Tetonscapes: Wild & Scenic

The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act is 50.

Wild & Scenic

The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act is 50.

By Whitney Royster

WYOMING HAS APPROXIMATELY 109,000 miles of rivers, of which 409 miles are protected under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, which celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this year. This act protects waterways for their scenic, recreational, wild, cultural, and/or historical attributes. For example, the Snake River north of Jackson is designated for its scenery; south of Jackson, as it flows through the Snake River Canyon, it’s recognized for its unique recreational opportunities. (The section of the Snake between these two points is not designated by the act because it has been altered by extensive dike work.)
Here’s a review of some of the best national and scenic stretches around the valley.

1/ Pacific Creek
Pacific Creek, in the Teton Wilderness, flows through remote, stunning wildlands and is best explored on an extended pack trip (whether by horse or foot is your choice). Grizzly bears are common here.

2/ Snake River
The Snake is the signature river and watery thoroughfare of Jackson Hole. Swim, hike, raft, fish, kayak, or stand-up-paddleboard it. The mellowest way to explore it is via a scenic float in Grand Teton National Park (GTNP). Prefer adventure? Book a guided trip through the class III rapids in the Snake River Canyon.

3/ Buffalo Fork
The Buffalo Fork allows for fly fishing, hiking, camping, horseback riding, and dramatic mountain vistas. Keep an eye out for grizzlies and signed private property.

4/ Gros Ventre
The Gros Ventre (Gro-vont) River roars through the community of Kelly. A large, developed GTNP campground just west of Kelly harbors sites nestled beneath giant cottonwoods in the river bottom.

5/ Flat Creek
Running right through the town of Jackson—from the Dairy Queen on the east to the Smith’s grocery store in the west, Flat Creek is best explored by inner tube. There are a couple of exciting drops along the way, but the creek is never that deep.

6/ Hoback River
A drive to Bondurant through the Hoback Canyon offers amazing views. Some sites in the canyon are protected for their historic value—in the 1800s, mountain men held several rendezvous in the vicinity.

7/ Granite Creek
East of Hoback Junction, Granite Creek burbles alongside a ten-mile-long dirt road dotted with dispersed campsites. Where the road ends is a naturally fed hot springs pool, Granite Hot Springs (see “Kids’ Day Out,” page 107).

8/ Green River
Known for excellent early-season fishing, the Green River, which is fed by snowmelt and glaciers high in the Wind River Mountains, offers copious roadside/riverside car camping spots.

9/ Greys River
The Greys River might be Wyoming’s most accessible wild and scenic river … at least until the 25-acre Porcupine Landslide this winter dammed it and took out about one quarter of a mile of the sixty-two-mile-long road running alongside the river. The Bridger-Teton National Forest closed the road, but hopes to open it again this summer.

10/ South Fork
The South Fork of the Snake River supports the largest riparian cottonwood forest in the West. The South Fork is also designated a “National Important Bird Area” for the 126 species of birds, including twenty-one raptor varieties, that live along it.