Very few things say "summer in Boise" as quintessentially as floating the Boise River on a lazy afternoon with your rear hanging in cold water as you drift under bridges and outstretched trees.
But the difference between a zen-inducing summer day and the most cold and miserable few hours of your life is planning. A little advanced knowledge can keep your trip afloat—literally.
Here's what you need to know to make it down the river.
Where to Float
The most common stretch of river to float is from Barber Park east of downtown to Ann Morrison Park. The put-in area at Barber Park is maintained by Ada County and includes free use of air pumps, as well as an expansive parking lot. Throughout the floating season, gates are open from 8 a.m. until sunset daily, and the six-mile trip takes roughly an hour and a half to do. While the river is never officially closed, the county only offers services at times of the year when it is deemed safe to float, which means all the snags and branches have been cleared from the river and the water flow is low enough.
The lot is open from 10 a.m.-7:30 p.m.--although the exit gate is open until sunset--and parking costs $5 Mondays-Thursdays and $6 Fridays-Sundays and on holidays.
A shuttle bus runs every hour between the two parks from 1-8 p.m. on weekdays and 1-9 p.m. on weekends and holidays throughout the season. If you're depending on the shuttle for a ride, don't forget that the shuttle doesn't run if the rental office at Barber Park isn't open. The cost to ride is $3 per person.
Remember, under state law, any boat must carry personal flotation devices for each person on board, and children age 14 or younger must wear a life jacket at all times.
Don't even think about it. Alcohol is prohibited on the river. And don't take any glass--no one appreciates stepping on broken shards.
While many Treasure Valley residents have their own rafts or tubes, rentals are available from a number of businesses:
2314 Bogus Basin Road, Boise, 208-331-2628, alpenglowidaho.com
Boise Army Navy
4924 Chinden Blvd., Garden City, 208-322-0660
Raft and inflatable kayak rentals.
Boise State Campus Recreation Outdoor Program
1515 University Dr., Boise, 208-426-1131, rec.boisestate.edu
Raft and kayak rental available to the public.
4049 Eckert Road (Barber Park), Boise, 208-577-4584. epleys.com/boiselocation
The official contractor for Ada County offers raft and tube rentals.
Idaho River Sports
3100 W. Pleasanton Ave., Boise,