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site home  :: self guided home  :: U.S. river guide  :: Idaho River Trips  :: Lochsa River Idaho

Kayaking & Canoeing Lochsa River Idaho

Tributary-Big Sand Creek
 map of Tributary-Big Sand Creek
Put-in:  Swamp Creek Trail
Take-out:  Colt Creek Cabin
Difficulty:  Class IV, V
Length:  4.5 miles
Tributary-White Sand Creek, Upper
 map of Tributary-White Sand Creek, Upper
Put-in:  Big Flat Creek
Take-out:  Colt Creek Cabin
Difficulty:  Class IV, V
Length:  4 miles
Tributary-White Sand Creek, Lower
 map of Tributary-White Sand Creek, Lower
Put-in:  Colt Creek Cabin
Take-out:  White Sand Campground
Difficulty:  Class III 600-1500 cfs, IV 1500-2500 cfs
Length:  12 miles
White Sand Campground to Indian Grave Creek
Put-in:  White Sand Campground
Take-out:  Indian Grave Creek
Difficulty:  Class III
Length:  24 miles
Upper Lochsa
Put-in:  Indian Grave Creek
Take-out:  Fish Creek
Difficulty:  Class III, IV
Length:  18 miles
Goat Range
 photos of Goat Range
Put-in:  Fish Creek
Take-out:  Split Creek Pack Bridge
Difficulty:  Class III, IV
Length:  9 miles
Tributary-Fish Creek
 map of Tributary-Fish Creek
Put-in:  End of FS 462
Take-out:  Lochsa Confluence
Difficulty:  Class III 600-800 cfs, IV 800-1500 cfs
Length:  1 mile
Lower Lochsa
 map of Lower Lochsa
Put-in:  Split Creek Pack Bridge
Take-out:  Lowell
Difficulty:  Class II+
Length:  15 miles
Tributary-Brushy Fork
 map of Tributary-Brushy Fork
Put-in:  Elk Meadows
Take-out:  Crooked Fork
Difficulty:  Class IV, V
Length:  9 miles
Tributary-Crooked Fork
Put-in:  Hopeful Creek
Take-out:  Brushy Fork
Difficulty:  Class III, IV, V
Length:  12 miles


The Lochsa flows through the heart of the Clearwater National Forest in North Central Idaho. It was one of America’s first rivers to be designated as Wild & Scenic, and is still considered one of Idaho’s best-kept secrets. Often compared to California’s Tuolumne River and West Virginia’s Gauley, the Lochsa has the perfect combination of thrilling whitewater and stunning scenery.

From Crooked Fork Creek to Lowell, there are more that 63 rapids, many of which are pushing Class IV or V, so the majority of this trip is active and intense – it a good way! Lochsa (pronounced LOCK-saw) means “rough water” in the language of the Nez Perce Indians, and some compare a trip down this river to running all the major rapids of the Grand Canyon in one day.

Some particularly challenging rapids include Grim Reaper, Bloody Mary, House Wave, Termination, and the famous Lochsa Falls, all of which require great paddling skills or a rafting team effort to get through.

The Lochsa River originates high in the Bitterroot Mountains and flows free and undammed for its entire length. Because it is fed by water from the surrounding mountains, water temperatures fluctuate between the 30s and 40s, and the danger of hypothermia is high. Dry suits (or wetsuits) are a must for early season floating. Weather can be cool, cloudy and rainy, so be prepared for the worst.

Floating season extends from May to August, and permits are not required for private boaters.

The Lochsa becomes hazardous or impassable when the water level goes above six feet, and below three feet, the river becomes quite boney with rocks, and some sections might be difficult to float without dragging.

This is a river for those with lots of experience and all the right gear. Rest assured though, intermediate boaters will have a wonderful time navigating this river, especially if they take the time to scout rapids, many of which can be accessed by climbing up to U.S. Highway 12 which runs along the whole length of the river.