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Sessions have started at the expert whitewater wave on the Boise River

Posted at 2:28 PM, Jun 02, 2024

BOISE, Idaho — Surfers and kayakers have been able to shred the expert whitewater wave for about two weeks now. Idaho is a landlocked state, but that doesn't stop people from surfing on the Boise River.

"I lived in Hawaii for a while so I got to surf waves there, it's not like going and surfing in the ocean," said Garrett Kerr, one of around a dozen surfers at the wave. "This is very fast, you can definitely get some good carves and bottom turns."

The expert whitewater wave

The wave has been open for two weeks now, but wave technicians from the Boise Parks and Recreation Department need to monitor the conditions during a session. The Boise river is flowing around 1,500 cubic feet per second.

"This is hands down our favorite flow, it is about double what we can run it at at the low end later in the summer," said Paul Primus, a wave tech with parks and rec. "The performance is unbelievable and we have seen some seriously good surfing out here, it has been really exciting and a lot more people are coming out so we have added evening sessions."

There were a pair of kayakers out there during the Sunday session

Sessions run from 9 to 11 a.m. Wednesday through Sunday and on Tuesday and Saturday evenings from 5 to 7 p.m. People can stay up to date using the Rainout Line App.

Boise Parks and Recreation has a wave tech for every session because if conditions change it can make the hydraulic behind the large green wave dangerous.

Looking up at the wave with the hydraulic right behind it

"If we get a big flow change in the river like 100 or 200 cfs, that can actually crash the green wave itself and become extremely retentive to a high hazard point we wouldn’t like to see," said Primus. "However, if we have it as this setting currently with stable flows and we can monitor the pools, it’s an unbelievably good wave with a low hazard situation with all of us here to help each other at this very high intensity wave."

Phase two of the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation Whitewater Park opened in 2019. It includes three features and it is a park within a park at Esther Simplot Park. However, the expert wave has never been dialed in, leading to a lawsuit between the designer and the city.

Riding the wave

The City of Boise hired the firm that built phase one to come in and try to open the expert wave all the time. However, they weren't able to do the work last winter because of all the snow in January and water releasing earlier then normal because all the reservoirs were full. The plans include continuing work next winter.

Phase two also acts as a diversion dam for the Farmer's Union Canal to make sure they get their allotment of water. That is actually the number one priority for the feature, it is also used for flood mitigation and for recreation.

People often stop to watch the action during a session

Surfers and kayakers can expect long lines at both phase one and phase two this summer. Garrett Kerr told us there is an unwritten rule of etiquette to keep the lines moving as river surfing has become very popular in Boise.

"You get up and you are cruising for a little bit and then you got to try to do some moves, some turns and maybe some tricks," said Kerr. "That way your turn ends and the next guy can go."

It's a fast, steep wave

Surfers should not use leashes at the expert whitewater wave, everyone there had wetsuits as the Boise River is still really cold and for surfers wanting to work up to the expert wave, phase one is an excellent spot to practice.