It's looking like a great rafting summer

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With droughts in states like Colorado and other parts of the West, Idaho's abundant water supply is going to be luring whitewater boaters from all over the country.

That's the word today from the river-flow experts and outfitters and guides.

Nationally famous rivers in Idaho like the Salmon, Hells Canyon, Middle Fork of the Salmon and Selway are all hitting good levels for a long summer season of rafting, kayaking and jetboating.

Idaho experienced a good winter, and stream-flow forecasts for the summer rafting season range from 85 percent to more than 125 percent of normal.

"We're lucky we live in Idaho," says Ron Abramovich, Idaho snow survey supervisor for the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Boise. "Idaho is the place to go rafting this year since the rest of the West is struggling with low flows. The mountains still have plenty of snow to sustain the river flows throughout the summer months."

The Salmon River, a popular national destination for family river trips, will be a popular spot this weekend as local paddlers and outfitters gear up for the "Big Water Blowout" June 2 in Riggins.

Last weekend, hundreds of whitewater boaters attended the annual Memorial Day extravaganza on the Lochsa River.

"There were lots of happy people up here last weekend," said Marty Smith, owner of Three Rivers Rafting, which runs trips on the Salmon, Selway and Lochsa rivers. "This is the kind of year we wait for. The water flows are ideal, and we'll have fun levels throughout the summer season."

People interested in booking a day trip or multi-day trip on a river in the state can go to the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association website HERE

The rapids on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River should look as exciting as this during the summer. Idaho Statesman file photo by Pete Zimowsky

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