River Running

Priest River meanders along a 44-mile course from Priest Lake to its confluence with the Pend Oreille River near the city of Priest River. Mother Nature seems to have created this river especially for that special group of people who enjoy experiencing the power and beauty of a river flowing through incredible scenery while at the same time, meeting the challenges of white water river navigation.

Depending on the time of the year, Priest River provides a wide variety of water conditions that make each run a unique experience. Those conditions range from slow moving, laid back sightseeing, to fast moving, breath holding, white knuckled, Class III rapids. The views from the river are as extraordinary and varied as the water conditions. Sections of the river flow through canyon-like settings then open to other sections which are deeply forested, then to areas of wide open pasture lands with the magnificent Selkirk Mountains providing the backdrop.

Spring runoff turns Priest River into a swift, high water, thrill-a-minute ride. During this stage, a trip down the river should be attempted by only very experienced river runners. After the runoff and into the summer season, the water level recedes and the river flow slows to a speed suitable for most all canoes, kayaks and inflatables. During this late spring-early summer season, the rapids present a variety of ever changing technical challenges. The two Class III rapids become slalom courses that rigorously test your maneuverability and agility skills.

During late summer, it is advisable to check with the Priest Lake Ranger District prior to planning a float trip. Lack of summer rain may reduce the volume of water in the river to levels unsuitable for float trips.

In mid-October, Priest Lake storage water is released into the river. This normally brings the river to an ideal level and flow speed for float trips. This period of cooler temperatures and fall colors make a trip down the river an unforgettable experience.

A Priest River Float Trip pamphlet that provides a map and pertinent information on access points, routes, etc. is available from the USFS Priest Lake Ranger District office on State Highway 57 (Mile Post 32).