely, relevant information to help you find the best way to enjoy a Grand Teton wildlife tour and/or a Yellowstone wildlife tour with a qualified Jackson Hole guide company.

Where Should I Stay?

Jackson, Wyoming is a major tourist town where there is an active nightlife and a lot of great restaurants.  It is a tourist town in every sense of the word.  A few months back the town was concerned that there wouldn’t be a tourist season this summer due to covid-19 keeping people away.  However, the city has been flooded with people, who see going to national parks as a relatively safe way to enjoy a vacation during a pandemic. There are reports that around 40,000 people a day are traveling through Jackson, a major gateway town to both Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. Because of this, staying in a hotel in Jackson will cost you a few dollars during this summer season rush.

If you want to save some money, another option is to stay in West Yellowstone, Montana which is the main gateway located on the west side of the park.  Located just a few miles from the park entrance, it’s usually less expensive than Jackson.  It doesn’t offer the nightlife or ambiance of Jackson but is a great place to stay if you are travelling with children or if you want quick access to Yellowstone.  West Yellowstone has several restaurants and is a good “base camp” for your exploits into the national parks.

If you don’t mind driving a bit and want to be away from the crowds, another option is in Island Park, Idaho.  Renting an Airbnb or VRBO property is a great option to get away from the city crowds and still be close to the park.  Island Park is about 28 miles to the western Yellowstone park entrance. Some families stay in Island Park and visit West Yellowstone for dining options. 

Tour Options in Yellowstone National Park

The best way to have a stress-free experience and enjoy Yellowstone National park is to pick a one of the Yellowstone tours from Jackson.  These private tours will feature a safari tour guide taking you through the park and showing you the geysers, wildlife and hidden gems that most tourists don’t know about.  They also can give you information about the park, its history, geology, and its animals.  If you want to see bears, elk, deer, buffalo, moose and other wildlife, these tours can be a great way to do this.  Most of the private tours will consist of just your immediate group and a safari guide, which should help minimize the chances that you will get covid-19 during your stay. 

Tour Options in Grand Teton National Park

Although less known than Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park is spectacular and Grand Teton tours are a great way to spend the day!  Tours in Teton will differ from the Yellowstone tour since Teton Park tours will focus more on the scenic mountains, wonderful lakes and abundant wildlife in this park. You will explore Jackson, the National Elk Refuge, and Grand Teton National Park on these tours. Throughout these areas, you can see many animals including grizzly bears, black bears, elk, bison, moose, wolves, mule deer, coyotes, trumpeter swans, and bald eagles. You will also get some great views of the Tetons and the surrounding lakes, which is an experience you will never forget!

How Long are the Tours?

Tours usually start very early in the morning (maybe 6 to 8 am) In order to see the most wildlife and avoid the crowds and can last 4-5 hours in Grand Teton or even go all day if you are going to Yellowstone National Park from the Jackson area. If you are going out of Jackson, you can also do a sunset tour in Teton National Park that starts at about 4 pm and lasts until dark.  These tours go out in the mornings and evenings since the animals and birds are most active and visible during these times.  

What Should I Wear and Bring?

Yellowstone and Grand Teton tours can get cold at any time of the year, even in the middle of summer. Depending on the time of the year you go, you will probably want to bring a warm coat, a camera and some binoculars or a spotting scope.  You tour guide may supply these for you to use but you can also bring your own.  Morning and evening temperatures can get quite cold in both national parks, so you should plan accordingly.  

Some tour guides provide snacks and water, but you can also bring your own snacks and drinks.  If you are concerned about covid-19, you may want to bring a mask.  Many tour guides are only taking out private parties this year due to the coronavirus, so if you have a group from 4-8 people or more, you will probably fill a vehicle.

What Will I See?

Experienced tour guides know where to take customers to get the best views of the mountains, the best places to experience geysers, and the best place to see animals.  Buffalo roam like cattle in the park, so you will no doubt see many bison on your tour.  In addition, elk moose and deer are plentiful.  You also have a good chance of seeing a bear or a coyote.  You might even see a wolf, although they are a bit hard to find in the park.

Will I Be Safe Around the Animals?

Please be assured that your Jackson Hole guide will try to keep you safe from any animal attacks.  Although rare, there are tourists hurt each year at both Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, usually from people trying to get too close to the animals to get a picture.  Please keep in mind that buffalo and moose are the most likely to attack you, especially if you get between a mom and her calf. Moose and buffalo are about the same size as a horse.  You can’t outrun them! 

Please use caution when approaching any wild animal in these parks.  Remember:  No picture is worth getting injured or trampled for.

How Much Should I Tip My Guide?

Tour guides also know a lot about the park itself and the geology and ecology of the area.  Be sure to ask questions of your guide and get to know him or her.  You could be making a friend for life! Please keep in mind that these guides make their livelihood on taking people out on tours, so if your guide does a great job taking you through the park, it is customary to tip your guide anywhere from 10-20% of the cost of the trip.

How Do I Book My Trip?

