There are a few great class IV whitewater runs in the world, and in the US, the three most famous are the Gauley in West Virginia, the Tuolumne in California and the Lochsa in Idaho. Of the three, the Lochsa has the most whitewater miles. While the Lochsa is legendary as one of the top whitewater day-trips in the world, fewer people know that there are over 60 miles of rapids and river canyon making the Lochsa great for two and three-day trips as well. No other river in the US offers so many class IV river miles as the two-day Lochsa river trip which covers close to 40 miles with almost non-stop whitewater action! The three-day trip adds another 15-20 miles with more moderate rapids making the perfect warm up for the wild whitewater that is downstream. ROW brings our camping expertise to the banks of the Lochsa providing you with comfortable riverside tents, delectable meals and campfire fun!
The season starts in early to mid-May and we run until July 10th or so, depending on the snowpack. The Lochsa is completely undammed and flows depending entirely on snowmelt and rain. Thus flows increase and decrease during the season. It's ranges from a fairly big volume 15,000-20,000 cfs to a low of around 1200 cfs. Rapids such as Log Jam, Mile Long, Stanley Creek, Triple Hole, Castle Creek, Ten Pin Alley, Grim Reaper, Bloody Mary, Surprise, Termination and Lochsa Falls are just some of the many that make for a thrilling whitewater rafting trip. We recommend paddlers have previous whitewater experience and come expecting to get very wet!
ROW provides wetsuits, wetsuit jackets, booties and helmets.
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Travel from your home to Syringa, Idaho
Enjoy an overnight at the River Dance Lodge - Idaho's Outdoor Adventure Resort. Log cabin and glamping tent accommodations, as well as camping, are available for an additional cost.
Meet ROW's Team Leader at the River Dance Lodge at your designated meeting time for a brief orientation meeting to answer any last-minute questions. About 45 minutes later you depart in our bus and travel to the rafting trip launch point. Along the way your guides will tell you a few stories about the area. Once at the river our staff prepares you with a thorough safety orientation. We launch on the river and enjoy rafting a few miles before stopping for a delicious riverside lunch.
Our three-day Lochsa adventures put-in near the confluence with White Sands Creek and the Crooked Fork. The first day is an intermediate whitewater day floating through a beautifully forested canyon of cedars and fir. The next day we continue downstream, running the same section of river as our two-day trips, which is an exciting day of big and technical whitewater with challenging moves.
On two-day trips we don't have a "warm up" day, so start off with big whitewater immediately! This is some of the most technically challenging whitewater to be found anywhere on the planet and requires your full attention and enthusiasm! Few rivers offer so much raft-bashing quality whitewater!
On both our two-day and three-day Lochsa whitewater rafting trips, we arrive at camp in the late afternoon. Carry your personal gear to the tent of your choice and enjoy the spectacular Rocky Mountain scenery. The first night on the three-day trip stays at a quiet camp on a bend in the river. On night two of the three-day trip, and the only camping night on the two-day trip, we stay on an amazing island with the rushing river on one side and gentle, quiet current on the other. Enjoy free time for hiking, fishing, reading or just relaxing. Hors d'oeuvres are served around 6:00 and dinner around 7:30. After dinner a campfire is lit and an evening of laughter and sharing begins making the perfect ending for a fantastic day of whitewater rafting.
We wake you around 7:30 AM with the smell of fresh-brewed coffee. Breakfast is served around 8:00 and while we clean up the kitchen you pack up your personal gear. The rafts are loaded and we depart from camp about 9:30 for an adventure-packed day of white water rafting with rapids, great Western scenery and fun. Our guides share stories as we raft. You learn about the thick forest and trees that surround the river as well as the forest fires that have ravaged this land in the past. You also learn about the Nez Perce, the original inhabitants of this rugged land.
If you are on the three-day trip, this is the technical whitewater day with rapids such as Stanley Creek, Castle Creek, Triple Hole and many, many more. This is heart-pounding whitewater that requires superb teamwork.
People on the two-day trip paddle the "Goat Range" on this day, with famous rapids such as Ten-Pin Alley, the Grim Reaper, Bloody Mary, Horsetail Falls, Otter Slide, Lochsa Falls, Termination and more. This section is less technical than the upper section, but has bigger waves and provides an amazing day of whitewater.
Folks on two-day trips get off the river between 3:30 and 5:00 PM and return to the River Dance Lodge while those on three-day trips continue with another night's camping on the river. After dinner and the evening campfire, watch for a glorious star-studded sky.
Day three of the three-day trip is the same as Day 2 of the two-day trip. It's a big day paddling through the Goat Range. Here are dozens of rapids including House Wave, Horsetail Falls, Bloody Mary, Pickin Up the Pieces and Termination. By the time the day is over you'll be grinning from ear to ear. Return to the River Dance Lodge at the end of the day. Overnight at this vacation resort, or begin your travels home.
