Wyoming is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. The state is host to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park. It is also home to over 4,000 lakes and over 108,000 miles of river. Thus, it is no surprise that kayaking is popular here. But where are Wyoming’s best spots to dip your paddle?
Wyoming has excellent places to kayak. Regardless if you are looking for whitewater or calm, one of these spots will be perfect for you:
- Bear River
- Bighorn River
- Boysen Reservoir
- Clarks Fork River
- Fremont Canyon
- Jackson Lake
- Snake River
- String Lake
- Yellowstone Lake
The biggest challenge with kayaking in Wyoming is looking where you are going. The scenery and wildlife are astonishing and captivating, so much so you might forget to steer. But once you’ve picked up your jaw off the bottom of your boat, have a look at our fifteen suggestions of where to kayak in Wyoming.
15 Excellent Spots To Kayak In Wyoming
Wyoming offers adrenaline rush adventures and areas to chill while your kayak skims the flat water. Just remember that Wyoming has four distinct seasons with weather that likes to get pretty extreme. A class II rapid could turn into a class IV, so always talk to a local before shoving off.
Also, do keep in mind that Wyoming does have a few regulations. Thankfully, non-motorized boats do not have to be registered, but there are sticker and lifejacket requirements. Lastly, some of our 15 suggestions will require permits and possibly a guide. Aside from that, enjoy kayaking in Wyoming.
Bear River is massive, with the largest sections in Utah, some in Idaho, and the central portion in Wyoming. There are various adventures, depending on which stretch you pick. For example, there are short half-hour runs at Bear River State Park. Or the Evanston to Woodruff Narrows Reservoir, which takes around 15 hours.
Bighorn River is Yellowstone River’s largest tributary. It begins in south-central Montana and stretches to west-central Wyoming, where it drains and is about 461 miles long. There are many places to launch a kayak, especially in Thermopolis. However, it is essential to plan your route for your skill level, as there are class IV rapids in certain sections.
Boysen Reservoir is about 20 miles south of Thermopolis and 20 miles north of Riverton. It is a popular fishing spot and an excellent place for kayakers to enjoy the wildlife and incredible science views. Boysen State Park does have a ramp for the reservoir and provides updates on water levels.
Clarks Fork River
Clarks Fork River is a Yellowstone River tributary that begins in southeast Montana. The river offers an array of adventures, from the mild to “The Box,” a Class V adventure for only the most skilled.
You can sign up for tours, which might be the safest way to ensure you enjoy the perfect stretches for your skillset. Otherwise, if you are venturing on your own, do check out the latest water conditions before shoving off.
Fremont Lake is only four miles from Pinedale and is the state’s second-largest natural lake and one of the deepest in the nation. Many watersports are enjoyed here, including water skiing, fishing, sailing, and of course, kayaking. In addition, it’s a lovely spot to enjoy the scenic views of snow-capped mountains and the surrounding forests.
Fremont Canyon is popular with rock climbers, but it can be an excellent slow-water paddle with brilliant scenery. However, do be aware that the flow picks up when the dam releases. The Alcova Resort offers rentals and tours during the season if you don’t have your own boat. Launching is generally done at the Fremont Canyon Campground.
Gros Ventre River
Gros Ventre River forms Jackson Hole’s eastern boundary. It is a wonderful river to enjoy the views of the Grand Tetons and enjoy the spectacular wildlife. Some places give lessons in the area if you are new to kayaking, and they’ll know the best places to take you.
Lower Gros can get pretty wild in May – June, up to class IV, with plenty of boulders to dodge, and even in calmer times, is an area that requires technical skill. Upper Gros has a milder 8 miles stretch with some class II and III that don’t need as much finesse to navigate.
Greys River is one of the many tributaries of the Snake River. The lower section has some fun whitewater for a quick 60 to 90-minute adrenaline-filled paddle. However, you do need to be at least an intermediate kayaker. Always check the latest conditions as water levels are frequently changing, as is the terrain due to rock slides on trails.
Green River is a wildlife treasure. It can also provide a range of kayaking experiences. For those looking for more sedate paddles, consider routes near Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge. There are some stretches with some fun whitewater too. Green River is also fantastic for fishing if you are keen to grab a pole.
Jackson Lake is in the Grand Teton National Park. The scenery is mesmerizing, and the wildlife is plentiful. Kayaks can come on their own, sign up for a tour, or rent. There are also options to stay in a campground or backcountry with a permit.
Be warned, this is bear country, so you will need proper bear-proof canisters to keep anything scented, from food to toothpaste, inside and away from where you sleep. Do not use your boat as the canister. That’s a good way to ruin a kayak. (Eek.)
Lake Hattie is a peaceful area near Laramie that is part BML land and part private. Kayakers adore it for a nice relaxing paddle. It is also popular with windsurfers and fishing folks. It’s a calm place, allowing you to clear your head and breathe.
Laramie River starts in Colorado, flows into Wyoming, eventually running past Laramie. The safer sections are Jelm to Woods Landing. However, from Tunnel Road to Palmer Canyon, you need some skills to have a good time. The area is gorgeous and is a great area to spot wildlife. Water flow can change, so always check the latest conditions.
Snake River is a popular kayaking spot for people in Jackson Hole. There are class II rapids to tackle in the Snake River Canyon and quieter sections for those that prefer a more mellow adventure. There are also plenty of tours from various operators to help you select what’s best for your skillset.
String Lake is a gorgeous and relaxing place in the Grand Teton National Park. The shallow lake is a popular spot for swimming and picnics. You will need your own boat or rent one elsewhere and haul it in. Kayaking from String Lake is one of only two ways to see Leigh Lake. The other is hiking.
Yellowstone Lake is blessed with 141 miles of shoreline and, when thawed, an average temperature of 41 F (5 C). Many recommend first-timers to the lake to take a guided tour, as the guides know where the best spots are. Yellowstone Lake is obviously gorgeous and an excellent way to enjoy the park (in summer, the lake freezes over in winter).
If you are kayaking without a tour, you need to bring your boat or rent one outside the park and haul it in. Also, obtaining a permit is required if you plan to paddle to one of their remote camping spots and spend the night. That said, it is always recommended to talk to a ranger before heading out, as the weather in Yellowstone can change fast.
Kayaking in Wyoming can be the best way to view the wildlife. However, the weather can change fast, as can the water’s conditions. So always ask locals before shoving off, and there is no shame in hiring a guide for your first time in new water. But most of all, enjoy this amazing state from your boat.