Boiseans can officially float the Boise River starting on Friday, June 12—one of the earliest opening dates on record.
Before opening the Boise River Raft and Tube
rental shop, turning on the air compressors at Barber Park and firing up the shuttle buses, Ada County officials take a lot of factors into consideration. They monitor river flow levels, weather and debris removal conducted by the Boise Fire Department dive rescue team.
"This year has been a unique year in a lot of ways," Ada County Parks and Waterways director Scott Koberg told Boise Weekly.
"Everyone thinks, 'Well it's hot and there's water, so why aren't you open?' But there are months and months of preparation that goes into opening of float season."
This year, the float season can start sooner because a high river flow never materialized, according to Koberg, so there wasn't much debris to sweep away.
The flow, at 870 cubic feet per second as of June 9, is also optimal for floating. Last year, the river opened on June
18, with a flow of 1,470—a high flow for river floating, but Koberg called this current flow the "sweet spot."
When Koberg took the river's temperature Tuesday morning, it was a chilly 54 degrees.
Ensuring the river's safety isn't the only thing that's kept Koberg busy getting ready for this year's float season, though.
"Last year, we had some challenges, including increased wait times and lines [at Barber Park's rental shop]," he said.
To help cut down wait times, Boise River Raft and Tube expanded hours of operation. Now, river floaters can rent rafts and tubes from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends and holidays, noon-6 p.m. on Fridays and noon-5 p.m. on the other weekdays. The shuttle, which runs from the take-out at Ann Morrison Park to the put-in at Barber Park, will go from 1-8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 1-9 p.m. on weekends to accommodate evening floats.
Boise River Raft and Tube also added 21 new NRS Otter rafts and 50 Aire Rocktabomb tubes to its inventory this year, more than half of which was purchased by Ada County.
"We put a lot of investments into the facilities at Barber Park," Koberg said. "People will notice a lot of big changes."
Boise River Raft and Tube officially opens on Friday at noon. The extended forecast shows temperatures in the low 90s this weekend. It's important for rafters to remember that the river is still cold and swift, and well-fitted personal flotation devices should be worn. Alcohol and glass containers are prohibited on the river.