Wednesday, March 21, 2012

St. Joe River, Benewah County, Idaho

Click on this pic to see a close up of Baldy Mt.
1800's cabin on the river
The St. Joe River has lakes on either side of it at its outlet and some beautiful lakes are on either side of the river as it winds through the valley. When the Post Falls dam was constructed on the Spokane River it was believed that the trees and grass along the river bank on the west end of the river would be covered by the water and disappear. But after all these years they are still there, creating one of the most unique river-lake environments in the world. The river runs through the lakes instead of just emptying into a lake. The St. Joe River is the highest elevation navigate-able river in the world (120 miles long with Grade 2 & 3 rapids). the 100 foot ferries from the Coeur d'Alene Resort can travel up river to St. Maries. Smaller power boats can travel up river quite a ways from the town of St. Maries with no depth issues until the St. Joe City River Bridge. Power lines cross the river with between 25 to 50 foot clearance (heights not guaranteed).
Some of  the travel trailers with docks, etc.
on the river. As you progress up river you
will see more and more trailer... becoming a
city of trailers especially at St. Joe City

Example of some of the small channels into
 privately owned inlets/marinas

The following info is organized starting at up river and progressing down river... Enjoy!

St. Joe City River Bridge
This bridge has about 18 ft clearance over the river water... After passing this bridge going up river on the north side of the river is a deep sport of about about 8 ft. deep and about 30 feet long and 12 wide. Its a nice place to swim and fish, and to anchor. Immediately after this deep hole it gets very shallow. Down river of this river is several piles of rocks... watch out for them.
Deep area of the river just up river of
the St. Joe City Bridge. Great place to
anchor, fish, and swim (in the summer)

Scott Park
Scott Park is a little over 2.5 miles more up river from St. Joe Shadowy Campground. It is a county maintained park called Scott Park. Amenities include a T shaped small non floating dock (about 30’ long), small paved launch, small parking area, with a single porta-potty, and campsites with no utilities. There is no running water at this park (go to Shadowy Campground to get water) and no place to park RV’s… it’s a tent only park (10 day limit). This park is right off the St. Joe City Rd. and is less than a mile down river from the St. Joe City Rd. bridge. There is no sign at this park indicating there is no over night mooring; but in the summer good luck finding a place to park at this small dock. There is a small marsh by the dock so you could anchor at and allow your boat to rock against the soft grass, etc. Directions: (Traveling on HWY 3 east of St. Maries) Take road 50 almost to the Benewah & Shoshone County Line. You will see a road sign that says St. Joe City Rd.

1. St. Joe River Shadowy Campground Boat Launch
St. Joe River Shadowy Campground ( 11.41 miles from St. Maries), which has a paved launch with two long docks, campsites with utility hook ups, running water, and restrooms, with ample parking. There is no overnight mooring allowed at the docks - which can be an issue in the summer when you would like to dock with restrooms overnight. If you launch from this site you could just put the boat back on the trailer and park it overnight in the lot. However if you did not launch from this park you could anchor or tie to some of the old pylons down river of the park and then come to the park when you need to use the restroom, etc. In late fall they remove the docks and the water is turned off. Once winter hits they close the park until late spring. TDirections: (Traveling on HWY 3 east of St. Maries) Take road 50 almost to the Benewah & Shoshone County Line. You will see a large sign directing to this campground.

2. St. Joe River city of St. Maries Aqua Park Boat Launch
HWY 3 Bridge just up river of Aqua Park
This old railroad bridge is up river of
Aqua Park and the HWY 3 Bridge.
This is the entrance to St. Maries
River. There is a small inlet just up
river that one can moor in to access
St. Maries restaurants, etc.
Aqua Park includes docks, beach, restrooms, running water, pinic areas, park play area, and two paved boat launches. You can moor at this park and walk a short distance to find restaurants, fuel, etc. There are no marine stores in the city of St. Maries, the closes one is some 50 miles away in Hayden, ID. After/up river of this park is the HWY 3 Bridge with about 50 foot clears from the river surface. There are no marine stores in St. Maries and certainly none that sell sailboats and parts, etc. St. Maries is a logging and tourist town known for fishing and hunting. Directions: (From HWY 3 after crossing the bridge that crosses the St. Joe River into St. Maries) Take an immediate right onto Railroad Avenue, then a right onto Fourth Street; follow this road to Aqua Avenue to the boat launch and park.

3. St. Joe River, Cherry Bend Boaters Park
Cherry Bend Boaters Park, and the perfect place to take a rest, use the restroom, or picnic, etc. In addition to docks, beach, restrooms and picnic tables, the park also includes covered pavilions, volleyball courts, running water, etc. There is no boat launch at this park no matter what other maps indicate but you can drive to this park and launch a small craft from the docks. Directions: (From HWY 3 west of St. Maries Idaho) Turn southwest onto Cottonwood Dr. (no sign for the park from this point); follow this road to your first left. There will be a white sign with red letters directing you to the park.

4. Round Lake East Primitive Boat Launch
Gravel/mud boat launch near the east shore of Round Lake, old dock, gravel parking area, no restrooms or running water... Directions: This primitive launch is right next to HWY 3 off of Mission Point Road/Round Lake Road. The great thing about this launch is that it enters a channel where you can enter either Round Lake or the St. Joe River. This launch is only suited for kayaks or small fishing boats. The ground at this launch can be muddy. Directions: Turn west onto Mission Point Road/Round Lake Road from HWY 3, west of St. Maries, Idaho.

Channels off of St. Joe River into the following Lakes
Channel into Chatcolet and Benewah Lakes... There is another
similar looking channel up river that gives direct access to
Benewah Lake
Channel from St. Joe River into Hepton Lake. Channel and lake are very
shallow... 2-4 ft. tops. The lake use to be a farm field that was flooded in
1990's. As you enter the channel watch out for large rocks from the old
broken dike.

Trail of the Coeur d'Alene Bike Bridge
Just before and after you pass under this bridge you are officially in the St. Joe River.

After passing the bridge channel markers guide you alone the river as
the river is hard to define from the surrounding lakes


  1. Can a boater buy gas on the river in St. Marys?

  2. capsized on the river between st. maries and st joe river mile marker 2 lost one orange kayak with a white lancer logo most likely a long rope is attatched to it also lost a water proof necklace holding my phone and id and my gfs id if found please email me at bless all and be safe on the river