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Payette, S. Fork - 1 - Grandjean to Deadwood

Payette, S. Fork, Idaho, US


1 - Grandjean to Deadwood (Grandjean)

Usual Difficulty II-IV (for normal flows)
Length 35 Miles
Avg. Gradient 40 fpm

South Fork Payette

South Fork Payette
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe © taken 06/19/14 @ 1800 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-13235000 600 - 5000 cfs II-IV 00h24m 298 cfs (too low)

River Description

The run from Grandjean to Deadwood is 35 miles and is typically divided into segments based on skill level of the group and the wood situation. 

Grandjean (rm 140.6) to Bonneville (rm 131.7); class II(IV); 8.9 miles

The section from Grandjean to Bonneville is mostly class II with the notable exception of Canyon Creek Rapid which is class III/IV and the short gorge just upstream of Bonneville which is class III+. Wood can be an issue in this upper segment of the run so use caution.
Bonneville (rm 131.7) to Helende (rm 119.0); class II-III+; 12.7 miles
A popular run begins at Bonneville. If you begin about a mile and half upstream of the campground you can start out with the fun class III+ rapids in the short gorge (described in segment above) that finishes off as you pass under the ID-21 bridge. Just downstream of the bridge, the river enters another short canyon at Chapman Creek Rapid, which is a class III+ rapid that can be boat scouted down the middle. 
Just downstream, Little Surprise awaits. At a distinct horizon line the river cascades through a big class III+ drop with a midstream boulder that is to be avoided. A good line is down the left side and finishing off towards the center but watch the smaller holes at the top that can quickly send you off your line. 
Below this drop the river continues with more fun class II/III. As you pass under the next ID-21 bridge the river enters another great section with continuous class II punctuated with some fun class III moves. This action tapers off as you approach the Tenmile Trailhead.
Below Tenmile you pass by a small community of riverside cabins and a more open river channel with class II whitewater that continues on down to Helende Campground. This campground is a good take-out for a beginner run or a put-in for the great intermediate run that awaits downstream.
Helende Campground (rm 119) to Mountainview Campground (rm 109.5); class III; 9.5 miles
Helende to Mountainview Campground is characterized by fun class III rapids. The first gorge is just after you pass under the Forest Road 542 bridge. Use caution as you approach the horizon line (you can road scout the gorge from mile 78.2 on Highway 21). The highlight of this run is just another mile downstream as you enter the gorge at Kirkham Hot Spring. This is one of the best hot springs in the valley. The spring is extensively developed as a day use area and small campground that is visible from the road so it is not remote but it is a nice spot and a great stop for a lunch time soak.
Mountainview Campground (rm 109.5) to Deadwood River Access (rm 105.1); class II+; 4.4 miles
Below Mountainview the whitewater backs off a notch and is fun class II+ that is fairly continuous and a good beginner run to the Deadwood River Access which is the traditional put-in for the the Canyon run. You can take out here or continue on down another 4.6 miles to Pine Flat Campground which gives you a couple of nice class III rapids and an ending at the hot springs at Pine Flat. 
There are a few alternative access points along ID-21 all the way up to the campground above Grandjean (river mile 140.6).
If you are starting your run at Bonneville, a good put-in is at the dispersed campsite at ID-21 mile 93.0. Bonneville Campground at ID-21 mile 91.5 is also listed as an access in some guides but this puts you in downstream of some good class III/IV.
Good access for rafts can be found across from the Warm Springs Guard Station. To reach it turn onto 025-RB at ID-21 mile 91.3. Follow this road 0.9 miles downstream and turn left into the dispersed campsite just before you reach the guard station. This access puts you in just downstream of Chapman Creek but just above Little Surprise.
A couple more roadside pullouts and dispersed campsites provide access as you continue downstream. 
Tenmile Trailhead is at ID-21 mile 85.5 is sometimes used an access that comes at the end of some class II/III and the start of a short class II reach. 
Helende Campround at ID-21 mile 81.5 is a good river access that serves as a take-out or put-in. Enter the campground but instead of following the loop around the sites, head straight on the dirt road towards the river. Rafts can easily use this access. 
Kirkham Hot Springs is at ID-21 mile 76.9 and is sometimes used as a kayaker take-out for those making the short intermediate run down from Helende.
Mountainview Campground is at ID-21 mile 73.3 and serves as a take-out or put-in.
If continuing downstream past Mountainview you will turn off ID-21 at mile 72.6 onto the Banks-Lowman Road. You will be at mile 33.2 when you turn onto this road.
Deadwood Flats River Access is at mile 29.9 on the Banks-Lowman Road at river mile 105.1. 
The Pine Flats Campground is at mile 27.9 on the Banks-Lowman Road at river mile 100.5.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2016-07-09 06:49:35


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
-134.3Canyon Creek RapidIV
-131.7Bonneville - Dispersed Campsite AccessN/AAccess
-129.1Chapman Creek RapidIII+Photo
-128.6Warm Springs Guard Station AccessN/AAccess Photo
-128.4Little SurpriseIII+
-119.0Helende Campground AccessN/AAccess
-114.9"Wake up" gorgeIII+
-113.3Kirkham Hot Spring AccessN/AAccess Photo
-109.5Mountain View Campground AccessN/AAccess

Rapid Descriptions

Canyon Creek Rapid (Class IV, Mile -134.3)

Most significant drop in this section.

