The Meanders section of the Payette River is flatwater heaven. This slack water just above Payette Lake in McCall, Idaho, rambles for roughly 3 miles through the Payette National Forest with a negligible current when traveling upstream. The stretch of clear water gives views of the fish and snarls below, and it mirrors reflections of the towering trees above. Take your time on this trip to catch glimpses of the resident moose, bald eagles, beavers, mink, birds and more.
Along the route there are sandy beaches that are easy to access for picnics and play areas for kids. A private operator rents canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards from the put-in at North Beach during summer months.
The river is fully navigable during spring and summer. In the fall months, the flow decreases and sections become impassable. However, the fall colors are remarkable, and river traffic becomes negligible.