Clearwater River Rafting
Rafting: Clearwater River, Idaho
Idling on Idaho's Clearwater River (courtesy, ROW Adventures)
Price: $
River Rapid Class: Middle Fork: I-II; North Fork: I-II; South Fork: III-IV
Trip in Miles: Middle Fork: 23 miles; North Fork: 23 miles; South Fork: 64 miles
Trip Duration: 1 to 2 days
Season: June-September
Raft Types: Paddle Raft, Inflatable Kayak
River Sections: Middle Fork, North Fork, South Fork
Nearby Towns: Kooskia (ID), Orofino (ID), Lowell (ID)
Gateway City: Kooskia (ID)
Driving Times: Lewiston (ID): 2 hours; Missoula (MT): 3 hours; Spokane (WA): 4 hours

Located in the river-rich environs of the northwestern Idaho Panhandle, the Clearwater River is a complex river system that’s notable for its scenic stretches of mostly clear, Class II water. (Water can occasionally hit a higher Class III flow during spring runoff, so more technically challenging for canoes.) The river branches into several separate forks: the North Fork, which flows from near Orofino to its confluence with the Snake River at Lewiston, near the Idaho-Montana border; the Little North Fork, emanating from the wilds of northern Idaho to a final resting place in the state’s sprawling Dworshak Reservoir; the Middle Fork, which owes its existence to the convergence of the Selway and Lochsa rivers, near Lowell; and finally the South Fork, flowing between Red River Hot Springs and Kooskia. Of these sections, the Middle and North forks offer the easiest entryways, ideal for beginner rafters, canoeists, and inner tubes. With State Highway 12 running between Kooskia and Lewiston, there are many easy access points to scenic, open stretches of river. The 64-mile expanse of the South Fork of the Clearwater gets a little more rowdy with some Class IV whitewater in amidst the remote terrain of Idaho’s Nez Perce National Forest. This section is only recommended for experienced paddlers, however.

Published: 18 May 2011 | Last Updated: 25 Aug 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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