The Bruneau River in southern Idaho is among the most spectacular desert rivers in the United States. Whitewater rafting connoisseurs looking for a remote wilderness river trip will find few that compare with the Bruneau River. From mellow Class II whitewater to raging Class V, each section on the Bruneau River is unique. ROW's 40-mile Bruneau trip is an incredible Idaho adventure with exciting whitewater, desert canyon scenery, and diverse wildlife and plant life.

For a longer and more exciting adventure, you can combine a Bruneau raft trip with the narrow and fast-moving whitewater of the Jarbidge River. Both the Bruneau and Jarbidge are early season rivers with limited departures.

Fast-flowing and narrow, with action-packed rapids requiring quick responses, we run small rafts on this stunning desert canyon river.

Bruneau and Jarbidge River Trip

Flowing through dramatic sheer-walled canyons, the remote Bruneau River is among the world's best-kept whitewater rafting secrets. Undammed and free-flowing, the Bruneau is only raftable during the spring snowmelt from April to mid-June. Secluded and impressive, technical and incredible, the Bruneau is one of the nation's finest desert rivers, and one of the most exciting whitewater trips we offer.

Whitewater permits for the Bruneau are strictly controlled and ROW operates just three rafting trips per year on this isolated river. Jarbidge/Bruneau Whitewater Combo trips are available by request. The Jarbidge River is a 29-mile stretch of narrow and technical whitewater that adds a lot of excitement to a Bruneau trip and shortens our trip shuttle times, but it also makes a more expedition-style trip. The tight corridors of the Jarbidge require light rafts and a portage around Jarbidge Falls, so we provide fewer creature comforts on a combination trip.

Newly designated a Wild & Scenic River by President Obama on March 31, 2009, the Jarbidge and Bruneau Rivers are truly national treasures.

The whitewater experience on these rivers is as diverse as the flora and fauna growing on the neighboring canyon hillsides. Intermediate Class II rapids and raging Class IV's keep our guests hooting and hollering when they're not busy marveling at the desert canyon's incredible kaleidoscope of life.

Wildflowers, birds, reptiles, beaver, otter, coyote, antelope, and bighorn sheep are common on the Bruneau. Campsites are set on sandy beaches among twisted juniper trees and sagebrush. And as your guides prepare the evening meal, you may want to hike up a canyon draw for sweeping views and a chance to glimpse some of the area's wildlife. After dinner, we'll sit beside the glowing embers of a campfire and admire the pinnacles of rock silhouetted against the fading evening sun.

For the nature lover and river connoisseur, whitewater rafting on the Bruneau River is a dream come true. In May the desert is in full bloom and dozens of plants are flowering, making the canyon a rainbow of color.

 

Images & Videos

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Bruneau River in Idaho
bruneau river rafting tour
river camp along the bruneau river
people overlooking the bruneau river
rafts floating on the bruneau river
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Itinerary

bruneau river map
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Day 0

Travel from your home to Boise, Idaho and meet ROW’s Team Leader at the local hotel at 7:00 PM Mountain Time for a one hour orientation meeting to answer any last-minute questions and give you your waterproof bags to pack.
 

Day 1

Depart at 7:30 AM in our bus or van for a trip to the launch point. For our Bruneau trips, this is a solid four-hour drive, or more, depending on the conditions on the remote dirt roads. Once at the river our staff prepares you with a thorough safety orientation while the personal gear is loaded. We launch on the river and enjoy rafting a few miles before stopping for a delicious riverside lunch. In general, we travel between six and 12 miles the first day. Around 4:00 PM we arrive at camp. These trips are much more participatory than some of our other rafting trips and everyone helps set up camp and tents. Once that’s done, 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 camp is lit and an evening of laughter and sharing begins.

Day 2

We wake you around 7:00 AM with the smell of fresh-brewed coffee. Breakfast is served around 7:30 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 and amazing scenery. For those interested in the history of the area, we might stop and visit an Indian rock art site left by the original inhabitants of this rugged land. We stop for lunch and continue in the afternoon with alternating calm water and rapids. We arrive at camp late afternoon and settle in for an evening of fun, food and later on, star-gazing into the dark desert skies.

Day 3

Today your river adventure takes you through more breathtaking canyons jutting upwards into the cobalt sky. These desert rivers flow through canyons of rhyolite which were formed when volcanic ash exploded in vast quantity and settled over the land millions of years ago. Then the rivers carved their way through it.

