Where does the Snake River Begin and End in Wyoming: Start of the River

The Snake River runs more than a thousand miles connecting the Pacific Northwest and was once considered one of the most bountiful rivers in the U.S. with salmon, clean water, and healthy habitats for wildlife but is now under watch as one of America’s top endangered rivers. Where does the Snake River begin and end in Wyoming?

The Snake River originates in parts of Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks in Wyoming and runs across southern Idaho before turning north climbing in elevation along the Idaho-Oregon border then diving in elevation turning west as it enters Washington State and flows into the Columbia River.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804–06 was the first American group to cross the Rocky Mountains and sail down the Snake and Columbia Rivers to the Pacific Ocean. These are some of the most scenic and beautiful spots in North America.



With an air of enigma as twisting as its path, the Snake River famously meanders through the dynamic landscapes of Wyoming. Recognized for its imposing presence, it remains etched in the annals of history, geography, and ecology of the USA. Before we embark on the journey to trace this serpentine course, it’s crucial to establish the start and the terminal points of this prominent waterway. So, let’s take a look into the geographical paradoxes and discover where the sublime marvel of the Snake River both commences and concludes in the scenic state of Wyoming.


Where does the Snake River Begin and End


From high above Yellowstone National, where the Snake River begins, to the depths of Hells Canyon in Idaho, the Snake River traverses through a vast variety of landscapes that are a marvel in their own right. The river, also known as Teton River in certain regions, meanders across the states, showcasing a diverse display of natural beauty, wildlife, and wide area accessibility. But where does it exactly begin, and where does it end?

The Snake River’s headwaters originate from the Two Oceans Plateau in Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park. This serene source is known as the starting point- or the ‘beginning’ of the river’s journey. The stream from here flows through a series of lakes in its upper stretch, including Jackson Lake and Palisades Reservoir. But it’s not just the river in Wyoming that’s significant; the Snake River covers multiple states, making it an essential water body in the northwestern USA.


The Snake River near its source in the Teton Mountains
Snake River Headwaters-near its source in the Teton Mountains Wyoming

As the Snake River expands, it encompasses more states, gathering momentum and strength. Interestingly, RTF meetings and council meetings often contemplate issues associated with the river, such as water management and conservation methods.

At these meetings, the Snake River waterkeepers play an integral role, representatives from various states, including Wyoming, where the Snake River’s journey starts.

At one such meeting in Sep, the focus was on exploring the guided tours along the river, which have been growing popular among tourists and nature enthusiasts alike. Privacy policy measures that safeguard visitors and wildlife were also discussed to ensure everyone’s safety while enjoying the river’s beauty.

After the Snake River’s meandering journey, it concludes at the border between Oregon and Washington. This point is where the Snake River meets the mighty Columbia River, marking its end. Just like the Snake River begins in Wyoming, this river trail ends in Washington.

In essence, it’s not the end of existence, for it adds its strength to the Columbia River going forward. Whether it’s along the river banks, within the wildlife-rich areas around it, or within its waters, the Snake River’s serenity and strength offer unique experiences. Paddle through the river or simply sit down by its side, and take in the landscape’s beauty, hearing the river whisper the stories of its long journey from Yellowstone National to the North Fork. It’s certainly a journey to look forward to.

Exploring the Start of the Snake River: Unveiling its Headwaters


Start Snake River Headwaters


The Snake River is a major tributary of the Columbia River and has its headwaters just inside Yellowstone on the Two Ocean Plateau. Various stretches of this important river have had at least 15 different names. The name, which comes from the Snake Shoshone Indians, was applied to the river as early as 1812, making it one of the oldest place names in the park.

The Snake River likely derived its name from the early European explorers who misinterpreted the sign made by the Shoshone people who communicated in sign language by moving their hand in a swimming motion which appeared to these explorers to be a “snake.”

It actually signified that they lived near the river with many fish. In the 1950s, the name “Hells Canyon” was borrowed from Hells Canyon Creek, which enters the river near Hells Canyon Dam.

