This section of river offers a wide variety of options depending on your skills, the water level, and the time you have available. Several intermediate access points provide a range of choices. You can either make it a long day trip or just do a couple laps in the evening enjoying the waves at Floriston.
The Truckee River emerges from Lake Tahoe where ancient lava flows dammed the river valley and gave rise to the lake as we see it today. From the lake the river continues on its journey down the mountain to Reno along the route of I-80. For the first few miles the river is class I and during the summer this stretch is enjoyed by the tubing crowd. The whitewater section generally considered to begin at River Ranch, or at Alpine Meadows Bridge just under a mile downstream, and from here the river flows at a good pace along Highway 89 with some fun class II/III whitewater before tapering off somewhat as you continue on down to the town of Truckee. Low bridges on this reach create a hazard that paddlers should be aware of and in the past local agencies have closed this section of the river to recreation at flows above 1000 cfs. AW has questioned the authority of those initiating this closure in the past but we would require a local volunteer to pursue this further (contact staff if interested).
Once you reach the Truckee the river runs along I-80 but this is a beautiful valley and it's still a scenic float down to Boca. One of the most popular runs begins at Boca which is accessible from I-80 Exit 194. Here the river gains flow from Boca Reservoir that also extends the season. The Boca to Floriston section contains class II rapids for 5.5 miles before you reach a short boulder-strewn canyon at Bronco Creek. This long class III rapid (pushing class IV at higher flows) is a lot of fun and provides a good technical challenge before tapering off with some nice play spots as you pass under I-80. The diversion dam that was located here is no longer present although some evidence remains. If you don't have a shuttle this is a great destination rapid as you can park your vehicle near the railroad tracks at the Floriston exit and hike up to the top of the rapid. Paddle downstream past your parking spot and hike back up to the car. You can easily spend an hour or two at this spot and it's a good alternative for those who are visiting the Reno Whitewater Park but want to get out of town to see another section of the river.
There are several different access points on this stretch. The upper put-in is at River Ranch or Alpine Meadows Bridge along Highway 89 which is accessible from I-80 Exit 185. There are several alternate access points where the river runs along Highway 89 for the first 10 miles. One of the more popular access points to run the lower section is off I-80 Exit 194 for Boca. Access for the end of this section is available at Floriston which is Exit 199 off I-80. After exiting, head underneath the highway to a parking spot on river right near the railroad tracks. If you are going to put in for the short run here just head up the dirt road on river right between the river and the railroad tracks. It's about a 15 minutes walk to the top of the rapid. The take-out at Floriston is on river right a couple hundred yards downstream of the I-80 Bridge and there's a decent path between the river and the highway that takes you back under the highway to your parking spot.
The Truckee Meadows Water Authority publishes a river recreation map. Download the pdf from the map link to the right or you can pick one up at their offices in town. Call 775-834-8000 or visit the office at 1155 Corporate Blvd. in Reno.
The Floriston Rapid, which is the last half mile of this Truckee section, is closer to a class IV than a III. A less experienced boater expecting III would be in for a surprise. I have run the Floriston Rapid dozens of times over 15 years, boated all over the country with some international experience, and boated a lot of III, IV and V's . Holbek and Stanley claim "the last half mile is a good class IV rapid".
This gauge is at Farad which is just
downstream of the section described here. It provides
a good indicator of what's happening on the lower
Boca to Floriston section (flows regulated by reservoir
input at Boca). For an indicator of what's happening
on the upper River Ranch to Boca section (above this
reservoir input) check the Truckee near Truckee gauge. At flows
above 1200 cfs on the Farad gauge things get more
fun or challenging depending on your perspective.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
surfing at old diversion dam site
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