Thursday, June 27, 2019

10 perfect paddling destinations in SW Idaho for SUPs and kayaks

SUP'ing on the Boise River near Discovery Park is a less-crowded place to paddle below Lucky Peak Dam.
Hi all,

The weather is warming up, the Boise River float season kicks off next week, and that means it's time to get your boating gear together for summer paddling adventures -- if you haven't done that already!

This week's outdoor tip is for people who are enjoying the fast-growing sport of Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP), as well as sit-on-top kayaks and other flat-water craft.

Quinn's Pond has been the go-to destination for SUPs in Boise, and often times, it's challenging to even find a place to park at Esther Simplot Park to get easy access to Quinn's Pond (the old Bob Rice Ford parking lot is a great alternative, however, with plenty of space).

So I thought I would dish up some alternative locations close to home for flat-water SUP'ing, canoeing or kayaking.

I spoke with the experts at Idaho River Sports and Alpenglow Mountainsport (both of whom have tons of SUP and kayak rentals available) for ideas, plus my guidebook, Paddling the Payette, has more than 15 fantastic flat-water and moderate, moving-water destinations for SUPs and kayaks. You also can buy waterproof Payette River maps on my web site.

Be sure to wear life jackets, helmets and safety gear on rocky moving water like the Boise River and Payette River. Stay away from the river banks when possible as well to avoid getting caught in debris, downed trees, etc. 

1. Boise River - Just because of its sheer popularity and convenience, thousands of people are drawn to float the Boise River ... sometimes 10,000 a day! The Boise River is expected to open next week after the Boise Fire Department does a safety sweep of the river on Friday. Watch the Ada County Parks & Waterways web site or Facebook page for information on the official opening day. All of the fun starts at Barber Park. SUP'ing the Boise River can be challenging because of the diversion drops and moving water, so you might not necessarily want to go there first. Plus, the water is VERY COLD! My step-daughter broke off the back fin of her SUP last year at a diversion drop, just saying. 

Beautiful evening by Discovery Park on Wednesday. These two paddlers were the only ones on the water. 
2. Discovery State Park - Located at the foot of Lucky Peak, Discovery Park is a great place to paddle in the Boise River below the dam. The shady park is a great place to hang out, so bring a picnic, and there is a great spot for off-leash dogs to run around. You can paddle towards Diversion Dam, and then paddle back in the eddies along the reservoir.

3. Arrowrock Reservoir - Quiet and uncrowded. Lots of places to launch by campgrounds or other dispersed sites along the west side of the reservoir by the Middle Fork Road. Could be windy in the afternoon, so be aware of that. 

4. Mores Creek arm of Lucky Peak Reservoir. Put in at Robie Creek Park. Quiet and relatively uncrowded.

Video courtesy Idaho Caller 

5. Payette River - Montour reach near Sweet. Moving water but no rapids. Multiple sand bars as the river level drops. Put-in at the Montour IDFG Wildlife Managemennt Area by the river bridge. Easy bike shuttle possible by planting a bike at the beginning of Black Canyon Reservoir. 3.5 miles. 

6. South Fork Payette River - Garden Valley reach. Slower-water section of the South Fork between Hot Springs Campground and Deer Creek launch site. Beautiful setting in Garden Valley. 6-mile trip.

7. Centennial Park to Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls. World-class paddling experience in the giant Snake River Canyon. I've written about the trip for Southern Idaho Tourism. Fabulous trip!(Video courtesy Southern Idaho Tourism)

The Meanders where it flows into Payette Lake. 
8. North Fork Meanders, North Beach, north of McCall.This is one of the sweetest places to SUP, kayak or canoe anywhere in Idaho. Stillwater experience, with deep pools and a winding river winding through forests and meadows. Watch for the resident moose! The float is up to 4.5 miles long, depending on your preference. Be sure to take Eastside Drive to North Beach and the Meanders during the week; Warren Wagon Road is closed for construction during weekdays.

Payette River below Kelly's Whitewater Park
9. Cascade to Cabarton, North Fork Payette River - Put in by the ID 55 south bridge as you pull into the town of Cascade. Flat moving water on the North Fork with no rapids. Long trip, 9 miles of meandering river through cattle pastures on your way to Cabarton Bridge. West Mountain looms off to the West. Be sure to bring a lunch.  

Courtesy Stanley chamber/Visit Idaho
10. Redfish Lake - Hey, if you're in the Sawtooths, how can you go wrong? Word for the wise: watch out for winds! Spectacular setting with the Sawtooths framing your paddle adventure the whole time. 

Need instruction? Idaho River Sports offers a wide assortment of SUP classes - they also have SUP Pilates and SUP Yoga classes. See IRS web site for details.

Steve talks about his outdoor tip of the week on Friday mornings at 7:40 a.m. on 94.9 FM The River with Ken Bass and Deb Courson Smith. Please tune in!   

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