Boise Whitewater Park FAQs

Boise Whitewater Park – Summer 2023 FAQ for Phase 1 and Phase 2

Updated: March 30, 2023

1. What can we expect for the 2023 season at the Boise Whitewater Park?

There will be multiple opportunities to get out and recreate at the Boise Whitewater Park this summer. Because the Boise River is a dynamic body of water, conditions at the Boise Whitewater Park change on any given day and throughout the course of the day. Boise Parks and Recreation cannot control the amount of water flowing through the park – our team can only work within current river flows to create reliable and enjoyable experiences for a variety of users.

The adjustable wave located at Phase 1 is available for all modes of surfing and kayaking. Seasonal schedules will be posted on the park’s website and Facebook page.

The adjustable wave feature located at Phase 2 will be available for expert-only, monitored sessions again this summer (from 9 to 11 a.m. Wednesday through Sunday). Boise Parks and Recreation continues to work with professional hydrologic engineers to finalize designs for modifications to be constructed in the winter of 2024. These modifications will seek to improve user experience and reduce/remove the need for monitored sessions in the future.

New this year: A new portage plan has been implemented between Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the Boise Whitewater Park. (‘Portage’ means you must get out of the river and carry your watercraft around to the next river access point.) Everyone recreating on the river should portage (exit the river) at the channel on the right of the river just after the bridge between Phase 1 and Phase 2.  Look for signage on the bridge just upstream of the Boise Whitewater Park and along the banks of the river. There is no opportunity for floaters to bypass Phase 2 this summer, so this portage is required to avoid extremely hazardous conditions associated with the existing bypass feature (which is turned off). All entry to the river must be through approved access downstream of Phase 2; there is no upstream access allowed.

2. What influences the adjustable waves you can create at Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the Boise Whitewater Park?

A variety of factors influence the experience associated with Phase 1 and Phase 2 wave features. Water flow, measured in cubic feet per second (CFS), and irrigation demands are primary considerations. First and foremost, the city must fulfill its water right requirements and meet the irrigation needs of Thurman Mill Irrigation District using the diversion at Phase 1 and Farmers Union Ditch Co. at Phase 2. Our wave techs do their best to meet these needs while shaping the mechanical wave feature to create an experience that meets the needs of most users.

Our wave techs follow all safety protocols and check conditions regularly, to implement the best wave features possible given all the factors that impact the park. Users enter the park at their own risk and should always act as if they are entering a dynamic whitewater situation. Please remember, your safety while recreating on the river is your responsibility.

3. What is the latest update on Phase 2 of the Boise Whitewater Park?

This summer, the city will resume monitored sessions at the Phase 2 adjustable wave as conditions allow. Details related to the monitored sessions and expectations for the coming river float season will be forthcoming.

The City of Boise continues to work closely with local engineering professionals to complete modifications to the Phase 2 adjustable wave and Drop Structure 1 to create a more predictable experience for river recreationists. Engineers are continuing to evaluate design modifications that will ensure a more reliable wave feature and reduce or remove the need for monitored sessions.  Due to current volatility in the construction market and ongoing design challenges, work is expected to begin the winter of 2023/2024, when flows are low enough for crews to work in the river.

4. Why are you hosting monitored sessions at the Phase 2 adjustable wave feature?

The Phase 2 adjustable wave is an advanced, expert level feature. Over the course of the last few seasons, users and our wave techs have noted unstable and hazardous wave conditions associated with the existing feature design and layout. Proposed modifications seek to reduce this hazard and eliminate the need for monitored sessions in the future.

At this point, specially trained staff must be on-site to adjust the features as needed and in real time to ensure the wave can be available for use. The purpose of monitored sessions is to improve safety measures and user experience.

Monitored sessions at the Phase 2 adjustable wave are currently held from 9 to 11 a.m. every Wednesday through Sunday, as conditions allow.

5. Can you hold additional monitored sessions for more hours?

Due to staffing constraints, the existing schedule is our best effort to offer wave experiences. The department requires two specially trained wave techs to be always onsite when the Phase 2 adjustable wave is in operation. This is for the increased safety of the users. A monitored session at Phase 2 from 9 to 11 a.m. Wednesday through Sunday requires staff be onsite from 7 a.m. to noon. This schedule allows our park professionals to manage the wave feature and address other park duties they are assigned.  Sessions are currently held in the morning before 11 a.m. to take advantage of more predictable river flows and irrigation supply needs. Variability increases throughout the course of the day as water releases and irrigation needs become more impactful. In our effort to provide a stable wave, morning is the best time for monitored sessions.

It’s important to keep in mind that the Phase 2 adjustable wave is not complete, and a permanent redesign is scheduled to take place during the 2023/2024 winter. Modifications will be made with the goal of creating a safer experience that does not require monitored sessions – similar to how the park operates at Phase 1.

6. Why can’t we wear leashes when the Phase 2 adjustable wave feature is operational?

Safety at the Boise Whitewater Park is always our top priority. Due to several entrapment hazards around the Phase 2 adjustable wave, leashes should not be used for your own safety. Any type of rope, string, or tethering device should not be used in the river. At this wave, there are entrapment hazards that could anchor a person to the bottom of the river when caught.

7. Why is Wave Shaper 3 (part of Phase 1) inoperable?

Because the Boise River is a dynamic watercourse, each new spring runoff may change the streambed and bank of the river. Recent flood years have deposited rock and sediment adjacent to this feature that affect our commitments to irrigation needs. Until conditions change, Wave Shaper 3 at Phase 1 will continue to be unavailable for use.

8. What can be done to improve the first wave feature (at Phase 1)?

Modifications within Phase 1 and Phase 2 affect the operations of each phase, and our priority is to first permanently update Phase 2 to provide a stable wave. Once Phase 2 modifications have been completed, adjustments to the Phase 1 features can be considered.

9. Who can I contact if I have questions about the Boise Whitewater Park or current features?

You can email the Boise Parks and Recreation Department with questions or concerns at any time. Our team will work to address your message and respond as staffing allows.

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For other after hours park related emergencies (i.e. irrigation issues, restrooms), please call (208) 489-6640.