Healthy Snowpack is Good News for Idaho Whitewater Paddlers


  • Jessica Murri

The city of Boise awoke Sunday morning to a dusting of snow after several weeks of above-average temperatures. Despite the unseasonably warm conditions in the Treasure Valley, the rest of Idaho's snowpack is looking healthy, according to state SNOTEL data—and that's good news for Idaho's whitewater industry.

  • Natural Resources Conservation Association
As of Feb. 22, snowpack levels for the Lochsa/Selway rivers is 79 percent of normal, the Middle Fork and Main Salmon river stretches are 94 percent of normal, and the upper Snake River is 107 percent of normal. The Payette River sits at 74 percent while the Boise River is 81 percent.

A recent news release from the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association stated that key reservoirs for the Payette and Snake rivers should fill to 100 percent of capacity. 

"The water levels look great like always for the Lochsa and Selway," Natural Resources Conservation Service water supply specialist Ron Abramovich stated in the release. He pointed out that when compared to the drought in California, Idaho's snowpack "look[s] pretty good."

Not only is that reassuring news for the thousands of kayakers who will soon start pulling their boats down from the garage rafters, but it's also good for Idaho's whitewater outfitters, which connect customers to 3,000 miles of whitewater throughout the state.

"It looks to me that we have a solid snowpack where it counts," added John May, executive director of the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association. "We're already seeing some national media coverage of the drought in California, and we just want folks to know that our world-renowned whitewater rivers are going to have a great season."