Rapids, Race boats, and shenanigans…

Being pent up in the office for days at a time can drive you crazy, especially when the weather is nice and you make fishing products. It’s times like these that we desperately look for an excuse to escape with the boat.

A quick glance at the calendar told us it was mid-April and we’d be just in time for the jet boat races in Riggins, Idaho, a little town nestled deep in a canyon at the confluence of the Salmon and the Little Salmon rivers in the west-central part of the state—and the perfect excuse to grab the film crew and take off on another Idaho adventure, and leave the office behind.
We invited our good friend and pro-staff member, Carl Johnson, and got a quick “hell yeah” even before we could finish the invitation. With the boat fueled and stocked, camera batteries charged and our traveling gear stowed away, we were on the road heading toward Riggins.


Mount views and endless vistas

It’s a little more than a five-hour drive from Mountain Home to the Steelhead Inn on the east shore of the Salmon River in Lucile, Idaho, a quiet little outpost on US 95 between Riggins and White Bird.
If you haven’t stayed at the Steelhead Inn before, I highly recommend it. We showed up that night around 11 and the owners, Kenn and Nancy Brown, could not have been more gracious. Nancy was even so kind as to make us all breakfast in the morning.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt as comfortable outside of my actual home as I did at that remote and grand country inn on the shores of the Main Salmon River in the middle of Idaho. It’s a truly beautiful place.

We hoped to run the Salmon River the next morning, but the flows were too high for our liking so we decided to go to Hells Canyon on the Snake River instead. Our launching point was Pittsburg Landing on the other side of the mountains from White Bird at the southwest corner of the Camas Prairie north of Lucille.

riggins-to-pittsburg

To get to the river you summit the mountain via Deer Creek Road, a single-track gravel road out of White Bird. The drive of 19 miles takes about an hour.
The boat landing is in Hells Canyon, a 10-mile wide canyon located along the borders of eastern Oregon, eastern Washington and western Idaho and is part of the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area and is North America’s deepest river gorge.
The canyon was carved by the Snake River, which flows more than a mile below the canyon’s west rim on the Oregon side and 7,400 feet below the peaks of Idaho’s Seven Devils Mountains range to the east. Most of the area is inaccessible by road so you really have to want to be there, to be there.

We arrived at Pittsburg Landing and got the lay of the land. There is a nice campground with 28 campsites, vault toilets, trailer and RV parking and a mellow grade two-lane boat ramp. We launched the boats and went straight to running rapids. We mainly shot video of the rapids so make sure to watch for the story on our website. Getting cool shots of running the rapids was our focus, but we found time to shoot some instructional videos on how to rig and bait for sturgeon as well.

fish-fighter-boat-hells-canyon

After many hours on the rapids we decided to take a break and just cruise the beautiful canyon and river. We stopped at a few places along the way and checked out an old mine where we found a geocache, logged in, and there we will be documented through history.

Again, the views were more than spectacular. When the sun began to set, we called it a day, not wanting to navigate the river at night.

The next day we hung out in Riggins and watched the jet boat races at Time Zone Rapids. (They’re near the bridge crossing where you go from the Mountain to the Pacific Time zone). After the last safety boat passed, we hit the road back home.

The next day it was back to the office and work, work, work, work, work, work, work. But we had all recharged our inner batteries and were ready for whatever challenge came next in this amazing journey we’ve found ourselves on.

Watch the video, subscribe to our channel, and we’ll see you on the water!