Raft down the Middle Fork of the Salmon river on a deluxe camping adventure that’s simply BIG fun!
Rafting the Middle Fork of the Salmon River is both a fun-filled ride down one of the world’s greatest rivers and an unbelievable voyage through time, where layered rock strata and shifting landscapes give way to riverside hot springs, pit dwellings once inhabited by the Shoshone people, and old Gold Rush homesteads that still leave their imprints today. It boasts more than 100 unforgettable rapids in 100 miles, 60 of which are Class III to Class IV in the early departures—a blast for amateurs and pros alike! MTS offers one of the best values for this trip, providing a deluxe camping and boating experience guided by Idaho’s strongest rafters. You can choose a new boating experience every day: relax on an oar boat, get wet with a team of paddlers, or captain your own vessel on one of our inflatable “ducky” kayaks. With afternoons spent fishing, relaxing in natural hot springs, hiking around camp, visiting ancient rock pictographs, and cooling off in the refreshing waters of Veil Falls, you don’t have to worry about being an expert—all you have to do is enjoy the ride. This is, quite simply, one of the greatest adventures of all time!
Mountain Travel Sobek is an equal opportunity employer and operates on the Salmon River under a permit with the Salmon-Challis National Forest.
Call 1-888-MTSOBEK or email us!
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, you’ll take a bus ride from Stanley, Idaho into the heart of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. At Boundary Creek, the put-in for most Middle Fork rafting trips, you’ll meet all of the river guides who will accompany you on your journey. You’ll also receive a short safety briefing, and have a chance to ask questions and fill up your water bottle before the river ride officially begins. Then, you’ll choose your boating experience for the day: you may decide on a relaxing ride in an oar boat, where a guide does all the rowing so you can sit back and enjoy the scenery, or you may opt for a spot in the paddle boat, where you and five other MTS guests paddle through the rapids under the captainship of a guide. You’ll have the opportunity to try out all boating options during the course of the trip.
Once on the river, you’ll encounter the first of the Middle Fork’s hundreds of rapids, which on Day 1 will including Sulphur Slide, Velvet Falls (the biggest of the day), the Chutes, and Powerhouse. You’ll also enjoy remarkable scenery. On either side of the river, wooded banks rise up thousands of feet. On some slopes, you can see where past wildfires burnt out whole swaths of forest, leaving behind eerie charred tree trunks and plenty of room for Indian paintbrush and other wildflowers to flourish—a special glimpse into nature's incredible regenerative power. You may also make a stop at the former cabin of miner Joe Bump, who once panned for gold in these parts.
In the late afternoon, you will arrive at one of the Middle Fork’s beautiful and pristine campgrounds. The exact sites where you’ll stay vary from trip to trip, but all offer something special, whether it’s breathtaking views, natural hot springs, or trails to explore. Or maybe you’ll just prefer to relax with a delicious dinner and a glass of wine. On all nights during your trip, you’ll enjoy appetizers and a meal prepared by the guides, followed by hot drinks and a campfire.
NOTE: You will need to arrive in Stanley on the day prior to Day 1 of your trip. There will be a meeting at the River 1 store in Stanley at 7:00pm. After our orientation at the River 1 Store, you’ll have an opportunity to purchase last-minute supplies (not to mention huckleberry ice cream and coffee from the store’s small café!), and you’ll receive your drybags for the trip. You can then return to your hotel to repack your gear in the drybags and rest up for the adventure ahead.
NOTE: Late July through August departures have no Class IV rapids and can be enjoyed by anyone.
Day 2 : On the river—Pistol Creek
Today will begin like all of your days on the river, with a hot breakfast at around 7:30 a.m. and departure from camp at around 9 a.m. On the water, Class III rapid Pistol Creek provides an exciting jump start to the day. After a few hours you’ll stop for lunch, which may include sandwiches, salads, fresh fruit and veggies, chips, and cookies. Then, if water conditions permit, the guides will bring out a few inflatable "ducky" kayaks for those who want the thrill of paddling through the rapids on their own.
