This run is a beautiful canyon consisting of mellow class II-III whitewater and three class V drops. The old Idaho guide book describes this as a scenic run with three portages. Other people think of it as a fun run with three good rapids and some flat water. Either way it is beautiful and worth the effort. Also, generally runs all season.
See G. Amaral, Idaho: the Whitewater State (Watershed, 1992).
To get to the put-in continue towards Island Park. Turn left when you see a sign for Hatchery Ford. Follow this dirt road down to the river. You will know you are in the right place by a sign warning of dangerous falls downstream and that boating is not recommended.
Sheep Falls is located on a sweeping left turn. Noticeable by a significant horizon line and a hint of spray. Eddie out river right to scout and/or portage. Both the two-tiered part of the drop on the left or the slide on center right are runnable.
This rapid is immediately after Sheep Falls. Easiest to scout both while you are out of your boat, or if you are portaging, just keep walking. This drop is as intimidating as it is safe. Take note of the two small entrance holes. They are bigger than they look from the bank. Otherwise, straight down the tongue, baby! Huge, flat pool at the bottom, minimal consequences. Under 1600cfs this drop gets very sticky and is not usually run. Over 2500cfs it only gets better! When portaging there are two possibilities for re-entering the river. The best is to slide off a rock at water level into the current right below the meat of the drop. People have seal-launched the high rock, but you run the risk of breaking your boat on the underwater rocks. If you do not like the look of this: hope you are wearing long pants. You will be hiking for a while, navigating a steep embankment, and wading through waist-high stinging nettle.
This drop is a river-wide, sticky, ledge hole. It can be run anywhere if you have a good relationship with your boof stroke. Otherwise, run left. You can see the drop from the river left eddy. This hole has been known to re-circulate swimmers and empty boats.
Class I if you make it, class VI if you miss. Do not float over Upper Mesa Falls! Exit river left onto the boardwalk and smile at the tourists.
The Ashton gage is the ACCEPTED gage for this run. There is not a "correct" gage. The Island Park gage does not include the flow from the Buffalo Fork (which is often larger than the Henrys Fork itself at Island Park). Theoretically, the flow from the Island Park gage could be added to the flow from the Buffalo Fork. The problem is that the gage on the Buffalo Fork is above the confluence with Lava Creek. Lava Creek does not have a gage, but guessing by the picture above, it might be significant. The problem with the Ashton gage is that it also includes the flow from the Warm River.
The wrong gauge is listed for this run. The correct gauge in the one located near Island Park .
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.
Upper Mesa Falls
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.
<?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.
Log into the American Whitewater website and you can contribute to river descriptions,
flow and access tips, and maps associated with runs you've done. You can even add new
runs to the inventory!