Lochsa River2021-09-07T07:43:00-07:00

Lochsa River Rafting Guidebook

If you were to argue which river was the best day trip in Idaho, the Lochsa would probably be at the top. Pool drop Class III and IV whitewater that seemingly goes on for miles. Don’t forget the incredible roadside access that makes logistics easy. And finally, it’s also beautiful, wild, and remote. Hard to beat that anywhere else.

About this guide

This guide outlines “Section Three” from Fish Creek to Split Creek. Importantly, we are using our own mileage and not the roadside mileage that tends to be seen elsewhere. However, the roadside mileage has been noted, but is not the primary marker.

River Info

The river begins at the confluence of Colt Kill creek and Crooked Fork. Colt Kill creek gathers its name from the Lewis and Clark expedition, where they killed a horse to eat it during their expedition. The Lochsa ends its journey at its confluence with the Selway, where they become the Clearwater. The Lochsa was one of the original eight rivers to be protected under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968.

Safety

It’s easy to get into trouble quickly on the Lochsa, especially so at high water. Pay attention, wear adequate gear (the water is cold) and stay within your skill level.

Permits

Permits are not required.

Lochsa River Madness

Lochsa River Madness is an informal but very real event that occurs annually over Memorial Weekend. It’s a celebration of boaters kicking off the rafting season. The gathering spot is highway mile marker 114, Lochsa Falls. This YouTube search will show you what you’re in for.

While there is an online gauge linked here, the gauge that everyone goes by is the one painted underneath the Lowell bridge. Between 2 – 5 feet and you’re good to go. Less than two is pretty low and above five is starting to get high. So how do you get the flow? You ask around or call the Lohsa Ranger District. Even the USGS recommends you call with this notice posted on their website:

** NOTE TO WHITEWATER RAFTERS: This stage reading is from the USGS gaging station 0.7 miles upstream from Lowell bridge. USGS stage reads between 2-3 feet higher than the stage reading on the staff gage at Lowell bridge, depending on the river stage.

THIS IS NOT THE STAGE READING FOR FLOATING THE LOCHSA RIVER.

For the most current stage reading from Lowell bridge, please call the Lochsa Ranger District at 208-926-4274. **

We do not have a preferred partner (yet) for the Kennebec River. If you are a commercial outfitter with an excellent reputation we would love to hear from you.

Click here to send us a message.

Lochsa River Rafting Comprehensive Guide

WARNING: Conditions change frequently and may make this guide useless. This guide is NOT a replacement for sound judgment. Go with someone with recent Lochsa experience.

Class II Rapid

Class II rapid or river feature.

Class III Rapid

Class III rapid or river feature.

Class IV Rapid

Class IV rapid or river feature.

Put-In / Take-Out

The most commonly used access points.

Point of Interest

These include eddys and streams.

Fun Zone

Well known surf waves and swim areas.

Campgrounds

Nearby camping areas.

Section Three – Class II, III & IV

This guide outlines Section Three, which is from Fish Creek Put In to Split Creek Take Out.

Length

Fish Creek to Split Creek is 9.02 miles.

Difficulty

Moderate to Expert.

Feet per Mile

Split Creek to Fish Creek is 29.6 FPM

Shuttle Time

Fish Creek to Split Creek is 24 minutes round trip. Google Map directions.

Mile 0 – Fish Creek Put in: River Right. Put-In on River right. Fish Creek has pit toilets and nice stairs / ramp to the river. Road mile 120.

Mile 0.1 – Fish Creek Rapid: Class III. Read-and-run rapid. Can be bumpy at lower water. Road mile 120.

Mile 0.51 – Sandy Beach Rapid: Class III. Read-and-run rapid, with a wave in the center of the channel. Road mile 119.8.

Mile 1.21 – Killer Fang Falls: Class IV. Large hole in the center of the rapid. Going right of this hole is the easier move. This center hole is quite nasty, you’ll want to stick right to get around this guy. Road mile 119.1

Mile 1.47 – Eel Creek Rapid: Class III. Right down the middle. Road mile 118.8

Mile 2.25 – Otter Slide: Class III. Right bend in the river. Watch for holes and boulders. Road mile 118.1

Mile 2.67 – Morning Glory: Class III+. The river makes a hard turn left pushing the water to the outside of the turn. Pay attention as there is a large hole towards the bottom. Road mile 117.7

Mile 2.79 – Big Stew Creek: River Left. Big Stew creek comes in right below Morning Glory.

Mile 3.04 – House Wave: Class IV. Also known as House Rock. Run House up the middle of the V wave at most flows, but be sure to hit this wave straight on. Can be snuck to the right if you’re feeling conservative. This is one of the largest waves on the river at high flows. Road mile 117.

Mile 3.76 – Bloody Mary: Class IV. Large hole in the center of this rapid. On the right side is a large pourover. Thread the needle between these two behemoths. Road mile 116.6

Mile 4.34 – Grim Reaper: Class IV. Enter right at the Grim Reaper, punching through a large wave, putting you into an epic wave train. At bottom left of this rapid is a nasty pourover. Road mile 116.

Mile 4.77 – Cliffside: Class III. At higher water, the normal wave train gets washed out. At normal flows, lots of fun can be had in this rapid. Road mile 115.7

Mile 5.07 – Shoestring: Class IV. At higher water, there is a hole on center right and center left at the top, with room in between. On the bottom left is a sleeper wave. Road mile 115.4

Mile 5.21 – Jones’ Wave: Class III. Big wave train which can be run down the middle. As per usual, keep these waves T’d up and have a blast. Road mile 115.1

Mile 5.29 – Horsetail Falls: Class IV. There are waves aplenty in this rapid at high flows and rocks aplenty at low flows. At lower flows this rapid has numerous large boulders to avoid. At high water the center wave really picks up steam. Entering left sets up you for a very large wave train. Road mile 114.8

Mile 5.69 – Prelude: Class III. Not much at medium and lower flows. At high flows large waves move you quickly into Lochsa Falls. Road mile 114.3

Mile 6.26 – Lochsa Falls: Class IV. Huge V wave, with low consequences downstream. Hit this with all you’ve got, and keep it straight. During the summer months, you may have an audience here. This is the hangout spot during Lochsa River Madness. Road mile 114.1

Mile 6.47 – Picking Up the Pieces: Class III. After Lochsa Falls awaits another Class III (at normal flows you have ample cleanup time). Road mile 113.9

Mile 6.81 – Pipeline: Appropriately named because this wave is glassy and has a nice break. When it’s in, people are surfing it on boards. Road mile 113.6

Mile 7.04 – Old Man: Class III. Enter right of the large boulders on this rapid, big hole on far right you will want to keep an eye out for. Road mile 113.4.

Mile 7.04 – Old Man Creek: River Left. Old Man Creek enters at the rapid. Road mile 113.4.

Mile 7.58 – Termination: Class IV. Lochsa Classic – big wave train. This is the last big rapid of this stretch, so go as big or little as you want here. After the wave train, the current wants to push you left toward the cliff. Road mile 112.8

Mile 8.77 – Split Creek: Class III. Last rapid of the section, small wave train relative to the rest of these rapids. Take-out is on river right, just below this rapid. Road mile 111.7

Mile 9 – Bridge: This is your bridge to keep your eyes out for when you’re searching for the takeout. This bridge provides access to Split Creek trail. Road mile 111.4

Mile 9.02 – Split Creek Take-Out: River Right. Take-Out on River right just below the Split Creek Bridge. Road mile 111.4

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