Yellowstone Kayaking

Trip Length 4 Days
Group Size 3-10
Activity level
Starting from
$949 for REI Members
$1,049 for non-members
Departures Jun 2020-Sep 2020

Spend four days paddling the lakes of America?s first national park.

Yellowstone National Park is a classic; home to abundant wildlife, otherworldly geothermal features and vast expanses of impressive landscapes. Seeing such an iconic area on a kayak takes the adventure into a new and exciting perspective.

Led by our local guides, we spend our days paddling high-altitude lakes, keeping an eye out for wildlife as we pass. Explore beautiful shorelines and take in the spectacular views of the Yellowstone backcountry. Take a break from kayaking to enjoy the wild beauty around us and share a picnic lunch far from the park crowds. We reconvene in the evening over a delicious meal and good conversation, before tucking comfortably into our sleeping bags under the starry night sky. Whether exploring deep into the solitude of Flat Mountain Arm or leaving the kayaks behind for a hike to the Shoshone Geyser Basin, the journey is guaranteed to inspire. We finish each day with a deeper appreciation of all that the remote corners of Yellowstone can offer us.

Open trip gallery
See all trip photos

Trip Highlights

  • Kayak the beautiful waters of Yellowstone National Park
  • Camp comfortably near the shore each night
  • Go at your own pace and extend your days with optional trips


This trip is rated Moderate Plus [3-4]. You should be capable of kayaking up to 14 miles (up to 6 hours) each day in calm to moderately rough conditions including choppy waters and variable winds. Additionally, you should be capable of lining kayaks up to 3 miles should water levels be low. You should be comfortable camping in the back-country without access to bathrooms or running water.?

  • Kayaking

What's Included

Paddling gear including dry bags, paddles, spray skirt, PFD, paddling jacket, paddling pants and/or wetsuit as conditions warrant;�single and tandem kayaks; group camping gear including tents; professional instruction and guiding; meals as noted in the daily itinerary and snacks; one group transfer from Jackson Hole to Yellowstone National Park on Day 2 and return to Jackson Hole on Day 4; park entrance fees.

All Yellowstone kayaking trips are conducted under the authorized concessionaire permit of Jackson Hole Kayak School.


Camping, 2 nights (night 1 accommodations not included)

Your Adventure Itinerary

Route Variation

Our route may vary depending on water levels and conditions.

Although we do our very best to adhere to the schedule, this itinerary is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control. The final paddling route is left up to the discretion of the guides, and is based upon trip member's skill and weather conditions. This trip is operated rain or shine.

Day 1

Meet your guides for an orientation in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Meet your guide and fellow travelers at Rendezvous River Sports in Jackson Hole, Wyoming at 6:30pm. Light refreshments and appetizers are served. Following introductions, we go over details for the upcoming trip including the trip packing list, kayaks (benefits of tandem versus single), personal flotation devices (PFDs), paddling jackets, etc. Trip members are provided with three dry bags for packing personal gear. No meals included. Accommodations in Jackson Hole are not included.

Day 2

Paddle to camp, with gorgeous scenery along the way.

Eat breakfast (own expense) prior to meeting your guide and fellow travelers at 7am at Rendezvous River Sports. Bring your dry bags with your personal gear, as well as any extra gear not needed for the kayaking trip as it will be securely stored at our guide's office before departing Jackson Hole. We will load up in the van and drive through Grand Teton National Park and into Yellowstone National Park to arrive at the shores of Lewis Lake (7,782?).

We unload the van, discuss proper packing and loading of a touring kayak, basic paddling technique and on-water safety. Once on the water, we paddle along the west (leeward) side of Lewis Lake and past areas that were heavily burned by the 1988 fires, which now display the recovery that is taking place. We stop for a picnic lunch on shore near several small fumaroles that offer a preview of the geyser basin ahead. At the north end of Lewis Lake we enter the Lewis Channel to paddle in waters open only to non-motorized craft. At first the channel has little current as it winds its way up through a shallow canyon. There the paddling is easy and offers a great opportunity to look for eagles, osprey, moose and other wildlife that frequent the area. As the gradient increases, the current becomes too strong to ascend and lining the boats upstream is required. Lining the boats requires walking up the channel through water that is ankle to thigh deep, and some may consider this the most strenuous activity of the trip. Depending on water levels it may be up to 1.5 miles before we get back in our kayaks. The channel opens into the expanse of Shoshone Lake, where we set up our tents for the night. We enjoy a well-earned dinner and a presentation on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Lunch and dinner included.

Transfer: 2 hours; Kayaking: 8-12 miles (up to 6 hour); Portages: up to 1.5 miles.

Day 3

Explore by kayak today, looking for wildlife and other sights.

The guides prepare a hot breakfast. We settle into our kayaks to begin a day of exploration in Shoshone Geyser Basin. We paddle west past the bluffs of Shoshone Lake, then continue to the basin. The water is a color usually seen in the tropics and has incredible clarity. Leaving our kayaks, we follow a trail that leads through a myriad of hot pools, steam vents, cauldrons and geysers, including the Minute Man. We picnic on the lake shore, then paddle back to our campsite with more opportunities for wildlife viewing along the way. Tonight's delicious dinner is followed by a presentation on Greater Yellowstone. All meals included.

Kayaking: 5-9 miles (up to 4 hours); Hiking: 1 mile (1 hour).

Day 4

Make our return paddle and bid farewell to Yellowstone.

We break camp and pack into our kayaks. We paddle back to the channel entrance, then pause to cover a few of the basics of river navigation before gliding into the current. Soon the flow slackens and we are once again in the calm waters of the lower channel. We take time for a picnic lunch, then paddle across Lewis Lake to our take-out spot. After loading into the support van we drive to Jackson Hole, stopping at various viewpoint along the way to enjoy the many vistas of Grand Teton National Park. We plan to arrive at Rendezvous Sports in Jackson Hole between 3:30pm and 5:30pm. Breakfast and lunch included.

Kayaking: 8-10 miles (up to 6 hours); Transfers: 2.5-3 hours with stops.

Gear List

The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To get maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. Try to bring only what is necessary?this will help you and the field staff. If you do not already own all of the necessary gear and are not certain if you will participate in outdoor trips on a regular basis, please consider renting.

Single kayaks are the standard used by most guests on our Yellowstone Kayaking trips; however, our guides will assign single or double kayaks individually based on each guest's skills and experience.

What to pack

You might also consider

Travel documents

  • Airline Tickets (Confirmation and Itinerary)
  • Final Bulletin (Emailed Prior to Departure Date)
  • Photo Identification

Contact Us

Feel free to give us a call at 800-622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out REI Expert Advice , which has great information to help you prepare for your trip.