Floating the Snake River is an ideal way to see the canyon and its inhabitants. C.J. Strike Reservoir has 7,000 acres of flatwater for more relaxed boating. A nice day-float runs from Swan Falls Dam to Celebration Park. The other is from Grand View/Black Butte to Swan Falls Dam. You can combine these two if you are prepared to portage around Swan Falls Dam.
The river and its unique surroundings offer a rare opportunity to observe golden eagles, prairie falcons, red-tailed hawks, and northern harriers in their natural environment. More than 800 pairs of raptor of 15 different species nest in this national conservation area.
Enjoy the Snake River, but be safe and respect the land and water by leaving them as least as clean as you found them.
Swan Falls to Celebration Park
Depending on the river flows and how many stops you make along the way, plan 2 to 4 hours to float this 10-mile section. The river is generally flat water, but there are two Class II rapids in this stretch, and it is not recommended for beginners. This section is floatable year round, with flows range from 3,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) in the winter to 40,000 cfs in spring.
Spring flows produce strong currents and eddys and very cold water temperatures. A spill from a boat this time of year can be dangerous. Make sure you have extra warm clothes.
May is the best time to float if you are birdwatching for raptors. Fishing in this section is generally for smallmouth bass, catfish, trout and sturgeon.
Canoes, rafts, kayaks, drift boats, and sea kayaks are all suitable for this section. Be aware that motorized boaters and floaters share this portion of the Snake River. The river experience will be more enjoyable for both if you treat each other with respect and courtesy. Craft moving downstream have the right-of-way but not the right to intentionally block navigation. Floaters should remember that powerboats can only travel in specific narrow routes in some river sections. When you see a powerboat coming, if possible, pull to the shallow side of the river and let it pass.
Shuttle Information: There are no commerical shuttle services available: you must provide your own. Shuttling to Celebration Park from Swan Falls Dam is 12 miles one way and will take about 20 minutes. The suggested route is dropping a car at Celebration Park first, then driving to Swan Falls Dam and put-in.
Grand View/Black Butte to Swan Falls Dam
Plan on spending at least one night camping on the river when floating from Grand View or Black Butte down to Swan Falls Dam. This stretch is all flat water and is suitable for beginners in any craft. If you start at Black Butte, the trip to Swan Falls Dam is 20 miles. If you start at Grand View, add another 8 miles to the trip. The eight-mile float between Grand View and Black Butte is primarily through private agricultural land. The canyon area begins about three miles downstream from Black Butte. Floaters may encounter power boats launching from Grand View or upstream from Swan Falls Dam in this section.
Shuttle Information: There are no shuttle services within the NCA: you must provide your own. With the lack of roads between the put-in and take-out, shuttling this section is difficult. The shuttle route via Interstate 84 is approximately a five-hour round-trip drive. A second route follows Highway 78 from Grand View to Walter's Ferry and then back roads to Swan Falls Dam. This route takes approximatley four hours round trip.