Boise & Garden City

Rafters, tubers, paddle-boarders rejoice! Float season is finally here.

Trees in the Boise River are a hazard to floaters

Take a trip down the Boise River with the Boise Fire Department's Swiftwater Dive Rescue Team as they assess the hazards that need to be removed to make floating as safe as possible.
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Take a trip down the Boise River with the Boise Fire Department's Swiftwater Dive Rescue Team as they assess the hazards that need to be removed to make floating as safe as possible.

Ada County announced Wednesday that raft and tube rentals will begin Saturday at Barber Park, signaling the long-awaited start of the Boise River float season.

Equipment rentals will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday. The first shuttle back to Barber Park will leave Ann Morrison Park at noon.

Over the past two days, the Bureau of Reclamation has reduced the level of the river by about 800 cubic feet per second, roughly 40 percent of its previous flow. Meanwhile, the Boise Fire Department has been clearing debris, such as fallen trees, that was in floaters’ path on the stretch of river between Barber Park and Ann Morrison Park. The fire department announced Wednesday that over the next few days it will remove signs declaring the river condition to be dangerous.

The county was waiting to open float season until the river dropped below 1,500 cfs and enough debris was removed to make for a reasonably safe trip.

While people can legally float the river whenever they want, the county doesn’t allow rentals of tubes and rafts in Barber Park, or run shuttles between Ann Morrison and Barber parks, until it believes conditions in the river are appropriate for novice floaters.

Furthermore, people who float the river before the rentals start could be billed for their own rescue.

Even after floating season starts, the county cautions floaters to use appropriate equipment, such as what they can rent at Barber Park, instead of pool toys. All but skilled boaters with good equipment should avoid floating outside of the 6-mile Barber-Ann Morrison stretch of water. The river upstream and downstream is not managed for novice floaters, so crews don’t remove as much debris or other hazards there.

Float season ends after Labor Day weekend.

This year’s float season comes late because of an exceptional amount of snowfall in the winter and, consequently, runoff and flooding this spring. The Boise River stayed above flood stage — 7,000 cfs — between early March and mid-June.

The good side of this phenomenon is that reservoirs across Southern Idaho have more water stored than in most years.

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