This photo needs editing.
Difficulty IV-V
Length 14.6 Miles
Flow Range 400 - 2000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 13 hours ago 54.8 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 06/28/2018 7:27 am

River Description

See Idaho: the Whitewater State by G. Amaral (Watershed Books, 1990).
Lat / Longitude data are very approximate.

Rapid Descriptions


default user thumbnail
11 years ago

Brian Vogt -- Ran the Deadwood River in July of 2008 at a low-medium flow of 500 or so. This was a great IV level. No clean V on the run. The ranger station out of Lowman has good info on the best routes to access the putin. We headed up Canyon Creek out of Lowman, through Big Meadows/Bear Valley, then dropped down and around the reservoir. We had several portages; most for wood. There's one right off the bat in the first 1/2 mile with few eddies. There's a IV broken ledge that kicks off the whitewater. It was clean, as was double drop. Several of the good IVs are wood choked and mandatory portages however. The V is just choked with a cats cradle of logs, and not readily apparent from the river. The inner gorge and continuous III-IV below the one V drop was stellar. The action below the bridge was also excellent. A big log jam has blown out in the lower run, and it's obvious where. Be ready for some sketchy corners and wood for 1/2 mile below here as the old log jam has filled the next section with logs. This is a stellar run -- one of the most scenic I've seen in a long time. Highly recommended.

default user thumbnail
Christopher Pajak
15 years ago

Did this run, from reservoir to SF Payette confluence, August 2002 for the first time and then again August 8, 2004. Both times absolutely fantastic. Potaged 4x in '02 and 7 or 8x the other day. Point being, get as much local/recent info as possible and ALWAYS scout blind horizons or corners especially in sections where the rapids get heavy. As of Aug 8th, 2004 there is a very serious log hazard right around the corner from the big class V midway through the run in the IV+ runout rapid. This log is impossible to get around, over, or under at 1000cfs. It is huge and will probably be there for a while unless they release a few hundred more cfs. It is unlikely that you would see it from river level until too late. Also, there two new blowout rapids that will probably change significantly. Both are on the bottom half of the run, have created big pools above, conatin considerable gravel, rocks, trees and debris. The second one, about three miles from the takeout, is currently much worse with a highly constricted, steep channel on the far left and lots of dangerous wood. We walked twice here. Still a favorite of mine, we even saw a huge black bear in the section below the bridge that is one of the most fun continuous class IVish rapids I have ever paddled. One more thing, if you are looking for a shuttle driver stop in the Garden Valley Chevron station and ask Mike, he directed to me his unemployed friend Steve who was excited to ride up with us and return our car to the takeout for $20 and some Jim Beam.

default user thumbnail
16 years ago

From BoaterTalk
Re: Anyone know about the Deadwood in Idaho?? by osteinle Aug 09 2003, 0:55 GMT New
Date: Aug 09 2003, 2:42 GMT
From: bobgedekoh

Hi Tarion,

The road to intermediate putin/takeout is washed out so you will have to the whole river from the dam to the SF Payette. It is over 20 miles, but the river has fast current so it will take about five hours. Takes an hour and a half to drive into the dam on the gravel road, so get a shuttle driver if you can. Drive is spectacular, however. It is running over 900 cfs, contrary to what some books suggest, this is not low, in fact to my mind it is moderately high and fairly pushy. The water is very cold so take pogies, it comes off the bottom of a deep lake. Take a breakdown paddle too since the run is very remote.

The run is mostly class 3-4, but there are a couple of more difficult sections and STRAINERS are a significant hazzard.

A couple nig strainers/logjams lodged in ledge drops in the first third of the run will require quick portages... usually on river right. These were fairly easy to see from above.

Also in the first third of the run... (last year) there was also a river wide log just under the surface of the water in the middle of a class 3 flushy went the whole way across the river and was hard to see from above. We managed to catch a small eddy on the right above it. Be careful, it is hard to spot, and may have moved. Also, new strainers may also have appeared anywhere on this river so always be very heads up. Strainers are clearly the biggest hazzard on the Deadwood. There arent that many, but they can be nasty.

About half way down the run you will pass a bunch of huge dome shaped rocks on the right side of the river (the water is flat here). Not too far after that there is a straightaway, then you can tell that the river is going to turn right below the straightaway. There are a couple of ledgy boulder drops in the straightaway, they almost always seem to contain nasty strainers. The boulders are also undercut. These drops may or may not be runnable, look at them. Immediately after the right turn there is a slide/flush with pinning/ piton potential a punchy hole at the bottom. Look at it too and decide for yourselves. Some people portage this whole mess over the hill on the right, there is the semblance of a portage trail here.

Just below the slide/ hole there is a long class IV rapid that last year had a tree near the bottom that needs to be avoided. So eddy hop down this rapid and keep your eyes open. Again, it may have moved, it was possible to catch an eddy and sneak around the tree on the left last year.

You will eventually go under a nice bridge...the road to this bridge is gone. The rest of the river, (Lower Deadwood) alternates between easier and harder section but is generally less intense the the Upper Deadwood. But there are some strainers here too, so dont get complacent. Look for moose and bear on the lower section, we have seen both in the trees.

All in all a beautiful wilderness run. one of my favorites. The strainers are a bit of a worry, so make sure you have a competent group and dont let your gaurd down.

I am making it sound nastier than it is, the Deadwood is certainly not nearly as difficult at the NF Payette. Just dont underestimate the trees.

Have fun and let me know how it went.

default user thumbnail
Rob Heineman
17 years ago

The Deadwood road washed out years ago. The two Deadwood stretches must be run together, 23 Miles IV-V, took me 6 hrs. at 700 CFS portaging two class V's, 2 logs, scouting 2 other rapids. Shuttle road is slow; pay someone and start early. Water releases from the bottom - dress warm and bring poagies or gloves.

Gage Descriptions

Tell us about this gauge by leaving a comment.

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



article main photo

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.

Matt Muir


Bill Hunt


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1190344 02/02/05 n/a n/a
1209953 06/28/18 Bill Hunt 14.6 miles on Google maps