Pocatello, ID

OK- I usually wouldn’t do this, but why not learn a little just in case. Let’s just say there is a slight, slight probabilty I may end up relocating to Pocatello, ID.

I have grown up being able to enjoy the narrow, rocky, windy ad beautiful class I-II Ozark streams. Can anyone give me some insight on what type of paddling would be expected there??

I understand this area is an outdoorsman’s paradise, from the hiking to the biking and of course paddling opportunities. I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am to even be able to sniff the opportunity to move to (in my opinion) the perfect place for me and my wife.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I hear some good news in the near future- if not, well then I guess I’ll continue to enjoy the beautiful Ozark streams nearby.


– Last Updated: Nov-18-09 1:37 PM EST –


Pocatello lies on the opposite side of the state from me, but I've spent a lot of time there. Unfortunately, when I was there a lot, I was not in posession of any paddlecraft. But I think I can give you some idea, since I've been making plans for spending time on the water in that general vicinity when I get the chance.

Let's get the bad news out of the way first....Pokey has been long known here as a somewhat dirty city - especially for it's size. The major industries there have been pretty bad polluters. But that's changing, it seems. From what I see, things have been improving on that front and will probably continue to do so.

Maybe good, maybe bad, depending on your POV....
Temps in that corner of the state tend to run about 15 degrees colder than the Boise area and winter definitely lasts longer. There is a definite influence of a major religious sect that may or may not bother you (thought I'd mention that JIC). And Idaho is the second-most Republican state in the nation (in case that's an issue to you).

Now the good news....
Eastern Idaho is indeed a *married* outdoorsman's dream. What I mean by that is this...some of us would just as soon live in Alaska or the far reaches of northern Canada, if we could get away with it - but our spouse wouldn't care for it much. Eastern Idaho, OTOH, has a lot of the same kind of wilderness opportunities - without being far from civilization, including a nearby major city (SLC).

There are a lot of good rivers near Pocatello, starting with the Portneuf which flows through town, and including the Bear, Blackfoot, Buffalo, Teton, and upper Snake rivers - all of which have good paddling and much of that in a wilderness setting. Multiple-day trips may be lacking compared to what you may be used to, especially if you aren't into heavy whitewater - but there is a lot of variety. And, of course, Pokey isn't far from some of the west's premier whitewater (Salmon River aka River of No Return) - although access to much of that is controlled by a permit lottery.

I could go into more detail, but instead I'll suggest a book....
Kath and Ron's Guide to Idaho Paddling (Flatwater and Easy Whitewater Trips)).

And a little something to whet your appetite...

On my "to do" list...

Short answer
Since I got carried away a little in my reply, I should probably just answer the question…what type of paddling?

Every type, except ocean of course. It’s pretty much all there…somewhere.

poke othello
Well… not only the play is a little different, culturally its a little on the weird side since its mainly a Mormon Community. Nothing agaist the religion but the vibes and pressure is more than i wanna take.

You also have Great Salt Lake which is about a 40 minute drive…thats 1000+ miles of shoreline.

Snake River runs thru town. Jackson Hole…class 4/5 whitewater is 1.5 hours.

Good world class rock climbing at the City of Rocks about an hour away.

I saw Bob Dylan play there…so thats a plus too.


Snake River in Pokey?
I don’t think they’ve annexed that far out yet. But it’s very close. The Portneuf does run through town. As is customary, it seems, the banks of the 'neuf have a history of use as a dumping ground - but it has been cleaned up a lot in recent years and that work is still progressing AFAIK. The river upstream from Pokey is really nice.

I lived in Poky…
I lived in Pocatello for about 5 years in the mid-80’s. I was a kid, so my recollection is colored in that way.

The Snake does not run through Poky. There is a little canal called the Portneuf. As I recall it isn’t good for any sort of paddling. The American Falls Reservoir is about 30 miles. The Snake runs into the AFR after coming out of the town of Idaho Falls, before flowing on toward Twin Falls which is about 2 hours from Pocatello. Salt Lake City is 2.5 hours, but the northern most part of the lake is less than that. If you’re into WW, Jackson, WY is 2.5 hours. We used to go there a lot.

My recollection of the town was that it was great for hunting, mountain biking, and cross country skiing. The great thing about it was that it is centrally located to a lot of beautiful areas. For backpacking, Poky is hard to beat if for no other reason than you are only a couple of hours from so many outstanding mountain ranges. As for paddling, it might be a little tougher.

I am not Mormon, and don’t recall anything unusual about the community. Most the Mormons I’ve known have been friendly, good neighbors with low crime neighborhoods, and have generally low stress towns.

Like I said, I was between ages 8-12 when I lived there, so my recollection might be a little fuzzy.

Pretty right on…

– Last Updated: Nov-18-09 3:51 PM EST –

...Mudpuppy - except the channelized portion of the Portneuf is just that part in town and another short stretch east of Lava Hot Springs, IIRC. The majority of it is more natural, and I hear that improvements have been made to return the city stretch to a more natural state.

I lived in Victor
My wife used to run in the Poky marathon. Good one to do because it’s mostly down hill. Anyway, the snake is north of there, and there’s a good stretch from swan valley through a canyon above Idaho Falls. Other than that, you’re on reservoirs. It’s not an ideal paddler’s paradise. We used to go to Yellowstone and Grand Teton NPs to get some backcountry paddling. There are some smaller rivers, but you’re going to a high desert.

High Plains Desert…
Is a good description. Not a lot of water.

A few corrections
Great Salt Lake is about 2.5 hours away.

Pocatello is gentile railroad town and not very mormon.

There is a college there, it’s not very good but it broadens the cultural base of an otherwise awful town.

Pokey is not exactly the cultural capital of the west.

Not too bad for a desert.
Snake and Bear river have good paddling opportunities as well as a number of smaller streams.

Lots of water…

– Last Updated: Nov-19-09 10:43 PM EST –

...just not evenly distributed.

It might be high desert, but it's surrounded by high mountains that do get a good deal of snow every winter. The Snake loses almost all it's water to irrigation pumps in the summer around Milner, but below Twin Falls gets completely recharged by aquifer springs.

Put it this way:
Idaho is not much of a canoeing destination, and you won’t find me there in my glass boat. I had a royalex boat when I lived there and it saw most use in reservoirs and lakes.

Thanks for the info…
Kansas sure isn’t much of a paddling destination either- I still have to drive 3 hours to get to a decent paddling destination.

However, the thought of driving a few hours and being at Yellowstone, Jackson Hole, Salt Lake, etc… is pretty damn appealing to me. As for the culture, not really an issue for me or my wife as we are pretty easy-going with any culture, Mormon or not.

Thanks for all of your input- I really appreciate it

Bear Lake also
Not mentioned above but Bear Lake is a pretty nice spot, so many lakes in Idaho, and amazing rivers like the Salmon are just a few hours away.