Canoeing the Boise River


"Where's our slot?"
"I think on the right."
"Line up a little left."
The canoe approached the first drop on the Boise River below Barber Park and my wife and I couldn't find the line. Usually we go center right but as we approached the lip of the drop, there was a nasty piece of the diversion sticking up. We narrowly missed it.

The Boise River run from Barber Park to Ann Morrison Park is always a good warm up in our tandem whitewater canoe.

The Rogue is beefy enough so that if you make a mistake, it plows through anything. The Boise River was running around 1,400 cfs, which is still a little high. Normal summer flows are about 1,000 cfs.

Anyway, we survived a practice run with the golden retriever knocking us off balance on every eddy turn and peel out.

The Boise River is an ideal place to brush up on your river canoeing skills. You can easily portage the diversions if you want. There are enough eddies and little riffles to keep you on your toes.

Good paddling.


We're always in the minority on the Boise River wearing life jackets. It amazes me how many people run the river without flotation.

What really gets me are the macho dads and moms who don't wear PFDs. They put them on their kids but don't feel the need to wear them.

If one of the kids goes out of a raft or tube and mom or dad has to swim and save them, it's going to be chancy.

The river is 48 degrees, which will sap your strength. The rivers currents are strong and will take you into the brush where you're going to need flotation to keep from going under a log or something else.

Anyway, if you reach the youngster, you're going to have to keep them afloat and out of danger and that's all going to be compromised because you're not wearing a life vest.

A life vest is insurance for you but it's also insurance if you have to go after someone else.

File photo of canoeing the Boise River by Pete Zimowsky/Idaho Statesman


I agree with your point here zimo.

But if someone dumps in, I'm paddling, or throwing a rope, to the person instead of swimming.

I can't imagine the situation where "jumping in" to retrieve someone is going to be more productive- can you describe one?

Ever had to rescue anyone, Pimp2?

Even if you don't plan to swim, you're better off wearing the pfd. Rescuers often end up in the water unexpectedly - even when prepared to rescue from a boat or the shore.

wearing if ya got em

No one here is advocating NOT wearing a pfd.

My point is, just because you have a pfd on, jumping in to swim for them most likely is not the best option-

Kids who don't have a clue

An adult wearing a PFD and with rescue experience, which most of us have, can retrieve and help a youngster swim to shore.


Your assumption that "most of us have" rescue experience is 100% wrong. "Rescue experience" of pulling someone into a boat is a heck of a lot different than 'rescuing' someone (rescuer in the water) who is fearful of drowning and down-right too scared to think.

Swimming to shore? To the same shore that has overhanging limbs, snags, rocks, and no exits? And then what? bye bye boat!

And your use of "can" is correct. We "can" -- but IMO it is better to get the boat to them if possible.

Two practices- practice is always good. 1) throw a dog's retriever dummy into the river, lateral the current. Go get it and take it to shore or back to the boat. Then if you still have any energy, do it again, let your dog go after the dummy and you jump in after the dog. Then "retrieve your dog" see how easy it is to "retrieve" something with a brain while you're both in the water.

Good luck in any 'rescue' though.


Good points, but...

You can't always put your boat or throw a line where the person who needs saving is. You can't always get the "rescue-ee" to grab a line. And the assumption that it will be "someone else" who needs rescuing is flawed.

Bottom line - I think we all agree that PFD's should be worn whenever in any moving boat.

From Boise Fire

"We always train our crew to try to reach the victim first. Next, we try to throw a rope or preserver. If that isn't successful, we'll row out to the victim and our last step is to go right into the water for rescue."

jumping in is last.