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.
Known to many as the "Shadowy St. Joe," we have found a better name to be the "Surprising St.
Joe." While the waters are deep and calm where the river enters Lake Coeur d'Alene, the real wild ride awaiting
whitewater rafters is just 90 miles upstream. The narrow canyon walls restrict the river making big, exploding
waves. There are numerous rocks and holes to miss, so paddlers are kept on their toes and always ready to go.
After running a few rapids and taking a few splashes, we'll pull over for a bountiful riverside lunch. Then we'll
put on our PFD's again and head downstream for waves, holes, and more fun. Altogether we float between 12-
16 miles, depending on the water level.
The scenery along the way is stunning. Thick cedar forests line the river's banks. The water is crystal clear and
in the deep pools at the end of the rapids you can actually see trout swimming.
When to Go: We run the St. Joe from approximately June 4 thru July 5, depending on water levels. All
participants should be in good health and comfortable in water. The minimum age is 14, and 16 at high water.
We use 13' paddle rafts so everyone is a participant. Each raft has a professional, licensed guide and the order
of the day is FUN!
10:00 AM PDT: Meet at Gold Creek Campground, Avery, Idaho
11:00 AM: After a safety talk and demonstration you'll hit the river!
12:00-1:00 PM: You'll stop for lunch on the beach and then back to floating.
4:00-4:30 PM: Back to your vehicles.*
*Please note that due to the nature of the trip times may vary.
Our meeting location is now at the Gold Creek Campground on the St. Joe River. We will meet you at 10:00 am Pacific Time.
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.
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.)
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.)
Gold Creek Rd. is not maintained by the State of Montana; this road may be closed and inaccessible due to snow.
You may call the St. Regis Forest Service, (406)822-4233, to inquire about road conditions or call the ROW Main office, (208)770-2517.
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.)
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 (provided Gold Creek Rd. is open). This makes for an enjoyable trip without repeating the same driving route and takes about the same time.
The closest airports are in Spokane, WA and Missoula, MT.
When to Go: We run the St. Joe from early June through early July, depending on water levels. All participants should be in good health and comfortable in water. The minimum age is 16, ages 12-15 on approval after high water season. We use 13' paddle rafts so everyone is a participant. Each raft has a professional, licensed guide and the order of the day is FUN!
Your best bet in St. Regis is the Super 8 Motel. Reservations may be made by calling 1-800-848-8888 or their local number that is 406-649-2422. There is also a private campground in St. Regis called Campground St. Regis at 888-247-8734. If you’re up for a small drive, consider the Forest Grove Lodge in Superior. Their number is 406-822-6637.
You might also consider spending the night in Wallace and taking in the dinner theatre there. If you do this, there's a beautiful drive if you leave Wallace and go north to Pritchard, and then follow the Coeur d'Alene river road west to the freeway at Cataldo.
If you are looking for camping accomodations; there are too many to name in the St. Joe National Forest. They range from estabished camp grounds with pit toilets to dispersed camping.
You can find local weather here.
All rafting trips are active adventures that involve some level of physical exertion and possible exposure to the elements including but not limited to wind, rain, heat, sun, cold temperatures and cold water conditions. ROW Adventures is able to accommodate people with physical limitations, disabilities, and medical conditions; please speak with your Adventure Consultant if you think you will require any additional assistance while on the trip. We ask that you consult your doctor if you have health or medical conditions that could impact your ability to participate in an active and outdoor adventure. In general, all trip participants must be able to do the following:
- Wear all protective and safety equipment that is required by ROW Adventures and recommended/required by industry-wide standards.
- Load and unload, on their own or with the aid of a qualified companion, the bus and/or van providing transportation for ROW Adventures activities.
- Reach the river access points (put-in and take-out) on their own, or with the aid of a qualified companion.
- Enter and exit the raft, kayak and/or inflatable kayak on their own or with the aid of a qualified companion.
- Remain seated and balanced in a floating raft, canoe, kayak or inflatable kayak w/ the aid of adaptive equipment, if necessary.
- Perform all on water activities, including following instructions that like paddling commands from the guide in class I and higher whitewater on their own or with the assistance of a qualified companion.
- Float on their back when entering moving and still water. The participant must be capable of turning from face-down to face-up in the water with the aid of a Personal Floatation Device and must be able to hold their breath while underwater.
- Remain calm and keep breathing under control in the event of a whitewater swim.
- Get out from under a raft, whether the raft is up-right or capsized, in moving water.
- Climb into the raft, with the help of another person, should an involuntary swim happen at any point on the river.
- Make progress toward the shoreline or a raft by swimming in moving water and must be able to exit the river and ascend the shoreline once reached.
- Participate as an active paddler when instructed by the guide for the duration of the trip.
- Move about the campsite on their own or with the aid of a qualified companion on all trips that include overnight camping and/or lunch
Please read this carefully! ROW provides wetsuits, wetsuit booties, a fleece sweater and splash jacket for your comfort and safety. The wetsuits are Farmer Johns that have long legs but no sleeves. During hot weather, the Farmer John is worn alone. Synthetic socks could be worn under the booties on cold days. Cotton makes you colder when wet by wicking away heat from your body. Do not bring cotton on the
river! Please use our gear checklist to be sure you pack all you need.
This list is based on years of experience. Even if it is sunny at home when you leave, bring all this as the weather changes often in North Idaho and Western Montana. You will be able to leave extra clothing on our bus. Be sure all members of your group read this. Even on sunny days the water is cold, so you have to dress more warmly than you do for land activities.
- Swimsuit or non–cotton underwear to wear under the wetsuit
- Water bottle
- Running shorts/swimsuit to wear over wetsuit (optional). These keep you from sliding around on the raft and protect the wetsuit
- Sun hat/ball cap
- Towel/change of clothes for end of the day
For cool days and for people who tend to get cold easily:
- Synthetic socks
- Synthetic cap (like ski hat)
- Wool, synthetic, or wetsuit gloves
- Synthetic leggings/tights (worn under the wetsuit on cold days)
If you don't have any of these things, Army/Navy surplus and Outdoor stores are a good bet for synthetic and inexpensive wool gloves.
(If you have size 13 plus feet, please bring tennis shoes and wool socks, as our booties only go to size 13.)
Terms & Conditions
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