Six-day whitewater rafting trips: Salmon River, Idaho
WHICH IS THE BEST WHITEWATER RAFTING SECTION OF THE SALMON RIVER FOR YOU?
Every white water rafting river has its own characteristics and personality. The “best” river rafting trip is the one that matches your interest and available time. Your preference might be on-the-edge whitewater, or hardly any whitewater at all. You may be interested in only a quiet day trip, or spending a week or two camping along the Salmon River–or drifting gown the Salmon each day and spending nights in riverside lodges instead of camping. Fishing might be an interest for you, either dry-fly fishing for trout or steelhead fishing from a drift boat. You may be interested in a spring trip when there are essentially no people on the river, the big game animals are still near the river, flowers are blooming, and sense of wilderness is greatest, or you may prefer the warmer, more secure weather of mid-summer. Large sand beach camping with swimming may be a choice, especially if there are younger kids in the group. Regional history, both natural and cultural, may be an interest.
The Salmon is one of the classic wilderness whitewater rivers. By choosing time of the year and section of the river, the Salmon River can stimulate nearly any interest–but not necessarily all interests on the same trip. We offer multiple day camping trips on all three back-country sections of the Salmon, the Middle Fork, the Main Salmon, and the Lower Salmon, and day trips near the town of Salmon, as well as a variety of fishing trips.
The Main Salmon River on the River of No Return offers excellent whitewater intermingled with placid pools, magnificent mountain scenery, beautiful sand beaches, warm summer temperature, and frontier history. With more beaches, warmer water, and more moderate rapids than the Middle Fork, the Main Salmon River rafting is an excellent Idaho white water rafting trip for families with grade school age kids. Because rapids are simpler than the Middle Fork, with deeper pools below rapids for gather-up, it is great water for inflatable kayaks. Group size is usually 8-12 people, and charter trips can be arranged throughout the summer. Main Salmon River camps are mostly on sandbars. We can also offer an Idaho river rafting on the Main Salmon River with no camping, staying in cozy riverside lodges each night. We float 80 miles in six days.
The Middle Fork of the Salmon River is often considered the best of Idaho rafting trips. We float 100 miles in six days, dropping 3000 feet in elevation. The river grows as it drops. The canyon changes from lodgepole pine forest to mixed timber and open grassy slopes and finally in Impassible Canyon, dramatic sheer granite cliffs, rising to peaks six to seven thousand feet above the river. This is one of the deepest canyons in Idaho. Rafting is the only access to this part of the Middle Fork of the Salmon. There are a number of hot springs along the Middle Fork. We stop at some of them, and sometimes camp nearby. We see deer in the upper sections of the Middle Fork, bighorn sheep in the lower. The trip begins at nearly 6000 feet elevation, so temperatures are cooler than the Main or Lower Salmon. Wildlife and scenery are generally comparable to the Main Salmon, though the scenery does change with loss of elevation. There is very good catch-and-release trout fishing available on the Middle Fork, especially later in the season after the river level drops. We can provide special fishing trips using McKenzie drift boats or two-person rubber boats. Rafting is the primary access to the Middle Fork of the Salmon; no power boats are allowed on the Middle Fork.
Group size on the Middle Fork is limited by the Forest Service to 24 passenger, though many of our groups are smaller, especially early and later in the season. Aggipah can arrange charter trips for those who want private vacations. For those who prefer to break up five nights of camping, we can arrange for you to spend a night or two in a riverside lodge with sheets and showers.
White water on the Lower Salmon River is similar to the Main Salmon River, though rapids are less frequent. Beautiful sand beaches and warmer water temperatures are ideal for swimming. Trout and small mouth bass fishing is good in late summer and early fall. White water rafting in Idaho can begin early in the spring on this section of the Salmon River with late August and September being the best times to be on the Lower Salmon River.
September white water river rafting on the Lower Gorge of the Salmon is one of the most under-rated and over-looked of all the Idaho white water rafting trips. September trips are Friday thru Monday, so a trip can be a long weekend rather than a major vacation. Because the trip is only four days and shuttle distance is less, this river trip is a great rafting vacation at a great bargain especially for people living within a few hours driving time.
Our fall CAST AND BLAST Chukar hunting / Steelhead Fishing Trips are on the Lower Salmon River, where we find more birds than upstream river sections.