Raft down the Middle Fork of the Salmon river on a deluxe camping adventure that’s simply BIG fun!
Hungry for a real adventure but don’t want to break the bank? Looking for easy fun in the great outdoors, but want to curtail the hassles of camping? Dying for a fast getaway but short on time? Then come and experience the thrills and delights of one of the world’s premiere wilderness destinations! The Middle Fork of the Salmon River is the heartbeat of the 2.2 million-acre River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho, boasting more than 100 unforgettable rapids over 100 miles, 60 of which are Class III to Class IV in the spring departures—a blast for amateurs and pros alike! MTS' journey down the Middle Fork is one of the best values on the river—both a fun-filled ride down one of the country’s greatest rivers and an unbelievable voyage through time, where layered rock strata and shifting landscapes give way to riverside hot springs, pit dwellings inhabited by the Shoshone people, and old Gold Rush homesteads that still leave their imprints today.
Our guides are some of the strongest professional boatmen and local naturalists. Many were born and raised in Idaho and know its wilderness intimately. They host one of the most enjoyable—and arguably one of the most approachable—adventures we offer, and a pefect getaway for first-time campers and rafters! Every day you’ll choose your own experience: ride an oar boat, where you can take in the scenery and wildlife while your guides paddle; crew a paddle boat, where you can navigate the rapids with five other guests; or captain your own vessel on an inflatable "ducky" kayak. You’ll raft from about 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., including a restful stop for lunch, and once you get out of the boat, your set-up camp and a hot shower will be waiting for you! Take a load off with a beer and a book from the floating library, so you can read up on the parts of the river that have interested you most, and then sit down to a proper dinner (cooked by our guides) of lasagna, fajitas, chicken curry, fresh salmon, or grilled steak—complete with a tablecloth, cloth napkins, and wine. And every evening is spent under the stars around a welcoming campfire, where we'll share stories, music, and laughs.
Over the course of our journey, we’ll see a wide scope of changing scenery: we’ll begin in a dense, mountain forest, gradually descend into Ponderosa pines, then piñon and juniper parklands, ride through a tall, rocky canyon and then finish in the desert—2000 feet in elevation below our original starting point! We’ll also encounter a host of wildlife including bighorn sheep, beaver, porcupine, river otters, mink, black bear, coyote, and perhaps even an elusive wolf or cougar. Soaring above us, we may catch a glimpse of osprey, bald eagles, or herons. You’ll want to have your camera poised and ready for pictures of the old Shoshone pit dwellings and the ruins of Gold Rush homesteads. However, as we head into the excitement of the whitewater, our focus again returns to the river, where we’ll navigate rapids with colorful names like Pistol Creek, Marble Falls, Ski Jump, Tappan Falls, Aparajo, Driftwood, Haystack, Bernard Creek, Earthquake (which sits squarely on the 45th parallel), Jack Creek, and Goalpost. An added bonus of the Middle Fork is that you can time your comfort level with the seasons: the spring rapids offer the wildest rides, whereas July and August departures are typically more mellow, with no Class IV water. And once we drift into camp in the early to late afternoon, there will be plenty of time for some catch-and-release trout fishing and hiking, including a steep hike to the beautiful, icy waters of Veil Falls—the ultimate swimming hole after a warm day on the river!
MTS’ adventure down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River is one of our greatest North America itineraries. Rich in natural history, wildlife, and legends of early America, it is just as much as a relaxing escape as it is a delightful voyage down one of the country’s most exciting rivers.
Rafting on Class II/IV rapids (Class II/III in August) on oar boats, paddle boats, inflatable kayak option. Easy to moderate day hikes; Minimum age is 6 (12 during high water— June departures).
- Have a blast riding down one of the most thrilling rivers of the country, with more than 100 rapids over 100 miles, guided by MTS’ professional raft guides
- Rated by National Geographic as one of the top 3 whitewater rafting trips in the WORLD
- Choose a new boating pleasure each day: relax and enjoy the ride on an oar boat, get wet with a team of paddlers, or captain your own vessel on one of our inflatable kayaks
- Dive into the history of ancient America as you ride through layered rock strata and changing landscapes, from the high mountains to the desert
- Spend your afternoons fishing for trout, relaxing in natural hot springs, hiking around camp, visiting Native American rock pictographs, and swimming in the cool waters of Veil Falls
- Don’t worry about being an expert! Bring your family and have fun camping in style with tents, delicious dinners, and hot showers all prepared for you
Duration: 6 days Start Location: Stanley, Idaho End Location: Stanley, IdahoDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Meet in Stanley, Idaho
In the morning, we'll take a bus ride from Stanley into the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. At Boundary Creek, you’ll meet our river guides for a safety briefing. After choosing an oar boat or paddle boat, you’ll encounter the first of the Middle Fork’s hundreds of rapids. In the late afternoon, arrive at one of the Middle Fork’s beautiful and pristine campgrounds for gourmet dinner and overnight.
