High waters this spring and early summer had left our boating aspirations in the dust. For the past several years we had eyed this float along the Selway and Middle Fork of the Clearwater, but had just never managed to fit it in. Finally we were able to snag the opportunity.
Jen and I left one vehicle at the Highway 13 bridge in Kooskia and then drove over to the O’Hara bridge up the Selway. We aired up and rigged the boats for a 30 mile float down the two rivers. The weekend promised bright skies and water levels were perfect. By 1:30 we pushed our four boats out into the river.
The kids enjoyed the splashy cold water as we moved through easy class 1 and 2 rapids down the lower Selway. We migrated in and out of the various boats as the day progressed. About 6 miles into our journey we joined the Lochsa draining from the east and watched the Middle Fork of the Clearwater born.
Our intended destination for the night was an island at almost the exact 15 mile halfway point in our journey. We made it by about 4:30, hung our hammocks and let the kids roast hot dogs over a fire for dinner. We turned in as downstream breezes settled the mountain cooled air onto the river.
Sunday morning brought chilly temperatures and more downstream winds. We fixed breakfast burritos before packing up our camp. The summer sun rapidly warmed the temperature as the eight of us pushed back out onto the water.
We continued our route down the river, fishing along the way and hooking, but not landing several bass. The kids enjoyed splash wars, ramming each other with the boats, and taking dips in the crystal clear waters. We made it to the boat ramp at Kooskia by about 12:30 having enjoyed a great start to the summer rafting season.
See it Yourself: This 30 mile class 2 whitewater float is a beautiful run along the cedar lined shores of the Selway and Middle Fork of the Clearwater rivers. Camping can be found on some of the sandy beaches and shady groves of trees in the surrounding National Forest land. Though the route parallels roads throughout its course we rarely found the road intrusive. A hard packed dirt and rock boat ramp can be found at the O’Hara bridge about seven miles up the Selway River Road and a nice developed ramp is found at the Highway 13 bridge in Kooskia. Although this run is not permitted, please practice proper river etiquette and pack a fire pan and a portable toilet system to keep the lightly used campsites as pristine as they currently are.