Mountain Buzz banner
1 - 19 of 19 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all,

A couple of mates and I are thinking of organising a trip to Idaho next year from the UK. We've been doing some preliminary research online, looking at flights UK and trying to cost a trip out there for 3 weeks in mid-late June.

We'd be interested to hear about your experiences & in particular thoughts about:

Hiring boats out there v flying out there with boats How easy is it to hire boats, who can you hire them from, can you recommend anyone, what's the selection of boats like out there, how much does it cost ?

Hiring a vehicle out there What did you hire? How much did it cost (approx.)? Did you take an inflatable roofrack, buy one out there or do something else?

Water levels It looks as if levels can vary considerably year on year. Whilst I know a lot of information is available online we won't necessary know what levels are like until after flights are booked. D'you have any tips for anticipating how much water there will be? What would back-up paddling options look like if we got there to find most of the runs either too high or too low?

Shuttles How long do they tend to be? Is it easy to hitch a lift if you only have one vehicle?

River passes I'm sure I read something online about certain rivers requiring a pass. Now I'm not sure whether this was for commercial users or also applied equally to all paddlers. Can anyone offer any advice as to what extent you need a pass from the park authorities?

Recommended rivers What runs would you say are the must-do classics? What would you suggest is worth staying well clear of?

We've been looking at Oregon Kayaking (yes, I know it says Oregon but it has some Idaho runs in too!) and like the sound of the Lochsa, South Fork of the Salmon, South Fork of the Payette. We're solid class IV+ boaters with a fair amount of experience paddling in the European Alps and a few other exotic destinations so would be looking to do as many class IV/V Idaho classics (preferably bigger volume stuff) as possible.

Hope to get some useful hints.

Phil :-D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,137 Posts
Idaho is absolutely awesome, good pick. Most of my experience is on the permitted multi-days out there (middle fork of main salmon, main salmon, and Selway) if you can get any of those that is a huge score. Apply online it expires soon - http://www.boiseweekly.com/Cobweb/archives/2011/01/24/idaho-river-permit-lottery-ends-january-31

That timeframe should be best for higher levels but hopefully right around peak. Idaho weather is intense and changes dramatically, plan for shorts and flip flops to full on down and rain/snow gear.

There is so much water out there, I keep saying when I get skunked on permits I will go travel and hit all the other water - the Payette system, Soth fork of salmon, Lochsa, South fork of the snake, Owyhee.

We always have our boats and transportation, but have a hard time believing you cannot pull off rentals out of Boise/Riggins/Kelly (I think that is the town with huge festival on the payette). Lots of Idaho knowledge on here too, hopefully they chime in.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
448 Posts
You are right to keep flows in mind for a couple or reasons.

Idaho is a big state with few roads and getting from the lochsa to the payette is a journey (but gas will be cheaper). You'll want to plan to hit things when they are the best and maximize kayaking to driving ratio. Here is what I would do if I had three weeks, but some locals may have it more dialed.

Lochsa- usually peaks around last week in may I believe- I would go here early. Missoula, MT is the closest town, you can fly straight here or fly into spokane, WA (which will be cheaper) and drive the extra 2.5 hours. you can also hit a run or two to warm up on alberton gorge of the clark fork (III) or one of the Missoula Creek runs like Kootenai creek. You can rent a car in either of these spots and drive as long as the company is cool with you dropping it in boise, ID at the end (without too much of a fee). After the lochsa, head west to check out lolo creek and SF clearwater on the way to western Idaho. Then head to the salmon for some big water III, possibly hit little salmon on your way to mccall. From Mccall, ID head over to yellow pine and hit EFSF, South Fork, and Goat creek then the mutliday south fork salmon. Be sure you understand what the flows mean before you drop in there, it can change a lot. After SF I would head to the reliable payette drainage which will have flows in both the north fork and south fork well into July.

Of course if you get one of the multiday permits- you should do them. That's what Idaho is best known for.

Check out the snow percentages here as these will determine what you are working with. Even with low snow, idaho in June will be a good time. http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/snotelanom/basinswe.html (this won't really matter until we get closer to summer but good to keep in mind)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,727 Posts
PMB86,

Renting a boat in Idaho is not an easy task. Your options will be very limited. I don't know for sure but it just might be easier to fly your gear in! Some of the local universities will rent.

