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Idaho Rafting
Main Salmon River

Main Salmon River Rafting Vacation Questions

A rafting vacation on the Main Salmon often entails many questions. What type of boats are used? How does camping on the river work? What is the food like? What do I need to bring and what is supplied by Western River Expeditions? You'll find answers to all these questions and many more in the categories below.

Reservations & Cancellations

What deposit is required?

An initial deposit of $300 per person is required to secure your space. Deposits may be made by check or credit card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express).

Can I hold space without a deposit?

We are happy to put a courtesy hold on seats for a 48-hour period of time, we do not require a deposit at this time. Based on the timing of the courtesy hold prior to the trip departure, we may be able to extend the hold time. You will receive an email letting you know that this courtesy hold will expire and you can call and book your seats.

When is final payment due?

Payment in full is due 90 days prior to trip departure and is non-refundable. Payment may be paid by check (preferably) or credit card.

How can I make payments?

For your convenience, we offer an automatic payment service to charge the balance due to your credit card 90 days prior to trip departure or you may make partial payments by credit card or check providing the full balance is paid 90 days prior to your trip. We reserve the right to cancel your reservation if full payment is not collected by the due date. You may also make payments towards your balance prior to the final due date. These payments may be made online or by phone. Installment payments can be scheduled to run automatically if requested. For payments over $10,000 and for large international payments, a check or wire transfer is preferred.

What is the cancellation and refund policy?

An initial deposit of $300 per person is required to secure your space. This deposit is non-refundable. Payment in full is due 90 days prior to trip departure and is non-refundable.

Our cancellation policy applies in every instance and there will be no exceptions for any reason. Western River Expeditions will not issue any refund for arriving late or leaving a trip early whether voluntary or caused by other circumstances. Western River Expeditions is not responsible for any expenses incurred due to travel delays, flight cancellations, non-refundable airline tickets, or illness. Western River Expeditions assumes no financial responsibility for personal injury, emergency evacuation, or personal equipment lost or damaged in any way.

Cancellation of a trip is very unlikely. However, your trip operator, Action Whitewater Adventures reserves the right to cancel any trip due to river or weather conditions, or the lack of sufficient reservations, or any other conditions which are beyond their control. Action Whitewater Adventures also reserves the right to substitute, when expedient or necessary, anything mentioned in the itinerary with a similar item or river segment. In the unlikely event of a trip cancellation, Action Whitewater Adventures will transfer your trip to the following year. We strongly recommend that you purchase trip cancellation insurance.

Is cancellation insurance available?

If you are concerned about the possibility of having to cancel, you will find information about cancellation coverage at www.travelguard.com/westernriver.

Some of the most difficult situations occur when a guest needs to cancel a few days before a trip because of an injury, a family illness, or some other catastrophic event. In these situations, we generally do not have time to refill the space. Yet, we have already spent considerable time, money, and energy preparing for your trip: scheduling vehicles, flights, drivers, guides and equipment, purchasing food, etc. Because of our short season and very limited number of available seats, we cannot afford the financial loss that cancellations cause. Therefore, consider the investment you are making in your vacation and whether or not you could afford the loss if you did have to cancel.

What about tips and gratuities?
Your guides will make every effort to see that your trip is enjoyable and successful. Gratuities for guides are appropriate, greatly appreciated and at your discretion, as a gesture of thanks for their professionalism and service. A suggested guideline is 10 percent of the trip cost. The common practice is to give the gratuity to the trip leader on the last night. It will later be divided equally with the rest of the crew. Paying in cash is the most common form of payment though you can always bring along a check and make it out to the trip leader.
Are departures guaranteed?

Not all travel dates are guaranteed. There is a minimum requirement of 6 passengers to confirm any launch. Main Salmon trips appeal to larger family groups so with that, the minimum passenger capacity is usually met. Depending on snowpack, water levels can be high and swift at the beginning of the season which would mean early June could be inoperable. At the end of the season in August, low water levels may cause trips to be canceled. Should the trip be canceled without another option, you will be refunded in full. Any outside travel expenses (airlines, hotels, etc) are not included as refundable.

