Best Kayaking Trips in Idaho

Payette River

Idaho is known for its stunning natural beauty and abundance of outdoor activities. One popular activity among locals and tourists alike is kayaking. With its numerous rivers, lakes, and reservoirs, Idaho offers a variety of kayaking experiences for all skill levels.

The Snake River through Hells Canyon is a must-see for those seeking a peaceful and scenic paddle. This section of the river is the deepest canyon in North America and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and wildlife. More experienced kayakers may prefer the challenging rapids of the Payette River, which offers Class III and IV rapids for an adrenaline-packed adventure.

Idaho has something to offer, no matter what type of kayaking experience you’re looking for. There’s no shortage of beautiful and exciting kayaking trips, from tranquil lakes to rushing rivers.

 

Top 10 Best Kayaking Trips in Idaho

  • Hells Canyon
  • Payette River
  • Salmon River
  • Snake River
  • Clearwater River
  • Middle Fork of the Salmon River
  • Selway River
  • Lochsa River
  • South Fork of the Boise River
  • Bruneau River

 

1. Hells Canyon

Hells Canyon

Hells Canyon is a stunningly beautiful and rugged canyon located on the border between Idaho and Oregon in the United States. It is the deepest canyon in North America, with a depth of over 7,900 feet, and it is home to the Snake River, a popular destination for kayaking, rafting, and fishing.

The canyon is known for its stunning scenery, which includes towering cliffs, deep gorges, and rushing waterfalls. The area also has various wildlife, including black bears, mountain lions, and bald eagles.

One of the most popular activities in Hells Canyon is kayaking, as the Snake River offers some of the best whitewater rapids in the country. The rapids range from Class II to Class IV, providing a thrilling adventure for experienced kayakers.

In addition to kayaking, Hells Canyon visitors can enjoy hiking, camping, and fishing. Several campgrounds are located throughout the canyon, offering a great way to experience the area’s natural beauty.

Hells Canyon is a must-see destination for anyone who loves the outdoors. With its stunning scenery, exciting activities, and abundant wildlife, it is a truly unforgettable experience.

 

2. Payette River

Payette River

The Payette River is beautiful and famous in western Idaho in the United States. The river is 82 miles long and flows through the Payette National Forest, offering stunning scenery and recreational opportunities.

The river is divided into three sections, offering a different experience for kayakers, rafters, and other outdoor enthusiasts. The North Fork of the Payette River is known for its Class V rapids and is a popular destination for experienced kayakers and rafters. The Middle Fork of the Payette River is a bit calmer, with Class III and IV rapids, making it an excellent option for intermediate-level kayakers and rafters. The South Fork of the Payette River is the most gentle section, with Class II and III rapids, making it a good option for beginners.

In addition to kayaking and rafting, visitors to the Payette River can also enjoy fishing, hiking, camping, and wildlife watching. The river is home to various fish species, including rainbow trout, brown trout, and smallmouth bass, making it a popular destination for anglers.

Overall, the Payette River is a beautiful and exciting destination for anyone who loves the outdoors. With its stunning scenery, exciting rapids, and abundant recreational opportunities, it is a must-see destination in Idaho.

 

3. Salmon River

Salmon River

The Salmon River, also known as the “River of No Return,” is a beautiful and remote river in central Idaho in the United States. The river is approximately 425 miles long and flows through the Salmon-Challis National Forest, offering stunning scenery and various recreational opportunities.

The river is known for its Class III and IV rapids, which make it a popular destination for kayakers and rafters. The rapids range from gentle and easy to challenging and technical, making the river suitable for kayakers and rafters of all skill levels. In addition to kayaking and rafting, visitors to the Salmon River can also enjoy fishing, hiking, camping, and wildlife watching.

The river is home to various fish species, including steelhead, Chinook salmon, and rainbow trout, making it a popular destination for anglers. The surrounding forests are home to diverse wildlife, including black bears, mountain lions, and elk, making it an excellent destination for wildlife watching.

The Salmon River is a beautiful and remote destination for anyone who loves the outdoors. With its stunning scenery, exciting rapids, and abundant recreational opportunities, it is a must-see destination in Idaho.