You can rent a mini van from any airport you fly into. I'd rent a van so you wont need roof racks and have room to pack gear.

There is anyways something running. So, H2o levels have some meaning but you'll get wet.

Shuttles can be a bitch.

You only need permits on the Middle Fork salmon, Main Salmon, Selway, and Hells Canyon of the Snake.

Where are you flying into? What do you want to run, class 1,2,3,4,5 wilderness overnite or road side day trips please.

Answer me those questions and the DBK will give you more info than you need!!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
518 Posts
SF Salmon likely to be booming in June, even in a low snow pack year. Be cool with continuous huge water V. The upper sections may make a week of day trips worthwhile though and that whole zone is special. If you pursue this, be aware you need a special issue permit to transit the last 20 miles of Main Salmon to reach the takeout.

Lolo Creek has been on my hit list for a long time, not sure how levels are in June though. good one night or 1 day wilderness run.

Lochsa memorial day is unlike anything else out here in the west, in terms of huge boater social scene.

I've had 500 cfs in the Jarbidge/Bruneau as late as 4th of July. Might be ELF but those canyons are not to be missed. Seen it done in a day at 500 cfs -- all 70 miles. A week is better. This is the most wild and pristine of Idaho's multiday trips, and by far it's best canyon. It is not a whitewater trip though there's some fun stuff on the Jarbidge. the Owyhee ain't in ID and ain't gonna have water in June.

I personally think the SF Payette Canyon (IV run that includes Big Falls) is about as fun as IV can get. plan some hot springs time, and do hit the grandjean run if you have time.

If you get the chance, run the Deadwood. It's a 27 mile day with a fair bit of wood but some of the best continuous IV I've ever run, and very remote. Shuttle is a bear though. So good.

Enjoy your visit!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,727 Posts
SF Salmon likely to be booming in June, even in a low snow pack year. Be cool with continuous huge water V. The upper sections may make a week of day trips worthwhile though and that whole zone is special. If you pursue this, be aware you need a special issue permit to transit the last 20 miles of Main Salmon to reach the takeout.

Lolo Creek has been on my hit list for a long time, not sure how levels are in June though. good one night or 1 day wilderness run.
SF Salmon gets all washed out at high flows. Above say 4.5 feet. There are seek routes at all the big hits. You need no special permits running out below Mackay. As long as you do not camp overnight.

LoLo is say a March maybe April thing. Even as early a February. Its usually a hit miss gota watch the weather type of run. LoLo can be ran in 1/2 a day easy. I wouldn't want an extra 20 lbs of gear in my boat running LoLo. But thats just me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
518 Posts
That must be a kayak thing because the rafter stories I have heard at 9 feet on the SFS ... definitely not washed out.

But you are wrong about the permit. I've done this many times and never once has the FS told me I can skip picking up my main salmon permit (just call to get one, no lottery).

This is true whether camping below the confluence or not. Probably doesn't matter much to you n me, but for someone in the country, possibly on a visa with a clear exit date, a permit violation and possible confiscation of rented gear is a pretty shitty thing to point them towards...

Permit Area Facility Details - SALMON RIVER (4 Rivers), ID - Recreation.gov

Relevant bit:

All boaters floating the wild section of the Salmon River are required to obtain a trip permit before launching at any time of the year. The section of river covered by this system extends from Corn Creek to Long Tom Bar. Boaters floating the South Fork of the Salmon River and exiting onto the wild section of the main Salmon must obtain a tributary permit before floating. South Fork floaters will need to contact the Krassel Ranger District at 208 634-0616 for permit information.

From personal experience, expect to have to pick that permit up in person.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,727 Posts
Kayakers and rafters dice up the river completely different! Most often rafts can't do multiple full river moves in a 100 meters. But from the DBK's perspective, being able to zig-zag a river in a kayak and never be "required" to take the full moxi to the face equates to "washed out." Rafts on the coin, run a completely different line. Its a little bit straighter, if ya know what I mean. Rafts will be off line and it will suck! By no means am I not saying that the SF doesn't have the means to kick ass, but all high water in Idaho contains big ass eddy fences, big wood, brush sticking out of the banks, all kinds of nasty stuff and such that require the grandest skills.