What if the date I want is sold out?

If the particular date and trip are not available, we are happy to put your name on our waitlist in the event we should have a cancellation for that trip and date. Western River offers many other rafting destinations and we are happy to discuss other trips that would work as an option.

How far in advance should I make my reservation?

We will be able to take reservations a year in advance of a trip departure (the season prior). You can check availability and make your reservation online or call anyone in our office for availability and reservations.

Groups & Charters

What is the maximum number of guests on this trip?

The maximum permitted capacity for a Main Salmon River trip is 25 passengers.

How many guests per raft?

On a Main Salmon River trip, you will have your choice of oar boats, paddle rafts, inflatable kayaks and paddle cats so every member of the family can choose their own level of activity. An oar boat can take 4 guests with a guide comfortably. An oar boat is larger than a paddle raft and only has the guide do the rowing. A paddle raft has a maximum capacity of 6 - 8 passengers and 1 guide. In a paddle raft, all 6 guests and the 1 guide will have paddles. There are single and double inflatable kayaks, affectionately called “duckies” available for those who want to take on the challenge of the rapids alone or with 1 other (no guide on a duckie). New to the fleet is a 2 person paddle cat. On a paddle cat, there are 2 side pontoons that you sit on top of and each person will paddle on a side.

Can I charter my own private trip?

Create your own group and fill all 25 seats with friends, family, for a reunion or church group, you decide. With all seats filled, you will have your own private launch and the trip organizer will go for free.

What about group discounts?

If you organize a trip and fill all the seats then the trip organizer gets to go for free!

What is the easiest way to get my friends booked on the same trip?

In order to make sure you and your friends are all booked on the same trip, Western River can send you our direct booking link for that particular trip date. You can then forward that link to the guests you want to travel with. Your guests will make their own reservations online, making note that they are traveling in your group. You can also arrange to put a large number of seats on a courtesy hold, ask your friends and family to call in and make their reservation. From there, we put you all in the same group on the roster.

What if I’m traveling solo?

Any river trip is a great experience for solo travelers. Meet like-minded, adventurous, new friends! On a Main Salmon trip, you have additional pre and post river trip lodging added to your reservation. Those nights are based on double occupancy and would incur a single supplement fee.

Physical Requirements

What are the physical requirements for this trip?

A whitewater rafting trip can be both thrilling and challenging. Participation requires an appropriate mind set. The same qualities that make a river trip appealing to most people can present real difficulties to others. We desire to strike the appropriate balance between encouraging our guests to stretch themselves and making sure they are protected from harm.

The remoteness of the location, rugged terrain, and being outdoors 24 hours per day are a major part of the appeal. We take pride in our ability to accommodate a variety of disabilities and strive to make our trips as accessible as possible. However, a river trip is not for everyone. The last thing we want is for you to be miserable or to get injured. Your decision to participate should be carefully evaluated.

What about hiking?

The Main Salmon River flows through the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. The Salmon River runs through one of the deepest canyons in North America (deeper than the Grand Canyon). There are a wide variety of hikes to choose from each day on a Main Salmon trip. You will take a short hike to a hot spring. Hike to an old miner’s cabin and to beautiful scenic views of the river. Being in good shape for some of these hikes would be a good idea.

As we travel down river, we make occasional stops to lead “side hikes” which can be either very short and relatively easy, or much longer, covering significant distances and elevation. We hike over uneven, rocky, and often steep surfaces. Though all the hikes are not mandatory, when the rafts are tied up in swift current, all guests must get off the rafts and move up the shore a distance. Guests cannot be left on the rafts due to safety concerns. Reasonable mobility is important. If you have questions about your limitations, please call.

Do I need to know how to swim to go on this trip?

