Lochsa River Rafting

Few whitewater rafting trips anywhere on earth offer as much continuous, explosive whitewater as Idaho's Lochsa River* (pronounced Lock-Saw). This one to three-day rafting trip is big white water that satisfies the appetite for thrills for intermediate and expert rafters. Some rivers are big and slow while others are fast and technical. The Lochsa combines the best of both – it’s fast, technical and has a big volume of water. This makes for raft-smashing waves, big hydraulics and holes, and paddler-bashing excitement. Add supreme Idaho mountain scenery, talented guides, and great service and you have the best whitewater rafting trips on the Lochsa River available.

From the New York Times, "The Last Wilderness" July 1, 2007

"The three rivers in the Route 12 corridor are designated Wild and Scenic, a federal protection, and they live up to the name. The Lochsa, which means Rough Water in the Nez Perce language, is ferocious and explosive white water, for hard-core rafters. The major stretch has more than 40 significant rapids. By that I mean, bumps with names, bumps that are the focus of many a rafter's dreams. One night in May over dinner at a river rat hangout, (River Dance Lodge in Syringa, Idaho) a couple of guides showed me photos from a busy day on the Lochsa. Every frame was solid froth, with a bouncing raft in the middle of it. "

From its headwaters in the Bitterroot Mountains to its confluence with the Selway and Clearwater rivers, the Lochsa River pounds and churns through more than 40 major rapids. The Grim Reaper, Bloody Mary, Ten Pin Alley, Mile Long, and the incomparable Lochsa Falls are just a sampling of rapid names on this exciting whitewater river trip. The white water rapids on the Lochsa are exceptionally long and frequent. Our ROW Adventures guides have guided around the world but for most the Lochsa remains their favorite heart-pounding whitewater trip! Every spring they return to be on the mighty Lochsa and share the fun.

The Lochsa River is free-flowing and rafting trips begin as the winter snow begins to melt. Rafting season on the Lochsa begins in early May and goes until the water gets too low for rafting, typically mid-July to early August.

Because there are no dams to artificially control the flow of the river, the river’s flow follows a bell curve, starting out low in the early spring, reaching its peak in late spring and then gradually dropping into the summer. It all begins sometime in April as warmer spring days start to melt the high-mountain snow. This brings the river level up and the Lochsa season begins. By mid-May temperatures are warmer than they were in April and consequently, more snow melts. This brings the river’s level up higher. May 15 to June 15 is generally the time of peak flows on the Lochsa. After June 15th the river levels begin to gradually taper off. Bear in mind that every year is different and flows depending on how much snow is in the mountains and whether or not we have a cool, wet spring or a warm, dry spring. There are many variables that make any exact predictions impossible. But over the decades that we’ve been running the Lochsa, peak flows are usually from May 15 to June 15.

Does this mean that this is the “best” time to run the Lochsa? Not necessarily. The answer depends on what you are looking for. Those with previous rafting experience who are seeking maximum thrills will want to join us during this high water season. Others may prefer those times when the river is somewhat lower, the weather is warmer and the technical challenges of the river increase. After mid-June, as the water drops, more and more rocks and boulders become exposed creating some of the most challenging technical whitewater rafting in the country. It requires extra finesse and skill to guide the rapids at this time of year. Temperatures also increase warming the water and making for beautiful summer rafting days. As we approach early July the river becomes even more technical. We run the Lochsa every year as long as we can and this will vary, depending on the winter snows and spring weather. In general, we go until about July 10th. Some years we have to stop earlier and on other years we’ve run until July 20th or so. Even at lower flows, the Lochsa knocks the socks off most other rivers in terms of exciting whitewater.

Note that we have minimum age recommendations. If you are a family with teenagers, join us after June 15th when the river isn’t quite so big and the weather is warmer. You’ll still find this to be one of the most exciting whitewater trips in the world!

The Lochsa River was one of the original six rivers protected by the U.S. Congress in 1968 as part of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, in part because it is one of the world's greatest whitewater trips. If you've ever rafted West Virginia's Gauley or California's Tuolumne, compare these to the Lochsa and you'll find a new pinnacle of whitewater rafting excitement.

Lochsa whitewater rafting adventures begin and end at the River Dance Lodge, Idaho's Outdoor Adventure Resort. Situated along the banks of the Clearwater River and surrounded by spectacular Rocky Mountain scenery, the River Dance Lodge is the perfect all-inclusive vacation resort if you're looking for a weekend getaway to go with your Lochsa whitewater trip. Package pricing is available.

