White Water Rafting Idaho - Experience The Ultimate In Outdoor Fun

By Wolfe Ashcraft

Idaho Whitewater Rafting

White water rafting isn’t the only thing Idaho is known for, but it is at the top of an impressive list. This great state is covered in mountains — and mountains mean forests, rivers, canyons, and many opportunities for adventure. Needless to say, white water rafting makes many a bucket list, and with big rivers like the Salmon, Snake, and Payette (to name a few), Idaho is the perfect place to satisfy your whitewater appetite. Known for excellent fishing and every class of rapid one could want, Idaho is world famous — people from far and wide come here to experience rafting on our wild and scenic rivers.

While whitewater options are seemingly endless in Idaho, a great place to get your adrenaline flowing is on the Payette River’s North Fork. A favorite among rafters, this section of the Payette River is ideal for day trips with friends or family, and Idaho’s newest all-season resort is ready to schedule your next river raft trip.

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Tamarack Rafting — Get The Most Out Of Your Whitewater Experience

Tamarack Resort, located two hours north of Boise, Idaho, is a destination for every season. The crew at Tamarack excel in all things adventure, and this is definitely the case with regards to white water rafting. Their highly trained guides, top-of-the-line equipment, and extensive knowledge of the North Fork of the Payette River make them the logical choice for a whitewater excursion.

A River Trip Is About More Than Big Water And The Right Gear — Guides Matter

At Tamarack Rafting, we do more than make sure guests are outfitted with quality safety gear and the most reliable rafts — we want you to get the most out of your day trip on the Payette River. This is why we also make sure you’re in the best of hands. Our highly trained and experienced guides educate guests about gear, rafting techniques, and the river and nearby countryside. Listen as they share interesting facts and stories about the history and ecology of the Payette River and surrounding areas.

White Water Rafting With Tamarack — A Day Trip On The Cabarton Run

Idaho is a state covered in breathtaking scenery. From meadows to dense forests, calm water to raging rapids, and canyons to tall mountain peaks, we have it all here. One of the many amazing stretches of river is on the North Fork of the Payette — a stretch known as the Cabarton Run. This 11-mile river trip provides guests with equal parts calm water and class II and III adventure. The Cabarton Run is an experience you will want to share with friends and family from start to finish.

Here is a quick overview of what to expect when you raft with us:

  • Full-day, guided whitewater trip
  • Offered May through mid-September
  • Minimum group size – 4 people
  • Maximum group size – 42 people
  • Trip duration – 7 hours
  • Trip distance – 11 miles
  • Trip includes transportation, a riverside lunch buffet, drinks, and personal flotation devices
  • Time allows for a shore lunch and swimming excursions
  • Check in at the Guided Adventures desk in the Village at 9 am and return at approx. 4 pm
  • Helmets are available upon request
  • Adults (13 years and older) – $89
  • Juniors (12 years and under) – $69

11 Miles Of Whitewater And No Experience Necessary

The Cabarton Run of the North Fork is a favorite for many. Ideal for small to big groups, this stretch of water is ready for anyone looking for a good time, so bring your family and friends. What is so great about this portion of the river is that no experience is necessary. Our guides make sure guests are educated and ready for any necessary maneuvers.

The Rapid Rundown

Most people like to have an idea of what to expect on the water. The Cabarton Run is filled with a nice balance of calm water, small ripples, gentle waves, and class II and class III rapids. There are even a few class III + rapids to get the blood pumping, voices screaming, and bodies wet.

For the first-timers, here is a quick rundown on the classification of rapids.

CLASS I — Class I rapids are created by water flowing over minimal obstacles.

CLASS II — Class II rapids are characterized by visible obstructions that can be avoided with minimal effort.

CLASS III — In class III rapids, eddies and waves are stronger and more challenging to navigate. Expect to get wet on class III rapids. Boat control is critical here, so pay attention to your guide.

CLASS IV — This level of rapid requires experience and skill. More turbulent waters, deeper holes, and narrow chutes make class IV rapids more dangerous and challenging.

CLASS V — For the highly experienced rafters, class V rapids are an adrenaline rush. Inexperienced rafters have no business here. This class of rapid is often violent and unpredictable.

CLASS VI — Generally considered unpassable, class VI rapids are not recommended, even for the most experienced of rafters.

On the Cabarton Run, the most challenging rapids are class III plus, which means they are somewhat technical and will require you to pay very close attention to your guide’s instructions. However, with their guidance, you’re guaranteed a boatload of fun!


The Play-By-Play Of Whitewater On The Cabarton Run

One of the many wonderful things about the Cabarton Run is that there is a good stretch of calm water at the beginning where your guides will have time to educate everyone on rowing techniques and important directions. But you won’t have to wait long before the water changes. Here are the details of what to expect once you are on the water.

  • Put-in is at the Cabarton Bridge 1.8 miles off of Idaho 55
  • This portion of the river starts wide, and boats move slowly at first
  • When the river narrows, it will bend to the left, where you will run some small class II drops
  • After the second drop, you will have almost 2 miles to take in the stunning scenery and wildlife of the Payette River — watch for osprey and bald eagles
  • Not quite 3 miles in, you will see railroad tracks 50 feet up to the right of the river — this means you’re about to hit Trestle Rapids, which begin with a class III drop
  • Trestle Rapids continues as the river narrows and drops you into several class II rapids down the middle of the river
  • Soon after, you will pass under the train trestle and hit another class III drop
  • After Trestle Rapids, you will pass some lovely beaches, hit a few shallow spots known as riffles, and then come to some flat water
  • Halfway through the river trip, you will hit some more riffles and bend left to find Wet Spot, a class III rapid guaranteed to get you soaked
  • Not long after Wet Spot, there is a large and steep wave known as Cocaine — make sure you catch this wave
  • At mile 7, you will stay to the right of center stream to avoid a rocky drop
  • As you pass under Rainbow Bridge, get ready to run a series of class II rapids
  • Another half mile and you’ll hit Francois Rapids — this series is a class III +, so hang on
  • About 9 miles in, you’ll come to Howard’s Plunge, another class III + series of rapids — a great way to finish the whitewater
  • Enjoy the calm water until you reach the takeout downstream from Smith’s Ferry Bridge

Whitewater Sounds Fun, But I Have Some Questions

For any first-timer, white water rafting can be intimidating. Even if you know what to expect on the water and have the trip mapped out step by step, we get that there are always questions that need answering.

Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding white water rafting with Tamarack:

No experience necessary — Your guides will make sure to give you a thorough orientation and provide coaching throughout your river trip.

Some fitness required — Guests need to be physically fit enough to do short bursts of paddling and must have the ability to swim should they fall from a raft.

No season pass discounts — The price remains the same even if you have a season pass.

Come Prepared — Wear shoes or sandals and pack a small backpack with towels or dry clothes. Leave your pack in the shuttle for when you get off the river.

Tipping is welcome — A tip of 10% is customary if your guides did a good job and you had a great time. Tips are always appreciated.

Hit The Whitewater With Tamarack

Your next adventure is waiting for you at Tamarack Resort. Take in stunning scenery in a whole new way as you raft some of the best water in the country. Idaho’s whitewater is calling, and we’re here to make sure that when you answer that call, you, your friends, and your family have the whitewater experience you all deserve.

Come get wet with us on the North Fork, you’ll be glad you did!