You need to be comfortable floating in water while wearing a lifejacket and you need the ability to propel yourself through the water to assist in your own rescue should you fall out of the raft. Falling off the boat into the river, or having your boat capsize is one of the inherent risks associated with whitewater rafting. If this happens, you will need the ability to self-rescue by swimming to the boat or to shore.

Each guest wears a lifejacket and the lifejackets, if worn properly, are very effective at keeping you above water, but if you are unable to swim, it can still be a threatening situation because the waters are turbulent.

Self-Sufficiency

A river trip is a participatory experience and requires each guest to be reasonably self-sufficient. Our guides will look after the safety and welfare of all the participants on the trip, but you are also responsible for your own safety! Our guides will provide you with the information and tools you need to participate; however, they already fill nearly every minute of their day performing their duties on behalf of the group. They will not be able to devote a lot of extra time to any one individual on the trip.

Remote Location

Our trips are operated in the “backcountry.” At any given time, you will be a minimum of several hours away from medical help. Our guides are all trained in wilderness first aid and some have even higher levels of emergency response training (e.g., EMT), however, sometimes injuries or the aggravation of pre-existing medical conditions are severe enough to require evacuation from the trip. We carry satellite phones but they are not 100 percent reliable in all locations. Most evacuations require transportation via helicopter which presents many challenges such as appropriate landing zones, inclement weather, or darkness.

Weather

On the same trip, you may experience extreme cold, heat, wind and perfectly comfortable conditions. For this reason, we encourage our guests to bring everything from shorts to substantial rain gear. On all outdoor based activities, exposure to the sun is very common. So adequate sun block lotion and sun protective clothing is a must. See the Weather page for Main Salmon River Trip.

Camping

We camp and eat lunch on sandy beaches and on areas where the ground is mostly dirt and rocks. You must also be capable of safely walking across slippery, rocky, and sandy areas as you climb on and off the boat and walk along the beach to your personally selected campsite each night. Guests are required to carry their own waterproof bags with personal gear and the additional 15 pounds of camping gear (cots & tents) to their individual campsite. This can be very difficult for some guests due to the uneven terrain, deep sand, and steep beaches

Boats

Getting on and off the boats can be very challenging. We park the boats against a variety of terrain such as rocks, steep sandy beaches, and flat locations. Climbing on to a larger, motorized raft (J-Rig) requires a 2-3 foot high ascent. The boat is sometimes moving up and down and side to side when tied up in faster current. Boats may also be slippery and they have uneven surfaces. The front of the raft is turned up allowing it to climb waves. Because we have to park the rafts with the front against the shore, it makes a taller barrier to climb over when boarding or deboarding the raft.

Toilets

Toilets are available only in camp and are usually located down a narrow trail, well away from the guests in a secluded location. We do our best to mark the trail, even at night, but it is always necessary to take a short hike to access the toilets. The where, when and how of going to the bathroom during the day will be explained by the guides on your trip.

Falling off the raft

Falling off a boat into the river, or having your boat capsize is one of the inherent risks associated with whitewater rafting. If this happens, you will need the ability to self-rescue by swimming to the boat or to shore. If you end up on shore, you will need to traverse a rocky shoreline to rejoin the boat which cannot maneuver upstream.

For those participants who have heart conditions or who are very overweight, falling into the river also presents the possibility of a “cold-water immersion heart attack.” This is caused when the person swimming cannot calm his/her breathing within a reasonable amount of time (generally 60 seconds).

Life jackets

Each guest wears a life jacket and they are very effective at keeping you above water, but if you are unable to swim, it can still be a threatening situation because the waters are turbulent. The life jackets we use are certified by the United States Coast Guard and are approved for use by our managing agencies (National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management & Utah State Parks & Recreation). They are classified as “Type V Whitewater” jackets, and they come in two basic sizes “Youth” and “Adult Universal.”

