ClassClass l-III rapids
Meeting PointGold Creek Campground on the St. Joe River
10:00 a.m. PDT
St. Joe River Rafting
While many have nicknamed this river “Shadowy St. Joe,” we think a more appropriate moniker for this gem is the “Surprising St. Joe.” The river’s deep, serene waters near Lake Coeur d’Alene offer no hint at the heart-pounding excitement waiting 90 miles upstream. As the canyon walls narrow at this point, the water gushes through the restricted course, creating explosive rapids. Plentiful rocks and holes make the course challenging in areas, forcing rafters to keep their eyes sharp and their paddles ready.
After an adrenaline-filled morning, we’ll enjoy a brief respite in the form of a bountiful lunch at the river’s edge before continuing downstream for more surprises on this playful river. Our trip on the “Surprising St. Joe” covers between 12-16 miles of river, depending on the water level. Besides the thrill of the rapids, visitors to St. Joe are treated to magnificent scenery. Majestic cedars frame the river water, which is so crystal clear that you’ll catch a glimpse of trout darting beneath us while we navigate some of the calmer waters.
Prices June 1 - June 30, 2024*
*Please note we require a minimum of 6 guests to run a trip. If you have less than 6 in your party, you can still reserve a spot and we will work to place you with another group in order to confirm your trip.
*Dates subject to change due to water levels.
*Prices are plus a 8% Land & Water Access Fee
Due to various water levels from year to year, we may have to transfer due to both high and low levels. Rather than cancel your trip, we have found that most people prefer to be transferred to a similar trip. We will try to contact you 12-48 hours prior to your trip if a transfer looks likely. If you’re going to be on the road during this period, please give us a contact number or call us at 208-770-2517.
We will meet you at 10:00 am Pacific Time at our new meeting location at the Gold Creek Campground on the St. Joe River. Upon your arrival you will listen to the orientation talk and get dressed for the day on the river. Once dressed you will listen to the safety talk and load up in the boats.
You will take in the beautiful scenery of the St.Joe in between rapids. Soon you will pull over and enjoy a riverside lunch prepared by your guides. After lunch, you will enter into the Tumbledown section of the St. Joe river. This is when you will experience the biggest rapids of the day. Between rapids your guides will tell you stories about the natural history of the area.
After the adrenaline rush of the Tumbledown section of the St. Joe you will board the bus and be taken back up stream to your vehicles. On your way back, you will be served snacks to quench the appetite your worked up while paddling. You will be back to your cars around 4:30-5pm.
What to Bring
ROW provides wetsuits, wetsuit booties, a fleece sweater and splash jacket for your comfort and safety. The wetsuits are Farmer Johns that have long legs but no sleeves. During hot weather, the Farmer John is worn alone. Synthetic socks could be worn under the booties on cold days. Cotton makes you colder when wet by wicking away heat from your body. Do not bring cotton on the river! Please use our gear checklist to be sure you pack all you need.
This list is based on years of experience. Even if it is sunny at home when you leave, bring all this as the Be sure all members of your group read this. Even on sunny days the water is cold, so you have to dress more warmly than you do for land activities.
- Swimsuit or non – cotton underwear to wear under wetsuit
- Water bottle
- Running shorts/swimsuit to wear over wetsuit (optional). These keep you from sliding around on the raft and protects the wetsuit
- Sun hat/ball cap
- Towel/change of clothes for end of day
For cool days and for people who tend to get cold easily:
- Synthetic socks
- Synthetic cap (like ski hat)
- Wool, synthetic or wetsuit gloves
- Synthetic leggings/tights (worn under the wetsuit on cold days)
If you don't have any of these things, Army/Navy surplus and Outdoor stores are a good bet for synthetic and inexpensive wool gloves.
(If you have size 13 plus feet, please bring tennis shoes and wool socks, as our booties only go to size 13.)
*Please note we require a minimum of 6 guests to run a trip. If you have less than 6 in your party, however, you can still join in the fun! We'll be sure to place you with another group in order to confirm your trip.
Our meeting location is now at the Gold Creek Campground on the St. Joe River. This allows us to protect our guests and employees by avoiding a long confined bus ride. We will meet you at 10:00 am Pacific Time.
There are two ways you can drive to Gold Flat. Coming from Spokane or Coeur d’Alene. Either way takes about 2.5 to 3.5 hours depending on your starting point, how many stops you make, and how fast you drive.
Via St. Maries:
- Drive to St. Maries, Idaho
- Take the St. Joe River Road (FS Road #50) heading east along the St. Joe River. It is about 76 miles and 2 hours from St. Maries to our meeting point at Gold Creek Flat. You pass by Calder and Avery hamlets.
