Boise Sports and Outdoors
Boise River Float - The Best Way to Chill Your Buns on a Hot Day
Floating the Boise River might be the quintessential Boise summer event. In what other urban area can you and thousands of other likeminded river rats float for a couple of hours through a tree-secluded riverine corridor without fear of toxic flesh rot, knife-wielding ruffians, or large discarded kitchen appliances? Nowhere that we know of. It's a bit of wild Idaho brought into the city we love. It's an easy reminder of why you live here or why you're visiting. And despite the perceived seclusion, you're never more than a stone's throw from concrete or asphalt. It's the best of both worlds.
If you're visiting at the right time of year (usually around the middle of June, weather-permitting, until Labor Day), our advice is to get yourself a small inflatable boat and go do it. The route starts at Barber Park, on the far eastern side of town, and it's about a two-hour float to the take-out point in Ann Morrison Park. If you don't have a raft handy, you can rent one at Barber Park. If you don't have two vehicles, there's a shuttle you can take back to Barber Park from the take-out point.
The float offers plenty of time to sit back and relax. But here are some things that are helpful to know:
- Don't float in an inner tube. I know it looks fun and simple, and you'd be partially correct in thinking that the water should feel awfully nice on a very hot day, but trust us: even when it's 102°, the water is only 44°, which means that by the time you're done, your buttcheeks and feet will be frostier than a snow cone.
- Don't put that 12-pack of brewskis in the cooler. You used to be able to drink a beer or two without much ado while on the river, but the thought of people having too much fun, coupled with some sizzling public urination and shore moonings, caused the local city and county governments to make their lawyers earn their pay by amending certain laws or creating new ones making it illegal or downright impossible to even have some nice wine with the brick of cheese in your picnic basket. So in recent years the area's finest have been cracking down. You'll even see the authorities buzzing up and down the river in jetskis sometimes. So if you have to drink while you float, better make it an O'Douls.
- Don't take really small children. Even though the river is shallow and somewhat tame in many places, there are two coffer dams in the first third of the float, which include some deep and rough water. The river is swift at times, always cold, and it also has plenty of places where you can get snagged by overhanging branches or protruding logs. A few people get stranded every year. The authorities do a fine job of clearing the river of obstacles, but they can't remove all of the hazards, nor should they. That would just turn the float into a ride at Roaring Springs. Bottom line: if your child can't swim and wouldn't be able to survive out of the boat on his own for two minutes or so, leave him with the grandparents or that nice fella you met on the street.
- Urinate in the water. This only applies, of course, if you can't make it to one of the four marked rest stops that have a porta-potty or proper facilities. So if you can't hold it, that means you'll have to get into the freezing water up to your waist, but that sure beats a ticket. The police have set up urea-detecting sensors along the river banks, so they immediately know what you're up to and will be on the scene before you can get your shorts back up. OK, that's a lie. But they are watching, and tickets are common. It's less of a problem since the whole alcohol crackdown, but really, if you were walking the Greenbelt, would you want to see Teddy and his four overweight frat buddies making it rain? Didn't think so.
- Pay attention anytime you get close to the river bank. There are a few spots, especially between the Broadway and Capitol bridges, where the swift current will try to take you right into the bank and its overhanging tree branches. Throw in a submerged log or two and you've got yourself a possible swim party. These areas are where the float is most dangerous, so be alert and try to always stay in the middle of the river. That will also prevent the bears from harming you, unless your boat is mistaken for a big salmon.
- Don't miss the take-out point. There's a nasty spillway not too far after the take-out point, and it always has plenty of punji sticks and miscellaneous debris hung up in it. So when you see everybody getting out on the left side right after a foot bridge, make sure you follow. Only a first-rate ignoramus would continue onward.
|Activity:||Boise River float|
|Where:||The Boise River (duh) from Barber Park to Ann Morrison Park.|
|When:||Mid June through Labor Day. You'll want it to be hot, hot, hot!|
|Cost:||You'll have to pay to park a vehicle at Barber Park and pay to rent a raft or other supplies you don't have. The float itself is free.|
City of Boise Floater Info
|Why I love it:||It's Idaho in a nutshell: clean, wild fun that few other cities in the world can match.|