Celebration Park to Swan Falls

Ann did this hike solo and recommends it, so I give it a try on my own today in cool temperatures and blue skies. High water is still the topic on my mind when I look at the river. Last week I noted that the Boise river was full to the brim, and on Thursday a heavy showers caused it to overflow a little. Today I’m on a much bigger river with many more dams: the Snake. You can still see some of the above average snowpack in the Owyhees (130%) that is contributing to high water levels downriver from here.

Snake River and Owyhee Mountains

The river looks pretty full, but how does it compare to historical peaks? Today the flow is over 23,000 cubic feet per second (CFS), and earlier in the week it topped 25,000. That’s more than three times what we saw in the Boise river last week. Here are the recorded historical peaks:

That’s 47,300 CFS in 1913, and 40,300 CFS as recently as 1997. I try to imagine double the current flow at various points along my hike.

I only see a couple of boats on the river. Ann talked to a boater last week who said the high water makes fishing and navigation more difficult, so there aren’t as many people out.


The birds seem less active today than other times I’ve been here, but I still see plenty. The meadowlarks in particular seem easier to observe here.



The canyon is quiet and feels pretty wild along much of this hike. At the end the high cliff walls close in, and a couple of soaring prairie falcons appear as I approach the Swan Falls dam and pipeline.

Canyon Wall Patterns

What a great spot for a pipe

An old access road makes for a finishing climb out of the canyon. I remain curious what else the runoff season has in store for Idaho’s watersheds.

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