In the afternoon, you may make a stop at the Indian Creek Guard Station on the river’s left bank to learn a bit about the history of the area’s native inhabitants, members of the Shoshone tribe know as the Sheepeater. Then, it’s back into the boats to traverse Pongo rapid and coast into camp around 5 p.m. You’ve traveled about 19 miles downriver today, and can now relax and enjoy some appetizers, drinks, and free time before dinner is served around 7—maybe lasagna, salmon, fajitas, chicken curry, or steak cooked over the fire. Then, play card games or charades with your fellow travelers, or browse the MTS library—a box containing books about the area’s geology, history, and most quirky denizens. You may also choose to simply sit by the fire and watch as star after star appears in the night sky above you.
On low-water trips, everyone will have a chance to paddle through the rapids in inflatable kayaks—a really fun way to enjoy the river. We usually put the kayaks out right after Pistol Creek rapid on this day.
Day 3 : On the river—Sunflower/Loon Creek Hot Springs
After breakfast and packing up camp, sail through Marble Falls and Ski Jump, the rapids that start off the day. The water calms down a little after that, making this a good day to fly-fish for cutthroat trout off one of the oar boats (catch-and-release only), or to take a refreshing swim. You 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—they like to use the rocks around the hot springs as natural mineral licks.
You may notice that today the landscape has changed from that of forest to high desert, and you’re surrounded by sagebrush, golden hillsides, and vibrant blue sky. After lunch, perhaps you’ll explore the terrain by taking a short hike to one of the many cliffs along the river that bear Sheepeater pictographs. Look for depictions of dogs, which the Sheepeater relied on as pack animals because horses couldn’t survive the harsh terrain. You may also notice sheep, human figures, and handprints painted in red on the rock. Then there are, of course, a few more rapids to enjoy before you pull into camp after about 15 miles on the river.
Day 4 : On the river—Tappan Falls
Some of the Middle Fork’s most thrilling rapids await on the 18 miles of river you’ll run today. Start off with the big waves of Tappan I, Tappan Falls, New Tappan, and Aparajo. As you continue downriver, keep a lookout for wildlife. You’re likely to observe bighorn sheep grazing along the shore, totally unperturbed by our presence as we paddle by. You might also catch sight of bald eagles, osprey, herons, river otters, and black bears.
You can also see evidence of past human inhabitants on the riverbanks. Look for shallow circular depressions in the ground—these are the sites of Sheepeater pit dwellings. And in the afternoon, you’ll pass by Kaufman’s Cave, where a Scottish prospector named Clarence Kaufman built a door over the tiny cave’s entrance and lived for about four years.
Among the wildlife we may see on the Middle Fork are bighorn sheep, beaver, river otters, mink, porcupine, black bear, and coyote. Wolves and cougars also live in the region, but are less frequently seen.
Day 5 : On the river—Impassable Canyon
Today you’ll coast into the Impassable Canyon, and the most spectacular scenery you’ve seen yet. Reddish-gray granite cliffs loom over the water, and the sharp folds of the rock strata provide striking evidence of the canyon’s geologically tumultuous past. While you’re taking in your surroundings, you’ll also experience some serious whitewater: you’ll run rapids like Driftwood, Haystack, Bernard Creek, Earthquake (look out for Earthquake Rock, which sits exactly on the 45th parallel, peeking out of the middle of the river), Jack Creek, and Goalpost.
In the afternoon, you might make the steep hike up to Veil Falls, a beautiful, icy-cold waterfall that you can duck under for a little respite from the heat. Once back on the river, you’ll pass through Weber, Redside, and Cliffside rapids. You’ll also pass 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. He built wooden ladders up the cliff walls to get between his two small cabins, a feat that will truly amaze you once you see the towering canyon walls for yourself.
Once at camp, you’ll be rewarded with a special last-night dinner and maybe even some champagne. Before you turn in, enjoy your final campfire with your rafting companions.
Day 6 : Depart for home
While Day 6 is only a half-day of rafting—about 10 miles on the river—it offers 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 ride back to Stanley (about a 4 hour drive). You’ll stop for lunch along the way and arrive in Stanley by late-afternoon. You could also choose to stay in Salmon. Either way, you will need to arrange accommodation for 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
$1,895 (June 14 departure only - 5 day trip)
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.