Idaho snowpack levels look promising for 2013 whitewater season
(BOISE, Idaho) -- Idaho mountain snowpack levels and anticipated streamflows in the Salmon, Snake, Lochsa and Payette river basins are hovering near 90 percent of normal, which should provide for a fun-filled whitewater river season, officials said.
Idaho is known nationally as the "whitewater state" with more than 3,000 miles of whitewater rapids, the most of any state in the lower 48. Now is the time when many families are planning their summer vacations; thousands will take week-long wilderness river vacations on the Salmon River, the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, the Selway River or Hells Canyon of the Snake with Idaho outfitters.
Whitewater enthusiasts also will book day trips with Idaho outfitters on the Payette, Snake, Salmon, Lochsa, St. Joe and Moyie rivers.
With slightly lower flows, the Salmon River tends to peak a little earlier in May, providing a longer floating season from June - September, and the water warms up sooner for swimming as well as good fishing kicks.
Ron Abramovich, water supply specialist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, said early, high-elevation snows in November and December set up Idaho's mountains and rivers for a good season.
A few river basins in southwest Idaho are showing lower snowpack levels, such as the Boise at 68 percent of normal, and the Owyhee at 68 percent of normal. The Payette basin is at 77 percent of normal, but reservoir storage is 115 percent of average on the North Fork of the Payette, and the South Fork, elevating streamflow predictions to 88 percent of normal, Abramovich said. "The Payette Basin will be fine because of reservoir storage," he said.
"River floaters will have to watch the Owyhee gauge closely to time trips correctly,” Abramovich said. "You'll have to be quick to catch the Owyhee this year," he added.
For more information about booking an Idaho whitewater river trip, go to the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association web site, http://ioga.org/rafting or call 208-342-1438.
(source: Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association; photo by: Phil Morrow)