South Fork Payette River
The lower course of the Payette River
Map of the Payette River watershed
|Source||North Fork Payette River|
|⁃ location||Deep Lake, Boise County|
|⁃ elevation||7,380 ft (2,250 m)|
|2nd source||South Fork Payette River|
|⁃ location||A small unnamed lake near Vernon Lake, Boise County|
|⁃ elevation||8,820 ft (2,690 m)|
|Source confluence||Near Banks|
|⁃ location||Payette County|
|⁃ elevation||2,790 ft (850 m)|
|Payette, Payette County|
|2,125 ft (648 m)|
|Length||83 mi (134 km), East-West|
|Basin size||3,240 sq mi (8,400 km2)|
|⁃ average||2,803 cu ft/s (79.4 m3/s)|
|⁃ maximum||32,000 cu ft/s (910 m3/s)|
|River system||Snake River|
|⁃ left||South Fork Payette River|
|⁃ right||North Fork Payette River, Big Willow Creek|
The Payette River is an 82.7-mile-long (133.1 km) river in southwestern Idaho and is a major tributary of the Snake River.
Its headwaters originate in the Sawtooth and Salmon River Mountains at elevations over 10,000 feet (3,000 m). Drainage in the watershed flows primarily from east to west, with the cumulative stream length to the head of the North Fork Payette River being 180 miles (290 km), while to the head of the South Fork the cumulative length is nearly 163 miles (262 km). The combined Payette River flows into an agricultural valley and empties into the Snake River near the city of Payette at an elevation of 2,125 feet (648 m). The Payette River's drainage basin comprises about 3,240 square miles (8,400 km2). It is a physiographic section of the Columbia Plateau province, which in turn is part of the larger Intermontane Plateaus physiographic division. The South Fork of the Payette has its headwaters in the Sawtooth Wilderness, which is part of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.
The principal tributaries of the Payette River are the North and South forks. The North Fork drains about 950 square miles (2,500 km2), beginning north of McCall and flowing into Payette Lake. The North Fork exits at the southwest end of Payette Lake at 4,990 feet (1,520 m) and flows south in the "Long Valley" of Valley County toward Cascade. It then flows into the Cascade Reservoir, then continues south, accompanied by Highway 55.
The South Fork Payette River drains about 1,200 square miles (3,100 km2), originating on the west side of the Sawtooth Wilderness beneath the 10,211-foot (3,112 m) Mount Payette. It flows past Grandjean and down to Lowman, along Highway 21. The shorter Middle Fork Payette River parallels the lower North Fork 10 miles (16 km) to the east, flowing south and joining the South Fork just southwest of Crouch. Further east, the Deadwood River parallels the Middle Fork and empties into the South Fork just west of Lowman. The main stem of the Payette River is shown on USGS topographic maps as beginning at the confluence of the South and Middle forks.
The North Fork joins the Payette at the village of Banks, at an elevation of 2,790 feet (850 m). The main stem flows south from Banks for 15 miles (24 km) to Horseshoe Bend, then west into Black Canyon Reservoir. Below the reservoir's dam, the river flows past Emmett and Payette, then empties into the Snake River at the Oregon border. The Payette River has an average annual discharge into the Snake River of 2,192,000-acre-foot (2.704 km3) of water.
The river's watershed was originally settled by the Shoshone, Nez Perce, Paiute and Bannock Native American groups. Before contact with Europeans, many of the indigenous peoples had no permanent villages or settlements. During the fall and winter, they camped in the semi-arid lower valley of the main stem Payette River. In spring and summer, they temporarily moved to the lush area of lakes and wetlands along the North Fork now known as Long Valley, where they hunted and gathered in preparation for the coming winter. Camas bulbs, widespread in this area, was a staple of their diet. In order to maintain the naturally occurring fields of camas, they would set controlled burns whenever they moved to the next camp. The seasonal burning also cleared unwanted vegetation and protected their campsites from overgrowth.
