South Fork Payette - Below Grandjean [PS1]

Overview

Few river runners take advantage of the upper reaches of the South Fork of the Payette. The Sawtooth Mountains provide a scenic backdrop to this small and narrow river. The top 10 miles offers some very challenging river running with flows at about 1000 cfs max and drops at a respectable 45 fpm. Kayaks or self-bailing rafts are recommended on this action-packed Class IV run. Beware of log-jams all along this run. Another attraction is the fine hot springs called Sacajawea near the put-in.

Canyon Creek Rapid, a Class IV, can be scouted from the dirt road. It is about three miles below the put-in. Take out a Warm Springs Campground for a 10 mile run.

Below Warm Springs, the river slackens a bit. This section would make for a nice raft or decked canoe trip. There are still some tight drops to negotiate. A recent wind storm blew lots of timber into the river, though most of it has since been cut out.

Things pick up again 2 miles above Kirkham Hot Springs to Class IV-. You can take out near Lowman or float another four miles to the Deadwood River. Lots of logistical combinations exist for this section.

There is a road along the river, but good views of the rapids are difficult to find. You have a choice of four fine hot springs.

Logistics

Put in at Grandjean which is 33 miles upriver from Lowman and east of State Highway 21. Leave the highway at the Grandjean turn-off and drive six miles on this dirt road. Put-ins are all along this run.Take-outs vary. Warm Springs Campground is one possibility for an early take-out. Since the road runs along the river, take-out as desired. Steep banks are the only deterrent.Camping: Good camping can be found at Grandjean, Bonneville, Kirkham, and Pine Flats Campgrounds. All have superb hot springs.

River Stats

River

Difficulty

III to IV-

Trip Length

28 mi. (4 mi. of gravel)

Season

Spring and early summer

Flow

USGS Realtime Streamflow

Gradient

36

Outfitters