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Middle Fork of the Salmon River

From $1,895

  • Have a blast on one of the top whitewater rafting trips in the world, as rated by National Geographic—with more than 100 rapids over 100 miles, guided by professional MTS raft guides
  • Choose a new boating experience each day: ride the oar boat, get wet with the paddlers, or captain your own inflatable kayak
  • On shore, relax in natural hot springs, visit Native American rock pictographs, and swim in the cool waters of Veil Falls
  • Don’t worry about being an expert! Bring your family and have fun camping in deluxe style with delicious dinners, hot showers and high-quality tents all prepared for you!

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-value trips, 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 relaxing in natural hot springs, hiking, fishing, 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

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.

  • Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Camp

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.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Camp

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.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Camp

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.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Camp

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.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Camp

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.

  • Breakfast/Lunch

Sep 16 - 21, 2015

Jun 14 - 19, 2016

Jul 01 - 06, 2016

Jul 09 - 14, 2016

Jul 17 - 22, 2016

Aug 02 - 07, 2016

pricing

2015 Prices
$1,895  (June 14 departure only) 
$2,195  (all other departures)
$24       USFS recreation fee

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.

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Camp

Our Middle Fork Clients Say it Best

It's hard to imagine a more spectacular and pristine part of the world! I didn't imagine drinking straight from streams, seeing eagles, gazing at so many stars, hiking up waterfalls. Every moment felt magical. I also really appreciated the top-notch quality of logistics—food, gear, pacing, camp spots—and the enthusiasm, expertise, experience, skill, and general wonderfulness of the guides. This was the trip of a lifetime. I came home energized, inspired, and so grateful for the experience. My soul is enriched and my being is invigorated—thank you. Natasha Hoehn

  • Have a blast on one of the top whitewater rafting trips in the world, as rated by National Geographic—with more than 100 rapids over 100 miles, guided by professional MTS raft guides
  • Choose a new boating experience each day: ride the oar boat, get wet with the paddlers, or captain your own inflatable kayak
  • On shore, relax in natural hot springs, visit Native American rock pictographs, and swim in the cool waters of Veil Falls
  • Don’t worry about being an expert! Bring your family and have fun camping in deluxe style with delicious dinners, hot showers and high-quality tents all prepared for you!

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-value trips, 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 relaxing in natural hot springs, hiking, fishing, 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

Our Middle Fork Clients Say it Best

It's hard to imagine a more spectacular and pristine part of the world! I didn't imagine drinking straight from streams, seeing eagles, gazing at so many stars, hiking up waterfalls. Every moment felt magical. I also really appreciated the top-notch quality of logistics—food, gear, pacing, camp spots—and the enthusiasm, expertise, experience, skill, and general wonderfulness of the guides. This was the trip of a lifetime. I came home energized, inspired, and so grateful for the experience. My soul is enriched and my being is invigorated—thank you. Natasha Hoehn

DAILY 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.

  • Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Camp

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.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Camp

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.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Camp

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.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Camp

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.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Camp

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.

  • Breakfast/Lunch
Dates and Pricing

Sep 16 - 21, 2015

Jun 14 - 19, 2016

Jul 01 - 06, 2016

Jul 09 - 14, 2016

Jul 17 - 22, 2016

Aug 02 - 07, 2016

pricing

2015 Prices
$1,895  (June 14 departure only) 
$2,195  (all other departures)
$24       USFS recreation fee

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.

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