In the early 19th century, Europeans began exploring western Idaho. Francois Payette, for whom the river is named,was a French-Canadian fur trapper who worked for the North West Company and was one of the first people of European descent to explore the Payette River basin. Payette ventured east from Fort Astoria in 1818. From 1835 to 1844, he headed the Hudson's Bay Company's Fort Boise trading post near Parma, on the Snake River some distance south of the Payette River. In 1844, Payette retired to Montreal, still over twenty years before settlers began to arrive in great numbers from the eastern United States. One of the first pioneer settlements was on Clear Creek, a tributary of the South Fork Payette River. Many of the Native Americans were unhappy with the new settlers for taking and causing damage to their lands, especially due to mining, logging, and grazing. Armed conflicts resulted, including the Nez Perce War of 1877, when the US Army was dispatched to western Idaho.
Due to the abundant timber in the Payette River basin, one of the first new industries in the 19th century was logging, but did not reach large scale until the early 20th century. Demand for wooden railroad ties for the Oregon Short Line (OSL) in the 1880s increased logging operations in the area. One of the main centers of logging was in the southern part of Long Valley downstream from what is now the town of Cascade. A splash dam was built in 1902 by the Minnesota-based Payette Lumber and Manufacturing Company on the North Fork in order to help the transportation of logs downstream. Settlers began to move into the upper Payette basin, and in 1911, the Idaho Northern Railroad was constructed between Emmett along the Payette River, through Black Canyon and the North Fork, and ending just below Long Valley at Smith's Ferry on the river, named for a settler who bought the operation in 1891. The railroad transported timber, livestock and crops between Long Valley and the Treasure Valley.
Starting around 1874, there was heavy agricultural development in the valley of the lower Payette River. Irrigation systems were necessary due to the semi-arid climate of this area. The Last Chance Canal and Nobel Canal were among the first private ditches constructed to divert water from the Payette River. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) constructed Black Canyon Diversion Dam in 1924 to direct water from the Payette River into the Emmett and Black Canyon Canals, which run at higher elevations than the older ditches and vastly increased the potential for irrigation. In order to store water for irrigation in the dry season, the USBR constructed Deadwood Dam in 1929 on the Deadwood River tributary of the South Fork. Cascade Dam was constructed in 1948, flooding a large area of Long Valley. It provides more than four times the storage capacity of Deadwood.
Due to the wide range in elevation, the Payette River has a variety of fish and fish habitats. Salmon and steelhead were eliminated in the drainage by the Black Canyon Diversion Dam, which was first completed in 1924.From its mouth upstream to Black Canyon Dam, the river supports a mixed fishery for coldwater and warmwater species. Mountain whitefish make up the bulk of game fish in this section of river, with smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, channel catfish, black crappie, rainbow trout, and brown trout making significant contributions. Upstream from Black Canyon Dam, the gradient of the river increases with coldwater species increasing in abundance. The South Fork of the Payette River supports excellent populations of wild rainbow trout. The North Fork of the Payette River has been severely altered by railroad and highway construction and provides only a marginal fishery for salmonids. However, in unaltered sections such as the Cabarton reach, the North Fork is very productive for salmonids.
There are five major impoundments in the Payette basin: Black Canyon, Sage Hen, Paddock, Cascade, and Deadwood reservoirs. There are also several small impoundments and natural lakes with increased storage, such as the three Payette Lakes. Black Canyon, on the mainstem, provides only marginal fish habitat. Sand from upstream land disturbances has covered most of the habitat. Paddock Reservoir, on Big Willow Creek, has one of the better populations of black crappie in the state and a good fishery for largemouth bass. Cascade Reservoir on the North Fork is one of the most heavily fished waters in the state. Cascade has an abundance of yellow perch, coho salmon, and rainbow trout. Deadwood Reservoir, completed in 1931,contains kokanee and cutthroat trout.
Alpine lakes within the Payette River drainage are stocked with rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, cutbow (rainbow-cutthroat hybrids), golden trout, and Arctic grayling. Brook trout are also present in a number of lakes.
