Float the Portneuf River in Pocatello

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Portneuf River Maps
 
 
For more information about float distances and difficulty levels, view the float map above.
Water Trail Safety

Know Before You Go

Make a plan – Familiarize yourself with the section you’re planning to float. Look at the map and consider potential hazards and plan for them. Know your experience levels and choose the appropriate sections to float. Take breaks if you get tired or cold.

Know where you are – When calling 911 to report an emergency, knowing your exact location will enable rescuers to find you quickly. Bring along the printable map of the water trail to help keep track of your location. Plan your take out location before you get in.

Know the weather and river conditions – Check the weather before you plan your trip. High water levels and fast-moving water can be dangerous! For current river flows, text or email “13075500” to waternow@usgs.gov, or look up current conditions online. Keep in mind that the stream bottom is very muddy, so if you stand up it is easy to fall. Muddy water may also hide hazards. Know when to go, and when to wait for a better day. As always, float at your own risk.

Be Prepared

Wear a life vest! Life vests are required to be worn by children age 14 and under. Every boat must have a life vest for each person on board.

Dress appropriately for the river. Your clothes will likely get wet and may get caught on some overhanging branches. Appropriate footwear includes closed-toed shoes or water shoes—flip flops will get lost! Remember to wear sunscreen. Water reflects UV rays back and you can get seriously sunburned. Don’t tie anything to yourself or your tube; it could drown you.

Stay hydrated—drink lots of water! Do NOT drink stream water. No glass on the river or in the parks.

Use the buddy system. You can help each other build river skills and other assistance when someone needs it. Learn if anyone in your group has first aid skills.

Recommendations

Do not take valuables on the river (wallets, credit cards, etc.) However, if you do have a medical condition, wear a medical bracelet. If you must bring personal gear, pack it in a waterproof bag, and pin or tie your car key tightly to your clothes, so it does not come loose in the water.

Do not jump from the bank. You don’t know how stable it is or how deep the water is.

If you fall into the water, stay calm. Lay on your back, point your feet downstream, and point your feet out of the water. Either climb back up onto your flotation device, or paddle over to the bank and get out. Don’t try to stay up if flows are high.

Always tube feet first to clearly see your path.

Be Respectful

Leave no trace. You must pack out anything you bring to the river. Don’t leave litter in the river or on the banks.

Share the river. Give other boaters or anglers plenty of space. Floaters from upstream always have the right of way.

Respect private property. The Portneuf River is open to the public, but much of the adjacent land is private property. You may only enter and exit the river from public land or at public rights-of-way next to bridges.

 
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River Access Points

Centennial & Rainey Parks

Located off of South Arthur Avenue by Rainey Park and Pocatello Community Charter School. There is a large gravel parking area. River access is located on the east side of the river, underneath the footbridge between Centennial and Rainey Parks. There is additional parking at Centennial Park, on the opposite side of the river than the access point. Equipment can be carried across the footbridge.

Taysom Rotary Park

Located half a mile south of the Pocatello Charter School off of Bannock Highway. There’s a small parking lot on the west side of the road. Take the greenway path leaving the parking lot up to the fork in the path. Take the right fork. You’ll see a gravel footpath down the flood control levee to the access point.

Cheyenne Bridge

Located north of Indian Hills Elementary School off of Cheyenne Avenue. Turn onto Cheyenne Avenue from Bannock Highway. Follow the road down past Yakima Street. Before you reach the bridge, there’s a gravel lot on the right where you can park. Do not block the gate. You can also park along the road. This river access point is undeveloped. To find it, walk up Cheyenne Road to the greenway path on the west side of the river. Take a right on the greenway path (while facing the river). Walk on the path for ~50 feet, and then you’ll see a dirt path heading down to the river. Walk down the path and take an immediate left at the bottom. The access point is just below the concrete structure.

*Cannot access Cheyenne Avenue from the west side of the river. Cheyenne Bridge is closed.

