Following many years of hard work by American Whitewater staff and volunteers, FERC issued a new license in 2003 for the hydro project that historically left this reach with just a small trickle of water. Whitewater boaters can now experience the excitement of this restored river. American Whitewater is a member of the Environmental Coordination Committee (ECC) which is responsible for the adaptive management approach to implementation of the license provisions.
If you have a chance to boat the Bear please be a good neighbor as positive relations with the local community are essential to making future releases a success and that big boat on your roof clearly identifies us as a user group. In particular watch your speed as you pass through the housing area near the take-out (it's posted for 10 mph) and stock up on shuttle snacks in Grace.
The river is a solid class IV run with one or two stand out rapids that can be class V. The rapids are numerous and continuous. Rapids deserving attention include Grace Falls, just downstream of the first set of rapids, and BooBoo near the end of the run which is a step up at class V. At lower flows the river is technical and generally class IV. At high flows the river has been compared to the North Fork of the Payette - which is class V. To top it all off the Black Canyon is an incredibly pretty place.
American Whitewater has renegotiated the original flow-trigger releases in exchange for scheduled releases. Releases are now scheduled for four weekends through the spring with one of one weekend that provides three days of boating (Fri-Sun). Target flow for releases is 900 cfs.
Junkyard and schoolbus in the river
rocky class IV
Just ran this thing and swam Grace Falls. It actually was not as bad as it sounds.
There is a series of small 3 to 5 foot ledges leading up to Grace Falls. These are all on river right. River right also has a very large hole right before Grace Falls.
River left has smaller terraced falls leading to pools without any large boat flipping holes. My advice to you is to run river left going up to and over Grace Falls.
2 weeks ago
by Kevin Colburn
2 months ago
3 months ago
Minimum acceptable flows for whitewater recreation are 750 cfs but you can still bump down as low as 500 cfs. 1500 cfs (the upper limit that can be released from the dam) was the preferred flow by most paddlers who participated in the 1997 flow study. The river has been run higher during rare years of exceptionally high runoff. American Whitewater worked hard to negotiate whitewater flows as part of a new license for this project which was issued in December 2003. There are now four weekends of releases each year. Call PacifiCorp at 800-547-1501 to obtain flow rates out of Grace Dam or check the Bear River flow data page.
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.
Bear @1 - Black Canyon - Grace Dam Bridge to Grace Powerhouse
on Bear @1 - Black Canyon - Grace Dam Bridge to Grace Powerhouse
Below Turner Bridge at 170
Grace Falls at 170
Bear below Turner Bridge (300)
Bear River Take Out
Bear River below Turner Bridge
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
Recreational releases were cancelled on many rivers this spring due to Covid-related travel restrictions and concerns, including several releases on the Black Canyon of the Bear River in Idaho. American Whitewater has worked with the dam owner to reschedule Black Canyon releases for late summer, specifically August 29 & 30, and September 12 & 13. These releases offer paddlers a rare opportunity to enjoy the Bear River late in the recreation season. In addition, irrigation flows of approximately 200-500cfs are currently being delivered through the Black Canyon all summer, creating additional and rare lower-water paddling opportunities 24-hours a day for the rest of the summer through the second week of September.
As the ample 2018 snowpack slowly begins to dwindle in Montana and Idaho, a couple dam-related opportunities for Class IV and V paddling will occur in late July and perhaps early August. A release is planned on Idaho's Bear River on July 26th, and Montana's West Rosebud Creek should be releasing as well in the coming weeks.
March is the new June in Idaho, and early snowmelt has river flows booming. The dam that normally diverts almost all the water from the Black Canyon of the Bear River has begun to spill and boatable flows are likely for for the next couple weeks. Flows are likely to reach or exceed 1,500cfs which means a rare chance to experience the Bear at big Class V flows.
Citing a host of environmental concerns raised by American Whitewater and our partners, the federal government has recommended denial of an application seeking to build a 109-foot-tall hydroelectric dam on the Bear River in southeast Idaho. Federal regulators agreed with our view that the Oneida Narrows represents a regionally unique and important river recreational resource that would be destroyed by the proposed dam, for which mitigation is not possible.
We are pleased to announce the 2014 scheduled pulse flows on the Bear River's Black Canyon located in southeastern Idaho. Releases will vary from 900 to 1500 cfs based on inflows to the hydropower project, and offer outstanding Class IV and V paddling opportunities.
American Whitewater is pleased to announce that we have negotiated a modified flow regime for the Black Canyon of the Bear River in Idaho. Under the new agreement between AW and the other members of the Ecological Coordination Committee that was set up to implement a 2002 hydropower settlement agreement, PacifiCorp will provide nine scheduled pulse flows between April 1 and June 5 each year.
Pacificorp and American Whitewater have decided to cancel the Bear River (ID) releases this coming weekend (May 7-8, 2011) for a variety of hydrological, recreational and administrative reasons. Following this weekend in-flow triggered releases will resume. We apologize for any inconvenience.
The recently finalized report on a pulse flow program on the Black Canyon of the Bear River, located in Southeastern Idaho highlights the role that new water releases are playing in the restoration of the river reach. The report documents positive effects on instream habitat and aquatic insect populations. American Whitewater is now actively working with other stakeholders to finalize a flow program on the Bear for decades to come.
Spring is definitely in the air and we want to give folks an update on the changes to expect this year for the Bear River Black Canyon whitewater releases, located in Southeastern Idaho.
<?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.
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