Gros Ventre River: Upper, middle & lower sections


GRADIENT - 15 (55) ft/mile

LENGTH - 3 to 30 miles

FLOAT TIME - 1 to 7 hours

BLM QUAD MAPS - Jackson Lake

PUT IN - upper end about 27 miles east of Kelly

PUT IN - Google Map

TAKE OUT - lower end about 4 miles east of Kelly

Gros Ventre River

Gage Station CFS near Kelly (data for 1989).

Gros Ventre River


The Gros Ventre River begins in the wilderness area of the Bridger-Teton National Forest. After passing through Upper and Lower Slide Lake, the Gros Ventre joins the Snake River in Teton National Park (floating in the Park is prohibited here). Access is reached by turning off US-26 at Gros Ventre Junction and taking the paved road past Kelly to a junction with the Antelope Flats Road. There you turn east to the Park/Forest boundary and Slide Lake.

The put-in for the upper section is reached by driving 19 miles from the end of the pavement at the Atherton Campground. This upper landing is two miles past the turn-off to the elk feedground, and one mile before you cross Bridge Creek. Here the river meanders through an open valley and swings close to the road at a couple points for an easy put-in. The river twists and turns considerably, but the current is fairly slow rating a Class I.

After snaking your way north for about two miles, you go under an old bridge at the feedground. The river then swings northwest for two miles to the confluence with Fish Creek. Here the tight bends loosen a bit and the river picks up a little speed. During the next four miles to the Warden Bridge Landing, be on the look out for occasional downed timber or snags. Float time for this section is three hours.

The middle section begins at the Warden Bridge Landing. The river passes through a Trumpeter Swan nesting area to Upper Slide Lake. Just below the lake, you begin following along the base of The Gray Bluffs. Here the river picks up more speed as it travels through rock gardens and a couple of "S" turns (Class III). The river slows down to a Class II for a two mile stretch and then turns north through a small canyon where you have more Class III rock gardens and "S" turns. About one mile through this area, the river makes a sharp turn and flows through a little gorge to Slate Creek. From Slate Creek to Crystal Creek are intermittent stretches of Class II/III.

Below the Crystal Creek and Red Hills Campground landings is a nice stretch of Class II. Just after passing by Redmond Creek Cascades (about three miles), you enter the backwater of Lower Slide Lake. You then have a bit paddling to the landing at Horsetail Creek (two miles from Atherton Campground). Float time for this stretch is three hours.

Access to the lower section is reached by turning off the pavement near the Slide Lake Overlook and taking a small dirt road down to a bridge at the outlet. The river here is a boulder garden with fast water and a few sharp twists (Class III/IV) and is a rough run for about three miles. A prolonged roll attempt here could take your nose off. The take-out is at the Forest/Park boundary where the river runs close to the pavement. However, make sure you are not on the small section of private land here, as you risk confrontation with the land owners (personal experience)!

Photo Caption (image not shown): This two mile run on the Gros Ventre River below Lower Slide Lake offers numerous moves through Class III/IV whitewater.