Higher Than Expected Idaho River Levels Have Whitewater Rafting and Kayaking Enthusiasts Smiling

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Heavy spring rains bring big water to Idaho's rivers

Many boaters in Idaho watched with gloomy faces as below normal snowpack reports came in through the winter. However, a cool wet spring has now brought snowpacks above levels for the same time last year when a hot, dry spring took normal snow levels down early. Prospects of no season on southern high desert rivers like the Owyhee and Bruneau has now turned to some of the best water levels in years due to 171% of normal precipitation mid-March to May 1. The Bruneau rose to 800 cfs on April 23 and has been runable since, retreating from a peak of 5,000 cfs as this is written on May 19.

Prospects going forward remain good.

“We’ve got two things working for us in Idaho,” said Angela Sherman VP of Cascade Outfitters, a whitewater rafting equipment e-tailer (http://www.cascadeoutfitters.com). “The spring weather has helped, and you should never forget that Idaho has the highest number of whitewater river miles of any state. Even low years offer many boating opportunities. There are always runable levels on the Main Salmon, Lower Salmon, and Snake Rivers and extended seasons on the Payette.”

Washington State has the dubious honor of the worst snowpack and water supply year on record. Late spring rains brought some relief, but it is going to be a low water year in virtually all drainages. Oregon is slightly better. Low water doesn’t mean no boating, and in many cases lower water extends the season when families and fishermen can enjoy a more relaxed outing.

If big snowpacks are what you want, gaze south to Utah where 102% is the figure on the Bear River in the north and the Southwest has 294%. Streamflows in many areas will be well above average to record levels.

Southern Colorado has good news, too, with many boaters running the Dolores River for the first time in a decade. The San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan basins are at 135% of average, the Upper Rio Grande slightly higher at 139% with the Gunnison and Arkansas not far behind at 125% and 109%.

A variety of planning tools from river run locations, descriptions, and ratings along with links to up-to date river flows can be found in the resources section of http://www.cascadeoutfitters.com


Doug Tims, Cascade Outfitters


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