Portneuf River Maps

For more information about float distances and difficulty levels, view the float maps above.
Water Trail Safety

Know Before You Go

Make a plan – Familiarize yourself with the section you’re planning to float. Look at the map and consider potential hazards and plan for them. Know your experience levels and choose the appropriate sections to float. Take breaks if you get tired or cold.

Know where you are – When calling 911 to report an emergency, knowing your exact location will enable rescuers to find you quickly. Bring along the printable map of the water trail to help keep track of your location. Plan your take out location before you get in.

Know the weather and river conditions – Check the weather before you plan your trip. High water levels and fast-moving water can be dangerous! The Portneuf River is never “closed” but is always a float-at-your-own-risk adventure. Typical floating season is May through October. Get real-time river flow data from the USGS website for the Portneuf River. Keep in mind that the stream bottom is very muddy, so if you stand up it is easy to fall. Muddy water may also hide hazards. Know when to go, and when to wait for a better day. As always, float at your own risk.

Be Prepared

Wear a life vest! Life vests are required to be worn by children age 14 and under. Every boat must have a life vest for each person on board.

Dress appropriately for the river. Your clothes will likely get wet and may get caught on some overhanging branches. Appropriate footwear includes closed-toed shoes or water shoes—flip flops will get lost! Remember to wear sunscreen. Water reflects UV rays back and you can get seriously sunburned. Don’t tie anything to yourself or your tube; it could drown you.

Stay hydrated—drink lots of water! Do NOT drink stream water. No glass on the river or in the parks.

Use the buddy system. You can help each other build river skills and other assistance when someone needs it. Learn if anyone in your group has first aid skills.


Do not take valuables on the river (wallets, credit cards, etc.) However, if you do have a medical condition, wear a medical bracelet. If you must bring personal gear, pack it in a waterproof bag, and pin or tie your car key tightly to your clothes, so it does not come loose in the water.

Do not jump from the bank. You don’t know how stable it is or how deep the water is.

If you fall into the water, stay calm. Lay on your back, point your feet downstream, and point your feet out of the water. Either climb back up onto your flotation device, or paddle over to the bank and get out. Don’t try to stay up if flows are high.

Always tube feet first to clearly see your path.

Be Respectful

Leave no trace. You must pack out anything you bring to the river. Don’t leave litter in the river or on the banks.

Share the river. Give other boaters or anglers plenty of space. Floaters from upstream always have the right of way.

Respect private property. The Portneuf River is open to the public, but much of the adjacent land is private property. You may only enter and exit the river from public land or at public rights-of-way next to bridges.

Frequently Asked Questions
1When can I float the river?
The Portneuf River is never “closed” but is always a float-at-your-own-risk adventure. Typical floating season is May through October. Get real-time river flow data from the USGS website for the Portneuf River.
2Do I need to wear a life vest?
By Idaho law, children age 14 and younger are required to wear personal flotation devices/life vests on any vessel that is moving on a body of water, including tubes, stand-up paddle boards, kayaks and canoes. If you would like to borrow a life jacket, there are lifejacket stations at Rainey Park and Edson Fichter Nature Area.
3Are there any rapids?
Yes, there are numerous small rapids in the Portneuf between Portneuf Road and Cheyenne Bridge. From Cheyenne Bridge to Centennial Park there is only one small rapid just above Taysom Park. Conditions can change, so always be aware of what is coming.
4Can you paddle upstream?
Yes! The section of river upstream from Centennial Park is slow-moving water and during most summertime low-flow conditions, kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards can paddle upstream and float back down!
5Is there a place to fill my tube with air?
Currently there is no public location to fill your tubes. Please bring your own pump or stop at a local gas station with the proper adapters for your craft.
6Is the river safe to take kids on?
If your child does not know how to swim, we don’t recommend taking them on the river. If they can swim, we suggest trying the beginner floats first. These are entirely within the flood control levees, and the water is more calm.
7Where do I put in and take out?
Download the Portneuf River Water Trail Map (above) to see the river access points.
8Is the water clean enough to float?
Yes! The brown color in the Portneuf River is caused by soil from Marsh Creek, as well as river straightening. Also, every summer the Idaho DEQ measures how much bacteria is in the Portneuf River at Edson Fichter Nature Area. The Portneuf River in Pocatello is as safe for swimming and floating as it is in Lava Hot Springs.
9What sort of boat/tube do I need to float?
Download the map for watercraft recommendations for each float section. Kayaks, canoes and paddleboards are feasible in all float sections, while tubes are most appropriate from Edson Fichter down to Centennial and Rainey Parks.
10Do I need an Idaho Invasive Species Fund sticker to take my watercraft on the river?
It depends. Idaho law requires the owner of any boat or non-motorized vessel to buy and display an Idaho Species Fund sticker. Canoes, kayaks, rafts, and drift boats need one of these stickers to legally launch and operate a boat in Idaho. However, inflatable, non-motorized vessels less than 10 feet long are exempt. These can be purchased online from Idaho Parks and Recreation.
11What kind of ramp is there to the water?
None of these river access points have full-size boat ramps. Access points are concrete planks embedded in gravel and are for walking down to the river with your boat.
12Do I need a permit?
No. The Portneuf River is free for the public to recreate on!
13Can I float through the concrete channel?
Floating in the concrete channel is PROHIBITED by City Code. There is no access for rescuers for 1.6 miles, and no emergency exits. Make sure to take out no further than Centennial and Rainy Parks.
14Where can I rent equipment?
You can rent floating equipment from the City of Pocatello Outdoor Program, ISU Outdoor Adventure Center, Barrie’s Ski and Sports, Portneuf River Rentals, and Yaksup Rentals. Check their websites for specific equipment rentals.