Water managers are planning to reduce flows on the Boise River to 3,200 cfs by Friday, but it’s still not nearly enough to start getting ready for float season.
However, if you’re itching to get on the river, Garden Valley and Crouch are offering an alternative.
Flows along the Middle Fork of the Payette near Crouch are around 800 cfs; good conditions for floating in a season when many other rivers in Idaho are too fast and dangerous.
“It's actually very clean. Really no strainers to speak of, no log jams. Nothing like that, and so we feel it's pretty safe at this point,” General Manager of Idaho X-Sports Jason Sawin said.
While many other float seasons along Idaho rivers are currently in limbo, the one on the Middle Fork is set to start Saturday.
“We're doing a shuttle now with our local bus service so we can do like 40 people in a bus with tubes,” Sawin said.
Sawin says the service costs $5 and will run every weekend in July. It will also run the same hours July 3 and 4.
You can also rent tubes for $15.
Floating starts at the Crouch Community Church. Floaters will then head about 2 miles downriver and get out at Anderson Creek, near the Crouch Rodeo Grounds.
“An hour-and-a-half, maybe two hours if you take a couple breaks. As the river flows drop say 500 CFS, or so, it becomes like a two-and-a-half hour float,” Sawin said.
Something to keep in mind: The Middle Fork of the Payette and the Boise River are very different. For example, there’s nothing that controls the flows of the Middle Fork.
“So even a thunderstorm over the area can affect the flows rapidly,” Garden Valley Fire Chief Jon Delvalle said.
The Middle Fork doesn’t have the same infrastructure for floating as the Boise River either. The parking at both the start and finish isn’t large, and there are also fewer places to get out of the river.
“Middle Fork Road that goes up the valley here where the river is, is a small two-lane road. It doesn't even have the center yellow stripe,” Sawin said.
The water was also snow not too long ago.
“The water is 59 degrees. So even though it's 90 degrees out here you still have a chance of getting hypothermia,” Sawin said.
That didn’t stop some locals from getting their feet wet on Wednesday.
“Pretty easy, yes gentle. No rapids,” Judy Kirstine said.
Garden Valley plans to offer the shuttle service as long as the river allows. Flows along the Middle Fork tend to fall off as the summer goes on.