What Class Rapids are on the Lochsa River?
The Lochsa (Pronounced Lock-Saw), is Idaho’s most notorious whitewater day trip. Sometimes known as the Gauley of the West, it rivals the whitewater and excitement of all the most iconic rafting rivers in the world, including Cherry Creek of the Tuolmne and the Kaituna in New Zealand. Many people run a 12 mile section of the Lochsa, which includes the most dense section of whitewater, known as the Goat Range, or the Black Canyon of the Lochsa. Continuous Class III and IV rapids pack in the fun and excitement. This section starts with House rapid, known for its house sized waves, and a large black rock in the shape of a house, through Split Creek Rapid, home of the Toilet Bowl, and Car Crash holes. However, with a commercial outfitter, you can sign up for a 20 mile full day ride including more rapids such as the Class IV, 10 pin alley, one of the more technical rapids on the day trip stretch.
At ROW, we offer even more Lochsa fun and excitement. You can sign up for the “SUPER” Lochsa trip, which includes an extra 10 miles of rapids, and water levels allowing, we run the most difficult rapids on the Lochsa, including Triple Hole, Eagle Mountain, Lost Creek, and more! If one day simply isn’t enough for you, join us for a 2 or 3 day multi-day camping and whitewater trip on the mighty Lochsa!
Finding the Right Flow
People often ask, what is the best flow for rafting the Lochsa? While many people like to go at high water, the reality is that the Lochsa is packed full of excitement and great rapids at all water levels. In May and early June, the river is high, fast and cold, and full of adrenaline pumping fun. This time of year is best suited for fit and active participants who are ready to paddle non-stop all day long. Huge unpredictable waves make for exciting rapids with little space in between to rest. Flows typically range from 12,000 - 25,000 CFS (Cubic Feet Per Second) at this time of year, with each level offering a different, yet equally exciting experience.
In Mid-June, the water levels typically come down and flows range from 3000-12,000 CFS. For much of this time, we use smaller rafts which amp up the excitement level. The sun is more likely to shine this time of year and the rapids still have tons of fun to deliver. While there is more space between rapids, giving people a chance to rest, the features on the river get steeper and more well defined. This means plenty of raft-bashing, face soaking, waves and holes that can be enjoyed by all participants.
Regardless of the flow, the Lochsa has nearly countless Class III and IV rapids, sure to provide the whitewater entertainment you would expect. If you aren’t familiar with the rapid rating scale, you can read more here. The rating scale is well defined, but you will still find people disagreeing about the class of rapids regularly. This has a lot to do with boaters skill level and familiarity with a river, as well as how people perceive consequence, perhaps differently than the actual consequence. Boaters often even disagree about the name of rapids as whitewater history hasn’t always been well recorded. Below you can find our names and generally agreed upon rating ranges for the rapids on the Lochsa River.
Lochsa River Rapids
- COLD STORAGE - Class III
- JERRY JOHNSON - Class II+ - III
- COLGATE LICKS - Class II+ - III
- INDIAN GRAVE - Class II - III
*** WHITE PINE PUT-IN (SUPER 1-DAY) river mile 138.5 ***
- EYE OPENER - Class II+ - III+
- LOST CREEK - Class III+ - IV+
- UPPER EAGLE MOUNTAIN - Class III+ - IV
--- EAGLE MOUNTAIN BRIDGE ---
- LOWER EAGLE MOUNTAIN - Class III - IV
- FAKE ONNO'S HOLE - Class III - IV
- KEEP MOVING - Class III+ - IV
- STANLEY CREEK (VORTEX) - Class III - IV+
- GUIDE GETTER - Class III - IV
- MILE LONG - Class III+ - IV
- NO SWEAT - Class III - IV
- ONNO'S HOLE (LONE PINE) - Class III+ - IV
- HOLLY CREEK - Class III - IV
- CASTLE CREEK - Class III+ - IV
- TRIPLE HOLE - Class III + - IV
*** MILE MARKER 129 (1 DAY PUT-IN) ***
- INITIATION (ROW RAPID) - Class III - IV
- COUNTY CORONER - Class III+ - IV
- HARD CREEK - Class III+ - IV+
- LOG JAM - Class III+ - IV+
- PASS CREEK - Class II+ - III
- MILE 125 ½ - Class II + - IV
- NO-SEE-UM - Class II - IV
- TEN PIN ALLEY - Class III+ - IV+
- CHEESE GRATER - Class II - III
- WILDERNESS GATEWAY - Class III
- BOULDER CREEK - Class II - III+
- FISH CREEK Launch Site
- FISH CREEK RAPID - Class III+
- SANDY BEACH - Class III+
- THE TEETH - Class III+ - IV
- KILLER FANG FALLS - Class III - IV
- EEL CREEK - Class III - III+
- OTTER SLIDE - - Class III+ - IV
- BIG STEW (Morning Glory) - Class III+ - IV+
- HOUSE WAVE - Class III+ - IV
- BLOODY MARY - Class III - IV
- GRIM REAPER - Class III+ - IV+
- CLIFFSIDE - Class III - III+
- SHOESTRING FALLS - Class III - IV
- JONES'S WAVES - Class III - IV+
- HORSETAIL FALLS - Class III+ - IV
- PRELUDE - Class III - IV
- LOCHSA FALLS - Class III+ - IV+
- PICKIN’ UP THE PIECES - Class III - IV
- PIPELINE - Class III - IV
- OLD MAN - Class III+ - IV
- TERMINATION - Class III - IV
- LE MONSTER (HIGHWATER ONLY) - Class IV
- SPLIT CREEK - Class III+ - IV
--- SPLIT CREEK BRIDGE ---
- SURPRISE - Class III +
- COOLWATER CREEK Class II - III+
*** KNIFE EDGE TAKE OUT ***
- HELLGATE (IANS HOLE) - Class III-IV
- HANDY CREEK - Class III
ROW’s Favorite Rapids!
Hard Creek - Class III+ - IV+ : This rapid is full of huge waves and pushy laterals. Big splashes provide fun, while good paddling and expert guiding helps keep the boat on track and T’d up to those waves!
Ten Pin Alley - Class III+ - IV+ : The most technical rapid on the Classic 20 Mile Day Trip Stretch, huge rocks split the river allowing for many different fun lines such as the 7-10 Split, the Gun Sights, and the Gutter Ball.
Big Stew (It’s bigger than a normal stew) - Class III+ - IV+ : This rapid often provides, with a massive hit and a big splash near the bottom of the rapid.
House Wave - Class III+ - IV : The top wave of this rapid often launches rafts into the air giving front paddlers the momentary sensation of flying, then lots of big fun waves follow quickly behind.
Bloody Mary - Class III - IV: This super fun wave train always gets people smiling. When things line up, rafts soar up to the top of the Table Wave giving that true roller coster rafting experience.
Jones’ Wave - Class III - IV+ : A huge unpredictable wave keeps even the most experienced guides guessing.
Lochsa Falls - Class III+ - IV+: No matter how many times you run it, its always bigger and steeper than you remember. Don’t be fooled by the spectators cheering you on, they don’t have your best interest in mind.
Split Creek - Class III+ - IV: The last rapid of the goat range, this tricky rapid requires a tight maneuver between the Toilet Bowl and Car Crash holes. Try not to get sucked into the toilet bowl on your left, but avoid the violent car crash hole on the right. Get it just right, and it's smooth sailing over the waves.