Rangers Rescue Two Boaters on the Snake River

Upper Snake River was designated as a Wild & Scenic River in 2009

July 1, 2010
Grand Teton National Park rangers rescued two local men from the Snake River after their fiberglass drift boat capsized when it hit an uprooted tree that was recently lodged in the stream. The accident occurred on Tuesday afternoon, June 29, about one mile south of the Bar BC Ranch area. Brothers Doug and Kelly Ward, both residents of Moran, Wyoming, launched their craft from Pacific Creek Landing and floated the Snake without incident until they encountered the midstream obstruction; they were apparently unable to avoid the uprooted tree due to the swift current. The two men were uninjured and able to swim safely to shore; neither was wearing a life vest at the time of the accident.

Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a call reporting the accident at 2:45 p.m. and rangers later located the men who were safe but stranded on the riverbank near the accident site. Rangers then floated the two men down river to the Moose Landing.

This is the first major accident on a reach of the Snake River in the park this season, and rangers remind river users that the Snake is a powerful river with strong currents and cold water temperatures. Due to its tangle of channels and constantly shifting logjams and downed trees, boaters are advised to have the proper equipment—as well as the knowledge and experience—to accurately read the river’s current and navigate away from natural obstructions in the streambed.

Boaters are required to have certified personal floatation devices for all persons aboard the watercraft and to obtain appropriate boat permits. For those unfamiliar with the Snake River, a pre-float consultation with rangers is strongly advised.

River users are also reminded that it is prohibited to remove or take an abandoned boat from the Snake River, or to keep any personal property items found in the river or along its banks. Such items should be immediately turned in to a park visitor center or ranger station.

As a reminder, park visitors are required by law to immediately report any collision, accident, fire or other incident that results in property loss, property damage, personal injury or death—whether on the river, on park roads, or in the backcountry.