 

4. Snake River

Snake River

The Snake River is a major river in the western United States, stretching over 1,000 miles from Wyoming to the Pacific Ocean. The river flows through several states, including Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, and is a popular destination for kayaking, rafting, and fishing.

In Idaho, the Snake River flows through Hells Canyon, the deepest canyon in North America. The canyon is known for its stunning scenery, which includes towering cliffs, deep gorges, and rushing waterfalls. The area also has various wildlife, including black bears, mountain lions, and bald eagles.

The Snake River is a popular destination for kayakers and rafters, as it offers some of the best whitewater rapids in the country. The rapids range from Class II to Class IV, offering a thrilling adventure for experienced kayakers and rafters.

In addition to kayaking and rafting, visitors to the Snake River can also enjoy fishing, hiking, and camping. The river is home to various fish species, including trout, bass, and sturgeon, making it a popular destination for anglers.

Overall, the Snake River is a beautiful and exciting destination for anyone who loves the outdoors. With its stunning scenery, exciting rapids, and abundant recreational opportunities, it is a must-see destination in Idaho.

 

5. Clearwater River

Clearwater River

The Clearwater River is beautiful and scenic in northern Idaho in the United States. The river is approximately 74 miles long and flows through the Clearwater National Forest, offering stunning scenery and recreational opportunities.

The river is known for its crystal-clear water and abundant fish populations, making it a popular destination for fishing enthusiasts. The river is home to various fish species, including steelhead, Chinook salmon, and rainbow trout.

In addition to fishing, Clearwater River visitors can enjoy kayaking, rafting, and hiking. The river offers Class II and III rapids, making it an excellent option for intermediate-level kayakers and rafters. The surrounding forests provide a variety of hiking trails, ranging from easy nature walks to challenging backcountry hikes.

The Clearwater River is also home to various wildlife, including black bears, mountain lions, and elk, making it an excellent destination for wildlife watching. The river is surrounded by beautiful forests and mountains, offering stunning scenery and a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

The Clearwater River is a beautiful and peaceful destination for anyone who loves the outdoors. Its crystal-clear water, abundant fish populations, and beautiful scenery make it a must-see destination in Idaho.

 

6. Middle Fork of the Salmon River

Middle Fork of the Salmon River

The Middle Fork of the Salmon River is a remote and beautiful river located in central Idaho in the United States. The river is approximately 104 miles long and flows through the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, offering stunning scenery and various recreational opportunities.

The river is known for its Class III and IV rapids, which make it a popular destination for kayakers and rafters. The rapids range from gentle and easy to challenging and technical, making the river suitable for kayakers and rafters of all skill levels. In addition to kayaking and rafting, visitors to the Middle Fork of the Salmon River can enjoy fishing, hiking, camping, and wildlife watching.

The river is home to various fish species, including cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, and smallmouth bass, making it a popular destination for anglers. The surrounding wilderness is home to diverse wildlife, including black bears, mountain lions, and elk, making it an excellent destination for wildlife watching.

Overall, the Middle Fork of the Salmon River is a beautiful and remote destination for anyone who loves the great outdoors. With its stunning scenery, exciting rapids, and abundant recreational opportunities, it is a must-see destination in Idaho.

 

7. Selway River

Selway River

The Selway River is beautiful and remote in the United States in north-central Idaho. The river is approximately 47 miles long and flows through the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, offering stunning scenery and various recreational opportunities.

The river is known for its Class III and IV rapids, which make it a popular destination for kayakers and rafters. The rapids range from gentle and easy to challenging and technical, making the river suitable for kayakers and rafters of all skill levels. In addition to kayaking and rafting, visitors to the Selway River can also enjoy fishing, hiking, camping, and wildlife watching.

The river is home to various fish species, including cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, and bull trout, making it a popular destination for anglers. The surrounding wilderness is home to various wildlife, including black bears, mountain lions, and elk, making it an excellent destination for wildlife watching.

The Selway River is a remote destination, and visitors must obtain a permit to access the river. The wilderness area is protected, and visitors are encouraged to follow Leave No Trace principles to help preserve the area’s natural beauty.

