South Fork Payette River to Banks
Paddling & Surf Locations
There are several rapids along this stretch with Bronco Billy (Class III+, with a road pullout that is used for a nearby hot springs), Staircase (Class IV) and Slalom (Class IV) being the standouts. The Banks Lowman Road is next to the river through this canyon making it easy to scout the entire run.
Another possible hazard to be aware of is jetskis and jet boats. Jet boating is increasingly popular at higher flows. Jet boat operators report that they can navigate the entire Staircase run above 5000 cfs, and at higher flows they can even get up past Little Falls on the Canyon run. Jetskis have also been up as far as Little Falls.
Driving From Boise, take Highway 55 north about 32 miles to Banks.
Put in: From Banks, head east upstream along the South Fork Payette on the Banks-Lowman Road (Highway 17) that parallels the river and provides an opportunity for a road scout. Access points include Deer Creek Ramp, most commonly used access point, at mile 4.5 or Upper Deer Creek Ramp at mile 4.8. Immediately upstream of this point the run is flatwater through Garden Valley but additional access points can be found.
Take Out: Confluence of the South Fork Payette and the North Fork Payette at the Banks Access area on river right. This is a fee site but provides a concrete and sand ramp with boat trailer access, toilets, and changing rooms.
No permit needed, but user fees are required at the put in and take out facilities. A season pass can be obtained at Idaho River Sports.