The Snake River Headwaters encompasses parts of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, the John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway, and the Bridger-Teton National Forest. The river lies at the heart of the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA), often referred to as one of the last intact functioning temperate ecosystems on earth

Rivers including the Snake River protected by Congress by the Headwaters Legacy Act of 2009 (PL 111-11) are among the most pristine in the nation. They have many outstandingly remarkable values and offer myriad recreational opportunities. according to the USDA Forestry Service

Snake River - Yellowstone National Park (U.S. National Park Service)
Snake River Headwaters-Wyoming

The Snake River Headwaters is unique in that it is made up of a connected watershed rather than just a single river or a set of isolated rivers spread across a region. The Snake River Headwaters are sourced from 13 rivers and 25 separate river segments totaling 414 miles, with 315 miles within Bridger-Teton National Forest.

These are some of the most scenic and beautiful spots in North America. The largest tributary of the Snake River is the Clearwater River, which discharges approximately 11 million acre-feet of water every year. The second-largest tributary is the Salmon River, which discharges approximately 8 million acre-feet of water every year.

The upper Snake River is used mostly for Irrigation and Hydroelectric power. The main flow is regulated by a series of Dams and Reservoirs the biggest being the American Fall Dam and Reservoir.

The journey of the majestic Snake River begins in Wyoming, its headwaters just inside Yellowstone on the Two Ocean Plateau. This source, tucked away in the roaring splendor of one of America’s most treasured national parks, spills into the scenic panorama of the Snake River Plain of Southern Idaho before reaching its end.

It’s a captivating spectacle that unravels, much like the river itself, revealing its wonder as it winds through the varied landscapes of Wyoming.

Given the Snake River’s start at such a significant location, the management of the river becomes paramount. Responsible management ensures the river’s journey from its source to confluence goes unhindered, benefiting the fascinating ecosystem it supports. From here begins the relentless flow of the river, shaping the topography and nurturing life forms in its course.

The prosperous presence of fish in the Snake River is a crucial part of the charm that has people always coming back to its banks. Fishing enthusiasts find the river to be a rewarding heaven, teeming with an attractive range of species. The Snake River, known for its abundance of trout, beckons with the challenge of matching wits with some of the cleverest fish in the water.

Snake River flows relentlessly, nurturing its rich biodiversity and stunning the onlookers with its breathtaking vistas. The Snake River traverses the picturesque landscapes of Wyoming, adding to the state’s natural allure. Wyoming, blessed to have the Snake in its geography, enjoys a natural ambiance and ecosystem second to none.

The Snake River in Wyoming, from its headwaters just inside Yellowstone on the Two Ocean Plateau to its graceful descent into the Snake River Plain of Southern Idaho, offers an awe-inspiring spectacle. It’s an experience that starts with the Snake River and ends, inevitably, with a profound appreciation of Wyoming’s exquisite natural offering. The start of the river, the source of life for so many species, and its end in the vast plain is symbolic of life’s journey, full of challenges, beauty, and the promise of renewal.


Locating the Snake River: Start Your Adventure towards its Blue Expanse


Snake River At 1,078 miles (1,735 km) long, 358 ft. elevation the Snake River is the largest tributary of the Columbia River and, in turn, the largest North American river that empties into the Pacific Ocean. The Snake River rises in western Wyoming, then flows through the Snake River Plain of southern Idaho,

the rugged Hells Canyon at the OregonIdaho border, and the rolling Palouse Hills of Washington, before emptying into the Columbia River at the Tri-Cities in the Columbia Basin of Eastern Washington.

Snake River - American Rivers
Snake River Map

The Snake River drainage basin is the 10th largest in North America and covers about 108,000 square miles parts of six U.S. states  Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Nevada, and Wyoming

Curiosity often stirs up when we talk about the mesmerizing Snake River, which graces the lands of the Wild West. Igniting adventurous spirits, this river beguiles many with its meandering blue expanse. Where does the Snake River begin, you ask?