Notes on 2 & 3 Day Trips:
3-Day Trips: We raft about 60 miles of the Lochsa. Generally, on 3-day trips, we begin near the headwaters of the Lochsa, where Crooked and White Sand creeks meet. These trips begin on gentle waters, allowing us to practice our paddling skills and learn the ways of the river. The next two days are filled with one exploding rapid after another. If the water gets too low to float the furthest upstream section of river, then we begin our 3-day trips at the same place as our 2-day trips. Then, on the 3rd day, we repeat the 2nd day since this section has the wildest rapids. People love it. Mile for mile, the Lochsa is unequaled for whitewater excitement.
Whitewater is only one of the many attractions of the Lochsa. Our camps are set amidst cedar forests in a deep, thickly forested canyon. We may enjoy sightings of eagles and osprey as well as numerous other birds. Moss-covered rocks, star-lit nights and evening campfires are but a few of the reasons we strongly encourage you to join us for a 3-day trip in this enchanting land.
2-Day Trips: cover the same section of river as the last 2 days of the 3-day trip, and include one night of camping on the ROW Island. This is a great 2-day getaway featuring 40 miles of fun-filled and action-packed whitewater!
The Lochsa parallels Highway 12, allowing us to transport your gear between camps in our van. It is also the reason we can offer 2 and 3-day trips at a lower price than other trips of comparable length. You may also choose a lodge-based 2 or 3-day trip where you stay at River Dance Lodge instead of camping on the river. All overnight trips include all meals starting with lunch on Day One and ending with lunch on the last day.
Dates & Rates
After much deliberation and consideration regarding the unique challenges of operating paddle rafts on a class IV river like the Lochsa, including the issue of maintaining social distancing for the safety of our guests and guides, we've come to the difficult decision to postpone our Lochsa trips until 2021.
2- and 3-day trips are available between May 15 and June 28, 2020. These are booked on a space-available basis instead of specific launch dates. Trips require a minimum of 10 guests to confirm a departure.
2-Day Rafting/Camping Tours
- Monday to Thursday departures - $385 per person
- Friday, Saturday or Sunday departures - $435 per person
3-Day Rafting/Camping Tours
- Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday departures - $645 per person
- Friday, Saturday or Sunday departures - $695 per person
- Full service of our Adventure Consultants
- All rafting equipment - including wetsuits, splash jackets, booties, helmets and PFD's
- All camping equipment - including tents, sleeping bags, mats, pillows, etc.
- All meals from lunch on day 1 through lunch on day 2 or 3 (depending on the length of trip booked)
- Accommodations before or after your rafting tour
- Transportation to and from Syringa
- All rates are plus an 8% Land and Water Access Fee
- Personal items
FAQ & More
ROW is the longest-operating outfitter on the Lochsa River, and has been running trips on the Lochsa since 1984, and as a company, has been in business since 1979. ROW Adventures is a seven-time National Geographic award-winning company. We haven't only been "operating" since 1979, we've never changed ownership!
We offer full day, two-day and three-day whitewater rafting adventures on the Lochsa. We generally cover about18-20 miles per day. As rivers go, this is a lot of miles.
Please see our 1-day Lochsa page for dates and rates for our day trips.
The Lochsa is considered one of the premier class IV rivers in the United States. We recommend that people have previous whitewater rafting experience on at least class III rivers before running the Lochsa (see our whitewater classificaton guide for more information on river classifications). You will enjoy your time on the river more if you have had previous experience that gives you an idea of what to expect. Note that at higher water flows the minimum age requirement is 16 and at medium to lower flows it is 15 years old. We reserve the right to refuse to take anyone that we think is an unreasonable risk.
The Lochsa is a unique river because it offers both a steep gradient, dropping 20-40 feet per mile, and at certain times, a fairly large volume of water. Ideal flows for running the river are from about 2500 to 14,000 cfs (Cubic Feet Per Second). However we run the river as high as around 18,000 cfs and as low as around 1200 cfs. At medium to higher flows more rocks are covered and the waves tend to be bigger with more punch. At medium-low to low flows there are more rocks to avoid and the technical nature of the river is more challenging. It’s an ever-changing and living river and we recommend you come experience it at various water levels to understand how magnificent the Lochsa really is! Few other rivers offer so much continuous whitewater!
This depends on what you’re looking for. Because the Lochsa is a free-flowing river, flows depend on air temperature, how much snow is in the mountains, whether it’s raining or not, and many other variables. We sometimes have to cancel trips, or substitute another section of river if the Lochsa gets too high.
Generally, the highest water is from May 25-June 5. Our favorite time is from about June 8 to June 30 when weather is generally warmer and so is the water! Medium to lower flows make for a very exciting whitewater trip on the Lochsa.
The Lochsa is a free-flowing river and water levels are dependent on snowpack in the mountains. Some years there is more snow than others. We usually start around Mother’s Day in May and go until around July 8th. Contact our office for this year’s conditions.
During May and the first couple weeks of June water temperatures vary from about 50-58 degrees Fahrenheit. So yes, the water is cold! From mid-June until we stop running in July, the water warms up based on how many hot sunny days there are. By early July it can be in the low 60’s.
Yes – we provide wetsuits (long legs and no sleeve type called “Farmer Johns”) and during colder days we also provide a wetsuit jacket. In addition, we provide wetsuit booties, helmets and fleece helmet liners.
