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Boise River float season officially starts on June 27. Here’s what you need to know before you go

 A sandy beach area with the Boise River in the background.
Katie Kloppenburg
Boise State Public Radio

Floating down the Boise River is a must-do activity for many people every year, and officials announced the start date for the 2024 season is June 27. River flows are expected to drop below 1,500 cubic feet per second next week, the typical range for float season.

The float starts at Barber Park and goes down through the Boise State campus and downtown Boise, ending just before the bridge in Ann Morrison Park.

The start of float season varies due to snowmelt and the amount of water released from the reservoirs, but often opens at the end of June or early July. The last weekend to officially float the river is Labor Day weekend in September.

It takes about two to three hours to float down the river depending on river flows. There are also a number of beaches on the sides of the river to stop and get out of the water to hang out with friends.

Website aims to improve the float season experience

The Float the Boise River website is a resource that combines information and expertise from the Boise Fire Department, Ada County Parks and Waterways and Boise Parks and Recreation.

 A logo with a yellow ring on the outside, a light blue circle with dark blue "waves" in it that says Float the Boise.
Float the Boise

“There’s a lot more people using the river and floating the river that may not have the best information on where to go, what to do, how to do it,” said Ada County Parks and Waterways director Scott Koberg. “The river itself has changed a lot. The vegetation has gotten much more mature in the last ten-plus years. It just seemed the right time to get kind of a new face on what floating the Boise River is all about.”

The website gives a guided tour of the river, featuring locations for the diversion drops, bridge locations and other areas floaters can expect while on the river. It also shows the location of known hazards, like fallen trees.

What to know about tubes

If you do not have a tube to float with, don’t worry. Ada County Parks and Waterways charters out rental equipment from a local company. You can rent anything from a single deluxe tube for $27 for three hours up to a six-person raft for $85 for three hours. All rentals come with life vests and equipment must be returned to Ann Morrison Park at the check-in point.

A sign in a wooden frame that says "Boise River Floater Info' at the top. There are smaller pictures and more words describing what it's like to float the river.
Katie Kloppenburg
Boise State Public Radio

If you want to bring your own tube, it is not recommended you bring one that is made just for floating around in the pool. Tubes should be heavier duty to withstand going down the three diversion drops and possibly running into branches and rocks along the way. You will also want to bring your pump to air up your tubes, as the built-in air pumps at Barber Park were removed in 2020.

“If you buy a piece of equipment that requires air for it to work appropriately, you should have the appropriate pump for that piece of equipment,” said Koberg. “Not something that might break the seams on a PVC pool toy.”

Koberg said the built-in pumps also caused delays in the park as people were using them to air up their tubes. The long wait times made it so people could not safely and efficiently move through the park and into the river. If you are planning on bringing your own tubes, make sure to bring either a hand pump or an electric one if you plan on driving and parking your car at Barber Park.

Parking and shuttle information

Parking at Barber Park can be busy during float season because of the number of people floating the river. There are parking fees during the summer at $7 per day. When returning to Barber Park after floating, use the drop-off area so you do not have to pay the fee again. Boise Police also asks that you do not park in nearby residential areas or your car could be towed.

If parking at Barber Park is full, as it can be especially on holiday weekends like the Fourth of July, plan on parking at Ann Morrison and taking the shuttle up or coordinating a drop-off, whether that is a ride-share service or a friend. Parking at Ann Morrison is free.

“When Barber Park does fill up, floaters tend to move into the neighborhood around the Harris Ranch area and park in the neighborhood,” said Doug Holloway, director of Boise Parks and Recreation, in an interview with Idaho Matters. “We’re asking folks to please don’t do that. If the parking lot at Barber Park is full, we encourage you to come back to Ann Morrison Park and then take the shuttle.”

The shuttle service costs $3 per person and runs every hour on the hour Monday through Thursday from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. and 1 p.m. through 9 p.m. on Fridays. On the weekends and holidays, the shuttle leaves from Ann Morrison Park every twenty minutes from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Forgot a life jacket?

If you forgot a life jacket for either you or your child, you can rent them from Ada County Parks and Waterways or there is a city-owned program for loaner life jackets. It is asked that if you borrow one of the life jackets, you return it to the station or to Idaho River Sports so others can take advantage of the resource.

Life jacket loaner stations are also available at Quinn’s Pond and Esther Simplot Park in the children’s beach area. In 2018, St. Luke’s awarded its first grant to buy life jackets for the stations, and in 2022, it donated another $3,000 to provide more.

 A white sign with black hooks on it that says life jacket loaner station.
Katie Kloppenburg
Boise State Public Radio

Final notes

 A white rectangular sign with the "river robinhood" logo on it saying "lost something? dive - recover - return"
Katie Kloppenburg
Boise State Public Radio

You should always plan ahead and come prepared to float the river. It is important to protective footwear and proper clothing to lower the chances of possible injury. You should always wear sunscreen and bring more to reapply every couple of hours.

Try and avoid low-hanging branches and float in the middle of the river. Be an active paddler to avoid hazards. It’s also important to remember to be respectful of others recreating in and around the river. Jumping into the river within 50 feet of floaters is illegal, according to the Float the Boise website.

If you lost something while floating the river, the Boise River Robin Hood will dive and try to find them and return them to you. Some of the things found include cell phones, sunglasses, car keys and a prosthetic leg.

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