Payette River Rafting Description
The Payette River was named after colorful French Canadian fur trapper Francois Payette in about 1821. Prior to the arrival of the white man, Native Americans such as Shoshone, Bannock, and Northern Paiute lived off the rich bounty of fish and wildlife in the Payette River Basin for thousands of years.
The Payette River Basin cuts through a large granitic rock formation known as the Idaho Batholith as it makes it's way to the Snake River in western Idaho. These smooth granite rocks combined with abundant water and gradient make for some of the best whitewater in the state of Idaho.
Payette River Rafting is offered by several rafting outfitters on both the north and south forks as well as the main stem. The main stem of the Payette River begins at the small town of Banks as the two forks, north and south, come together to form one mighty river. While the Main Payette flows for about 60 miles only the top portion is popular for whitewater rafting as the gradient eases downstream and becomes much more calm.
The South Fork of the Payette River starts high in the Sawtooth Mountains near Stanley Idaho and rips down nearly 100 miles to the confluence with the North Fork. The South Fork flows unhindered by man made structures and offers beautiful scenery and excellent whitewater. The upper portions of the South Fork Payette are rich with streamside hot springs. The commonly rafted sections of the South Fork are shown to the left.
The North Fork of the Payette River begins in the Salmon River Mountains near McCall Idaho. It flows south and forms two reservoirs, Payette Lake and Lake Cascade. After Lake Cascade, the North Fork is finally set free to flow to the confluence with the South Fork. The Cabarton Run is the only section of the North Fork that is run by commercial rafting outfitters.