At camp this evening our guides may set up horseshoes or guide a hike. We'll refuel with a nutritious meal and the night sky and fresh mountain air will help you sleep like a baby.

Day 4

We pass a few old homesteads along the way, from those days when this “middle of nowhere” was no more so than other unsettled areas of the west. This is the big whitewater day with “Five-Mile Rapid.” Another evening of camping under the star-studded sky.
 

Day 5

More rapids, soaring eagles, and incredible scenery. We may see some playful river otter swimming and frolicking or a coyote running along the river’s edge. Today we enjoy our last riverside lunch with a big smile for the group photo. Then, around 1:30 PM or so we reach our take-out and return to Boise. We typically arrive back in Boise by 3:00 PM.  Most guests will overnight in Boise at a local hotel. The next morning you can continue your travels or begin your journey home. If you drove to Boise your car is patiently waiting for you. If you are flying, take the hotel shuttle 5 minutes to the Boise airport.

Day

ROW. Inc. is proud to be an Equal Opportunity recreation service provider under special use permit from the Boise and Vale Districts of the Bureau of Land Management.  

Dates & Rates

DatesAdult (USD)Child (USD) 
May 30, 2021 to Jun 03, 2021
Bruneau 5 Day
$1,680£0€0$0$0$1,680£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
Jun 06, 2021 to Jun 10, 2021
Bruneau 5 Day
$1,680£0€0$0$0$1,680£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
Jun 13, 2021 to Jun 17, 2021
Bruneau 5 Day
$1,680£0€0$0$0$1,680£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW

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FAQ & More

Why go with ROW on the Bruneau and Jarbidge River?

Experience & Awards
ROW Adventures is a seven-time National Geographic award-winning company. We haven't only been "operating" since 1979, we've never changed ownership!

Responsible Travel Ethics
We operate following the best in "responsible" or "eco" travel ethics including Leave No Trace camping and many other best practices that are sometimes forgotten about in the world of travel.

Rich Itinerary
Our itinerary is designed to visit many different points of interest, taking advantage of rock art sites, pioneer homesteads, and natural wonders in the river canyon.

Luxury Camping
Our luxury-style camping includes all camping gear such as tents, sleeping bags and thick, self-inflating mattresses. All rafting gear is also included to make things easy for you.

Guides Like No Others
Your trip is enriched by knowledgeable guides who share the canyon's cultural and natural history. No other company trains guides like we do, and most of our guides are also Certified Interpretive Guides through the National Association for Interpretation.

Carefully Orchestrated
Our guides are divided into a "guest crew" and a "kitchen crew." While the kitchen crew prepares dinner, our guest crew is available to spend time with you, lead a hike, show you how to cast a fishing line or simply sit in the shade and visit. This is a fundamental distinction between us and others.

Sharing Our Passion
Guides join you at all meals, sharing conversation and laughter at meal times and around the campfire.

All-inclusive
Complimentary beer, wine, juice and soda, all in moderate quantities, is provided. We are proud to serve fine local Northwest wines. We always have plenty of ice!

Your Security First
We carry satellite telephones on all trips - for emergency use only.

Local Support
Our trips support local hotels, on our farewell dinner we eat in a local restaurant, we hire local guides and buy all our trip provisions and food in local communities. 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.

When is the best time to go?

Our Bruneau River Whitewater Rafting Trips generally run in May and early June. Since spring is a time when weather systems tend to be less stable than in the summer, temperature ranges can be extreme, with the possibility of snow flurries and a 95-degree sun in the same day.

Our detailed packing list will tell you what you need to bring to be properly prepared. Because of the unpredictable weather and water levels, we ask that everyone who signs up for these trips be flexible and come prepared for all kinds of weather. Both high and low water can happen. In low water, we can usually run, but it might require running lighter rafts with fewer amenities. With unpredictable water levels, we ask that you be willing to transfer to the Snake River in Hells Canyon should the need arise. Our goal is always to raft the Bruneau River and you can bet we'll do everything in our power to run the trip as scheduled. If we do have to change, it won't change your logistics any, since we will still meet and end in Boise.

What are typical meals on the river?

