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Tips to stay safe while floating the Boise River this holiday weekend

Posted at 3:29 PM, Jul 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-01 17:29:37-04

Ada County Parks and Waterways expects this Fourth of July weekend to be the busiest weekend of all-time for people floating the Boise River from Barber Park to Ann Morrison Park.

The float season officially started on Monday and it got off to a pretty rocky start with the Boise Fire Department rescuing 14 people with four being life-threatening.

So we embarked down the Boise River to provide tips to stay safe, what hazards to watch out for and how to have a fun time rafting, tubing or kayaking down this classic stretch of water that runs right through town.

The run begins at Barber Park and floaters will encounter three small class II rapids near the beginning of the float.

The first two rapids at this water level, 1,250 cubic feet per second, were best run down the middle you really could go anywhere but there were some rocks and some shallow areas near the banks of these rapids, the third rapid is best run down the either edge but you would still easily make it through the center.

I found that one of the trickiest parts of the Boise River is picking the right channel when islands separate the current, it's best to take the channel with the most water, but sometimes it is difficult to tell and one time I had to get out of my raft and guide my boat through a narrow passage.

That is one of the reasons proper footwear is so important as the river bed is filled with rocks, life jackets remain the most important piece of safety equipment and it is also important to abstain from drinking alcohol while on the river.

The biggest hazard on the Boise River is wood, we saw places where the Boise Fire Department cut tree limbs to make the journey down the river safer, but both banks were overgrown with tree branches and bushes to avoid.

That can be difficult too as in some places the current wraps around the bend and heads straight for these sweepers and strainers, experienced kayakers and rafters always take precaution with wood because they are some of the most dangerous hazards on the river.

Tree branches can pop tubes, but the real danger of floating into the wood is getting caught and pinned, they are called strainers because in that scenario the water goes through the hazard, but you may not and it's really hard for humans to fight the current of a river.

It's also important to wear sunscreen, the proper clothing and dry bags can keep items from being damaged as the float took around two and a half hours to complete.

Ann Morrison Park is where floaters take out and there are signs across the bridge to alert people as well, under no circumstances should people continue down the river there because a very dangerous diversion dam pops up right around the corner.

The Boise River is a classic summertime tradition that is really fun for families and the Ada County Parks and Waterways do what they can to expedite the process.

They will rent rafts, tubes and kayaks while running a shuttle from Barber Park to Ann Morrison allowing people to park in either place.

We have been warned that if people park outside of Barber Park there is a good chance they will get towed and floaters need to be aware that on Monday, Ann Morrison Park will be closed to parking for the Fourth of July fireworks show.