Difficulty IV(V)
Length 6 Miles
Gauge N/A
Flow Range
Next Release 2020-08-29
Reach Info Last Updated 05/01/2020 1:31 pm

River Description

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.

Rapid Descriptions

Bus splat

Class - N/A Mile - 2
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Junkyard and schoolbus in the river

rocky class IV

Class - IV Mile - 3.5
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

rocky class IV


default user thumbnail
Daniel Cottam
2 years ago

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.

No Gage

Release Schedule

More Information
Date Start Time End Time Flow
08/29/2020 10:00:00 16:00:00 900-1200
08/30/2020 10:00:00 16:00:00 900-1200
09/12/2020 10:00:00 16:00:00 900-1200
09/13/2020 10:00:00 16:00:00 900-1200

Gage Descriptions

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

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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Bear River Releases Rescheduled for Late Summer (ID)

Kevin Colburn

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.

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Releases on Bear (ID) and West Rosebud (MT) Coming Up

Kevin Colburn

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. 

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Bear River Runs as Idaho Flows Boom

Kevin Colburn

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.

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Federal Regulators Recommend Denial of License for New Bear River Dam (ID)

Thomas O'Keefe

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.

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2014 Bear River Releases Announced (ID)

Kevin Colburn

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.  

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Success and Scheduled Flows on the Bear River (ID)

Kevin Colburn

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.

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Bear River (ID) Release Cancelled this Weekend (May 7-8 )

Kevin Colburn

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.

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Report Highlights Bear River Restoration (ID)

Kevin Colburn

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. 

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2011 Bear River Release Update (ID)

Kevin Colburn

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.

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Unexpected Whitewater Release on the Bear in Idaho

Thomas O'Keefe and Charlie Vincent

This spring the Black Canyon section of the Bear River in SE Idaho ran for the first time in over 5 years.
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PacifiCorp Receives Hydro License for their Bear River Projects (ID)

John Gangemi

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently issued new hydro licenses to PacifiCorp for three projects on the Bear River.  American Whitewater has been involved in this proceeding since 1995.  Issuance of the licenses now brings us to the implementation phase--more work but whitewater releases included.
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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.

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Can You Taste Victory?

American Whitewater

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

Kevin Colburn


Thomas O'Keefe


Bill Hunt


Matt Muir


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1214364 02/16/20 Kevin Colburn updated image position
1214815 05/01/20 Kevin Colburn updated image position
1207129 01/05/17 Thomas O'Keefe minor edits
1202004 04/25/13 Bill Hunt
1201998 04/24/13 Bill Hunt
1190309 04/20/08 n/a n/a
1203002 01/15/14 Kevin Colburn release info
1197928 07/08/10 Kevin Colburn
1197927 07/08/10 Kevin Colburn
1205769 12/30/15 Thomas O'Keefe minor edits
1198951 12/04/10 Thomas O'Keefe abstract edit
1211496 03/22/19 Thomas O'Keefe updated image position
1211502 03/22/19 Kevin Colburn updated name
1211529 03/25/19 Kevin Colburn updated image position
1211560 03/30/19 Kevin Colburn updated image position