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Snake River Ferry

A fresh approach to exploring the falls of Idaho Falls

Published in the August 2022 Issue Published online: Aug 11, 2022 Articles, Business, Discover Idaho Falls, East Idaho Business, East Idaho Outdoors, Outdoors Steve Smede
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SINCE ITS TURN-OF-THE-CENTURY TRANSFORMATION
from a tumbling cascade into a beautiful (albeit semi manufactured) waterfall, our city’s namesake has been a magnet for locals and tourists alike. Thanks to Candace and Richmond Sekyere and their “Snake River Ferry,” we now also have the good fortune of enjoying the falls up close and personal.

Now in its third season, the single pontoon boat operation isn’t really a ferry or shuttle service, but rather a recreational platform of discovery that provides history-laden tours of the river and the falls. “I grew up back east in Canada around Lake Ontario, so I was always in or around the water,” Candace said. “Living out here, we noticed that there were hardly any boats or kayaks on the river. Then my husband and I went on a vacation to New York and rode the Staten Island Ferry, and I thought, you know, we need to do a mini version of this, just to get people out on the water.”

The couple went through a full year of battling red tape at both the city and state level to bring their vision to
reality. Oddly enough, no one in Idaho Falls had really attempted to launch this kind of on-water enterprise before.

“Finally, as we were just about to get going, the whole 

Covid thing happened,” Candace said. “But luckily with us being outside, and our pontoon boat with three benches that are spaced out, we could meet the Covid requirements and keep running.”

What started as simple boat rides soon turned into narrated tours that shared historical trivia. Their first-year customer
base was almost entirely locals, but in 2021 the numbers were 70-80 percent tourists.

On alternating weeks, Snake River Ferry offers two runs—one above the falls, and one below. Plans are already underway for a second boat to allow both runs to occur at the same time. One of the more critical aspects of Sekyere’s business plan was to make sure the platform itself would be as safe and stable as possible while navigating the currents of the river.

“With a regular V-shaped hull, when you turn, the whole boat tilts,” Candace said. “As we were researching, we saw the way pontoon boats were being used for their river tours down in San Antonio. It’s just a safer, more stable design.” Candace and Richmond had weighed the decision by trying to forecast the demographics of their clientele, which they assumed would be mostly families with young kids.

“Surprisingly, a majority of our passengers have been older people, with lots of retirement groups that come down,”Candace said. “The safe design of the boat really helps with that, plus it can seat more people.”

Depending on wind and weather conditions, the ferry may have to postpone or cancel its operations. Customers are
encouraged to check out the company’s website or Facebook page the morning they come down.

Candace says that hopes are high that 2022 will be a great year for the ferry and will continue to attract locals who have never really experienced the falls from down on the water. “Walking around the Greenbelt and seeing the falls is one thing, but when you’re out on a pontoon boat and get up close to the falls, it’s like a mini-Niagara Falls experience where you can feel the mist,” she said. “The views are different, the atmosphere is different. It’s a really unique experience.”

Tours start every 30 minutes during operating hours. 
For pricing and bookings, visit snakeriverferry.tours. For additional information and updates, call 208-557-1769 or check out the Snake River Ferry page on Facebook.

Snake River Ferry Locations
Upper Falls Run
Snake River Boat Launch
1417 River Parkway
Lower Falls Run
Rock Gardens, north of the Pancheri Dr. bridge
River Walk Dr.

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