 

 


Permits & Licenses:

ROW Inc., doing business as ROW Adventures, is proud to be an Equal Opportunity recreation service provider under permit from the U.S. Forest Service.  We operate under special use permit from the Clearwater National Forest.  All our operations and facilities are operated on a non-discriminatory basis.  ROW Inc. is bonded and fully licensed by the State of Idaho Outfitters and Guides Licensing Board.

Lochsa River Rafting - Rated 5/5 based on 17 reviews

Images & Videos

Lochsa River Rafting Idaho
Idaho's Lochsa River
River Dance Lodge Idaho
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whitewater raft on the lochsa river
Rafting group on the lochsa river
Idaho adventure lodge
red raft on lochsa river
Lochsa River Rafting Idaho
Idaho's Lochsa River
River Dance Lodge Idaho
whitewater rafting idaho
whitewater raft on the lochsa river
Rafting group on the lochsa river
Idaho adventure lodge
red raft on lochsa river

Itinerary

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Day 1

Choose a 1-day 20-mile trip, a Super 1-Day 30-mile trip or a 2-3 day adventure. Join ROW Adventures, the most experienced outfitter on the Lochsa for the best whitewater on earth!

  • Only outfitter who offers cabins with private hot tubs! (River Dance Lodge)
  • Only outfitter who has glamping tents!
  • No other Lochsa company has more knowledgable guides ready to share their stories of the regions natural and cultural history.
  • Hands down, best lunch on the river!
  • Superb gear to keep you warmer.
  • We are the longest-operating company on the Lochsa under the same ownership.
  • We are the FUN rafting company...why would you go with anyone else?

There are only a few outfitters who raft the Lochsa River. Be confident in our unmatched history, expertise, and quality. The season is short, so call today! 208-770-2517

ROW is proud to be an Equal Opportunity recreation service provider under permit from the U.S. Forest Service. We operate under special use permit from the Clearwater National Forest. All our operations and facilities are operated on a non-discriminatory basis.  ROW is bonded and fully licensed by the states of Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. We are members of America Outdoors, Idaho Outfitters and Guides Assn., Montana Outfitters and Guides Assn., National Association of Interpretation; Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation and many other effective organizations.  

MEALS INCLUDED : L

Dates & Rates

Supplementary Information

1-Day - Weekdays
Departures: Daily May 14 thru June 30
Adult Price: $125

1-Day - Saturday / Sunday
Departures: Daily May 14 thru June 30
Adult Price: $149

Super 1-Day - Sun - Fri
Departures: Daily May 23 through June 27; Dependent on water levels.  Excludes Saturdays.
Adult Price: $169

2-Days - Monday - Thursday start - Camping
Departures: May 14 thru June 30
Adult Price: $440

2-Days - Friday, Saturday or Sunday start - Camping
Departures: May 14 thru June 30
Adult Price: $460

3-Days - Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday start - Camping
Departures: May 14 thru June 30
Adult Price: $760

3-Days - Friday, Saturday or Sunday start - Camping
Departures: May 14 thru June 30
Adult Price: $790

*Prices are plus 8% Land & Water Access Fees

 

Reviews

5
Average: 5 (4 votes)

Reviews

5

Amazing river, Amazing people, Amazing Guide!

We had such an amazing time rafting with Bridget as our guide. This is some of the best whitewater in the country and the phenomenal guides and customer service just put it over the top. I will definitely be back again!

5

MORE BACON THAN THE PAN COULD HANDLE

I just went down the Lochsa with Will and Jeremy. Some of those waves had more bacon than the pan could handle! But I'll be back soon with a bigger pan. Jeremy and Darlene showed us how to "give em the beans," and I learned that you always gotta make it extra spicy any chance you get out there. Will was a boss at the helm and should be promoted. One of the most fun days I've ever had. Thanks very much for that! See you on the Rogue next month!

5

Best Rafting Trip Yet

My wife & I have rafted several rivers and the Lochsa is simply the best and our guide with Row Adventures put it over the top. Super knowledgeable and courteous. From Idaho to Montana to Canada, the Lochsa has the absolute best whitewater and who knew you could have such an amazing lunch in the middle of nowhere on a river. We also stayed 2 nights in one of the glamping tents at the River Dance Lodge. Overall, just and awesome trip that we will do again!

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FAQ & More

I've never been rafting before. Is the Lochsa an appropriate choice?

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.

Can I go rafting if I don't swim?

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

Is rafting safe?

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.

What is the most exciting 1-day trip you offer?

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

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