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10 Reasons to Raft the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho

By: Heather Howard

Heather Howard has a passion for travel writing and marketing and loves inspiring people to explore new places. Her favorite destinations include Tanzania and Scotland (among many others!) and she loves following trails in US National Parks. This summer Heather is heading to Idaho's Middle Fork of the Salmon River with her family!

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January 22, 2023 | Adventure Experts


10 reasons to raft the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho.

Idaho’s Salmon River runs through the rugged mountains of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. Its Middle Fork river trip offers a 100 miles of Class II-IV whitewater thrills and is considered one of the finest rafting adventures in America. In 1968, the Middle Fork of the Salmon River was designated a Wild and Scenic River and today you can immerse yourself in its pure wilderness environment, starting in its swift-flowing alpine upper reaches and flowing into a desert canyon. Here are the top 10 reasons to raft the Middle Fork of the Salmon River this summer. Click here to read the itinerary!

1.  Enjoy whitewater fun for all activity levels

June’s higher water offers an adrenaline-fueled adventure that is perfect for skilled paddlers, while families will love the lower water levels and gentler ride in July and August. Whichever launch date you choose you can try out a new boating experience every day: relax on an oar boat or get wet with your guide and fellow paddlers. You’ll raft between 10 and 20 miles each day, and it’s easy to do what suits your activity level. Some of the most memorable rapids are Pistol Creek, Tappan Falls and Rubber.

2. Explore rugged trails on riverside hikes

Stretch your legs on relaxing riverside hikes and adventures to interesting historical sites and refreshing waterfalls. Learn about the Tukadeka Native American Sheepeater people of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River and even see their ancient pictographs, dating back thousands of years. Hear tales of Gold Rush prospectors and see their long-abandoned homesteads. And look out for a variety of wildlife from otters and marmots to bighorn sheep.

3. Take the whole family

The Middle Fork of the Salmon River is like summer camp for the whole family—whether you’re grandparents or parents traveling with kids or a large multi-generational group. At night, play fun games by the river and share tales around the campfire, and soak up the simple pleasures of life away from it all. Kids aged 6+ are best suited for the late July and August dates when the river is lower. Want to bring a large group of family and friends? Consider chartering a private departure with us for up to 20 people!

4. Escape, unplug and recharge

While we’ve heard that wilder nature is better for your health and being outside is good for your brain, we often find it hard to be outside and away from our cell phones and mobile devices. Taking this adventure can help! The Middle Fork of the Salmon River is in the 2.3-million-acre Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness area with zero cell service for five nights. This means you can really get away, unplug, and recharge yourself. Connect with each other, not your phone, and take some quiet time down at the water’s edge to enjoy the burbling river. (Please note that for safety each trip is equipped with an emergency satellite phone and a Garmin in Reach satellite messaging device.)

5. Learn how to fly fish

The Middle Fork of the Salmon River is a world-class blue ribbon trout river known for incredible catch-and-release fly fishing opportunities. Learn about the river ecosystem and how its salmon supports the life further afield, including the orca population of the Pacific Northwest. We bring our own rods and can help teach all ages to cast, catch, and release.

6. Relax in soothing hot springs

Be prepared to indulge in a geothermal paradise on your summer rafting adventure. There are six natural hot spring in the first 52 miles of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River and our top spot is Loon Creek. As well as natural pools, a handy pipe in the cliff enables you to enjoy a fantastic geo-warmed shower right by the river.

7. Paddle in the company of great guides and a fun group

With 50 years of river rafting under our belt, you don’t have to worry about being an expert—all you have to do is enjoy the ride. We hire the best professional river guides and our seasoned Middle Fork team not only knows every inch of the river, but makes camping and cooking a breeze too. You’ll feel well cared for and empowered to push outside your comfort zone.

8. Indulge in amazing food

Be wowed by wilderness cooking skills beyond your imagination. From fresh vegetables and locally baked breads to exquisite dishes adeptly whipped up in the Dutch oven and over the grill, you’ll never forget the meals on the Middle Fork. This is dining at its most delicious and you don’t have to do a thing. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy!

9. Spend fun evenings around the campfire

A Middle Fork of the Salmon River rafting experience fosters an incredible team spirit and great camaraderie. Whether you’re traveling solo, as a couple, in a family or friend group, or with co-workers you’ll soon become part of the Middle Fork crew, ready to share the thrills and spills of river rafting together—and there is lots of laughter to be had. After a day on the river, enjoy games and stories around the campfire.

10. You’ll get an expert-led experience

Choosing an expert-led rafting experience, commercially permitted by Salmon-Challis National Forest means that you are in great hands every step of the way and that all environmental and safety regulations are followed. MT Sobek have been running the Middle Fork of the Salmon River for over 20 years and follow strict Leave No Trace rules to ensure that the landscape remains pristine for all who follow. We always work with experienced guides who are professional career boatmen.

Want a summer adventure with memories to last a lifetime? Raft the Middle Fork of the Salmon River with us. Click here for the itinerary.