The quality of our food reflects the quality of the wilderness environment. We handselect the freshest fruits and vegetables we can find and pack them carefully in huge ice-coolers. Likewise, these coolers carry fresh dairy products and meats. From these ingredients we prepare bountiful, healthy meals. Sustainably harvested wild Alaskan Salmon served with a fresh garden salad; Prime Rib combined with a fresh Chilean salad and Idaho mashed potatoes or made-on-the-river lasagna is a few possible entrees. Big salads of vegetables and fruit add color and variety to every meal. Desserts are made each evening in our Dutch ovens and range from authentic cobbler and pineapple upside-down cake. We serve juice each morning and moderate amounts of bottled wine with dinner. We also provide two beers and two sodas or juices per person per day. There's always plenty of cold water, lemonade mix, tea, coffee and cocoa. You're welcome to bring your own beverages or alcohol as well. We always have plenty of ice to keep your drinks cold.

What type of watercraft do you use?

On these trips we offer smaller 14 ft paddle and oar rafts. in the paddle rafts four to six people paddle while a guide steers. Most people prefer the excitement of paddling but if you prefer you can ride in the oar raft. In the oar rafts two to three people sit on a bench seat while the guide does all the rowing.

Who guides your trips?

On any river trip, the guides are the most important factor for your safety, enjoyment, and the success of the trip. ROW guides are exceptional people with years of river experience. We maintain a tobacco-free policy and most of our guides have taken interpretation courses from certified instructors. We look for guides who are willing and eager to share, teach, listen, learn, laugh, play, discuss, and, above all, work hard to provide a safe, relaxed and spontaneous adventure. Guides show you the way to a nearby hot spring, give a fly-fishing lesson, or just to sit and visit with the group. Our guides are the main reason many of our guests return to ROW time and time again. (References gladly provided.)

How fit do I need to be?

The level of fitness required depends on the river you choose. On ROW's trips lasting three or more days, you have a choice of craft. Oar-powered rafts are those where the guide rows and you simply relax (or hold on in the rapids) and these require very little effort. Paddle rafts and duckies require more effort as you will have a paddle in your hands and will be paddling during the rapids. You should be reasonably healthy, and must be able to fit into the PFD we provide. (Any person weighing more than 260 pounds, or having a chest size greater than 52" should contact our office before signing up for any trip.) On some of our more challenging rivers where unintentional swimming, long hiking or high elevations are a possibility, a higher level of fitness is advised. Always discuss with our staff if you're unsure what's acceptable for you. If you're still in doubt about your ability to go rafting, or your fitness, check with your doctor before you go. While many trips require little physical fitness, being in good shape will enhance your vacation.

What is riverside camping like?

Forget those images of leaky tents and camp food out of a can. You’ll be amazed how comfortable camping can be when done the ROW way. On trips with 13 or more guests, we use a large 22-foot cargo raft to carry the bulk of the camping gear, food, etc. This allows our smaller oar-powered rafts to be lighter and more maneuverable.

 

The cargo raft, along with two- support crew, arrives at camp ahead of the group and gets the kitchen set up including dining tables and chairs. The crew also sets up the spacious two-person tents that ROW provides. When we arrive at camp all you have to do is carry your personal gear (stored in a ROW-provided easy-to-use waterproof bag) to the tent of your choice and roll out your sleeping bag, flannel liner, and thick, self-inflating foam sleeping pad (also provided by ROW). This gives you an extra half-hour of time for doing something you'd enjoy rather than setting up a tent. (Note: In rare circumstances, we may have a trip with less than 13 guests. In this case, due to economic and logistical reasons, we may not run our cargo raft. On these smaller trips guests and gear travel together down the river. Our guides are still happy to set up your tent if you like or you may enjoy doing it yourself.)   

ROW is firmly committed to the responsible stewardship of the rivers we run and the earth at large. In our office, at our warehouses, and on the river, we abide by the 3 R's - Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. On the river, we take every possible precaution to minimize our impact. Everything we carry in, we carry out. We build our fires in metal fire pans and carry out the ashes.

What gear do I need?

ROW makes this easy... You bring the clothes you want to wear at camp and on the river. Then, once you make a reservation ROW will send you a complete packing list. ROW provides the camping equipment, food, and beverages.

What about bathing and toilets and feminine hygiene?

On many of our summer trips, frequent swimming leaves you feeling clean. For those who want to soap up, we always do so well above the river's high water line (not even "bio-degradable" soap goes in the river). We also take sun-showers on many of our trips and the hot water is great for shampooing and taking a sponge bath. Buckets of river water help with the process.

