For the first time in 155 years, a “ferry” will be operating in Idaho Falls as a new river boat excursion begins offering rides this Friday.
The Snake River Ferry is owned by Richmond and Candace Sekyere. The “ferry” is not a real ferry. Rather, it is a pontoon that will take passengers on rides along the river. The name is both a nod to the historic Eagle Rock Ferry that operated locally between 1883 and 1885 and to the fact that the couple thought of the idea while riding the Staten Island Ferry in New York.
“We were riding the Staten Island Ferry and realized we have a river right in town. You can walk around it or bike around it, but not a lot of people have the chance to actually get out on the water,” Candace said.
The Sekyeres faced many hurtles in starting up their idea including permits, safety issues and learning about river conditions.
“Since there hasn’t ever been something like this here, it was a learning process for everyone,” Candace said.
There are two routes that the boat will run on a rotating schedule. One will explore the northern area of the river in Idaho Falls beginning from the dock at John Hole’s Bridge and the other will go along the southern area of the river in Idaho Falls beginning near the Rock Gardens (near SpringHill Suites).
While the focus will be on allowing families to enjoy the river, the boat captain will give out some history and facts on the landmarks as the ride goes along. The rides will last 20 to 25 minutes.
Candace is hoping the ferry will appeal to tourists and locals alike.
“We figure there’s a lot of people right here in Idaho Falls who don’t have a boat and there’s a chance they’ve never been on the river,” Candace said.
The ferry’s first weekend schedule will be 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday launching from the Rock Gardens. The owners hope to continue operating Tuesday through Saturday until Labor Day, but Candace stressed that the times and days ferry rides will be available will always depend on weather and water conditions. She advised those interested to keep an eye on their Facebook page for the latest updates.
“We all know Idaho weather. We could wake up in the morning and the forecast has changed for the whole weekend,” Candace said.
Tickets, waivers and life jackets will all be available at the dock. Admission is $10 for those 13 years and older, $5 for children ages 4 to 12 and free to children under 3.
“I love being out there,” Candace said. “We think the community will enjoy it. It’s a fun, relaxing ride. No matter how many times you go out, it’s always fun.”