Banks, ID is home to one of the most iconic rivers in the country, The North Fork of the Payette. It’s a river that attracts some of the best kayakers. But, Banks is also home to the more well paddled rivers like the South Fork of the Payette (Class III/IV) and the Upper Main (Class III). The Main is where Elly (7) and Coby (5) got their first taste of Class III whitewater. Kids Kayaking, is an awesome thing to see. They are all smiles and zero fear, especially Elly and Coby.
We hit Garden Valley on our way to Kelly’s Whitewater Park in Cascade, ID, definitely one of our favorite whitewater parks in the country. We were super stoked because we have great friends in Garden Valley who Cat boat and so we hit them up, and set out for a run on the South Fork. Emmy, Elly, Coby and I ran along the roadside river and watched everyone hit all the fun spots.
The South Fork is fun because there is a wicked ramp that starts at the top of the road and dives down toward the river. At the end, you and your boat get some good air as you fly into the river. Our friend, Luke, even launched his Aire off the ramp!
After that run, we decided to run the Upper Main, or as it’s commonly referred to, The Main. Elly and Coby and Emmy were super excited. It had been almost one week since they’d been in their little Jackson Kayaks and they were rearing to go.
Kady and Cardy decided to paddle their Shaboomee SUP boards down, you know, to change it up and make Class III as difficult as they could. Brody, stayed back and drove shuttle for us all.
Typically when running rivers with Coby and Elly, especially when the run is at the peak of their skill levels, we like to keep it short and sweet and so, we decided to take out a little early at Chief Parrish, even though it meant missing two Class III rapids, Mixmaster and AMF. At 5 & 7, we figured these two had enough action to keep them entertained throughout the run, even with missing two good rapids downstream.
Whitewater 1 & 2
At the beginning of the run, there is a lot of boogie water, a great easy intro that allows you to warm up and have fun before you run into anything remotely scary…another great tip when taking Kids Kayaking…don’t start out with the terrifying!
Whitewater 1 is just some nice wave trains that give you a feel for the river. Whitewater 2 is more of the same, but there is a huge eddy at the bottom. Stop here and assess how everyone is feeling. It’s an easy takeout if some in your group have changed their minds. Obviously, none of us changed our minds.
Banks Beach is exactly as it sounds … a huge beach that’s great for practicing flatwater tricks or sharing snacks with small paddlers whose currency is food. Fun fact … we have a thing where if either Elly or Coby swims, they don’t do booty milks, they get booty candy! That’s right, if they swim, we head to a store immediately after and celebrate it with a bit of candy. Reason being, we don’t want any negatives with the sport. Everything is fun, from swimming to surfing to styling rapids…
Go Left (Class III+)
Pretty straight forward rapid. As the name implies, go left on the green tongue and stay clear of the massive hole and other junk on the right. Both Elly and Coby swam on Go Left and before they were even completely upside down, they were pulling their skirts.
Kenny was Coby’s buddy and Dally was Elly’s and they are both rockstar river rescuers, they had Elly and Coby on the back of their boats within seconds. By the time they reached the eddy at the bottom, Elly and Coby were smiling huge and high-fiving each other. The first thing they said was, “Woo hoo” the second thing they said was, “Candy!” They know the drill.
We drained their boats, and stuck these little rippers back in. They were in super high spirits as swimming is part of the fun.
Lunch Stop (Class II+)
It seems as if nearly every river has a lunch stop rapid. This one is fun. Just a great wave train to ride to an eddy. Lots of yee haw’s and weee’s through this rapid.
Bennett’s Rock (Class III)
This is a super fun boof spot as Bennett’s Rock is in the middle of the river. Coming upon it, you see a big horizon line and a huge bulge in the water. Literally Bennett’s is a huge boof into a huge hole. The conservative line, which Elly and Coby took was to the right. I hear, at certain flows, Bennett’s is a fun surf hole.
Mike’s Hole (Class III)
This is the spot were Maddy ended up with two separate sets of stitches when she was just 8 years old. When coming up on Mike’s we say nothing to her or the little kids. We’ve all run it since, but at the time, we had no clue there was a rock beneath the hole.
There is a sneak line to the left that none of us took, not even Elly or Coby, by their own accord. Of course, Elly got flipped by the eddy line to the right of the hole and swam. No big deal, candy number two heading her way.
Mike’s Toe & Chief Headress (Class II)
A fun wave train down Mike’s Toe and some boogie water through Chief Headress. Perfect spot to turn lead paddle over to Emmy, Elly or Coby! Almost unremarkable, but a chill end to super fun run as we come up on Chief Parrish.
Chief Parrish (Class II+)
Fun little wave train, read and run down the middle. Again, we let Emmy, Elly or Coby lead us down as an educational opportunity to read whitewater.
Chief Parrish is a great take out point at the bottom of this rapid with parking, restrooms, and picnic tables. When we arrived, Brody was waiting for us and got a lengthy recap from Elly anbd Coby about their experiences.