But, I'll will agree will you and say stop by McCall FS and get your permit. What the hell, its just a good idea to do so. I have never got a permit. Never had any issues. Never been asked. Tip for getting off the lake fast. Wave cash at jet boats!




On that note, the state of Idaho will require you to have an "Idaho Invasive Spices Permit" on your boat at all time. You will be required stop at all check stations and have your boat inspected. Because you're from the UK. (-; But, don't worry the inspection is painless and only mildly disconcerting. Its about 7 bones a boat for the permits.


There is tons of free camping. Even lots of public camp grounds with water and toilets for under $20 a nite. All you need is a big cargo van rented from any number of rents at all major airs. A good forest service map. You could buy kayaks from craigslist Boise? Bring everything else in a backpack??
 

·
Paddling in to the Future
Joined
·
574 Posts
That must be a kayak thing because the rafter stories I have heard at 9 feet on the SFS ... definitely not washed out.

But you are wrong about the permit. I've done this many times and never once has the FS told me I can skip picking up my main salmon permit (just call to get one, no lottery).

This is true whether camping below the confluence or not. Probably doesn't matter much to you n me, but for someone in the country, possibly on a visa with a clear exit date, a permit violation and possible confiscation of rented gear is a pretty shitty thing to point them towards...

Permit Area Facility Details - SALMON RIVER (4 Rivers), ID - Recreation.gov

Relevant bit:

All boaters floating the wild section of the Salmon River are required to obtain a trip permit before launching at any time of the year. The section of river covered by this system extends from Corn Creek to Long Tom Bar. Boaters floating the South Fork of the Salmon River and exiting onto the wild section of the main Salmon must obtain a tributary permit before floating. South Fork floaters will need to contact the Krassel Ranger District at 208 634-0616 for permit information.

From personal experience, expect to have to pick that permit up in person.
That is 100% true. The lower salmon is self issue permits at the put-in. There are shuttle services, that service all over on the salmon. (just gotta pay, and usually its big)

For the payette.. there are no shuttle services on the payette. (though the train is running weekends now for the Cabarton, but you guys don't sound like you'll be playing on the Cabarton) your best bet would be hooking up with a local or renting two vehicles for your group.

Though for playing on the south fork for the day, you could do a daily rental of a compact car and use it as your shuttle vehicle. The cost would be about the same as paying a shuttle service if one existed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the responses so far everyone - I've come across some really helpful information already. Keep the response coming - the more info we have from you guys the better really!

PMB86,

Where are you flying into? What do you want to run, class 1,2,3,4,5 wilderness overnite or road side day trips please.

Answer me those questions and the DBK will give you more info than you need!!!
We haven't decided where to fly into yet. This will really depend on cost and which airlines we think are going to accommodate us turning up with boats. I've never flown transatlantic with kayaks so if you have experiences flying with boats in the US that'd help too.

We want to run class IV/V, continuous larger volume stuff. Our preference would be mainly road side day trips as we'll likely only have one vehicle, although we'd like to maybe do one or two short multi-days provided the shuttles aren't too long/access isn't too difficult. Any thoughts?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
67 Posts
I only know of one translantic airline and one US domestic airline that have actual policies for flying with a kayak. And that is Iceland Air and Southwest airlines. Max has flown numerous of times both internationally and domestically with his kayaks with Iceland Air and Southwest.

Southwest charges $75 per kayak for a one way trip and Iceland Air charges anywhere between $100 and $150 to transport a kayak from Europe to the US. This is what we have been charged for his slalom kayak.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,635 Posts
There are two places on the web in Missoula MT that list kayak rentals. I would be wary of the performance of whatever kayaks they have, so call ahead and check. I would also check Strongwater to see if they have kayak rentals, though they seem to be focusing on surfing more lately.

Rentals | Trail Head Montana

Raft & Kayak Rentals and River Tubing Trips | 10,000 Waves Rafting & Kayaking | Missoula, Montana

There might be places to rent from in Boise too. But given the probable poor selection, and cost of flying your own, have you considered just buying something used when you get here, and unloading it before you leave? It might be more hassle, but if you know what you want, or are willing to use, you might be able to arrange the purchase ahead of time and have it waiting for you. Just a thought.