Edson Fichter Nature Area

Located north of Indian Hills Elementary School off of Cheyenne Avenue. Turn onto Cheyenne Avenue from Bannock Highway. Use the Edson Fichter Nature Area parking lot on your right, about 1.5 blocks down the road. From the parking lot, walk up the greenway path. To your right, you’ll see the access point. You can either go directly down the dirt footpath (which is a little steep), or you can continue straight down the greenway and take the first right on the paved path. This will also take you down to the river access point.

*Cannot access Cheyenne Avenue from the west side of the river. Cheyenne Bridge is closed.

Portneuf Road

Located a mile east of Fort Hall Mine Road off of Bannock Highway. There is a ¼ acre gravel parking lot (on the left if coming from Pocatello), surrounded by a buck and rail fence. The river access point is on the east side of the parking lot.

Examples of intermediate rapids
Frequently Asked Questions
1When can I float the river?
The Portneuf River is never “closed” but is always a float-at-your-own-risk adventure. Typical floating season is May through October. Text or email “13075500” to waternow@usgs.gov for real-time data on river flow.
2Do I need to wear a life vest?
By Idaho law, children age 14 and younger are required to wear personal flotation devices/life vests on any vessel that is moving on a body of water, including tubes, stand-up paddle boards, kayaks and canoes.
3Are there any rapids?
Yes, there are numerous small rapids in the Portneuf between Portneuf Road and Cheyenne Bridge. From Cheyenne Bridge to Centennial Park there is only one small rapid just above Taysom Park. Conditions can change, so always be aware of what is coming.
4Can you paddle upstream?
Yes! The section of river upstream from Centennial Park is slow-moving water and during most summertime low-flow conditions, kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards can paddle upstream and float back down!
5Is there a place to fill my tube with air?
Currently there is no public location to fill your tubes. Please bring your own pump or stop at a local gas station with the proper adapters for your craft.
6Is the river safe to take kids on?
If your child does not know how to swim, we don’t recommend taking them on the river. If they can swim, we suggest trying the beginner floats first. These are entirely within the flood control levees, and the water is more calm.
7Where do I put in and take out?
Download the Portneuf River Water Trail Map to see the river access points. Listed from upstream to downstream, river access points are located at 1) Portneuf Road (a mile south of Fort Hall Mine Rd), 2) Edson Fichter, 3) Cheyenne Bridge, 4) Taysom Rotary Park, and 5) Rainey and Centennial Parks.
8Is the water clean enough to float?
Yes! The brown color in the Portneuf River is caused by soil from Marsh Creek, as well as river straightening. Also, every summer the Idaho DEQ measures how much bacteria is in the Portneuf River at Edson Fichter Nature Area. The Portneuf River in Pocatello is as safe for swimming and floating as it is in Lava Hot Springs.
9What sort of boat/tube do I need to float?
Download the map for watercraft recommendations for each float section. Kayaks and canoes are feasible in all float sections, and tubes are recommended from Edson Fichter down to Centennial and Rainey Parks.
10Do I need an Idaho Invasive Species Fund sticker to take my watercraft on the river?
It depends. Idaho law requires the owner of any boat or non-motorized vessel to buy and display an Idaho Species Fund sticker. Canoes, kayaks, rafts, and drift boats need one of these stickers to legally launch and operate a boat in Idaho. However, inflatable, non-motorized vessels less than 10 feet long are exempt. These can be purchased online from Idaho Parks and Recreation.
11What kind of ramp is there to the water?
None of these river access points have full-size boat ramps. Access points are more primitive with sloping land down towards the water.
12Do I need a permit?
No. The Portneuf River is free for the public to recreate on!
13Can I float through the concrete channel?
Floating in the concrete channel is PROHIBITED by City Code. There is no access for rescuers for 1.6 miles, and no emergency exits. Make sure to take out no further than Centennial and Rainy Parks.
14Where can I rent equipment?
You can rent floating equipment from the City of Pocatello Outdoor Program, ISU Outdoor Adventure Center, and Barrie’s Ski and Sports. Check their websites for specific equipment rentals.