Rafting is thought to be a modern-day activity, however, you may be surprised just how long this activity has been around! The rubber raft was invented by Lt. John Fremont of the US Army in 1842. Fremont utilized the raft to explore the Great Plains and Rocky Mountain region, as well as, surveying the Platte River in Wyoming for the US Navy. Over the course of the next century, many other pioneers utilized rafts and wooden boats for their own exploration of rivers in the West.
Closer to our current day location on the Snake River was Lieutenant Gustavus Cheyney Doane. This team was under Army order to explore the Snake River From Yellowstone Lake to the Columbia River, a 1,078-mile journey. They only reached the whitewater section, not more than 70 miles from the start, on December 2nd, 1896. They ended their mission with no food and their Snake River raft in disarray. Rivaling this journey was Amos Burg, who became the first person to run the Snake River from its source to the confluence of the Columbia River. He completed this task in a canoe in 1925.
The first commercial Snake River raft trip was launched in 1940 by Clyde, Jacks, and Don Smith of Salmon, Idaho. Then, in 1956, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. built the Grand Teton Lodge in Grand Teton National Park. Grand Teton Lodge Company began using 27 ft military grade rafts with larger wooden sweeps on the front and back to control the boats, a system that is still used today.
In 2010, Teton Scenic Float Tours was founded on many of the same principles of past explorers: the love of the river and sharing that experience with others. Teton Scenic Float Tours has seen great changes over the years. Most notable is our custom chair frame that rests on top of the raft. Our founder spent 4 years perfecting the design before partnering with Northwest River Supplies to make the frame come to life. This twelve-seat frame has four rows of three seats, all with a high back and built-in cushions. The chairs are evenly spaced so guests have plenty of room while also being close to family and friends.
Now, Teton Scenic Float Tours operates four of these custom rafts on our Snake River float trips. The whole idea behind our snake river rafts is to provide the most comfortable seating available. This has allowed us to take guests who wouldn’t otherwise go rafting and, to us, that is pretty special!