September 6, 2008

Snake River, Idaho (Murtaugh Canyon) (IV+)

Upper Cauldron Linn


Cauldron Linn's nasty lower hole


Misty Falls - the first significant drop on the run (if you don't run Cauldron Linn)

Looking up at the Hansen bridge

Pair-o-Dice from the Hansen bridge - stay left

The river-right side hole at Pair-o-Dice -this thing would keep a swimmer

The fun river-left side of Pair-o-Dice

Approaching Let's Make a Deal

The river-right side doors of Let's Make a Deal

Close up of doors 3, 4, and 4.5

The nasty hole at the bottom of door 5

Redshanks and the impressive roostertail There are beautiful waterfalls down this whole stretch
Looking up at Duckblind, the last big drop

1 comment:

Sparky said...

The Murtaugh Canyon of the Snake River is a great run near Twin Falls, Idaho. It's pretty amazing to be out in the middle of the Snake River Basin where it is completely flat and then come up on the deep canyon of the Murtaugh. This stretch rarely comes in because of all the agricultural dependence on the Snake's water supply, but during big snow years this is one of the best play stretches in the northwest.

If you decide to paddle a playboat instead of a creeker, be ready to get tossed around a bit in the big-water creek-type drops of the Murtaugh. The basalt ledges on this stretch are unique and create very powerful hydraulics and sweet play features. The water quality definitely leaves a bit to be desired, but all the cowshit methane makes the water really warm and fluffy.

The best thing about the Murtaugh is that, when it's in, most other runs around the region have gone dry. This is a great stretch to combine with a Payette-drainage mission or with the runs and waterfalls on the Henry's Fork of the Snake to the east. You're going to be doing a lot of driving to do the Murtaugh, unless you live in Twin Falls. This run is most definitely worth the drive for a late summer nothwest classic.

Murtaugh Logistics: Class IV+ (although the rating doesn't change much with flow fluctuations, the character of the run changes entirely - the pictures above were taken at 2000 cfs total flow at Milner. I can imagine at higher water earlier in the spring this would be an awesome big water trip). Let's Make a Deal and Duckblind feel like lower level Class V's, but overall the nature of the run is pool drop III/IV.

The shuttle for the Murtaugh is a bit tricky, but as long as you're patient and don't mind making about ten wrong turns before you find the right road, all is well. If you end up biking it like I did, get ready for a very long day (the run is an all day affair on its on without 17 miles of farmland biking).

Put-in: Take the Hansen exit off I-84 east of Twin Falls and head south, cross the river (take a look at Pair-o-Dice and the canyon from the pullout on the south side of the bridge), and go until you reach Highway 30. Turn left (east) and go until you reach the town of Murtaugh. Take a left on the main road going into town and find the road that crosses the tracks - stay left after the tracks until you reach a T, then take a left and follow the road down to the river and the Murtaugh put-in.

Take out - Take the Highway 93 exit off I-84 at Twin Falls, head south and cross the river, then take a left on Falls Ave. E and follow the signs for the Twin Falls Reservoir boat ramp and park.