We have the best overnight camps on the river. The camp we use for the first night of three day trips is located on a quiet bend of the river. Our Mile 121 Island Camp is used for night two of three day trips and on our two-day trips and is a spectacular island with rushing water on one side, and a quiet channel on the other. It’s a special place that our guests love. It’s also possible to base from our own River Dance Lodge and go out on day trips on the Lochsa, returning to your cabin and hot tub each night!
We maintain a fleet of both 16’ self-bailing rafts that we run as oar-assisted paddle rafts at higher water flows and a fleet of smaller 14’ paddle rafts that we use at medium to low flows. This guarantees you the best possible experience depending on the water level.
Meet us at our own River Dance Lodge located on the Middle Fork of the Clearwater River just downstream from the confluence with the Lochsa and Selway, who join together to form the Middle Fork of the Clearwater.
Our guides not only know the rapids, they know the natural and cultural history of the area and will make your time with us more intriguing and educational through their stories and the sharing of their knowledge. The whitewater is fantastic, but so is the natural history of the forest and the cultural history of the area which is the original home of the Nez Perce.
On our camping trips, we set up a full camp including your tent and a complete kitchen with tables and chairs.
The quality of our food reflects the quality of the river canyons. Sustainably harvested wild Alaskan Salmon served with a fresh garden salad; steaks combined with a Chilean salad and Idaho mashed potatoes or made-on-the-river Lasagna are a few possible entrees. Desserts are made each evening in our Dutch ovens and range from authentic cobbler and pineapple upside-down cake. We serve juice and coffee each morning and moderate amounts of wine and beer with dinner.
ROW Adventures will happily accommodate food allergies or dietary needs with advance notice by completing the trip application.
We staff our trips with one guide for every six guests providing you the ultimate in personal attention.
We operate following the best in "sustainable" or "eco" travel ethics including Leave No Trace camping and many other best practices that are sometimes forgotten about in the world of travel.
ROW Adventures is a strong advocate for wild rivers. We support many river conservation groups with both time and money. We also encourage our guests to help. When you receive your invoice from us, you will find a $2 per person per day voluntary donation included. For our Lochsa River trips this money goes to Idaho Rivers United and American Rivers. Both are superb non-profit conservation groups working to protect wild rivers, fish and clean water for the communities that depend on them. If you choose not to donate simply delete this item from your invoice when you remit payment. Our trips support many other local businesses including fuel companies, food purveyors, local retailers and more. This means our trips and the money you pay for them has a significant impact to our local area. Our trips offer an excellent opportunity for our guests to interact with locals, providing a cultural element that allows you to learn more about the American West. One of our core values is respecting the Earth and we practice this throughout our operation. At our office we work to minimize our footprint through wise energy use and practicing the four R's - recycling, reducing, re-purposing and reusing.
Probably not. We prefer people with previous rafting experience on the Lochsa. Of all the rivers where we run 1-day trips, the chances of falling out of a raft are higher on the Lochsa than any other river. We want your first rafting experience to be a positive one. If you fall out and find out that you're terrified, you may not want to go rafting ever again. It's better to gain experience on an easier river where you're more likely to stay in the raft all day! Here's another way to think of it. Say you had never tasted wine in your life. Someone pours you a 20-year old French Bordeaux. With no point of comparison, the excellence of this wine would likely not be appreciated. Think of the Lochsa as the French Bordeaux. Better to learn more about whitewater on other rivers so you truly appreciate the Class IV power and excitement of the Lochsa's rapids.
Generally yes. Everyone wears a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) and this is a more important tool than knowing how to swim. However, often people who swim are more comfortable in water and the idea of falling out of a raft. Your best choices would be an easier river like the Spokane, Lower Deschutes or Clark Fork
We've taken tens of thousands of people on our trips lasting from 1 to 6 days over the past 40+ years. We do our best to mitigate the natural risks of rafting. However we are human and nature can create difficult conditions. People fall out of rafts, rafts can turn over, people can accidentally hit another person in the raft with a paddle. In the end however, outdoor adventures such as rafting are inherently risky, thus accidents can and do happen.
Rivers are rated by the difficulty of their rapids, with Class I-II being easier than Class III (Intermediate) or Class IV (advanced). However bear in mind that the "most exciting" trip may not be the one appropriate for you. Previous rafting experience, water temperature and the age of those in your party determine which trips are appropriate for you. To help you decide, here's a list of rivers along with their season, water temperature and rapid classification from easiest to most difficult. (To learn more about rapid classifications, visit our Understanding Whitewater Classifications blog.
- Spokane River - Mostly class II, but some challenging Class III+ at certain levels in late May and June. Cold water in May/June then a warm-water gentle float trip in later July/August.
- Clark Fork - Class II-III with warmer (62-68 degree) temperatures in July and August
- Lower Deschutes - Class II-III+ with warmer (60-66 degree) temperatures in July-September
- Moyie River - Class III-III+ cold (48-58 degree) water in May/June
- St. Joe River - Class III-III+ cold (50-60 degree) water in May/June
- Lochsa River - Class IV - IV+ cold (45 degree) water in May/early June and cool (55-63 degree) in late June/early July