We recently took a group of students on an overnight rafting trip down 40 miles of the South Fork of the Snake River in South-Eastern Idaho. Regarded as a world-class fishery and wildlife-viewing Mecca, the South Fork is a slice of paradise for those seeking a memorable experience.
We launched two fourteen-foot rafts just below Palisades Dam at the head of Swan Valley, Idaho and rigged for a late afternoon of mellow floating, fishing and sight-seeing. We needed to make at least 16 miles that afternoon to get to the first campsites inside the canyon section and to get a glimpse of Fall Creek Falls. With light waning and a stiff head wind, we had to lean into the oars more than into the fly rods.
Our camp neighbors noticed the boats full of assumedly hungry teenagers and offered their left over steak and grilled veggies as we were making camp. With a start like that it was hard to complain about the surprisingly low temps that night that left the boats icy in the early morning light. Once the sun warmed the world we spent the rest of the day chasing fish in every eddy and riffle the river offered as Osprey, Bald Eagles, and Golden Eagles repeatedly showed us how to properly land a fish. These trips often offer notable experiences for our students and this outing was no different. One student tripled his lifetime fish allotment; another spent his first night under the stars; and for the whole group, the first time being entranced by the magic of the South Fork.