The Payette River is famous for its whitewater. Experts call the North Fork Class V run one of the most challenging river reaches in North America, if not the world. km) above Banks, providing nearly endless Class V rapids (see International Scale of River Difficulty). The average gradient is 110 feet (34 m) per mile (21 m/km) with a maximum gradient of 200 ft/mile (38 m/km). The North Fork's flow rate is controlled through the Cascade Dam, completed in 1948, providing relatively warm water from the shallow Cascade Reservoir.Kayaking on the lower North Fork from Smith's Ferry to Banks is world-class, easily viewed from state highway #55, which closely hugs its bank, primarily on the west side. The lower North Fork narrows and drops 1700 feet (518 m) in the 16 miles (26
To the east of Banks, the South Fork's Canyon, west of Lowman, is a challenging Class IV run for rafting. Along this trip is a 40-foot (12 m) Class VI waterfall (Big Falls), which is portaged. The North Fork and South Fork merge at Banks to form the Payette River (main), providing a float trip with numerous Class III rapids. The highway on this lower stretch of the river is on the east bank and a scenic railroad, the Thunder Mountain Line, runs above the west side.
The Snake River is a major river of the greater Pacific Northwest region in the United States. At 1,078 miles (1,735 km) long, it is the largest tributary of the Columbia River, in turn the largest North American river that empties into the Pacific Ocean. The Snake River rises in western Wyoming, then flows through the Snake River Plain of southern Idaho, the rugged Hells Canyon on the Oregon–Idaho border and the rolling Palouse Hills of Washington, emptying into the Columbia River at the Tri-Cities, Washington.
The Kings River is a 132.9-mile (213.9 km) river draining the Sierra Nevada mountain range in central California in the United States. Its headwaters originate along the Sierra Crest in and around Kings Canyon National Park and form the eponymous Kings Canyon, one of the deepest river gorges in North America. The river is impounded in Pine Flat Lake before flowing into the San Joaquin Valley southeast of Fresno. With its upper and middle course in Fresno County, the Kings River diverges into multiple branches in Kings County, with some water flowing south to the old Tulare Lake bed and the rest flowing north to the San Joaquin River. However, most of the water is consumed for irrigation well upstream of either point.
The Salmon River is located in Idaho in the northwestern United States. The Salmon is also known as "The River of No Return". It flows for 425 miles (685 km) through central Idaho, draining a rugged, thinly populated watershed of 14,000 square miles (36,000 km2) and dropping more than 7,000 feet (2,100 m) between its headwaters, near Galena Summit above the Sawtooth Valley in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, and its confluence with the Snake River. Measured at White Bird, its average discharge is 11,060 cubic feet per second. It is one of the largest rivers in the continental United States without a single dam on its mainstem.
The Teton River is an 64-mile-long (103 km) tributary of the Henrys Fork of the Snake River in southeastern Idaho in the United States. It drains through the Teton Valley along the west side of the Teton Range along the Idaho-Wyoming border at the eastern end of the Snake River Plain. Its location along the western flank of the Tetons provides the river with more rainfall than many other rivers of the region.
The Malheur River is a 190-mile-long (306 km) tributary of the Snake River in eastern Oregon in the United States. It drains a high desert area, between the Harney Basin and the Blue Mountains and the Snake.
The Boise River is a 102-mile-long (164 km) tributary of the Snake River in the northwestern United States. It drains a rugged portion of the Sawtooth Range in southwestern Idaho northeast of Boise, as well as part of the western Snake River Plain. The watershed encompasses approximately 4,100 square miles (11,000 km2) of highly diverse habitats, including alpine canyons, forest, rangeland, agricultural lands, and urban areas.
Boise National Forest is a National Forest covering 2,203,703 acres (8,918.07 km2) of the U.S. state of Idaho. Created on July 1, 1908, from part of Sawtooth National Forest, it is managed by the U.S. Forest Service as five units: the Cascade, Emmett, Idaho City, Lowman, and Mountain Home ranger districts.
The Crooked River is a tributary, 125 miles (201 km) long, of the Deschutes River in the U.S. state of Oregon. The river begins at the confluence of the South Fork Crooked River and Beaver Creek. Of the two tributaries, the South Fork Crooked River is the larger and is sometimes considered part of the Crooked River proper. A variant name of the South Fork Crooked River is simply "Crooked River". The Deschutes River flows north into the Columbia River.
Lake Cascade is a reservoir in the western United States, on the North Fork of the Payette River in Valley County, Idaho. Located in the Boise National Forest, it has a surface area of 47 square miles (122 km2), and is the fourth largest lake or reservoir in the state. The closest cities are Cascade, Donnelly, and McCall, all in the Long Valley of Valley County.
