The 2021 Boise River Float Season: What Changes to Expect
The Boise River is set to open around June 15th, just in time for summer.
The Boise River is a unique and multi-seasonal natural feature of the city of Boise. While you can float the entire length of the river, the section between Barber Park and Ann Morrison Park is the most enjoyable section to navigate. While floating down this 6-mile section, you should expect to be in the water for around 3 hours. Make sure to pack a cooler of refreshing drinks, water, your favorite snacks, sunscreen, and wear appropriate attire, such as a sun hat and river shoes.
As the snow begins to melt in the surrounding mountains and the water is raised from spring runoff, the river encounters a transformation every year. This leads to the path of the river being changed by the force of the water, trees, and brush being swept downstream, and other natural shifts taking place. The water is at a much higher level while the state bleeds off the extra water from Arrow Rock and Lucky Peak Reservoir and is unsafe to enter until the local enforcement has cleared the river for recreation. So if you decide to get into the Boise River before that department has given its official open date, you do so at your own risk. In 2020, Idaho saw 6 devastating river deaths, one on the Boise River when a woman’s tube flipped. It’s important to remember that life vests can prevent serious harm or death along with not partaking in drugs or alcohol while floating, which are both illegal on the Boise River. If you are caught with an open container by a police officer you can be issued a citation. The Boise River may appear harmless but it is vital to take safety precautions seriously.
You can put-in for the maintained portion of the Boise River at Barber Park and the best take-out is at Ann Morrison. Be sure to get off before the Pioneer footbridge, as there is a dangerous dam located less than half a mile downriver. You can enjoy getting out at several points along the river to take in the sights, have a picnic, and gather with other rafters.
When floating the most popular part of the Boise River, you will draft past several wildlife preserves, beautiful riverside homes, businesses, beaches, and parts of Boise State University Campus. Whether you're brand new to the Treasure Valley or a seasoned Boise river expert, this float is a must-do summer activity.
There is no shortage of floating device options available to take down the Boise River. If it can safely float, you can take it. This means any size raft, tube, paddleboard, kayak, or some Boise favorites are blow-up mattresses, inflatable unicorns, or (funny watercraft here). Be aware that motorized watercraft are prohibited on the river. If you are thinking about using a paddleboard with fins, be aware that there are some shallow sections of the river that might cause damage to or high center your board if the fins cannot be removed. Make sure whatever device you take, is fully inflated and doesn’t have any holes or rips.
The Ada County Parks & Waterways Department is excited to welcome all rafters to the 2021 summer floating season! They provide several amenities which you can learn about below:
Do not try to float until the river has been officially groomed by the fire department and an official float date is announced by the City of Boise Parks and Recreation department.
- The air filling stations are not open at this time as Barber Park is still undergoing its renovation. So be sure to bring your own inflating equipment to the park to fill your river floating craft yourself.
- Bring an inflation tool for your trip down the river in case your watercraft needs to be refilled later down the river.
- Children under the age of 14 are required to wear a life vest and each watercraft should have a personal flotation device available.
- You should prepare for the 3 diversion drops on the river. They are easy to float over, but you should actively try to position yourself towards the middle to avoid any potential rocks, limbs, or obstacles under the water.
- You can park at Barber Park between 10 am, 9:30 am on the weekends and holidays to 7:30 pm for a $7 fee.
- There is a shuttle available to take you between Ann Morrison Park and Barber Park between 1 pm to 8 pm, 9 pm on the weekends and holidays for $3 per person. The shuttle leaves Ann Morrison at the top of every hour, and every 20 minutes on the weekend. No pets are allowed on the shuttles.
- Watercraft rentals are available at Barber Park every day. The rental office is open 10 am to 5 pm Monday through Thursday and 6 pm on Friday through Sunday. You can rent professional-grade rafts, tubes, and inflatable kayaks for affordable prices. Each floatation comes with life vests and oars if needed. You can return your rented craft at the return area next to the playground where the shuttle picks up passengers. Make sure to not keep your rental for more than 3 hours, or you’ll be charged a late fee. You must be 18 years or older to rent and can rent with your credit card and personal ID.
Location: 4049 S. Eckert Rd. Boise, Idaho 83716
The Boise River sees more than 100,000 rafters every year, so it’s important to remember to be kind and respectful to your fellow floaters. Everyone wants to have a good time! So here are our best manners and rules to keep in mind when enjoying the Boise River:
- Stay aware of your surroundings. With so many floaters, sometimes thousands in one day, the river can get a little crowded. Make sure you have at least one to two designated and knowledgeable rowers manning the oars to keep the boat from hitting other boats, trees, rocks, or other rafts.
- Do not litter. It is ok to bring non-alcoholic drinks, food, and other (things) to enjoy on the river, but be conscious of where your garbage lands after you use it. Designate a bag for trash and that any bags, clothes, water toys, etc are securely fastened to the boat. The Boise River is home to several species of fish, birds, and other wildlife year-round and it is our responsibility to keep them safe from the damaging effects of our own debris.
- If you fall out of your floatation device, do not stand up in the river. Instead, float on your back with your feet pointed downriver until you can paddle to safety at the river bank or to another raft.
- If your flotation device deflated or is popped on the river, it is your responsibility to dispose of it properly. That is to say, if the boat is in a dangerous and unreachable location that would bring certain harm to yourself to retrieve, don’t risk it. The Boise River is paralleled by the Greenbelt which has many trash receptacles for the disposal of your refuse.
- Glass containers of any kind are prohibited on the river. Even in the most careful of hands, glass can be dropped, and when it breaks, the bottom of the river can be littered with shards of glass. This increases the risk of harm to those walking in the river, wildlife, and is considered littering. Pack your favorite glass beverages in a plastic or aluminum container.
- Bringing your own speaker is ok on the river, but remember that you are floating alongside hundreds of other floaters who may have a different idea of what they would like their float to be like. So keep the volume to a polite and respectable level.
- There are several awesome spots along the Boise river where you can safely jump from a bridge, structure, tree, or rope swing. It is legal to partake in this fun, but be sure to not do so within 50 feet of any rafts, tubes, paddleboards, or other flotation devices. Be sure to understand the risks of where you are jumping in and do so at your own risk.
- When getting out at Ann Morrison, stay alert that when you walk from the beach, you will be crossing an active Greenbelt where walkers, runners, bikers, and other people are using as a path. Yield to all of these recreationists as they have the right of way.
- When you are done floating the river and need to begin deflating your device, be sure to walk away from the river to an open and uncongested area to do so. This means you should not deflate on the beach, greenbelt, or near picnickers.
For More Information: Float the River
The entrance to float the Boise River
Floating The Boise River
Boise River at the Ann Morrison Center in Boise