Overall, the Selway River is a beautiful and remote destination for anyone who loves the outdoors. With its stunning scenery, exciting rapids, and abundant recreational opportunities, it is a must-see destination in Idaho.

 

8. Lochsa River

The Lochsa River is beautiful and rugged in western Montana and northern Idaho in the United States. The river is approximately 70 miles long and flows through the Clearwater National Forest, offering stunning scenery and recreational opportunities.

The river is known for its Class III and IV rapids, which make it a popular destination for kayakers and rafters. The rapids range from gentle and easy to challenging and technical, making the river suitable for kayakers and rafters of all skill levels. In addition to kayaking and rafting, visitors to the Lochsa River can also enjoy fishing, hiking, camping, and wildlife watching.

The river is home to various fish species, including steelhead, Chinook salmon, and rainbow trout, making it a popular destination for anglers. The surrounding forest is home to diverse wildlife, including black bears, mountain lions, and elk, making it an excellent destination for wildlife watching.

The Lochsa River is also known for its stunning scenery, which includes towering cliffs, deep gorges, and rushing waterfalls. The area is remote and undeveloped, offering a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

It is a beautiful and exciting destination for anyone who loves the outdoors. With its stunning scenery, exciting rapids, and abundant recreational opportunities, it is a must-see destination in Idaho.

 

9. South Fork

South Fork

The South Fork of the Boise River is a beautiful and scenic river in southwestern Idaho in the United States. The river is approximately 65 miles long and flows through the Boise National Forest, offering stunning scenery and recreational opportunities.

The river is known for its Class II and III rapids, which make it a popular destination for kayakers and rafters. The rapids range from gentle and easy to challenging and technical, making the river suitable for kayakers and rafters of all skill levels. In addition to kayaking and rafting, visitors to the South Fork of the Boise River can enjoy fishing, hiking, camping, and wildlife watching.

The river is home to various fish species, including rainbow trout, brown trout, and smallmouth bass, making it a popular destination for anglers. The surrounding forest is home to diverse wildlife, including black bears, mountain lions, and elk, making it an excellent destination for wildlife watching.

The South Fork of the Boise River is also known for its stunning scenery, which includes towering cliffs, deep gorges, and beautiful waterfalls. The area is remote and undeveloped, offering a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Overall, the South Fork of the Boise River is a beautiful and peaceful destination for anyone who loves the great outdoors. Its crystal-clear water, abundant fish populations, and beautiful scenery make it a must-see destination in Idaho.

 

10. Bruneau River

Bruneau River

The Bruneau River is beautiful and rugged in the United States in southwestern Idaho. The river is approximately 80 miles long and flows through the Bruneau-Jarbidge Rivers Wilderness, offering stunning scenery and various recreational opportunities.

The river is known for its Class III and IV rapids, which make it a popular destination for kayakers and rafters. The rapids range from gentle and easy to challenging and technical, making the river suitable for kayakers and rafters of all skill levels. In addition to kayaking and rafting, visitors to the Bruneau River can also enjoy fishing, hiking, camping, and wildlife watching.

The river is home to various fish species, including rainbow trout, brown trout, and smallmouth bass, making it a popular destination for anglers. The surrounding wilderness is home to various wildlife, including bighorn sheep, mountain lions, and elk, making it an excellent destination for wildlife watching.

The Bruneau River is also known for its stunning scenery, which includes towering cliffs, deep gorges, and beautiful waterfalls. The area is remote and undeveloped, offering a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Overall, the Bruneau River is a beautiful and exciting destination for anyone who loves the outdoors. With its stunning scenery, exciting rapids, and abundant recreational opportunities, it is a must-see destination in Idaho.

