Forest Service expects packed river July 4, stresses river safety

JACKSON, Wyo. — Bridger-Teton National Forest river rangers say they anticipate an “extremely busy” holiday weekend on the water, and are asking river users to be patient and responsible.

River Manager David Cernicek said to anticipate increased road traffic, crowded parking lots and boat ramps, and delays in launching and taking boats out of the river.

“With good weather forecast, river levels at a manageable level for many people, and with pandemic restrictions relaxed, we’re expecting near-record crowds on Snake River this weekend,” Cernicek said.

Rangers will do the best they can to manage the flow of traffic in and out of the most popular boat ramps, Cernicek added, but they will need the public’s help in making sure that visitors have safe and enjoyable visits.

At the West Table and Sheep Gulch access points – the usual put-in and take out spots for Snake River Canyon floats – rangers will be:

  • Limiting the number of vehicles and parties on the ramps at any one time.
  • Asking groups to wait together for launch, away from other parties, at designated holding positions.
  • Encouraging floaters to run shuttles before launching their boats – rather than leaving people and gear on the takeout ramp for long periods while a shuttle is run.
  • Limiting the number of people allowed to remain on the Sheep Gulch take out to those needed for loading boats on vehicles.

Non-commercial boaters can expect some delays in launching at West Table and at the Sheep Gulch take-out throughout the holiday weekend — especially during peak times.

“[Fourth of July] weekend is one of the busiest of the year on the river and usually we have visitors pretty much on top of one another,” said Cernicek. “So, we’ll need visitors to be patient, follow rangers’ direction and move on and off the boat ramps as quickly as possible.

“This is about public safety, really, so we’ll appreciate everyone’s help.”

To avoid possible delays in launching or removing boats from the water, floaters could consider running their trips early in the day, or in the evening, rather than at peak times.

In addition, the Snake River ranger team reminds all boaters to:

  • Make sure every participant in your trip knows the basic river safety rules.
  • Make certain that every rafter or boater in your party is wearing an appropriate personal floatation device. Make sure they fit properly and are on and secured at all times while on the water.
  • Dress for success. Wear proper quick-dry clothing for the weather conditions, or a wetsuit or drysuit if the water feels cold to you.
  • Bring the proper equipment, including a properly inflated boat, a throw rope for each boat rescuing swimmers, and a first aid kit in case someone is injured.
  • Be patient, and offer to lend a hand to parties that appear to be struggling, both on and off the water.
  • Make sure that you have the equipment and experience needed to run the Snake Canyon’s Class II and III rapids. If you don’t, consider running one of the easier scenic sections of the Snake, or, hire one of the many capable outfitters that run the river.

Also, boaters should remember:

  • Private party group size is limited to 15 people unless you have secured a free, Forest permit in advance.
  • In the river corridor, camping is allowed only in designated campsites.
  • Fireworks are illegal anywhere in the Bridger-Teton National Forest.

About The Author

Buckrail @ Shannon

Shannon is a Wyoming-raised writer and reporter pursuing a master's in journalism at Boston University. Jackson shaped her into an outdoorswoman, but a love for language and the human condition compels her to write. She believes there's no story too small to tell nor adventure too small to take.

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