Day 2 : On the river—Pistol Creek
Pistol Creek rapid (Class III) provides an exciting jump start to the day. We'll stop at the Indian Creek Guard Station to learn about the area’s native inhabitants, the Shoshone tribe known as the Sheepeater. Then, it’s back into the boats to traverse Pongo rapid and coast into camp. If water conditions permit, we'll bring out the inflatable "ducky" kayaks today. At camp, relax with appetizers and wine, enjoy the company of your fellow trip members, take a hike, or browse our book library.
Day 3 : On the river—Sunflower/Loon Creek Hot Springs
In the morning, sail through Marble Falls and Ski Jump rapids. The water then calms down making this a good day to fly-fish for cutthroat trout (catch-and-release only), or to take a refreshing swim. We may also stop at the hot springs at Sunflower or Loon Creek, where you can have a relaxing soak while you keep an eye out for mountain goats and bighorn sheep. After lunch, a short hike to see Sheepeater pictographs, then more rapids before settling into camp for the night.
Day 4 : On the river—Tappan Falls
Some of the Middle Fork’s most thrilling rapids await on today's 18 miles of river: Tappan I, Tappan Falls, New Tappan, and Aparajo. We're likely to observe bighorn sheep grazing along the shore or see bald eagles, osprey, herons, river otters, and black bears. In the afternoon, we’ll pass by Kaufman’s Cave, where a Scottish prospector named Clarence Kaufman lived for about four years.
Day 5 : On the river—Impassable Canyon
Today you’ll coast into the Impassable Canyon, and the most spectacular scenery you’ve seen yet. We’ll also experience some serious whitewater: you’ll run rapids like Driftwood, Haystack, Bernard Creek, Earthquake, Jack Creek, and Goalpost. In the afternoon, you might make the steep hike up to Veil Falls, or visit the homestead of Earl Parrot, a hermit who moved to the banks of the Middle Fork in the early 1900s and stayed for about 40 years. Once at camp, you’ll be rewarded with a special last-night dinner and final campfire with your rafting companions.
Day 6 : Depart for home
A final half-day of rafting with the biggest rapids of the trip: Foreplay, Rubber, Rubber II, and Hancock. After a thrilling morning, you’ll reach the confluence of the Middle Fork and the main Salmon River, where you’ll leave your boats behind and board a bus for the ride back to Stanley (about a 4 hours drive). We'll stop for lunch along the way and arrive by late-afternoon. NOTE: You will need to arrange accomodation in Stanley tonight.
DATES: Best time to go: June - September Departures: Jun 14 - 19, 2015 Jul 9 - 14, 2015 Jul 17 - 22, 2015 Jul 25 - 30, 2015 Aug 10 - 15, 2015
6-20 trip members
Mountain Travel Sobek is an equal opportunity employer and operates on the Salmon River under a permit with the Salmon-Challis National Forest.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you’d never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You’ll be in good hands with them every step of the way.
George, Georgie, or Jorge as the Spanish pronounce it was born in the great hospital of Saint Ford Truck, in room number one. George’s fabulous parents found their way to secluded Challis, ID and raised their family there. He has been forever grateful to grow up around rivers and mountains and has taken advantage of all Challis had to offer including baseball, football, wrestling, soccer, hunting, fishing, skiing and, almost forgot, rafting the gorgeous Middle Fork of the Salmon River! His first adventure down the Middle Fork was on his tenth birthday with the eldest brother. He learned the ways of the water and discovered his first love, driving sweep boat. (AKA the Scow). Both brothers were following in the footsteps of their mother, who was the first women sweep boat driver on the Middle Fork! Eleven consecutive birthdays on the Middle Fork later, and other rivers conquered, George’s greatest enjoyment is still driving Sweep Boat on the Middle Fork. Recently he graduated from Boise State University and enjoys his time exploring what his home state of Idaho has to offer and playing music with friends and family.
Taylor is another second generation river guide. His dad guided in the Grand Canyon on the Colorado during college. Taylor first rafted the Salmon when he was 5 and was hooked ever since. Growing up next to the Potomac river in Maryland, Taylor kayaked and spent a lot of time around the river. He started guiding on the Salmon after moving to Utah to go to collage. Now he splits up his year between rafting the Middle Fork in the summer, care-taking a Chalet at Alta in Utah and skiing everyday through the winter months, and traveling the world in search of the perfect hammock location.
Matt Jost grew up on the rivers in Idaho. During his early years Matt spent the summers with his dad on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River as well as many other rivers throughout Idaho. In 2009 Matt graduated from Boise State University with a Bachelor’s in Entrepreneurial Management and will graduate in May 2012 with a Masters of Arts in Adult and Post-Secondary Education. When he is not guiding or working on school, Matt enjoys just getting out in the great outdoors. If he had to choose whitewater kayaking would be his activity of choice, however rock climbing, backpacking, and alpine skiing are close competitors. Among other activities, Matt enjoys traveling around the world in search of an adventure. His travels have led him backpacking throughout Europe, climbing in Thailand, running numerous rivers throughout Nepal and teaching a kayaking/leadership course in Chile. While adventures are great fun, the opportunity to teach outdoor skills is a true passion of Matt’s. Over the past five years Matt has been working as an outdoor educator within the university system. In the future he hopes to continue to teach outdoor education and explore more rivers throughout the world.