Grand Teton National Park Rangers Educate Boaters About Water Safety on Jackson Lake


MOOSE, WY-As the Independence Day weekend approaches, Grand Teton National Park rangers remind local residents and visitors to operate their boats safely and with regard to others. Rangers will participate in Operation Dry Water, a nationwide awareness effort to promote boating safety, this weekend, June 30 through July 2.

As part of Operation Dry Water, rangers will conduct vessel safety inspections at boat launches on Jackson Lake. These voluntary inspections are meant to ensure boaters have all the requisite safety gear on board including:

  • Personal flotation devices for everyone on board the vessel. These must be U.S. Coast Guard approved, appropriately sized, and readily accessible. Children age 12 and under must wear them at all times.
  • A sound-making device such as an air horn or whistle for emergencies.
  • Navigation lights for all watercraft that will operate at night.
  • A throwable flotation device such as a seat cushion or ring buoy. These are required on all motorized vessels 16 feet in length or longer and must be U.S. Coast Guard approved Type IV devices.
  • Fire extinguishers for motorized vessels with an internal fuel tank.

Rangers inspected a total of 42 watercraft and identified 17 safety issues during the Operation Dry Water weekend in 2016.

Rangers will also perform increased patrols on Jackson Lake with the goal of increasing awareness about the dangers of boating under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in recreational boating deaths in the United States, and it is illegal to operate a vessel with a blood alcohol concentration level of .08 or higher. Rangers contacted 165 boaters during the 2016 operation and found one boater to be under the influence of alcohol.

Rangers would like to remind those recreating on Jackson Lake to respect other recreationists. Boaters on the lake have many different interests, including fishing, wildlife watching, access to wilderness, and water sports. Music should be kept to a reasonable volume and adequate space given to other boats.

Camping in the 15 designated backcountry campsites around Jackson Lake requires a permit, which can be obtained at the Colter Bay Visitor Center, the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center, and the Jenny Lake Ranger Station starting the day before the trip begins. Each of the campsites contain bear boxes for proper food storage. All trash and gear should be carried out at the end of the stay and not left in the bear boxes.

Additionally, campfires are allowed within metal fire grates and grills at designated campsites and picnic areas. A permit may be obtained at the Colter Bay Visitor Center for campfires below the high water line on the west shore of Jackson Lake. Fires are prohibited in other areas. Fireworks are prohibited in the park at all times.