Memorial Day weekend kicks off rafting season on the Payette River system

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BANKS, Idaho – Idaho is known as the whitewater state and within an hour of Treasure Valley people can find adventure on the water.

The Payette River System offers world-class rafting and offers adventurers and families the choice of several different trails.

The main Payette has Class II and III rapids, as does the full day Cabarton stretch, both of which can be enjoyed by children.

For those looking for a race with more adrenaline, the South Fork of the Payette River offers two Class IV trails.

“We have a bit of everything, we have Class II or III whitewater that is great for families, great for relaxing and having fun on the river,” said Kenneth Long of Cascade Raft and Kayak. “We also have our Class IV stretch which is a lot more intense, it’s a lot more exciting.”

Guides to Rafting and waterfall kayaking prepare for summer well before the start of the season, because safety should be a priority on the river.

“All of the guides are in river rescue training, they do tons of laps on the stretch that they are going to be going so that they know that very well,” Long said. “Our Class IV guides have a minimum of five years experience.”

Bear Valley River Company also offers the same trails, we were unable to chat with their owner or senior guides as they were busy chopping down a tree to make the South Fork section of the Payette Canyon section safer.

We caught up with Bear Valley for their whitewater training a few years ago as they get ready for rafting season as well. Going with a shopping guide gives people the safest way to enjoy the river.

Since 2014, there have been 24 deaths on the Idaho rivers according to American white water, but only one of these events occurred on a commercial trip and it did not occur on the Payette River system.

Bear Valley also wants the public to know that all of its guides have been vaccinated and Cascade Raft and Kayak is looking forward to easing the COVID-19 restrictions they put in place a year ago.

“We found a lot of enthusiasm built up for rafting,” Long said. “Our phone is ringing, people are ready to go out and enjoy the Idaho summer.”

Both raft companies will provide the equipment to keep people safe and warm, they also have photographers who can capture this special family memory.

Other raft companies in the area include the Payette River Company, based in Lowman and specializing in the canyon section of South Fork.

Idaho unlimited whitewater is located in Garden Valley, they feature the four main trails plus a gentler section called Swirley Canyon.

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