Don't assume Spokane is cheaper to fly into than Missoula, sometimes it is more expensive so just do your research.

Have fun, you are in for a treat. Def come sooner in June than later for bigger water.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
203 Posts
I think your logistics are better supported by flying into Boise. More and cheaper flight options, rental vehicles etc. Alpenglow rents kayaks, Idaho River Sports too perhaps. Plus good sources for beta when u arrive.

Head north, warm up for a few days on the Payettes, several runs worth it on sf and nf if up to it. Head north to cascade and head in to Yellowpine! Spend a few days on the efsf/Johnson creek/lower secesh, and soak in the back country charm. Then arrange shuttle thru the general store for the sf salmon. 2 day roadless.

Next, drive out to riggins and hit the main salmon if u see something you like, otherwise head north and drop into sf Clearwater. Roadside at its finest. Hard stuff the further upstream u go toward elk city. Then off to the lochsa; you will want to spend several days if not more! Other local options like tribs may be running, inquire at 3 Rivers. Keep an ear for anyone with a selway permit you could beg your way onto,or try to set something up before your trip.

That is just a start. If the bruneau has say 500 or more in it then it is well worth the effort, but the shuttle is challenging to figure out. Little Salmon is close to your route. Grabbing a MF cancelation and blitzing it is an option. More days on all of the above. You could easily fill your time on the above list. Remember to take your time and enjoy the off river stuff, like hotsprings and mountain towns and local breweries and funky little bars and ******* locals who will likely be extremely friendly if you are.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,119 Posts
Idaho is fabulous.
Seriously underrated by the rest of non-river/non-hiking America.

The shuttles are lengthy. Expensive.
If you do them yourself, you're from elsewhere and it is at night there will be coordinated rescues.

If you do fly into Boise and will be renting gear there.
Find a stay near the greenbelt.
https://www.google.com/search?q=gre...KYWsogSIgYKABw&ved=0CDUQsAQ&biw=1831&bih=1034
Boise has this gift they've given themselves right on the river.
(This is not a river you'll run.)
Would be a great place to loosen up your legs after the flight.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
557 Posts
Honestly, just fly into Boise, head up to Banks, and spend a few days bumming around that area and you'll meet dozens of kayakers who will show you around. There's enough in the area to keep yourselves occupied until you're able to rally with others.

The best time frame would be mid May to mid-to-late June, for sure. That ensures the greatest number of runs and the best levels.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
557 Posts
As for renting boats... you'll be able to find all of the Jackson, Liquid Logic, Pyranha, and Zet boats. The prices aren't super friendly, though. You'll be in for about $20-$40 a day.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
113 Posts
I think your first step should be to apply to the 4 rivers permit lottery (Selway River,
Hells Canyon-Snake River, Main Salmon River, Middle Fork of the Salmon River) at Salmon-Challis National Forest - Recreation Passes & Permits. The close of the lottery is January 31st, and find out on Feb 6th if you got something.

If you are lucky enough to get a permit, then you could build your trip around a short multi-day. If not, then proceed to the many day trip options listed in this thread. Of these 4 I have only run the middle fork, but it sounds like the selway would be most in line with what you all are looking for.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
286 Posts
Boise would be a good place to fly into. I would rent boats in Boise then stop by a pawn shop and by a $25-50 bicycle to run shuttles. I have had luck taking everything and everybody to the top of a run then one person take the car to the takeout and thumb a ride while you're still dry. This has worked on the SF Payette and most other road side runs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
250 Posts
It's true that if you fly into Boise and drive an hour North to the town of Banks on the Payette River, you will find lots of friendly boaters that will give you all the necessary beta.

The poster that suggested the SF Salmon "washes out" above 4.5 feet is mistaken. If you are looking for class 4/5 big water, you do not want to miss this. Flows above 5 feet make it juicy. Flows above 6 feet is certainly class V. Flows above 7 feet can be terrifying. You can do it in a long day, or overnight it, but camp before you get to the confluence of the Main Salmon.

The Payette drainage alone can be fun for a week or longer, but there are lots of other amazing options within a few hours. All you really have to do is get here and chat up some locals and you're bound to be given many options on what you guys can do.

Feel free to drop me a line when it gets closer.

-Micah
 
1 - 19 of 19 Posts
Top