The excitement of discovering it is as thrilling as the very vastness of the West itself. As part and parcel of our service at “Who, What, Where”, various articles about riveting national wonders often surface, including insights about the fascinating Snake River

Boasting true serenity, the Snake River springs into existence at an elevation of approximately 8,900 ft at the serene Boundary Creek, near the awe-inspiring Yellowstone National Park, adjacent to the heart of Wyoming’s wilderness. From there, the river commences its journey west, seducing nature enthusiasts and seasoned campaigners alike. Bathed in the charm of the American West, Snake River never ceases to allure one and all.

After outlining where the Snake River begins, tracing its course west opens a realm of scenic lakes. The river takes a dramatic turn, bringing the stunning Snake River Lake into its fold. The lake’s charm is heightened by the multiple dams that shape and guide the flow of the Snake River. These dams not only make an impressive sight to behold but also crucially regulate the strength of currents, ensuring the safety of commercial and recreational river-based activities.

Digging deep into the saga of the Snake River, it becomes apparent that its creation by Mother Nature is no less than national pride. As the course of Snake River twists and turns, flirting with the rugged landscapes of the west, it paves the way for another picturesque lake. This Snake River Lake, kissed by the rays of the setting sun, paints an image of tranquility personified. Whether you are embarking on a boating adventure or catching the West’s mesmerizing sunset, you are in for an unparalleled experience. Interestingly, dams that are strategically placed at certain points play a pivotal role in maintaining scenic beauty along the river.

Our articles strive to bring holistic knowledge about natural wonders like the Snake River. As we journey through it, we hope this article has set your foot towards your adventure across Snake River’s blue expanse.



Adventure along the Snake River: Where Does it Ultimately End


If you’re drawn to the untamed wilds of the American West, the Snake River hosts an adventure like no other. This river, famed for its might and allure, sparks the curiosity of many. Where does the Snake River begin, and where does it ultimately end? Here’s the inside scoop on this iconic river.

Beginning as a small spring in the Two Ocean Plateau, the Snake River forms from melting snow in Yellowstone Park’s southern part. It takes its course from the basins, heading towards the Continental Divide. Park visitors often delight in following its initial voyage west through the picturesque valley it has crafted.

The Snake River initially flows into the Heart Lake and then meanders north. North, you may ask? Yes indeed! Contrary to the common river flow, the Snake River progresses north into Yellowstone National Park, offering a unique scenic experience

The continual flow then enters Jackson Lake, forming a fork with other rivers along its path. Navigating through Idaho forms a serenity that is synonymous with the cool spring days. This reflects an exquisite picture of the West as it continues to carve its basin throughout the landscape.

Further downstream, the Snake River heads west again through Idaho, making its presence felt through the massive Snake River Plain and offering a new perspective on the region’s geography. Waltzing through Hells Canyon, deeper than the Grand Canyon itself, the Snake River paints a mesmerizing picture.

Last but not least, the Snake River ultimately ends its journey in Washington, completing the 1,078-mile stretch from its spring beginnings in Wyoming. It unites with the mighty Columbia River near the Tri-Cities, a meeting point that signifies the end of a remarkable journey.

The details might differ depending on your personal adventure along the Snake River, but this provides a general mapping of its path. Disconnect, recharge, and explore the Snake River for an unforgettable journey of discovery.

Whether you are an experienced hiker seeking the thrill of following the river’s route, or a first-time visitor enchanted by the tales of this iconic river, the Snake River’s journey will leave you fascinated. It beautifully captures the essence of the West, punctuated by its numerous forks and flowing through the basin, reminding us of nature’s untamed wilderness.

Snake River Dams


Snake River has 27 dams and reservoirs with a total active capacity of approximately 6.8 million acre-feet, providing water to 83,000 farmers and more than 30,000 farms. The Six power plants on the river provide 821,870 megawatt hours of electricity annually.

