Difficulty IV-V
Length 10 Miles
Flow Range 250 - 900 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 42 minutes ago 14.4 [CFS] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 07/13/2020 8:30 pm

River Description

Boundary Creek offers paddlers a seemingly endless barrage of continuous Class IV and V boulder rapids.  While the run is 7.5 miles long if you start at the border, most paddlers describe it as 9-11 miles because it feels so long.  This run is best attempted only by paddlers comfortable boat scouting and read-and-running steep class IV and V rapids.  If you are that kind of paddler, you are in for a remote panhandle treat.  A relatively new online USGS gage offers paddlers terrific flow information. 

American Whitewater (John Gangemi) played a lead role in defeating a proposed dam on Boundary Creek.  A new identical proposal emerged almost 20 years later and American Whitewater helped defeat that proposal as well. Our efforts to have the river found eligible for Wild and Scenic designation failed because of the flawed perspective of the Panhandle National Forest.    

Directions to Boundary Creek Takeout

  • From Bonners Ferry take Hwy 95 N towards Creston, BC
  • At intersection with Highway 95/3 and Highway 1 veer left toward Porthill border crossing and Creston.
  • At mile marker 1 on Highway 1 take a left onto West Side Road
  • Set your odometer to 0 here.
  • Drive 3.5 miles to West Side Road. You will cross the Kootenai River heading toward West Side Road.
  • Go right (north) at the intersection; sign should indicate direction of Smith and Boundary Creeks.
  • You will cross several smaller creeks (Parker and Long) as you travel North
  • Cross Smith Creek at mile 12 (measured form Highway 1) (no sign for Smith Creek but recognizable when you see Smith Ck Falls to the left)
  • Continue past Smith Creek. When road begins to turn west in hairpin and climb look for a dirt road on the right in crux of hairpin. This is Road 2450 at mile 13
  • Follow this road for another 0.2 miles where a road will drop down to the right. Follow this road another 0.3 miles to the corral. Veer left just before corral and find place to park and camp near the river. Be ready for bugs at the takeout. Grizzlies have been spotted here before so be careful with food. The stream gage can be found by crossing the bridge and hiking downstream a short distance.
  • You can ride a mountain bike up Road 2450 to preview some of the lower end of Boundary Creek or do your shuttle at the end of the day back to the car at the putin.

    Boundary Creek: Directions to the Putin from the Takeout
  • From the takeout drive back to road 2450
  • Where 2450 meets the paved road at the hairpin turn right on the paved road and head uphill. The canyon for Smith Creek will be far down on your left. As you climb Smith Creek will climb also eventually becoming visible from the road.
  • Drive past the building for the Smith Creek diversion dam.
  • Turn right on Road #655 (Shorty Peak sign)
  • Turn right on Road #282 (Shorty Peak sign)
  • Turn left on Road #2454 (Boundary Creek/Saddle Pass)
  • It is 6.1 miles from cattle guard on Saddle Pass to Boundary Creek.
  • We typically drive upstream about a mile to a large clearcut to put-in. This gives a little warm-up prior to getting into the steeper stuff. Always be wary of trees on this run.

    I recommend bringing a shovel, axe and or chainsaw to cut your way through deadfall on the Saddle pass road and repair road damage.

    Phone Numbers:
    Bonners Ferry Ranger District: 208-267-5561
    Check that the Saddle Pass road is open. It has a North-facing slope that holds snow.

Note: lat/longitude coords are only barest ballpark numbers.

Rapid Descriptions


default user thumbnail
Jacob Cruser
2 months ago

There were no portages on June 26, 2020, though there were two logs below larger rapids that required non-intuitive lines and needed to be shore scouted.

Gage Descriptions

There is now an online USGS gage that offers great realtime flow information, however there is very little paddling beta associated with readings on this gage.  Please add a comment to this streampage with your flow and what you thought of the run.  

What is known is that 550 cfs is a runnable high flow, at which much of the river resembles Golf Course on the North Fortk Payette.  A minimum flow might be around 250 but that is only a guess.  

Historically Boundary Creek paddlers sought 600-800 cfs on Smith Creek above the diversion dam.  Smith Falls Hydro can be reached at 208-267-2744, and be sure to thank the good folks there for sharing flow information.  

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

No Accident Reports



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Proposed Dam on Boundary Creek Defeated! (ID)

Kevin Colburn

Earlier today the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) cancelled the permit that  had granted a limited liability corporation exclusive rights to study and pursue de-watering Boundary Creek, located in Northern Idaho.  The proposed hydropower project would have severely impacted over 6 miles of the pristine and biologically vital stream in the wild Selkirk Mountains.  

article main photo

AW and Partners Fight a Proposed Dam in Northern Idaho

Kevin Colburn

Last week American Whitewater and a group of regional environmental organizations intervened in opposition of a proposed dam and diversion on northern Idaho's Boundary Creek.  The proposed hydropower project would de-water a spectacular and remote whitewater stream, and would impact a stunning array of rare, threatened, and endangered species.

article main photo

AW Seeks Stream Protection in Idaho Panhandle

Kevin Colburn

American Whitewater recently prepared a report on the streams of the Idaho Panhandle that are eligible for Wild and Scenic designation based at least in part on their regionally or nationally significant recreational values. We have asked the Forest Service to find each of these streams eligible for Wild and Scenic designation and thus grant them interim protection.

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Idaho Proposes Registration Fee for Non-Motorized Boats

John Gangemi

<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Idaho is proposing a $13 registration fee for non-motorized boats greater than 7 feet in length. Under this registration fee proposal all kayaks and rafts on Idaho waters would be required to have a registration sticker fixed to the bow of each boat greater than 7 feet in length. Stickers would not be transferable between boats. Out of state boaters would be required to comply as well.

article main photo

Can You Taste Victory?

American Whitewater

FERC revokes Preliminary Permit for
hydropower project on Boundary Creek in
Northern Idaho.

Kevin Colburn


Matt Muir


Jacob Cruser


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1202308 06/13/13 Kevin Colburn new range
1215457 07/09/20 Kevin Colburn updated image position
1215458 07/09/20 Kevin Colburn updated image position
1190215 06/19/01 n/a Posted flow estimates
1202307 06/13/13 Kevin Colburn gage description
1200362 07/06/11 Kevin Colburn gage change
1215459 07/09/20 Kevin Colburn updated description
1215467 07/09/20 Kevin Colburn updated image position
1215528 07/13/20 Kevin Colburn updated image position
1215468 07/09/20 Kevin Colburn updated image position
1215529 07/13/20 Jacob Cruser updated stats