With more than 3,000 miles of Whitewater Rivers in Idaho, you can choose from roller-coaster rides to dreamy drifts through cottonwood trees. You can raft through wilderness, jet boat through America’s deepest river gorge or sea kayak on a stunning lake.
Lewis and Clark had a guide when they journeyed through Idaho and you’ll experience a more rewarding trip if you do, too. Over 400 licensed outfitters in the state offer excursions from rafting to jet boating, llama treks to hunting expeditions. Each must be licensed by the Idaho Outfitters & Guides Licensing Board and meet rigid performance standards.
Outfitters offer half-day, full-day or multiday trips. Take in the scenery, splash over rapids, and view wildlife in a natural setting. Most trips are on inflatable rafts that can easily navigate even the toughest rapids, but river guides also use dory and drift boats or canoes when trip or river conditions warrant.
An exciting yet easy way to experience a river is on a jet boat trip. Boats depart from Lewiston, White Bird, Riggins, Hells Canyon Dam, and Salmon for one to three-day excursions. Jet boats are built to ascend forbidding rapids and maneuver with amazing agility - the best way to get to prime campsites, beaches, and fishing holes.
Idaho River Guide
Snowmelt from the western slopes of the Continental Divide feed thousands of miles of creeks, streams, and rivers, giving Idaho more whitewater river miles than any state outside of Alaska.
This lesser-known river in the Idaho panhandle is a good spring run on Class II and III rapids in May and June. The whitewater is consistent and fast flowing, dropping 30 feet per mile.
The shadowy St. Joe is a back country wilderness river through one of the most scenic areas of north Idaho. The upper St. Joe has been designated a Wild River in the national Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
The Nez Perce Indians named this river “rough water” for good reason - there are more than 40 class III and IV rapids. It parallels the route Lewis and Clark followed in their search for a northwest passage.
A trip on the Selway - the most secluded of Idaho’s rivers - is a true expedition into wilderness with 60 miles of Class III, IV, and V rapids. Only one daily launch is allowed, so book your trip 8-12 months in advance.
The legendary “River of No Return,” the longest free-fl owing river within one state in the lower 48 states, is a choice pool-and-drop river with roller-coaster rapids. The Salmon is suitable for half day, full-day, and multi-day trips.
Middle Fork of the Salmon
Among the first rivers officially designated “Wild and Scenic,” this is one of the top 10 whitewater rivers in the world. With its Class III and IV rapids, it is known as the quintessential Idaho whitewater experience.
Lower Main Salmon
At Riggins, the Salmon turns north through narrow basalt gorges then opens into grassy palisades until it joins the Snake River north of Hells Canyon. This section of the Salmon is suitable for half-day, full-day or multiday trips of 10 to 52 miles.
The Payette River offers three forks with a variety of rapids suitable for anyone. The South Fork is an advanced whitewater river while the Carbarton Run on the North Fork is 11 miles of scenery and mild Class I-III rapids. The Main Payette is perfect for families.
Flowing across the vast plain of southern Idaho to ultimately surge through Hells Canyon, the Snake offers a variety of recreational opportunities-fl y fishing on the South Fork or Henry’s Fork, rafting the Murtaugh section, or rafting or jet boating in Hells Canyon.
Owyhee / Bruneau / Jarbidge
April through June is the season for high desert rivers. The Owyhee flows through deep canyons fi lled with wildlife. The Bruneau squeezes through a narrow, deep canyon while the Jarbidge, which flows into the Bruneau, is rocky, steep and beautiful with an equally short season.