The four Snake River dams on the lower Snake in southeast Washington were completed in the 1960s and 1970s. Lower Granite Dam is located approximately 40 miles downstream of Lewiston, Idaho. Further downstream on the river are Little Goose Dam, Lower Monumental Dam, and Ice Harbor Dam.

These four Dams are the main ones in question believed to be hampering the migration of young salmon headed out to sea, 

Dams and reservoirs from the Snake River have an effect on the natural salmon runs that take place in the upper parts of the Snake River throughout the Columbia River where migratory salmon make their way to the ocean and back.

The Dams on the river were built and operated for good reasons like transportation but a lot of people now feel that they are inadequate and antiquated and are only hurting salmon migration which also affects the Columbia River. There are movements to take them down.


Finding the End of the Snake River: Your Advisory Guide for this Remarkable River


Where is the end of the Snake River? it’s here in the wilds of Wyoming, where rivers such as the Snake cut a distinct path through the terrain, that you’ll find the most remarkable natural wonders. And the Snake River is no exception.

The Snake River ends by uniting with the mighty Columbia River over Washington State, but its journey is intense and full of twists. The Snake River begins up in the mountains, where it is fed by multiple forks, one of them being the famous North Fork.

Snake River winds through various national parks, leaving enviable beauty in its wake. The west side of the river showcases the charm of the Snake River. The dramatic riverscapes include the Snake River Canyon, which cuts through not once, not twice, but seven times. The canyon’s dimensions are indeed vast, yet it’s rivaled in its grandeur, by the magnificence of Snake River itself.

As you travel along the river, you’ll see the landscape change. The river’s path navigates around Henry’s Fork before the Snake River takes a sharp turn, heading south towards another national park. Here, it winds past the stunning Teton Range and enters the massive canyon for the final time before it reaches its endpoint.

The Snake River leaves an indelible imprint on our minds and hearts. What does it feel like to chase the end of one of America’s most iconic rivers? Imagine ending at a spot where you can practically touch the sky, with the Snake River stretching as far as the eye can see. Its ending is abrupt, yet subtly memorable, ending in a climax of cascading water.

For those of us who are lucky enough to trace this river from the start to its ending, being on the Snake River offers an unparalleled connection with nature. The Snake River sets a benchmark for rivers across the country as it twists, turns, and snakes its way through the land. This is just one of many rivers that have been integral to the development of the national park culture in the West.

Tracking the course of the Snake River is like tracing the veins of the earth. From start to end, Snake River presents a case study in natural majesty – a spectacle to behold, a marvel to ponder, and a journey to remember.



In conclusion, the Snake River emerges from the breathtaking Two Ocean Plateau in Yellowstone, Wyoming, and winds its way across four states before emptying itself into the Columbia River in Washington. This spectacular river encompasses not only incredible scenic beauty but also serves as an important resource and habitat for many species. Whether enjoyed for its serene paddling routes, its vital role in the ecosystem, or the mythology and history that envelop it, the Snake River proves an enduring and unique symbol in the heartland of America.


JimGalloway Author/Editor


World Atlas- Where Does the Snake River Begin and End

Geology of Wyoming-Two Ocean Pass



Q: Where does the Snake River begin and end?
A: The Snake River begins in Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park and terminates at the border between Oregon and Washington, where it meets the Columbia River.
Q: What states does the Snake River cover?
A: The Snake River meanders across multiple states in the northwestern USA such as Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.
Q: What role does the Snake River play in ecology and conservation?
A: The Snake River is an essential water body in its region and often features in discussions for water management and conservation methods. The Snake River’s representatives play an integral part in these discussions to preserve its ecology.
Q: What is the Snake River popular for among tourists?
A: The Snake River is popular for its CUA-guided tours along the river, which attract tourists and nature enthusiasts. It’s also popular for fishing, with an abundance of trout in its waters.
Q: What wildlife can you find around the Snake River?
A: The Snake River nurtures a rich biodiversity, supporting a unique ecosystem. Hence, it houses a wide range of species, the most captivating being fish, particularly trout for fishing enthusiasts.



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