Uprooted Tree Sends Two Men into Snake River, Grand Teton National Park Rangers to the Rescue

Though serene looking, the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park can be tricky to navigate, even for experienced boaters. NPS photo.

Swift currents and an uprooted tree proved a tricky combination for two Wyoming men, who found themselves needing a rescue from Grand Teton National Park rangers after their boat capsized in the Snake River.

The two brothers, Doug and Kelly Ward, of Moran, launched their fiberglass boat Tuesday afternoon from the Pacific Creek Landing upstream of Moose and were floating downstream when they rammed the tree in mid-stream, according to a release from the park.

Neither man was injured. While they weren't wearing life jackets, they were able to swim to shore, where they were stranded, according to the release.

Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a call reporting the accident at 2:45 p.m. and rangers later located the men. River 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.