St. Joe River Whitewater Rafting Trips
Portions of the St. Joe River in Idaho's Panhandle are protected by Congress through the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Protected in 1978, ROW Adventures pioneered the first whitewater rafting trip on the scenic St. Joe in 1986. Since then we've taken thousands of guests through the St. Joe's crystal clear waters and thick cedar forests. The Class II-III whitewater is ideally suited for beginners but exciting enough to thrill experienced rafters as well. The St. Joe's narrow canyon walls restrict the river to create big, exploding waves. In between rapids, as we float through this gorgeous Idaho mountain scenery, you can watch trout swimming in the emerald waters of the St. Joe.
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St. Joe Rafting Overview
Like liquid emerald, the waters of the St. Joe River caress moss-covered banks then explode into paddle-bashing Class III-IV whitewater fun between moss-covered, cedar-lined banks. In 1986 ROW became the first rafting company to offer trips on the St Joe River. Since then, this North Idaho gem has become a favorite whitewater rafting day trip for our guides and guests alike.
Locally, people refer to this river as the slow-moving "shadowy St. Joe," a fitting characterization for this river further downstream near Lake Coeur d' Alene. But ninety miles upstream, at the upper reaches of the river where our rafting trip begins, whitewater enthusiasts find a superb rafting day trip. Sections of the St. Joe have almost non-stop rapids, and the gin-clear water has a mystical, mesmerizing emerald hue.
We use paddle rafts on our St. Joe rafting trips so everyone gets involved in the fun. During high water flows, we use 14' self-bailing rafts on this whitewater rafting tour. As the water lowers, we switch to smaller 13' rafts in order to maximize the whitewater excitement. We usually see osprey, mergansers, and songbirds while floating through this remote wilderness canyon and, when we're lucky, we'll spot a moose, bear, or harlequin duck.
During and after the whitewater rafting season, ROW offers guided fly fishing trips on the St. Joe, a Blue Ribbon cutthroat trout stream. Combine a day of rafting with a day of fly fishing on the St. Joe for a great Idaho river trip.
Trips meet 3 1/4 hours from Spokane or 2 1/2 hours from Coeur d'Alene at Gold Creek Campground on the St. Joe River.
There are two ways you can drive to Gold Flat. Coming from Spokane or Coeur d’Alene. Either way takes about 2.5 to 3.5 hours depending on your starting point, how many stops you make, and how fast you drive.
1. Via I-90:
- Take I-90 east through Wallace, over Lookout Pass (Idaho/Montana border), and on to the St. Regis exit. Turn left at the end of the exit ramp.
- Go under the freeway to the stop sign.
- Turn left and pass the St. Regis Travel Center.
- Proceed about ½ mile to St. Regis St/Little Joe Road and turn left. Road #282.
- This will pass over I-90 and becomes a winding unpaved road that climbs to a summit that is the Montana/Idaho border. At the border the road becomes paved and you continue downhill on the Idaho side on FS Road #388. After about 30-40 minutes you will arrive at the St. Joe River. Be careful not to miss this turn! (If you miss this turn, you will come to Conrad Crossing Camping Area. Turn around and go back upstream.)
- There is a brown USFS sign pointing left to the Red Ives Ranger Station. Turn left and proceed about ½ mile to a large dirt flat on the right that has a vault toilet and perhaps some people camping. Meet the ROW Vehicle and guides here. (If you get to Simmons Creek, or Fly Flat, you went too far upstream.)
2. Via St. Maries.
Drive to St. Maries, Idaho
- Take the St. Joe River Road (FS Road #50) heading east along the St. Joe River. It is about 76 miles and 2 hours from St. Maries to our meeting point at Gold Creek Flat. You pass by Calder and Avery hamlets.
- About ½ mile, after you pass the Conrad Crossing camping area there will be a sign pointing to the right for Red Ives Ranger Station. Turn right and proceed about ½ mile to a large dirt flat on the right that has a vault toilet and perhaps some people camping. Meet the ROW Vehicle and guides here. (If you get to Simmons Creek, or Fly Flat, you went too far upstream.)
If you are driving from CdA/Spokane we would recommend you drive on I-90 in the morning via St. Regis and then return home via St. Maries since you will be about 10-12 miles downstream of the Gold Creek Road at the end of the day. This makes for an enjoyable trip without repeating the same driving route and takes about the same time.
Shuttle Logistics: Once we all meet and give a short orientation, we will take the drivers of vehicles downstream to our take-out point and return with them in our van. During this drive, others change into wetsuits and booties. When the drivers return, they change as well, and then we have a safety talk and start rafting. We stop for lunch along the way, usually at or near Conrad Crossing. At the end of the day, your cars are waiting at the take-out point.
Airports: The closest airports are in Spokane, WA and Missoula, MT.
ROW Inc., doing business as ROW Adventures is proud to be an Equal Opportunity recreation service provider. ROW Inc. operates under special use permit from the U.S. Forest Service in the Panhandle National Forest. All our operations and facilities are operated on a non-discriminatory basis.
Dates & Rates
The St. Joe season runs form June 4 - July 5, 2022.
- Daily Trips Sunday - Friday - $115/person*
- Saturday Trips - $135/person*
*Prices are plus 8% Land & Water Access Fees