Lochsa River Montana Fly Fishing, Camping, Boating

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Lochsa River

If you’re after an adrenaline rush and heart-thumping adventure, then a whitewater rafting trip down Idaho’s Lochsa River is your perfect side trip from Missoula, with calmer stretches ideal for fishing. Read More

  • The Lochsa River flows 70 miles through north central Idaho. 
  • The Lochsa is a world-class whitewater rafting river. 
  • Experience thrilling rapids including the 16-foot drop at Lochsa Falls. 
  • The Lochsa is also a trout, salmon and steelhead fishery. 
  • Camp and hike near the Lochsa in Clearwater and Bitterroot National Forests. 


The Lochsa River is a world-class whitewater rafting location that runs 70 miles from the Bitterroot Mountains to Lowell, ID, where it joins the Selway River to form the middle fork of the Clearwater. The fast-moving and dropping waters of the Lochsa thrill no end of rafters and kayakers each year, from late spring through early summer. In slower moving sections, the Lochsa is a prime location for trout, salmon and steelhead fishing. Numerous campgrounds and trails are located along and nearby the river, in Clearwater National Forest and the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.

Location and Information

The Lochsa River begins in northeast Idaho, at the confluence of White Sand Creek and Crooked Fork Creek, and flows 70 miles southwest to the town of Lowell, ID. The river runs parallel to US Hwy-12 for its entire length.

To reach the Lochsa from Missoula, travel southwest on US Hwy-12. The river begins near Powell Ranger Station.

For more information, contact:
Clearwater National Forest
12730 Highway 12
Orofino, ID 83544
Ph: (208)-476-4541
Website: www.fs.usda.gov/nezperceclearwater


Whitewater Rafting
Tackling the Lochsa River in a raft or kayak is not for the faint-hearted. This river contains dozens of Class 3 and 4 rapids and even some Class 5 rapids, with a 2000 feet drop over its 70-mile course. It is highly recommended that only experienced floaters and guides attempt to navigate its waters. Several rapids bear ominous names like “Keep Moving,” “Eye Opener,” “Grim Reaper,” and “Bloody Mary.” Approximate floating time for the section closest to Missoula (Crooked Fork Creek and White Sands Creek to Indian Grave Creek) is roughly 6 – 8 hours. The whitewater season generally runs from May through early July. Several outfitters are located in nearby towns, ready to take you on the ride of your life.

Trout fishing on the Lochsa River generally opens during the last weekend in May. West slope cutthroat trout, salmon and steelhead can be found in the river’s cold, deep holes. Above the Wilderness Gateway Bridge, fishing is catch-and-release only. All wild steelhead must be released. Check with Idaho’s Game and Fish Department for specific rules, regulations, and licensing information.

A number of National Forest campgrounds are located along US Hwy 12 and the Lochsa River. Campgrounds nearest to Missoula include White Sands, Powell, White House and Windover. Most charge fees and feature water and trailer/RV hook-ups.

While you float or fish, keep your eyes peeled for herds of deer, elk, and black bear roaming the open slopes as well as the occasional moose standing in wet areas and meadows. Bird species commonly seen include swans, eagles, Canada Geese, and Great Blue Herons.

Fun Fact

Lochsa is a Nez Perce word that means “rough water”…and they aren’t kidding!