 

Pros of Kayaking Trips in Idaho:

  • Stunning Scenery: Idaho is home to some of the most beautiful and rugged rivers in the United States, offering kayakers breathtaking views of towering cliffs, deep gorges, and rushing waterfalls.
  • Abundant Wildlife: Idaho’s rivers are home to various wildlife, including black bears, mountain lions, and bald eagles, making kayaking trips an excellent opportunity for wildlife watching.
  • Exciting Rapids: Idaho’s rivers offer a variety of rapids, ranging from gentle and easy to challenging and technical, making kayaking trips suitable for kayakers of all skill levels.
  • Abundant Fishing Opportunities: Idaho’s rivers are home to various fish species, making them a popular destination for anglers.
  • Peaceful Escape: Many of Idaho’s rivers are remote and undeveloped, offering kayakers a quiet escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Cons of Kayaking Trips in Idaho:

  • Weather: Idaho’s weather can be unpredictable, with sudden changes in temperature and weather conditions. Kayakers should be prepared for all types of weather conditions.
  • Safety Concerns: Kayaking can be dangerous, especially on rivers with challenging rapids. Kayakers should take appropriate safety precautions and be aware of the risks involved.
  • Remote Locations: Many of Idaho’s rivers are in remote areas, with limited access to food, water, and medical services. Kayakers should be prepared for self-sufficiency and bring all necessary supplies with them.
  • Permit Requirements: Some of Idaho’s rivers require permits for kayaking trips, which can be difficult to obtain during peak seasons.
  • Crowded Rivers: Some of Idaho’s rivers can become crowded during peak season, making it difficult to find a peaceful and secluded spot for kayaking.

 

 

Wildlife While Kayaking Trips in Idaho

Kayaking trips in Idaho offer the opportunity to see various wildlife. Some of the most common wildlife sightings while kayaking in Idaho include:

  • Bald Eagles: Idaho is home to a large population of bald eagles, which can often be seen soaring over the rivers.
  • Black Bears: Black bears are common in the forests along Idaho’s rivers, and kayakers may catch a glimpse of them foraging for food along the riverbanks.
  • Mountain Lions: While mountain lions are elusive and rarely seen, kayakers may spot these majestic predators prowling along the riverbanks.
  • Elk: Elk are common in the forests along Idaho’s rivers, and kayakers may see them grazing in meadows or crossing the river.
  • Bighorn Sheep: Bighorn sheep are often seen along the rocky cliffs and hillside bordering Idaho’s rivers.
  • River Otters: River otters are playful and curious animals often seen swimming and playing in the rivers.
  • Trout and other fish: Idaho’s rivers are home to various fish species, including trout, bass, and salmon, making them a popular destination for anglers.

While kayaking in Idaho, it’s important to remember that these are wild animals and should be treated with respect. Kayakers should keep a safe distance from wildlife and avoid disturbing their natural behaviors.

 

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Idaho for kayaking is during the summer when the weather and the water are calm. The peak season for kayaking in Idaho is from June through September. However, it’s important to note that water levels can vary depending on the time of year and recent weather conditions. Check the local weather forecast and water levels before heading out on your trip.

Safety Precautions

Kayaking can be fun and exhilarating, but proper safety precautions are essential to ensure a safe trip. Always wear a life jacket and bring a whistle and signaling device. Getting a first aid kit and sunscreen is also a good idea. Check the weather forecast and water conditions before heading out, and never kayak alone.

Kayak Rentals and Tours

Many rental options are available throughout Idaho if you need to get your kayak. Many rental companies also offer guided tours, which can be an excellent option for beginners or those unfamiliar with the area. Be sure to research different rental and tour options in advance to find the best fit for your needs.

Kayaking is the ultimate escape into nature's beauty

 

Conclusion

Idaho is a paddler’s paradise, with numerous rivers, lakes, and reservoirs offering a variety of kayaking experiences. From the calm waters of Payette Lake to the challenging rapids of the Salmon River, there’s something for everyone in this beautiful state.

One of the best things about kayaking in Idaho is the stunning scenery surrounding you. Whether you’re paddling through the rugged canyons of the Snake River or exploring the tranquil waters of Redfish Lake, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the state’s natural beauty.

Another great thing about kayaking in Idaho is the variety of experiences available. You’ll find it here whether you’re looking for a leisurely paddle or an adrenaline-pumping adventure. From multi-day river trips to short day trips, there are options for every skill level and interest.

Idaho is a top destination for kayakers looking for an unforgettable adventure. With its stunning scenery, diverse experiences, and welcoming communities, it’s no wonder that paddlers from around the world flock to this beautiful state.

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