What is Idaho known for? While many people may say potatoes (in fact, Idaho license plates even say “famous potatoes”), the state also happens to be one of the top whitewater rafting locations in the world.
If you’re someone who loves getting wild in the outdoors, a rafting trip to Idaho should be on your bucket list. The problem won’t be finding a river, it will be deciding on one. So, what do you need to know?
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about river rafting in Idaho.
Plan Your Trip
Before you can start your Idaho river rafting trip, you have to first figure out the logistics.
In most cases, the rafting season starts at the beginning of April, and goes until late September or early October. The exact times may vary depending on river conditions and local weather.
If you plan on flying into the state, the biggest airport is in the capital, Boise. You can find flights to Boise from most major American cities, although the state doesn’t service any international flights. You can also get in at Spokane International Airport or Friedman Memorial Airport.
To get to many of the rafting locations, you’ll need to either drive or fly. Renting a car gives you the convenience of setting your own schedule, as well as getting the chance to enjoy the beauty of Idaho.
What to Bring Along
The company you go rafting with should provide you with the equipment you need, as well as food and water. However, it’s important to bring along the right clothes.
If you’re rafting in warm weather, wear a bathing suit or shorts that dry quickly. A synthetic shirt will protect you from the sun, as well as provide you with warmth. The shoes you bring along should have straps; stay away from flip-flops and other looser varieties.
If you’re rafting in colder conditions, make sure to avoid cotton. Cotton becomes cold when it gets wet, which can lead to a miserable (and potentially dangerous) experience. You should also bring a hat, layers for your upper and lower body, and wool socks.
Where to Go
As Idaho has so many amazing rafting spots to choose from, narrowing down the options can be difficult. Here are three of the best places for river rafting for people of all levels.
The Beginner Option: Cabarton Run, Payette River
Cabarton Run is one of the most scenic sections of the Payette River. It’s also a great place for beginners and novices to come and get rafting experience. At the same time, it’s difficult enough for experts to enjoy. It has a Class III difficulty rating.
The 11 miles stretch of rapids extends through lush wilderness and dramatic landscapes. The right rafting company, such as Bear Valley Rafting, will allow you to appreciate the scenery around you while staying safe.
Many people enjoy Cabarton Run because it’s a dam-release river. Consider going in late July or August, as the reservoir lets out warm water during the summer months that makes the experience extra enjoyable.
The Intermediate Option: Salmon River
Salmon River offers a more secluded rafting option in the stunning Idaho backcountry. Located at mileage marker 199 downstream from Stanley, the rapids go for 11 miles until they break at Torrey’s boat ramp.
If you’re not ready for the truly crazy rafting options, this stretch of Salmon River is perfect for you. It provides you with enough excitement and adrenaline to get your heart racing, but keeps a sense of familiarity that helps you stay calm.
The earlier in the year you go, the crazier the trip will be. The water dies down a bit later in the season, making the later months of August and September a good time for families to come and experience it.
The Advanced Option: Snake River, Hells Canyon
With a name like Hells Canyon, you know it won’t disappoint. Hells Canyon is one of the most famous rafting spots in the world, and it’s no wonder why. Nearby mountains feature 8,000-foot drops, while the gorge is the deepest in North America.
Hells Canyon is full of roaring rapids, whitewater, and piercing rocks. It features many famous rapids, such as Waterspout, Wild Sheep, and Granite. All of these will give even the most seasoned adrenaline junkies an experience they won’t forget.
Yet amidst all the chaos, you’ll also find plenty of spots where you can rest and appreciate the scenery. Take a swim, relax, and try to spot some of the different types of Idaho wildlife.
River Rafting Tips
As is the case with equipment, any reputable rafting company should provide you with the right information to stay safe and have fun. However, if it’s your first time rafting, there are some things you should make a point to do.
Remember to always wear your helmet and lifejacket. Regardless of how strong of a swimmer you think you are, river rapid can be unpredictable. Keep them secure at all times.
If something does happen on your trip, it’s important to try your best to stay calm. Don’t panic, and instead let your mind and body work together to try and get you out of the situation. Do what you need to do to help yourself and other people stay safe.
Put River Rafting in Idaho on Your Bucket List
If you’re an adrenaline junkie and are on the hunt for your next destination, consider making a trip to Idaho. The river rafting in Idaho is world-famous, guaranteeing you a wet and exciting outdoor adventure.
Do you now have a better idea of why Idaho is one of the best places for river rafting? If you do, make sure to check out some of our other blog posts for more guides and tips.