Seeking Class II warm water Payette area this summer. - Mountain Buzz

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Old 01-01-2019   #1
jakebrown98's Avatar
Portland, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 206
Seeking Class II warm water Payette area this summer.

Hey all,

I've been trying to wrap my brain around a young kid friendly trip in Idaho for some time now. I read something about some class II on the S.F. Payette and great camping along the "Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway" a while ago. The kiddos are young but game and I'm quite experienced but my one trip to this drainage was in 2001....

What I'm hoping to find is good car camping, probably in campgrounds, and one or two easy sections of whitewater, plus nearby hikes, hot springs, swim beaches etc that can keep us content for about five days. It sounds very feasible to me, but the class II runs just don't get much of a write up on the old interwebs. Possibly because some of them suck.... I don't want to go that far for a sucky run and the few folks I know with more Idaho experience than me don't bother with class II. I don't really mind a coupe of easy IIIs if it brings other great runs into consideration.

Basically I want to know if I'm dreaming, or if I should keep looking at this area to put a trip together. Thanks!

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Old 01-02-2019   #2
Sturgis, South Dakota
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 89
We've visited that area a couple of summers. My recommendation would be this: Stay at Big Eddy Campground: It's on the road but it has a nice "big" eddy for kids to swim. Do the Main Payette from Banks to Beehive Bend on the weekdays and do the Cabarton run from Cabarton road to ???Landing. Both are Class III. There is also Swirly Canyon on South Fork, which is a II. If you drive a 100 miles North you can do the Riggins Section on the Salmon Class III. There are several Hot Springs in the area.
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Old 01-02-2019   #3
Boise, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 268
Not sure when you are planning on coming. Swirly canyon seems like the best bet for you...Interesting and fun class II float, tight canyon with cool features. Several hot springs nearby, lots of forest service campgrounds up toward lowman. and State parks a reasonable drive away in Cascade. If you want to push the envelope a little, and are around during "normal" flows and decently warm temps, the Cabarton section of the NF Payette is a winner, tons of splashy fun in straightforward class II/III rapids...Howards plunge will scare newbies, but it is (mostly) a toothless lion. Both of those floats get away from the road a bit.
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Old 01-02-2019   #4
jakebrown98's Avatar
Portland, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 206
Thanks for the responses. If we do the trip this year it will be late July or early August most likely. I was reading about Swirly Canyon last night and I am glad to hear it recommended here.
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Old 01-03-2019   #5
Roddy's Avatar
Park City, Utah
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 73
Swirly putin

Swirly, cabarton and main payette should work perfectly for fun II-III. On Swirly, if you put in at Danskin Station, you are looking at a long wood/trexdeck boat ramp. Not a big deal unless it is just you, significant other and young kids, in which case you may want a long rope and belay device to lower the boat.
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Old 01-04-2019   #6
Boise, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 12
Lower Main Payette

There is also the lower-main payette from Beehive Bend down to a large boat ramp before the town of Horseshoe Bend. It's class IIish.

On the SF Payette you can also do the section from Kirkham Hotsprings to the Deadwood confluence. It'll be low that time of year, but should be doable.It's also class II.
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class ii

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