After late start, official Boise River float season wraps up

The 2017 Boise River float season, which started in late July, the latest start date on record, ended on Monday.

BOISE -- Much of Boise saw nearly triple digit temperatures on Labor Day and many likely wanted to cool off in the water - an activity hundreds - if not thousands - were doing on the Boise River this Labor Day.

Monday was the last day of Ada County Parks and Waterways' official float season, and one that felt like it just started since it was cut short by this year's unusual, record high water.

"It's a good day to go," Boise resident Madison Conrad said. "It's Labor Day, so a holiday, want to enjoy the sun and I haven't gone yet this year."

Over the last several years, essentially every Labor Day is considered the last official day for Ada County's float season. This Labor Day in particular, it was obvious people were eager to get out and hit the water.

Boise River Raft and Tube Rentals contracts with Ada County and the City of Boise for the past nine years at Barber Park and Ann Morrison Park. 

Rental operators tell KTVB the wait time to receive a rental raft or tube was anywhere from about 30 to 60 minutes, and they sold out around 11:30 Monday morning, an hour and a half after opening.

"It's literally crazy. I think all of Boise is at the Boise River for today," Conrad added.

"It's a holiday, last holiday of the summer so we want to enjoy the river," Eagle resident Paul McKenna said. "Haven't been down it yet this year."

As Treasure Valley residents are aware, the favorite summer pastime was postponed by dangerous river conditions this spring.

The season kicked off July 29, which is the latest start on record, about a month and a half later than normal.

"I wonder if the fact that we almost didn't have a float season more people thinking about it, 'Man, I really want to go enjoy that,' you don't take it for granted when maybe it's going to be taken away from you," Connie Zeller, owner of Zeller Recreation Inc. and Boise River Raft and Rube Rentals, said.

Long lines at Barber Park didn't stop people from renting tubes and rafts on Monday, or any weekend this summer.

"When you come any Saturday or Sunday in July, this is what you're going to see. This is not atypical," Zeller said.

Boise River Raft and Tube Rentals says they've seen a higher daily volume of people this shortened float season and their daily revenue was up.

But Zeller says it was nerve-racking when there was talk of possibly not having a season at all.

"Because it's all custom, we have to order it in October before the winter comes. And so we had all this equipment we had ordered and we weren't even sure we were going to have a season," Zeller added. "But I would say if we end up with maybe about 50-percent of what we would typically see, we'll be fortunate."

"When you have just a small window of time that you're going to be open there's definitely an impact. When you miss the majority of your season there's no way to make that up."

A similar situation in 2011 prompted the rental company to extend their end date by a few weekends. But even though the weather was nice, they didn't see a lot of floaters, likely because school and sports were underway. That's why they aren't extending the season this time around, and services will resume in 2018.

"The county will leave the air pumps on, just basically they'll look at the weather - their discretion. But all of our services we close down."

Rental services ended at 6 p.m. on Monday and the final shuttle from Ann Morrison Park departed at 9 p.m.

To reiterate: you can still float the river after Monday (you just can't rent any equipment).

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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