The Locshsa is a classic big water spring run. When the snow starts to melt the river swells, pumping more volume than in the Grand Canyon into an area half the size. The result is as if you took the biggest, baddest rapids on the Grand Canyon, packed them into a six mile stretch, and put it along a highway. The quality of whitewater and ease of access make the Lochsa one of the best day trip runs in Idaho. The pool-drop nature of the rapids means that boaters can take huge lines through massive, schoolbus sized holes and easily recover the carnage in the current below.
Memorial Day Weekend brings in hordes of boaters going as big as possible during Lochsa Madness. Plentiful campsites just off the highway invite you to spend the weekend fitting in as many laps as you possibly can.
Being along a highway, the Lochsa has many options for put-ins and take-outs. The most commonly run stretch is from Fish Creek Launch Site to Silt Creek bridge. This run allows for some good warm up before the big rapids, and a little cool-down float afterwards. If you want, you can pack in the action by putting in and taking out immediately above and below the biggest rapids.
Mile 3.7: House Rock (IV)
After your warm up, the Lochsa welcomes you with a series of Grand Canyon sized waves that seems to go on forever. The line is straightforward, but it's important to keep your boat straight!
Mile 4.4: Bloody Mary (III+)
Thread the gap between a pourover on the right and a massive hole in the center.
Mile 4.5: Grim Reaper (IV)
During high water, the entrance to Grim Reaper packs a huge punch. A tricky v-wave leads into a massive wave train. Sometimes you can slip right through the entrance wave, sometimes it stops you in your tracks. At low water, Grim Reaper is one of the more technical rapids on the run.
Mile 4.7: Cliffside (III+)
A fun wave train that washes out at high water. At low and medium flows there are some fun surf waves here.
Mile 5.0: Shoestring Falls (III+)
At high water, you guessed it, another massive wavetrain. At low water a nearly river-wide ledge hole requires you to hit it in the right spot with lots of power. Immediately following Shoestring Falls are three more rapids that follow the spirit of the Lochsa - huge waves. These are Jone's Wave, Horsetail Falls, and Prelude.
Mile 6.2: Lochsa Falls (IV)
This short rapid packs the biggest punch on the river. At high water, a massive v-wave culminates in a towering pile of whitewater, waiting to stop daring boats dead in their tracks. At flows over 16,000 cfs, a sneak line opens on the opposite side of a large rock on river left. As the water drops, the ledge becomes steeper but much less of a show-stopping hole. The run-out for the rapid is long and friendly, making a run down the middle of the hole a fun challenge to stay upright with little consequence for boaters who can self-rescue. A pull out in the highway makes running Lochsa Falls a spectator sport - on busy weekends there will often be a crowd cheering you on.
Mile 7.0: Pipeline (III+)
A series of large standing waves offers lots of play spots to kayakers.
Mile 7.6: Termination (III+/IV-)
The final large rapid on the stretch offers one last rollercoaster wavetrain with a cliff to avoid on the bottom left.
Mile 9: Take-out at Split Rock Pack Bridge
The takeout is on the right, at the bottom of the a small rapid just below the bridge.