Idaho’s Rafting and Kayaking Rivers
From the sheer terror of whitewater one can experience on Idaho’s famous river runs to serenely bobbing along in an inner tube on the Boise River at Boise, the state’s navigable rivers are memories for many adventurers each year. Rafting, kayaking, canoeing, tubing and jet boating are satisfying outdoor activities you are sure to enjoy.
"The Grim Reaper" photo courtesy of THREE RIVERS RAFTING
Their website: www.threeriversrafting.com
Idaho’s rafting and kayaking rivers are famed for stretches of rip-roaring rapids. There are more than 3,100 miles of rivers that feature these awesome runs. As a matter of fact, the State of Idaho has more miles of these torrid whitewater stretches than any other state in the lower 48.
If you do not have proper whitewater equipment, or the experience to raft or kayak on you own, seek help to run these world-class waters. Idaho has skilled, licensed and bonded professional rafting and kayaking outfitters who offer trips by raft or kayak on these wild waters.
Have you ever dreamed about experiencing the ride of your life down one of nature’s roller coaster rapids? I’m talking about a scream-filled voyage through the “Grim Reaper” on the Lochsa River, or the “Bodacious Bounce” on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, Idaho’s River of No Return.
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But, if white-knuckle terror is not your “cup of tea”, you can opt for a calmer, sightseeing drift. Outfitters offer leisurely floats on several rivers including the Boise, the Clearwater and the lower Selway.
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IDAHO'S WHITEWATER RIVERS
Lochsa (loc-sah) is Nez Perce Indian for “rough water” and the river lives up to that name. The Lochsa is a true whitewater river that parallels U.S. Route 12 northeast of Lowell, where it meets up with the Selway River, forming the Middle Fork of the Clearwater River. From its headwaters in the Bitterroot Mountains until its confluence with the other rivers, the Lochsa produces over 40 class III-IV rapids. Most outfitters use paddle boats during the short season (mid-May to late-June). One, two, and three-day rafting and kayaking trips are $80-$350 per person. For more information, call the Lochsa Ranger District at (208) 926-4274.
The Lower Selway River
The Lower Selway offers an ideal one-day family float without punishing sections of heavy rapid water. This meandering river requires no previous rafting experience. The river arrives at Lowell from the southeast, following its birth in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. Rafts or kayaks are both popular here. One day trips with outfitters cost $50-$90. For information, check with the Lochsa Ranger Station at (208) 926-4274.
Middle Fork Clearwater River
From its formation at Lowell to the town of Kooksia, the Clearwater’s Middle Fork follows U.S. Route 12. This 22-mile stretch of calm river offers bits of Class II water, ideal for the beginner or sightseer in a kayak or raft. Rates for one-day excursions with an outfitter run $50-$90. Information at the Lochsa Ranger Station at (208) 926-4274.
Just an hour north of Boise on State Route 55, just below the small town of Banks, the Payette offers easy access to moderately difficult rapids. Here is a great stretch of water for the boater with good basic skills. This is a clean mountain river to float. Picturesque stands of fir trees line the banks and hawks and osprey hunt their prey from overhead. Half-day to three-day rafting and kayaking trips run $30-$350 per person. For details, contact the Cascade Ranger District at (208) 382-7400.
Salmon River (Main)
The Salmon is the most famous of Idaho’s many whitewater rivers. Early explorers termed this awesome stream “the River of No Return”. Using a licensed river guide is the best way to experience the Salmon River. Outfitters offer one to eight day float trips on your choice of either calm or wilder water. Floating the Salmon River remains one of the Idaho adventures with lasting memories. The town of Riggins, known as the “Whitewater Capital of the Universe”, is the perfect base of operations. For information, contact the North Fork Ranger District at (208) 865-2700.
Salmon River (Middle Fork)
In the center of the Frank Church River of No return Wilderness, the main attraction is the 96-mile stretch of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. The Middle Fork offers floaters a wide variety of wildlife and scenery that would thrill any photographer or nature lover. Ranked as one of the top 10 whitewater rivers in the world, it is Idaho's most famous Wild and Scenic river. The river provides 100 Class III-IV rapids in this stretch of less than 100 miles. For details on the Middle Fork, contact the Middle Fork Ranger District in Challis, Idaho at (208) 879-4100.
Snake River (Hells Canyon)
The Snake is the “property line” between the States of Idaho and Oregon. Hells Canyon, the deepest river gorge in North America, is a major feature of the Snake. Both rafting adventures of 3 to 6 days and day trips in jet boats are quite popular in the canyon. The spectacular scenery in the canyon is a memorable treat for visitors. Lewiston is central to Hells Canyon activities. For information, contact the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area Headquarters at (208) 628-3916.
The Boise River flows through the downtown heart of Idaho’s capitol city of Boise. A popular 5-mile float from Barber Park, past Boise State University, and Julia Davis Park, concludes at Ann Morrison Park. If you wish to do this for yourself, park your car at Ann Morrison Park and take the shuttle bus to the put-in at Barber Park. Rafts and tubes are for rent at Barber Park. Guided trips are also available with a guide familiar with the area fauna and flora. For details, call the Boise Parks Department at (208) 384-4240.
Rafting and kayaking adventures are also available on other Idaho rivers, including the St. Joe, Owyhee, Bruneau and the Jarbridge. For information concerning licensed, professional guides for river rafting or kayaking in Idaho,
or call the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association at (208) 342-1919.