Deadwood Reservoir is a reservoir in the western United States, in Valley County, Idaho. Located in the mountains of the Boise National Forest about 25 miles (40 km) southeast of Cascade, the 3,000-acre (12 km2) body on the Deadwood River is created by Deadwood Dam. The river flow south from the dam and is a tributary of the South Fork of the Payette River. The reservoir and vicinity is commonly used for camping, water skiing, fishing, canoeing, and other outdoor recreation. The full pool surface elevation is just above a mile-high at 5,334 ft (1,626 m) above sea level.
Anderson Ranch Dam is an earth rockfill type dam on the South Fork of the Boise River, in Elmore County, Idaho, United States. Its reservoir, Anderson Ranch Reservoir, has a spillway elevation of 4,196 feet (1,279 m) above sea level. The dam is northeast of Mountain Home and several miles north of US 20.
Idaho State Highway 21 is the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway, primarily a two-lane highway from Boise to Stanley. With two-thirds of its length in Boise County, it passes by historic Idaho City and the village of Lowman to the western edge of the Sawtooth Mountains, then along their northern boundary to Stanley.
The North Fork Clearwater River is a major tributary of the Clearwater River in the U.S. state of Idaho. From its headwaters in the Bitterroot Mountains of eastern Idaho, it flows 135 miles (217 km) westward and is dammed by the Dworshak Dam just above its mouth in north-central Idaho. Draining a rugged watershed of 2,462 square miles (6,380 km2), the river has an average flow of over 5,600 cubic feet per second (160 m3/s), accounting for a third of the discharge from the Clearwater basin. The river drains parts of Clearwater, Shoshone, Latah, and Idaho counties. Most of the watershed is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Some of the fish of the river include westslope cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, mountain whitefish, and the threatened bull trout It also is host to an annual kokanee salmon run over Labor Day weekend. The North Fork also lays claim to grizzly bears, cougars, deer, moose, black bear, elk, grey wolves, and ospreys. The river used to hold a prosperous steelhead run before the implementation of Dworshak Dam. The North Fork of the Clearwater is located within the Clearwater National Forest
Salmon Falls Creek is a tributary of the Snake River, flowing from northern Nevada into Idaho in the United States. Formed in high mountains at the northern edge of the Great Basin, Salmon Falls Creek flows northwards 121 miles (195 km), draining an arid and mountainous basin of 2,103 square miles (5,450 km2). The Salmon Falls Creek valley served as a trade route between the Native American groups of the Snake River Plain and Great Basin. Today, most of its water is used for irrigation.
The Klamath River is a river in southern Oregon and northern California in the United States. This article describes its course.
The Minidoka Project is a series of public works by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to control the flow of the Snake River in Wyoming and Idaho, supplying irrigation water to farmlands in Idaho. One of the oldest Bureau of Reclamation projects in the United States, the project involves a series of dams and canals intended to store, regulate and distribute the waters of the Snake, with electric power generation as a byproduct. The water irrigates more than a million acres (4,000 km²) of otherwise arid land, producing much of Idaho's potato crop. Other crops include alfalfa, fruit and sugar beets. The primary irrigation district lies between Ashton in eastern Idaho and Bliss in the southwestern corner of the state. Five main reservoirs collect water, distributing it through 1,600 miles (2,600 km) of canals and 4,000 miles (6,400 km) of lateral distribution ditches.
The North Fork Payette River is a river in western Idaho in the United States. It flows about 113 miles (182 km) southwards from the Salmon River Mountains to near Banks, where it empties into the Payette River, a tributary of the Snake River. It drains a watershed of 912 square miles (2,360 km2), consisting of mountains and forests, and valleys filled with large lakes and wetlands.
The Deadwood River is a 43.5-mile (70.0 km) tributary of the South Fork Payette River, flowing through Boise National Forest in Valley and Boise counties, Idaho in the United States. It joins the South Fork Payette River about 3 miles (4.8 km) west of Lowman. The source of the Deadwood River is below Deadwood summit on forest road 579 in the Salmon River Mountains. The Deadwood Dam was completed in 1931 and impounded the river to form Deadwood Reservoir.