- About ½ mile, after you pass the Conrad Crossing camping area there will be a sign pointing to the right for Red Ives Ranger Station. Turn right and proceed about ½ mile to a large dirt flat on the right that has a vault toilet and perhaps some people camping. Meet the ROW Vehicle and guides here. (If you get to Simmons Creek, or Fly Flat, you went too far upstream.)
- Take I-90 east through Wallace, over Lookout Pass (Idaho/Montana border), and on to the St. Regis exit. Turn left at the end of the exit ramp.
- Go under the freeway to the stop sign.
- Turn left and pass the St. Regis Travel Center.
- Proceed about ½ mile to St. Regis St/Little Joe Road and turn left. Road #282.
- This will pass over I-90 and becomes a winding unpaved road that climbs to a summit that is the Montana/Idaho border. At the border the road becomes paved and you continue downhill on the Idaho side on FS Road #388. After about 30-40 minutes you will arrive at the St. Joe River. Be careful not to miss this turn! (If you miss this turn, you will come to Conrad Crossing Camping Area. Turn around and go back upstream.)
- Gold Creek Rd. is not maintained by the State of Montana; this road may be closed and inaccessible due to snow. You may call the St. Regis Forest Service, (406)822-4233, to inquire about road conditions or call the ROW Main office, (208)770-2517.
- There is a brown USFS sign pointing left to the Red Ives Ranger Station. Turn left and proceed about ½ mile to a large dirt flat on the right that has a vault toilet and perhaps some people camping. Meet the ROW Vehicle and guides here. (If you get to Simmons Creek, or Fly Flat, you went too far upstream.)
If you are driving from CdA/Spokane we would recommend you drive on I-90 in the morning via St. Regis and then return home via St. Maries since you will be about 10-12 miles downstream of the Gold Creek Road at the end of the day (provided Gold Creek Rd. is open). This makes for an enjoyable trip without repeating the same driving route and takes about the same time.
Shuttle Logistics: We will take a bus from Gold Creek Campground to the boat put-in, up river. Then from the take out, we will take a bus back to your vehicles at Gold Creek Campground.
The closest airports are in Spokane, WA and Missoula, MT.
Click HERE to see Terms and Conditions.
Important Notice: ROW has an excellent safety record, but you should know that whitewater rafting is
inherently risky. You will be required to sign a "Release and Assumption of Risk" agreement prior to the trip,
recognizing and accepting the risks involved. If you're interested in trip cancellation, travel or accident
insurance, contact our office. We do not allow alcoholic beverages or any drugs
What do I need to wear?
ROW will provide you with a Farmer John style wetsuit, wet suit booties, fleece jacket, splash jacket, helmet, and personal floatation device (PFD). In addition to the gear ROW provides, we suggest wearing a swimsuit or non-cotton underwear underneath your wetsuit; merino wool or synthetic socks, thin fleece, or merino hat for under your helmet. If you are someone who gets chilled easily, bringing along an additional synthetic or merino wool base layer top is a good idea as well as paddling gloves.
A full packing list can be found above and tips for cold weather rafting.
What class of rapids is the St. Joe River?
The St. Joe River is a class II-III+ river depending on water levels.
What is for lunch?
Lunch is comprised of a spread of appetizers like chips and dip, veggies and hummus, and fruit. The main lunch spread is a build-your-own sandwich bar and on really cold days freshly prepared hot soup. Beverages include, but are not limited to sparkling water, soda, tea, and water. No alcoholic beverages will be served during the trip.
Guides will pass out snacks on the bus ride to and from the river ranging from fruit snacks, trail mix, granola bars, etc.
What if I have to go to the bathroom while out on the river?
ROW abides by the motto “the solution to pollution is dilution” in regard to liquid waste. For solid waste, guides will have wag bags for emergency use; at lunchtime, there will be an opportunity to use a pit toilet. For feminine hygiene, come prepared with some small zip-lock bags. These are useful for disposal during the day while on the river and can be put into our trash containers at lunch or the end of the day.
At lunchtime, there will be an opportunity to use a pit toilet.
When is the best time to raft the St. Joe river?
The season is short on the St.Joe River for rafting trips; it is at its peak during the month of June. Depending on the snow pack that year, we can sometimes get a few more weeks out of the season and extend into July.
During rafting season, what is the weather like on the St. Joe River?
The weather in the St. Joe River valley can vary greatly depending on the day. North Idaho is notorious for having weather swings in late spring and early summer. The water is coming from direct snowmelt, so it is chilly; even on a sunny day you will be provided with cold water rafting gear.
Check out current and historical weather here.