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Kayaking In Wyoming – The Top Places to Launch & Paddle your Kayak and Canoe

Mark Armstrong
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Kayaking in Wyoming can let you experience some of the state’s most beautiful scenery and natural wonders. From stunning mountains and forests to geysers and canyons, there can be a lot to explore in the Equality State.

To help you discover some of the best lakes and rivers for kayaking we’ve made a list with a few of our favorites.

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5 Best Places To Kayak in Wyoming

1: Jackson Hole

Jackson Hole can be a great place for paddlesports, whether you’re looking for whitewater adventures or peaceful spots with spectacular scenery. The Snake River can offer a combination of both tranquil water and whitewater.

A good five-mile trip for families preferring calmer waters is from the launch at Jackson Lake Dam to the take-out at Pacific Creek. This can be ideal for wildlife viewing.

For a whitewater trip through the canyon, head south to the West Table Boat Ramp. This can be an exhilarating paddle to the take-out at Sheep Gulch.

Kayaks and tours are available in Jackson.

Class of Rapids rating:

Class I (easy) to Class II/III (moderate), depending on the location.

Where to launch & how to get there:

West Table Boat Ramp, Forest Road 31048A, Jackson, WY 83001. Just off Highway 89 south of Hoback.

2: Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone Lake can be one of the most scenic and interesting places to paddle, surrounded by the nature and wilderness of the famous Yellowstone National Park. This large lake can be an excellent place to view wildlife, such as moose, elk, bears, bison, wolves, and many others.

One of the highlights of Yellowstone is the geysers, which you can view from your kayak as you paddle along the shoreline of the West Thumb. Canoes can be rented with a shuttle service from Bridge Bay Marina.

A good spot to launch for exploring the West Thumb Geyser Basin is at the boat ramp in Grant Village.

Class of Rapids rating:


Where to launch & how to get there:

Grant Marina Road, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190. Take Highway 89 north of Moran.

3: Jackson Lake

Boats at the Jackson Lake surrounded by snowy mountain Pin
Courtesy: Doug Davey on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Jackson Lake is surrounded by some of the most stunning scenery in Wyoming. This large lake is set within Grand Teton National Park and can be a fantastic place to view wildlife with the Teton Range as a backdrop.

There are campgrounds around the lake for an overnight stay and backcountry camping is permitted with a permit. You’ll also need bear-proof canisters.

Colter Bay can be a good spot to launch, where you’ll find a boat ramp and marina that has canoes and kayaks for rent.

Class of Rapids rating:


Where to launch & how to get there:

Colter Bay Marina Road, Moran, WY 83013. Head north of Moran on Highway 89 to Colter Bay Village. The boat ramp is just past the marina.

4: Fremont Canyon

Fremont Canyon is a deep canyon that runs between Alcova Reservoir and Pathfinder Reservoir. This can be an excellent place to paddle, with stunning scenery and generally slow-moving water. However, the flow is affected by the dam released from the hydroelectric power plant, so it can sometimes have whitewater.

For easy access to the canyon, you can launch at the beach area near Fremont Canyon Campground on the western shores of Alcova Reservoir. Kayak rentals and tours are available at the nearby Alcova Resort.

The best kayaks suited to camping

Class of Rapids rating:

Generally, Class I (easy) but can be up to Class IV/V (difficult).

Where to launch & how to get there:

24025 Lake Shore Drive, Alcova, WY 82620. To launch your own vessel, continue to the parking area/beach at the end of the road past the boathouse.

5: Bighorn River

The Bighorn River can offer a diverse paddling experience, with a combination of flatwater and whitewater. At the northern end, you can launch into Bighorn Lake and paddle into Bighorn Canyon. There are kayak and canoe rentals at Horseshoe Bend Marina where there’s also a boat ramp.

You can also launch at the Wedding of the Waters near Thermopolis, which has some mild rapids along the way. This section flows north and you can take out at Hot Springs State Park in Thermopolis. Kayak rentals are available in Thermopolis.

Video: Kayaking The Bighorn River In Thermopolis, Wyoming

A section of the river south of the Wedding of the Waters has bigger rapids. However, private boats are not allowed and this can only be paddled with a rafting company. Only one has exclusive access to this stretch.

Class of Rapids rating:

Mostly Class I (easy) except for Wind River Canyon which has Class III/IV (moderate/difficult)

Where to launch & how to get there:

US-20, Thermopolis, WY 82443. Wedding of the Waters River Access is around four miles south of Thermopolis.

Horseshoe Bend Marina on Bighorn Lake is around 14 miles northeast of Lovell.

Wyoming Kayak Laws

US Coast GuardPin

It’s recommended that you always check the rules and regulations for where you plan to paddle. These are some of the main ones but you might want to research for yourself.

  • PFD (USCG approved) is required for each person on a vessel.
  • Children Under 13 must wear a USCG approved PFD at all times.
  • Registration is not required for non-motorized vessels.
  • Boating Under the Influence (BUI) of alcohol or drugs is illegal. You will be considered intoxicated with a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or above.
  • Aquatic Invasive Species Decals are required for all vessels used in Wyoming waters.

Kayak Rentals And Tours Around WY

Final Words

Wyoming can be an extraordinary place to paddle, rich in wildlife, with an abundance of scenic landscapes. No matter where in the state you choose, remember to wear your PFD and pack your food in a bear-proof canister if you plan to camp.

Leave us a comment to tell us about your favorite paddling location. And feel free to share this with others looking for adventures.

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