Best Waterways in Idaho

Trying to find the best waterways in Idaho? Bivy has great hiking, biking, paddling, climbing, skiing, riding and more, with hand-curated trail maps, as well as detailed driving directions.


Idaho, Fremont County

01 :41 hrs
4.2 mi
24.875488 ft

This section of the Henrys Fork starts at Island Park Dam near Box Canyon Campground. The waterway offers continuous class II rapids as it flows through the canyon within the plateau. The river is also great for fishing, and there are excellent views of the surrounding villages and mountains. The take-out is located near Last Chance and Highway 20.


Idaho, Lava Hot Springs

00 :33 hrs
1.3 mi
23.296265 ft

Float or kayak down the Portneuf River through the picturesque, year round community of Lava Hot Springs. Sit on the tube and relax as you go down the river through rapids and shady tree lined river banks. It can really be a lot of fun, especially on a hot summer day. Expect a long walk back as you go up the hill to continue you're outing. It may be a good idea to have a shuttle ride, and be sure to wear a life jacket. Tube rentals are available all throughout town, and the staff in the area is very friendly.


Idaho, Jerome County

05 :17 hrs
13.2 mi
104.85083 ft

The put-in is located near Murtaugh Bridge, off Murtaugh Road and I-84. The river becomes very rocky with technical areas, ledge drops, and moderate to high rapids. Expect big waves, excellent surfing, and wonderful scenic canyon views. Be sure to take out just before the 80 foot drop of Twin Falls downstream. Also, "Pair-A-Dice" can become a class V rapid during high water flow.


Montana, Meagher County

24 :26 hrs
59.7 mi
286.23877 ft

Smith River is a pristine river that offers an excellent river trip. Best to plan on minimum of 3 days and 2 nights. It flows through a colorful canyon with plenty of wildlife, spectacular scenery and good fishing. The river requires a float permit by calling Montana Fish, and Wildlife. You must also declare your boat campsites before leaving. The permits are a first-come, first-served system. The highlight of the trip is a deep limestone canyon with towering rock formations and thick forests. Best float times are May through June before the water gets too low from irrigation. Flows can pick back up in September for a Fall trip where you might find some solitude. Be prepared for cold and rainy weather which is common even in the warm months.


Idaho, Kootenai County

09 :12 hrs
23 mi
4.8639526 ft

This outing starts off Coeur d'Alene Lake Drive near Interstate 90 on the northern shore. Adventures await at the magnificent water body of Coeur d'Alene Lake, which is primarily fed by the Saint Joe, Saint Maries, and the Coeur d'Alene Rivers. Once out onto the main part of the lake, be aware of the winds and other boat traffic. High winds can cause large waves, especially when its coming from the south. If the winds are light, paddling and exploring can be done with more ease. The views are unbelievable too, you can really enjoy the scenery of the surrounding Coeur d'Alene Mountains, islands, bays, and the town of Coeur d'Alene. You may also have a chance to spot some wildlife including waterfowl, shorebirds, songbirds, frogs, beavers, and fish.


Idaho, Bonneville County

06 :03 hrs
13.5 mi
4.7993164 ft

Palisades Reservoir is located off Highway 26 near the Idaho & Wyoming border. It is a high altitude reservoir and part of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. This outing starts on the western side of the Palisades Dam Boat Landing which offers restrooms, boat ramps, campgrounds, and wildlife viewing. Fishing is also great here with kokanee, rainbow, cutthroat, brown and lake trout stocked. There are also beautiful views of the surrounding Caribou Range to enjoy while paddling.


Idaho, Boise County

04 :34 hrs
11.8 mi
143.60321 ft

The put-in is located off Deadwood River Road near Julie Creek Trail, and the trip heads southwest through an isolated canyon. The prime level for the flow of the water is at 700 - 1,500 cfs, and the water is very cold. Expect some strainers, numerous log-jams, and one required portage on river left called "Big Falls". There are signs marking the portage and a good trail. Blackadar rapid is right after the portage.


Montana, Missoula County

10 :26 hrs
21.5 mi
106.65234 ft

Some of the river’s most difficult rapids lie in this section of the Blackfoot River. About 3 miles downstream from Russell Gates Memorial watch for a few drops with big rocks and high waves. Most of the drops are followed by big pools for recovery in case of problems. During high water these rapids are fierce and only strong paddlers should attempt this section. A big rock garden that lasts for several hundred yards lies further downstream followed by continuous rapids with little time for recovery in some areas. The last 6 miles is quiet and a nice stretch to catch your breath.


Idaho, Fremont County

06 :53 hrs
15.3 mi
6.3637695 ft

Henry's Lake is located in Fremont County off Highway 87 and near Highway 20. The lake is situated on the Yellowstone plateau ecregion of Idaho, and the area offers beautiful vistas of the surrounding Henry's Lake Mountains. A dam built in 1923 for irrigation purposes enlarged Henry's Lake, and it is now a common stop for visitors. The lake averages about 12 feet in depth, has 14 miles of shoreline, and is 6,500 surface acres when full. Cutthroat, rainbow and brook trout are known to be stocked in the water. There is also a $5.00 day use fee required. Facilities & services in the area include boat ramps/docks, parking, drinking water, grocery stores, lodging, hotels, trails, dining, restrooms, and campsites.


Idaho, Valley County

07 :16 hrs
18 mi
114.245544 ft

This outing starts near Soldier Bar - US Forest Service Airport at the confluence with Middle Fork Salmon River from Big Creek. The trip heads north through the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness and ends at Salmon River Road. Good camping is available along the way and a Middle Fork of the Salmon permit is also required. There are areas with large boulders and class IV rapids below Coxey Bar. Also, there may be areas where you will be jumping from eddy to eddy, trying to find the right lane to get through the maze of boulders. The best whitewater is found in the Big Creek Gorge, which is near the confluence with Middle Fork Salmon River.

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