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“The Joe”: The highest navigable river in the world is in Idaho

Idaho is home to more than 107,651 miles of river. Some of those miles are from the St. Joe River in Northern Idaho.

Commonly called “The Joe,” the river runs 144 miles across the Idaho Panhandle. It flows from the high mountain towns of Avery and St. Maries before meeting up with Lake Coeur d’Alene. It’s also called “The Shadowy Joe” due to the lush trees shading the river. There is even a campground with this name. According to, it was originally named the “St. Joseph” by Father Pierre-Jean Desmet – a Catholic priest who established a mission nearby.

[Inside Idaho: Why is it called ‘The River of No Return?’]

Another interesting fact about the St. Joe River is that it is the highest navigable river in the world. At the mouth, the river has an elevation of 2,129 feet. For a river to be deemed navigable, it must be wide enough, deep enough, and calm enough for boats to pass through it. Many of the boats on The Joe are there for one thing – the good fishing.

“The St. Joe is clear, cold, gorgeous and full of native trout that have been in Idaho since before the ice age,” the Idaho Fish and Game website notes. “These Westslope Cutthroat Trout provide a unique catch and release fishing opportunity.” The Westslope Cutthroat is also Idaho’s state fish.

The river is also known for its “Race the Joe” world jet boating championship hosted yearly in St. Maries. This year, the championship starts May 27th through May 29th.

To learn more about the St. Joe River, watch Visit Idaho’s video below.

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Anna Daly - BoiseDev Reporter
Anna Daly - BoiseDev Reporter
Anna Daly is a reporter for BoiseDev. She's an Emmy-winning journalist, and a professor at the College of Western Idaho. Contact her at [email protected].

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