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Whitewater guides predict an average rafting season this summer

Two rafts full of gear are beached along the Salmon riverside in Idaho.
John Lillis
Flickr Creative Commons

Fuller snowpacks than first predicted across much of southern Idaho have guides forecasting a typical rafting season this summer.

This winter began with a dry spell, leaving most snowpacks in the state fairly low in early January.

“We started as a nervous bunch in the beginning of the winter,” said Hardy Bender, the development and events manager for the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association.

The snow eventually came, though, especially in the Owyhee basin, where river rats are overjoyed. State water data show levels there to be 145% of average as of April 15.

The other major basins stretching across southern Idaho are also near average or above it.

It’s a different story up north.

Snowpack in the Clearwater basin is around 70% of average. Those mountains feed dozens of Class IV and a few Class V rapids on the Lochsa and Selway rivers.

Despite that, Bender said those early-season rivers, which run from May into June for the Lochsa and through July for the Selway, will still get the heart pumping.

“It’ll still be stomping whitewater because it’ll all kind of push off around the same time, but it’ll enable us to have kind of a safer journey on a lot of those rivers – especially back on the backcountry in the Selway,” he said.

The Middle Fork of the Salmon River is still blocked right now.

“At the end of last season, another logjam and blowout happened and so it’s blocking our access to the river right now,” Bender said.

Those conditions are due to mudslides from the Moose Fire in 2022, which has blocked access to that stretch of water on and off for the past two years.

Bender said recent photos he’s seen from the area are positive, though, suggesting the clogs will clear eventually.

Copyright 2024 Boise State Public Radio

I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season.

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