Pay to play on the Snake River?

Access to the popular Snake River stretch south of town may come with a price tag in the near future.
The Snake River stretch south of town has seen increased use in recent years, so many users may soon have to pay a $5 day use fee per vehicle.

by | Feb 26, 2024 | Environment

The Upper Snake River south of Jackson could become one of the first rivers in Wyoming to require a fee for access.

The Bridger-Teton National Forest held a meeting last week in Jackson for the proposed fees to give the public another chance to weigh in. If the program goes into place, floaters would need to pay to access the stretch between the mouth of the Hoback River to just upstream of the Alpine Junction.

David Cernicek, with the Bridger-Teton National Forest, said the fees are necessary to manage the river due to increased recreational use.

“Our funding is very limited on the river,” Cernicek said. “And we’re not really able to afford the river anymore. Our expenses exceed our costs in providing what we do down in Snake River Canyon.”

The national forest says the river can see over 200,000 people every season, and the fees are needed for maintaining and improving infrastructure like boat ramps, bathrooms and parking areas, among other needs.

The forest would charge $5 per vehicle per day and $3 per person for outfitters and larger groups over 15. Floaters could also choose to buy a season pass for $40, or get a discount for buying two season passes at the same time.

Orion Hatch, who leads local river advocacy group Snake River Fund, said the organization supports the fees to better manage the stretch of river that’s listed as wild and scenic. He said less than 0.25% of all river miles in the U.S. hold this designation.

“I think a lot of people in the country and all over the world have some of their first experiences on the water on the Snake River,” Hatch said. “So, it’s a really special thing not just to our community, but to the whole nation.”

This summer could be Jacksonites’ last chance to float for free. The national forest public comment period ends March 15, with plans of enforcing the fees beginning in the summer of 2025.

**Correction: The original article stated that the Upper Snake stretch could be the first river to require a fee for access in Wyoming. This is incorrect. It would be one of the first, as boaters on the stretch in Grand Teton National Park already have to buy a boat registration sticker.

Want More Stories Like This?

Donate any amount to support independent media in the Tetons.

KHOL 89.1 Jackson Hole Community Radio Membership Support Ad

About Dante Filpula Ankney

Related Stories

Pin It on Pinterest