For many kayakers and whitewater enthusiasts, April is an exciting time to travel over hundreds of miles, from all directions, to descend on the Black Canyon on the Bear River, located near Grace, Idaho. The destination event is the Black Canyon of the Bear Whitewater Festival, where adventure seekers gather for food, music, and a challenging 2-mile race along a stretch of restored class IV/V river.

For those unfamiliar with the area, the Black Canyon itself offers up unique beauty, having been formed over time as the Bear River cut through a series of basalt lava flows.

For much of the year, the river channel at the base of the Black Canyon sits near dry, with rarely enough water to flow. But, 9 times each year, the river comes alive, awash with the rush of rapids released during scheduled recreational releases from Pacificorp Power’s hydro-electric dam.

The festival grew out of an agreement between the American Whitewater Association and Pacificorp Power to create scheduled releases each spring, the first of which occurred in 2008. The first Black Canyon of The Bear Whitewater Festival, however, wasn’t held until April 2010.

The 2019 edition of the Black Canyon of the Bear Whitewater Festival will take place on the weekend of April 26th, 27th and 28th, with the race itself taking place on Saturday, April 27th. All Racers must be expert kayakers and have previously paddled the particular stretch of whitewater.

Race registration will take place on Saturday, from 9-10:30 a.m., at Grace Dam., with the race start set for high noon at Boo Boo.

For more information on the event please visit the Black Canyon of The Bear Whitewater Festival Facebook page or the Jackson Hole Kayak Club Website.

Remaining 2019 release flows in the canyon are scheduled for May 11th and 12th.


Black Canyon of the Bear Whitewater Festival from Calvin Craner on Vimeo.