At each camp we set up a special, private tent with a portable toilet inside, which works just like yours at home, without the flush. This is available from the time we get to camp until we leave the next morning. The views from our toilet locations are simply inspiring. Nearby we set up a handwashing system. During the day, liquid waste goes in the river by simply wading into the water or going for a swim. A day-use toilet is available too for solid waste. If you have any other questions or concerns please call our adventure consultants.

For feminine hygiene, come prepared with some small zip-lock bags. These are useful for disposal during the day while on the river and can be put into our trash containers at camp. Along with our toilet supplies, ROW will have extra pads and tampons available. Using portable toilets allows us to carry out all human waste.

I can't swim. Can I still go rafting?

Yes! Everyone on a ROW trip wears a Coast Guard-approved PFD (personal flotation device). These are designed to keep you afloat in the event that you find yourself in the river. Many non-swimmers go on rafting trips and they have a great time. It is more important that you are not afraid of the water. Non-swimmers should not go on class IV+ or class V trips. Please call us if you have any concerns about this.

Is rafting dangerous?

Wilderness travel and whitewater rafting have inherent risks and ROW does a number of things to manage these risks. It begins when you first contact us. We'll help you select a trip that matches your experience and abilities. On the river you will find that our guides are carefully chosen, skilled professionals with the appropriate training and experience. We use the best available equipment and give a thorough safety briefing prior to all departures. If you're nervous about whitewater, you might want to start off on our Missouri River canoe trip along the Lewis and Clark Trail in Montana or a milder whitewater trip such as the Grande Ronde.

What if there is an accident during my trip?

All our guides are certified in first aid and river rescue. Many have had advanced training specific to the wilderness environment in which we operate and are certified as Wilderness First Responders or Emergency Medical Technicians. Thus we are able to cope with most on-river accidents. If in our judgment, evacuation is deemed necessary we have several options depending on weather and our location. Sometimes we are near remote ranches or roads that we can use to evacuate. We carry a satellite telephone along with a GPS on trips lasting three or more days. (Cell phones don't work in the remote areas where we travel.) We can use these to contact emergency transport, including helicopters. Evacuation, if needed, can take from as little as a couple of hours to as many as 24 hours, or in extreme cases, longer than this depending on the situation, weather and location.

What are my chances of falling out of the boat?

What should I do if I fall out of the boat? Before you go on any trip you'll be given extensive instructions on what to do if you fall in and how to float in the river. Believe it or not, many people love falling out of the boat. It's exciting. But it can be disorienting and a little overwhelming at first. Many people have taken multiple trips and never fallen in. Some people fall out on their first trip. Follow your guide's instructions and your "swim" could be the most exciting part of your trip!

What does ROW provide?

Full course meals from lunch the first day through lunch the last day. Trips lasting four or more days, except lodge-based trips, include a post-trip dinner as well. One-day trips include lunch only. Professional river equipment including rafts and their accessories, Coast Guard-approved life jackets, waterproof bags for personal gear, waterproof boxes for cameras, sleeping bags, sleeping bag liners, pillows, thick foam self-inflating mattresses, tents and ground cloths. Wetsuits and booties are provided on all cold water trips in May and June. Also, transportation to and from the river from a designated meeting place as indicated on the trips schedule. Prior to your trip, we'll send you a complete packing list of appropriate clothing and optional items such as cameras, water bottles, etc. 

Does ROW provide beverages?

It's important to drink plenty when you're outdoors so ROW provides fresh drinking water at all times. In camp, there's also juice, herbal tea, black tea, coffee, and cocoa. We provide two complimentary sodas and two beers per person, per day and complimentary wine with dinner. If you wish to bring more sodas, beer, or other alcoholic drinks to enjoy in the evening, bring them along. We'll have cocktail ice.

Can I fish from the rafts?

If you're riding in an oar-powered raft on one of our multi-day trips then you can fish between the rapids during the day. We also offer special fishing trips.

Can I bring my camera or phone?

Absolutely!  You will want to capture the stunning scenery. A waterproof camera with extra batteries and a memory card is highly recommended.   While many guests use their smartphones, please realize you will not have cell service or power source for charging and we highly recommend a waterproof case.  Portable power banks are a great source for recharging.

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