Bonneville - Dispersed Campsite Access (Class N/A, Mile -131.7)

Access just upstream of Bonneville that is accessible for kayaks.

Chapman Creek Rapid (Class III+, Mile -129.1)

Chapman Creek Rapid

Chapman Creek Rapid
Photo of Steve Corsi by Thomas O'Keefe © taken 06/19/14 @ 1800 cfs

A great class III+ read-and-run down the middle.

Warm Springs Guard Station Access (Class N/A, Mile -128.6)

River Access

River Access
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe © taken 06/19/14 @ 1800 cfs

Access at a dispersed campsite across from Warm Springs Guard Station that is an easy raft launch.

Little Surprise (Class III+, Mile -128.4)
At a distinct horizon line the river cascades through a big Just past the Warm Springs Guard Station this class III+ drop awaits. It is recognized by a midstream boulder that is to be avoided. A good line is down the left side and finishing off towards the center but watch the smaller holes at the top that can quickly send you off your line. 

Helende Campground Access (Class N/A, Mile -119.0)

Good access point for rafts and a great campground to stage adventures in the South Fork Payette drainage.

"Wake up" gorge (Class III+, Mile -114.9)

A short bedrock gorge with a horizon line at the start. This is just below the Forest Road 542 bridge (which can be used as a take-out if you don't want to run this rapid or the Kirkham Gorge).

Kirkham (Class III+, Mile -113.4)


Photo by Thomas O'Keefe © taken 06/19/14 @ 1800 cfs

Easy to road scout at the Hot Spring.

Kirkham Hot Spring Access (Class N/A, Mile -113.3)

Kirkham Hot Spring

Kirkham Hot Spring
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe © taken 06/19/14 @ 1800 cfs

The hot spring is just below Kirkham Rapid on river left. This recreation site is sometimes used as a take-out by kayakers (hauling rafts out would not be practical here but you can still stop). Enjoy a nice soak and take out here or continue on your way.

Mountain View Campground Access (Class N/A, Mile -109.5)

An alternate access point.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
July 8 2018 (129 days ago)
GeorgerinNH (160146)
Ran from the campsite at ID-21 mile marker 93 (1.5 miles upstream of Bonneville Campground) down to
the Tenmile bridge on 7/7/18 at approximately 900 CFS in a 12' raft. Be aware, there was a tree
that reached through/across the majority of flow at what I believe is the Chapman Creek Rapid that
is nearly impossible to avoid. We were able to line the boat through this section without much of a
problem, but in my opinion, it isn't safe to attempt a run through. Keep your eyes open on this
June 11 2018 (156 days ago)
Todd HoffmanDetails
We ran from Warm Springs Guard Station to Mountain View Campground in a 14 oar rig. With flows of
2,250 @ Lowman the run took 3.5 hours. There was plenty of water, but Little Surprise and Kirkham
Gorge are a little tight in an oar boat. I recommend that large groups not try to take out at
Mountain View, as there is limited space there for boat trailers, etc. I would also recommend 4WD
if you are backing your trailer down at Warm Springs. The road is quite steep. Excellent run,
incredible scenery.
May 4 2017 (559 days ago)
fishcount (159071)
1660 at the Lowman gauge. We put in just above Canyon creek and almost immediately ran into two
mandatory portages (riverwide trees) with a third possible portage that we squeaked over. After
that it was a fun and sporty section with Little Surprise being he last rapid we ran.
July 7 2014 (1591 days ago)
Thomas O'KeefeDetails
Ran from the access a mile and half upstream of Bonneville down to Helende (nice campground) and
others in the group ran sections from Helende down to Pine Flat. A few logs in play but generally
clean and a good time with the kids in the rafts (they put in at Warm Springs Guard Station) with
some excitement at Little Surprise.
July 12 2011 (2682 days ago)
Helende to Mountain View Campgrounds, 7/11/11. 2400 cfs. Very nice, no logs. Emma has a big hit,
and Kirkham always worth a look.
July 13 2009 (3411 days ago)
x (1)
Ran this from the campground just above Canyon Creek down to Kirkam Hot Springs @ about 1200 cfs.
Canyon Creek rapid was ok. There was a fun little drop between there and Bonneville Hot Springs.
Also, just above Bonneville there is a neat 3 tier drop rapid. Next was Chapman Creek rapid which
was not any trouble. About a mile after that though was the most difficult rapid. Thought it was
about a +III or IV. Then it was swift water till Wake Up. Got pushed against a wall and into a bad
eddy on river right. Swam there. Last rapid Kirkam Gorge and then some hot springs soaking. Fun
run. Very long day.
July 14 2008 (3775 days ago)
x (1)
Ran from the campground above Grandjean to the hot springs at Bonneville. This is mostly a II run,
with some exceptions. We encountered a log portage above the great III+ canyon that is roadside on
the way to putin. Next time I'd launch just above this canyon. We had another portage below this
canyon. The only significant drop on this section is visible from the road where Canyon Creek
enters the run. This a great III-IV drop with some good features at 2300. Very scenic with views of
the sawtooth range from the top of the run. --Brian Vogt

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