Maybeline Rapids (courtesy OregonKayaking.net)
The weather is expected to warm up in May, and that will create perfect conditions for whitewater rafting on the Murtaugh section of the Snake River in Southern Idaho.
Idaho Guide Service, based in Hagerman, is the only licensed outfitter that offers trips on the Murtaugh, a rock-and-roll whitewater trip with lots of Class 3 and Class 4 rapids. The trips cost $125 per day, including lunch, and cold water protective gear. Idaho Guide Service will be running trips down the Murtaugh on every weekend in May. Guided trips are limited to people aged 18 and up.
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Idaho is known as the whitewater capital of the United States with more miles of whitewater than any other state in the lower 48. Whitewater rapids are rated on a European scale, with Class 1 being easy, and Class 6 being an unrunnable waterfall.
In many years, it’s difficult to run the Murtaugh because it’s hard to predict when the Bureau of Reclamation will be releasing boatable flows below Milner Dam. That’s not the case this year, because of the robust winter of 2016-17. BOR officials expect to release large flows past Milner, over Shoshone Falls and down the Murtaugh and the Snake River Canyon through late May or early June, perhaps longer.
Micah Kneidl, an expert kayaker from Boise, likes running the Murtaugh section of the Snake. “The Murtaugh is super awesome. I love it,” he says. “It’s not as stressful, but the waves and holes are huge, and the surfing opportunities are endless.”
Paul Christensen, has gone with Idaho Guide Service before, and he’s super stoked to get a bunch of friends together to do the Murtaugh again. “It’s just a blast!” he says. “I’m excited to do it again. But definitely go with someone who knows the river. Idaho Guide Service is the way to go.”
At flows of 20,000 cfs, the waves are huge and tall, he says. “You come into one of those waves, and the boat is totally straight up and down and you still have to climb over the second half of the wave! This is the kind of trip for people who want a big adrenaline rush.”
Olin Gardner, owner of Idaho Guide Service, has been running the Murtaugh for more than 30 years. “I love the Murtaugh,” he says. “I love everything about it!”
You’ll also see birds of prey and enjoy a deep, incised basalt canyon.
Expert boaters and Idaho Guide Service recommend that anyone boating in the Mid-Snake should wear a good-quality life jacket, a wet suit or a dry suit for protection from cold water, and a helmet. Be sure to go with people who know their way through the rapids. Be safe!
Contact Idaho Guide Service at 208-734-4998 or 1-888-73IDAHO.