When it comes to summer in Boise, beat the heat like the locals do—float the Boise River. As the temps rise so do the amount of tubes and rafts on our fair city’s main waterway (to the tune of 100,000 people per summer!). But for those visitors and uninitiated Boiseans who are wondering how to join in on the fun, LoneCone.com presents our comprehensive guide to floating the Boise River.
WHERE DO I START THIS SO-CALLED MAGICAL FLOAT?
Put-in is at Barber Park. Barber Park is located about six miles from Downtown Boise on Eckert Road between Warm Springs and Boise Aves. Parking is available from 10am-7:30pm Mon-Thurs ($5), 9:30am-7:30pm Fri-Sun & Holidays ($6). There is a drop-off area when you enter the park to drop-off tubes and people before you go to park for the day. Also of note is that there are plenty of picnic tables, playgrounds, etc. for families to hang out before and/or after the float!
I DON’T HAVE ANYTHING TO FLOAT WITH, CAN I STILL GO?
Yes! There is a raft and tube rental area at Barber Park—this is a great option for out-of-town visitors, as well as those who prefer to ride their bike to the park and back. You are also welcome to bring your own tubes, and Barber Park offers free air stations to pump up before you hit the Boise River. Rentals range from $12 for a single-person tube to $55 for a 6-person raft. All rentals include life vests if needed. Life vests are required for all children 14 years and younger. You can also rent additional life vests at the park!
HOW LONG DOES THE FLOAT TAKE?
If you were to float the entire six miles straight with no stops, it takes approximately 1.5-2 hours, depending on the current. The perfect afternoon activity!
CAN I TAKE, UMMMM, “BEVERAGES” ON THE BOISE RIVER?
As long as they aren’t in glass containers, yes! Well, sort of. Open containers of alcohol are not allowed on the Boise River, or within 250 feet of the river. Beer and wine is allowed in Boise parks outside of the 250 feet riverbank zone—unless you plan on bringing more than 7.5 gallons, in which case you need to fill out a Beer/Wine Permit through the City (and, can we be invited?!?). If you’re looking to keep your plastic and/or aluminum bevvies chilled, we highly recommend the Ice Mule Cooler – it has the portability of a backpack with the ice-keeping performance of a hard-shell cooler, pretty perfect for the Boise River!
WHERE DO I TAKE OUT? HOW DO I GET BACK TO MY CAR/BIKE?
Ann Morrison Park is the final take-out for floaters, and to prevent congestion there are two take-out spots on the left side of the Boise River. While some people park a second car at Ann Morrison, there is also a shuttle service available on the hour every hour for a nominal fee ($3 per person).
ARE THERE ANY STOPS ALONG THE WAY?
There are three designated rest stops between Barber and Ann Morrison. Each stop has trash receptacles and two include restrooms.
River Quarry: Located on the left-hand side of the Boise River just before the Marden Bridge (Baybrook Court Bridge). Has restroom.
Marden Bridge: Located on the right side of the Boise River.
Julia Davis Park: Located on the right-hand side of the Boise River. Restrooms are available across the road near the bandshell.
CAN I FISH?
Yes! LoneCone has a few fishing site recommendations along the float.
Barber Dam at Barber Park. Under the dam is a great spot, as well as both sides of the bank right after the floater put-in spot.
There are a couple small waterfalls along the route, above and below those can be productive.
You meander through some of Boise State’s campus—this can be a great spot to catch a few. *After BSU there really isn’t any good fishing, so stay upstream from there.
Any spot that is deep, has riffles or otherwise looks fishy is good! :)
We recommend Tenkara fishing on the Boise, as there is quite a bit of foliage to get caught up in with a regular fly.
CAN I CAMP?
Wear some sort of shoes on the Boise River – water shoes, sneakers, Velcro sandals, whatever, but you will walk on the riverbed to put in and take out and you will be thankful.
You can also kayak the river, and 2-person kayaks are available for rent at Barber Park.
Some folks are rocking these swan floats down the Boise River this year, so join in the fun.
Be safe and have tons of fun!