Payette River Rafting
|Scenic stretch on Idaho's Payette River (courtesy, Idaho Department of Commerce)|
The Main Payette below Banks offers rapids of moderate difficulty and is a fine run for boaters with good basic skills. The takeout for the lower South Fork run is the normal launch point for the Main Payette. Rapids on the main are often large waves with little maneuvering required; the section rates Class III. There are sizeable holes located at Bennett's Rock, Mike's Hole and AMF. Mixmaster is a large v-wave which has been known to flip rafts. The run is about seven miles long. Getting There: From Boise, drive 40 miles north on Highway 55 to Banks.
South Fork of the Payette
The South Fork of the Payette features a run through a canyon with a portage at Big Falls. The lower part includes the Staircase rapid. The South Fork of the Payette can be an advanced whitewater run for one, two, or three days of excitement. Three-day trips start high in Idaho's Sawtooth Mountains, above the town of Lowman. After the Deadwood River adds its flow, the river begins to drop about 40 feet per mile with continuous steep rapids. This Canyon stretch is punctuated at its deepest point by a 40-foot waterfall. River runners portage around this spectacular sight then continue on through a narrow gorge filled with natural hot springs. In Garden Valley, the river flattens out, allowing time to relax before maneuvering more Class III-IV rapids. The safest and most popular stretch is from the Deer Creek Turnout to Banks. The put in is located about a quarter mile downstream of Deer Creek at the remains of the Deer Creek bridge. The most significant rapids are Staircase, Bronco Billy and Slalom, all of which may rate as high as Class IV depending on water levels. Another attraction is the Play Wave, where decked boaters may spend hours in a twenty yard stretch of the river. Dog Leg often collects trees which may block the river; scout this from the road before putting in. The run to Banks is about five miles long. If a longer run is desirable, more whitewater awaits downstream of Banks. Getting There: From Boise, drive 40 miles north on Highway 55 to Banks. At Banks, turn right up the South Fork toward Garden Valley. The Deer Creek Turnout is about five miles up the South Fork. You can stop and scout Staircase from a turnout in the road about two miles up (recommended).
North Fork Cabarton
This stretch of the Payette runs through a secluded forested canyon. This is an easy day trip for intermediate floaters. This is a popular float, so expect crowds on weekends. Trestle, about halfway down the trip is a good Class III rapid. After you cross under Rainbow Bridge you hit Howard's Plunge, a large drop into flat water about one mile before the take-out. Getting There: From Boise, drive 70 miles north to Smiths Ferry. About 10 miles north of here, turn left on the Clear Creek Road and drive about two miles to the put-in."
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication