Most times of year, Barber Park is quiet, except for the chirping of birds and the slow, smooth swoosh of running water. But over the weekend, new sounds entered the mix: handpumps in the parking lot, rubber rafts scrapping on sand and the startled yelps of floaters dipping their toes in the frigid water. Float season is back.
The Ada County Parks and Waterways department opened the Boise River last Friday. Department director Scott Koberg says three factors played into the decision: flow level, air temperature and debris. He and his colleagues made the call last week to open on June 22, right on schedule. Last year, the river didn't open until July 29 due to historic flooding.
"Anytime we can get open well in advance of the Fourth of July holiday and work out the kinks and the bugs, we feel confident it's going to be a nice solid season," Koberg says.
Koberg says the department doesn't have data on how many people float the river, but at Barber Park on Friday, dozens of Boiseans were seen entering the water per hour. All forms of conventional river craft were represented—kayaks, rafts, boats, inner tubes—as well as a few more fanciful vessels.
"You see pretty much anything and everything," says Koberg. "We had a large inflatable swan earlier today and giant crocodiles and pink flamingoes and air mattresses. We obviously have a lot safer options to float the river, but yeah, it's pretty entertaining."
Equipment is available for rent at Barber Park, and a free shuttle service is available to ferry floaters from Ann Morrison Park to Barber Park. Koberg says alcohol and glassware are both prohibited on the river.
Reached by phone on Monday, Koberg says opening weekend was a success.
"It was pretty smooth, pretty consistent," he says. "All in all, I would say it was a good solid weekend."
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