Memorial Day weekend kicks off rafting season on the Payette River system
BANKS, Idaho – Idaho is known as the Whitewater State and within an hour’s drive of Treasure Valley, people can find adventure on the water.
The Payette River System offers world class rafting and gives adventurers and families the choice of several different trails.
The Main Payette features Class II and III rapids, as does the one-day Cabarton stretch, both of which can be enjoyed by children.
For those looking for a race with more adrenaline, the South Fork of the Payette River offers two Class IV races.
“We have a little bit of everything, we have Class II or III whitewater that is great for families, great for relaxing and having fun on the river,” said Kenneth Long of Cascade Raft and Kayak. “We also have our Class IV stretch which is a lot more intense, it’s a lot more exciting.”
Cascade Raft and Kayak guides prepare for summer long before the season begins, as safety should be a priority on the river.
“All of the guides are in river rescue training, they do tons of laps on the stretch they are going to run so they know that very well,” Long said. “Our Class IV guides have a minimum of five years experience.”
Bear Valley River Company also offers the same routes, we were unable to chat with their owner or senior guides as they were busy chopping down a tree to make the southern section of Payette Canyon safer.
We caught up with Bear Valley for their fast water training a few years ago as they also get ready for rafting season, going with a commercial guide gives people the safest way to enjoy the river.
Since 2014, there have been 24 deaths on the rivers of Idaho according to American Whitewater, but only one of them has happened on a commercial trip and it has not happened on the network of the Payette river.
Bear Valley also wants the public to know that all of its guides have been vaccinated and Cascade Raft and Kayak is looking forward to easing the COVID-19 restrictions they had in place a year ago.
“We found a lot of late enthusiasm for rafting,” Long said. “Our phone is ringing, people are ready to go out and enjoy the summer in Idaho.”
Both raft companies will provide the necessary equipment to keep people safe and warm, they also have photographers who can capture this special family memory.
Other raft companies in the area include the Payette River Company, which is based in Lowman and specializes in the canyon section of South Fork.
Idaho Whitewater Unlimited is located in Garden Valley, they feature the four main trails plus a smoother section called Swirley Canyon.