Idaho: The Lochsa
LOCATION: White Pine (2,6401 ft) to Split Creek (1,720 ft)-26 miles
SEASON: April-July (high water May-June)
RAPIDS: Class III-IV+
LENGTH OF TYPICAL TRIP: 1-2 days
There are many pilgrimages around the country for whitewater enthusiasts. Places like the Gauley in West Virginia and the American River in California. For boaters living in Northwestern Montana and Idaho, the Lochsa is their spring meeting area. The campgrounds in early June are filled with guitar music and talk of big playful water. For kayakers the surf is up at Pipeline and many other waves along the river. There is lots of exploring to do in the area as well with an abundance of tributary creeks and two sections of river above the Fish Creek put in.
Lochsa means, "rough water" in the Nez Perce Indian language. From its headwaters in the Bitterroot Mountains to its confluence with the Selway and Clearwater rivers, the Lochsa pounds through more than 40 major class III-IV rapids.
The river parallels the scenic Lolo Highway 12 northeast of Lowell, Idaho. The same route that 19th-century explorers Lewis and Clark followed, thanks to the hunting habits of the Native Americans living in the area. The highway, however, is hardly visible from the river, which is bordered by a cedar forest. River runners camp in nearby meadows or stay in area lodges.
The big water season is quick, flowing large from mid-May to late June, but don't underestimate the playboating that could be had during lower water levels.
Contact the Clearwater National Forest, 12370 U.S. Highway 12, Orofino, Idaho, 83544, 208-476-4541 for more information
Information Provided by: State of Idaho
Written by: Joseph Carberry