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Raft And Ride On The Payette River Flyer

I was invited to check out the Thunder Mountain Line’s new rafting train, the Payette River Flyer last Friday. I didn’t think whitewater rafting in Idaho could get any better. It has!

One of my favorite things to do in Idaho is whitewater raft. I love it! So when I heard that the Thunder Mountain Line would be running a rafting train I got even more excited. Now I can go rafting and ride the train, something I find very romantic. Trains are so cool!

I boarded the train in Smith’s Ferry behind Cougar Mountain Lodge. The train is so neat, it was built in 1956 and has such history. I got a delicious box lunch to eat as we traveled the 17 miles through the Boise National Forest along the Payette River. What a gorgeous stretch! There are only a few miles of tracks that you can see from Hwy 55. The rest of the trip is through forest that you would never get to see unless on the train or a raft.

We put in just south of the “normal” Cabarton put-in. The train launch is different from the launch you drive to. Much more private and rustic. In minutes we were on the river with Bear Valley Raft Company (highly recommended raft company). This was the earliest I have ever rafted. My first May trip! In the early season you get bigger water but it is a litter cooler. I would take a wetsuit and big water any day. If that’s not your cup of tea, don’t worry, the rafting season goes into the fall with warmer weather and smaller waves.

We definitely got wet and hit lots of rapids! This stretch has class I,II and III rapids. After getting through Howard’s Plunge (named for a man named Howard who plunged his car into the river north of Smith’s Ferry not once, but twice!) we took out at Cougar Mountain Lodge. So easy, so simple. No fuss. Bear Valley Raft Company did all the work and I just got to sit back and enjoy a beautiful day in the great outdoors!

What you need to know about the Payette River Flyer:
-Runs Saturday and Sundays 10am & 2pm from Smith’s Ferry. Behind Cougar Mountain Lodge.
-You can book a guided raft trip with Bear Valley Raft Company or you can bring your own raft or kayak and hitch a ride on the rails. This is perfect if you don’t have someone to shuttle cars with, just take the train! Plus your train ticket covers your take-out fee at Cougar Mountain Lodge. So nice!
-There area also round trip rides for those who want a scenic day in the Boise National Forest.

Click here for rates, full schedules and more info.

Payette River Flyer

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