Glad you asked!  Our website, Guideguru.com has some of the top tour companies in the area that are ready and waiting to show you a good time.  Just click here to see all our wildlife tours in Jackson Hole.  You can also see many other Jackson Hole adventures on our website.  To see all the best Jackson Hole adventures, remember to go to the guru, Guideguru.com!

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Jackson Hole Rafting

Rafting in Jackson Hole

Planning Your Whitewater Rafting or Scenic Tour in the Jackson Hole Area 

If you are looking for the ultimate adventure in the Jackson Hole/Teton National Park area, consider either a Snake River whitewater rafting trip or a Snake River scenic float trip.  Both trips take about 3-4 hours each and will provide memories to last a lifetime! The Jackson whitewater adventure features the Big Kahuna and Lunch Counter rapids that will get you wet and refreshed during the hot summer.  The scenic float trips will give you an awesome view of the Tetons and the abundant wildlife along the river. Here is some information to consider when planning your trip!

Where will you meet for your river rafting tour?

The tour company will give you a time to meet at their office.  Most are located in downtown Jackson.  Other tour offices may be located in other areas north of the tour location. Usually you meet about ½ an hour before the tour group leaves to head down to the Snake River.  At the office you will sign in and wait until all members in your group arrive. A shuttle or bus will take you down to the river.  It usually takes about 45 minutes to get to the place where the rafting trip starts.  

Where is the Snake River?

The Snake River originates in Wyoming just inside Yellowstone on the Two Ocean Plateau. The whitewater river rafting tours on the Snake River usually start 20 miles south of Jackson. The Snake River scenic tours start north of Jackson. Your tour company will take you by bus to the different locations based on the type of trip you choose.

What types of river rafting tours are available on the Snake River?

Most river running outfitters have a variety to offer. You could choose a mild scenic tour on a large raft. This type of tour allows you to slowly go down the Snake river and enjoy the sights and sounds of the terrain and of the abundant wildlife around the river.  Most likely you won’t get wet on this option, unless you choose to jump out and swim.  

You can also choose a whitewater tour.  These allow you to ride the rapids, enjoy a rougher ride, and you will get wet! There are large rafts that hold a large group of people and smaller rafts that hold just eight people and the guide. 

What should I wear?

For a whitewater rafting trip, plan to get wet.  A swimsuit or quick drying shorts and a t-shirt work well. Fabrics that dry fast (fleece, wool and polyprplylene), and are lightweight are very good fabrics to wear so that you don’t get cold.  Cotton shirts and jeans are not recommended because they are too heavy and take too long to dry. 

You will be walking a short distance after you get off the raft so don’t wear flip flops.  Sneakers that can get wet or teva-like sandals with strong sturdy bottoms are probably best. You may be able to rent wet suits and neoprene booties from your tour company. 

Should I take a camera?

Probably not on a whitewater trip, but if you do decide to take a camera make sure it is waterproof and will float if dropped in the water.  Feel free to take a camera and some binoculars with you on a scenic float trip. Check with your tour company if you have questions.  

For whitewater trips, there are photographers that contract with outfitters who will take photos from a certain spot on the shore.  You can decide whether to buy them or not after you see them at the tour company after your trip.

Do I have to wear a life jacket?

Absolutely. The tour companies will supply a class V life jacket.  You will sign a release form before getting on the raft.  You will also get a safety tutorial before starting the run.  This tutorial usually will take about 15 minutes.  It includes an introduction to your guide or guides, and instructions on paddling and what to do in case you fall out of the raft.  White water river guides are wilderness experts with a great deal of training including how to run the river safely plus safety first aid and CPR training.  Make sure you follow their instructions closely.

Can I bring my kids?

Yes. Minimum age on whitewater trips is usually 6 years old.  Some guides can take kids as young as 4 years old depending on the time of year and the water level on the Snake River. Since you know your own children, you must make the judgment over whether this activity is right for them or not.

Will I get wet?

You will get wet on a whitewater rafting trip.  How wet you get will depend on where you are sitting in the raft and how high the rapids are the day of your adventure. 

On a Snake River scenic rafting tour, you will probably not get wet unless you want to!

How long will it take?

Both Jackson whitewater trips and scenic float trips take about 3-4 hours each.  Some scenic trips can be longer and may include a lunch.  Check with your tour company on your specific scenic float trip.

How wild and crazy are the Rapids?

All rivers are rated on a class scale to help you determine the size and technicality of the whitewater.  River classifications are graded on a scale of I to VI. Class I is flat water. Class V is the most difficult. Class VI is not run-able.  

The 8 mile stretch where most whitewater tours take place on the Snake River are class II-III rapids during normal water flows. During the springtime runoff (typically the first couple weeks in June), there could be waves that can get up to a class IV level.  When the Snake River gets up to these higher levels, the minimum age limit for whitewater rafting may change. If you are planning a trip for the first couple weeks of June and you are whitewater rafting with kids, make sure you check to ensure the age limit has not been raised by the Jackson tour company. 

What are the Covid-19 restrictions?

With the Covid-19 outbreak affecting all of our lives, you should find out what the coronavirus policies are for the Jackson area and what your guide is doing to keep you safe during this pandemic.

And finally, the most important advice to follow is to go with the flow, have fun and build rip roaring memories!