Colter Bay water levels dropping fast

Boaters make their way out onto Jackson Lake from Colter Bay in Grand Teton National Park in this News&Guide file image from 2020. With lake levels dropping faster than usual, boaters have been advised that the Colter Bay boat ramp is closing by July 21, and they should have their boats out of the Colter Bay marina by the end of July. 

Due to extraordinarily low water levels in Grand Teton National Park's Jackson Lake, the Colter Bay boat ramp is expected to close to motorized vessels by today, July 21.

The paved Colter Bay ramp will still be accessible to vessels that can be hand carried, according to a park announcement Tuesday.

Motorized boaters can still use ramps at Leek's and Signal Mountain marinas — for the time being, at least. Boat owners with slips and buoys at Colter Bay Marina have been advised that those will be unusable within the next week or so. 

It is likely that impacts to Signal Mountain and Leek’s marinas will occur as early as the end of August or early September, park officials said. Park visitors with motorized boats should note that recreation opportunities will be increasingly limited in the park.

"Due to very low natural flows and the need to supplement downstream reservoirs, Jackson Lake is expected to drawdown rapidly to levels only seen three times in the last thirty years," park officials said.  

Recreation on the Snake River downstream of the Jackson Lake Dam is also being impacted.

"All river users are advised to be aware of higher than normal releases from the Jackson Lake Dam that will likely extend into September, before being reduced rapidly over the course of a few days to minimum winter flows," park officials said. "This will result in swifter currents than typical through August, and the possibility for new river hazards as flows decline."

With drought conditions throughout the West, water supplies from reservoirs are in great demand. The Jackson Lake Dam contractually provides irrigation and flood risk management for the Upper Snake Basin. The Jackson Lake Dam raises the water level of the natural lake by 39 feet.

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