Youth jackets fit someone weighing between 50 and 90 pounds (23-41kg). An Adult Universal Jacket is rated “for persons weighing more than 90 pounds (41kg).” They are highly adjustable and fit a range of chest sizes from 30 - 58 inches (76-147 cm). Body shape can also affect the proper fit of the jacket. If you are unsure, call and speak with us. If necessary, we’ll mail you one of our jackets and you can try it on.

The Importance of Full Disclosure

We don’t want to be overly discouraging, but it is important for your safety and comfort that we be forthcoming about the specific challenges presented on a river trip. It is also vitally important that you disclose any and all physical, emotional, and mental conditions, limitations, or challenges you or your children may have. Likewise, it is important to be completely honest about the age and weight of children. Undisclosed medical or physical conditions might affect the safety and well-being of you and/or other participants on the trip. It is critical that you share this information with us in advance so that we can help keep you safe.

We cannot absolutely guarantee your safety, or the suitability of a trip like this for you. For a participant who is not capable of meeting these criteria, a river trip, particularly a multi-day trip, can be unpleasant, dangerous, or even fatal. For those who meet these criteria, these trips are often the best experiences of their lives. The difference is in determining your suitability for a trip, then selecting the right trip for you, and arriving physically and mentally prepared to actively and joyfully participate in the experience.

We encourage you to carefully evaluate your overall physical, mental, and emotional condition in relation to these environmental challenges. If you have concerns or questions about your physical condition, we recommend you also consult your physician. If you have questions about the specific parameters of a rafting trip with Western River Expeditions, please contact our office at 1-800-453-7450 or 801-942-6669. We would be happy to provide any other information you need to make this decision, or to discuss any of this information in detail.

Traveling with Children

What is the age limit for this trip and is it flexible?

The minimum age on a Main Salmon River trip in June is 12 years old, this is high water season. July through August trips have a minimum age of 6 years old. When the water is high and swift, the minimum age is carefully considered. With certain risks that occur on a rafting adventure, it is an ability to self rescue and have a level of maturity that matters most. Age limits are not flexible.

What if my kids are picky eaters?

Meals on a Main Salmon trip have a wide variety of food options. But if your kids have particular food tastes and choices, either let us know and we will do our best to pack your trip with food items that your kids prefer. You are always welcome to bring along your own food and it will be packed in our coolers.

Is this the best trip for younger children?

The Main Salmon River offers excitement and fun for all ages, especially younger children. Later in the season, when rapids are milder and water temperatures are warmer, kids who are at least 6 years old can really enjoy the Main Salmon River. The minimum age during the early season (June) is 12 years old. The campsites are big with sandy beaches, offering room to play and enjoy your time off of the river.

Preparing & Packing

What should I bring?

A detailed packing list is provided before your trip. Each guest should bring their personal items in a soft-sided duffel bag. This should include river clothes for the 5 day trip and camping wear for the trip. All guests are given a large gear bag (33” high x 16” diameter) to put their personal duffel bag into for the trip. You will also have a water-resistant military surplus ammo can. The ammo can will be accessible each day for smaller items like your sunscreen, camera, insect repellent, etc. Be sure to bring a water bottle and a carabiner to clip the bottle to the raft. It is important to stay within a 30-pound weight limit. For safety, the boats must be kept light and maneuverable. If you are taking the travel package which includes the flight from Boise to Salmon, Idaho, weight limit is very important not to exceed.

Do I need a wetsuit?

Dry suits or a splash jacket is highly recommended for any June or high-water July trips. You may bring your own or rental is available online at kayakacademy.com or (866)306-1825. Good quality two-piece rain gear is recommended for July and August trips. Weather in Idaho during the summer months is very nice though the Main Salmon is in the mountains and a storm can come at any time. Ponchos are not effective rain gear.

Can I bring my own life jacket or PFD?

Guests are not allowed to bring their own life jacket or PFD. Commercial river rafting outfitters are subject to regulations promulgated by the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and State Parks. All three of these agencies require that guests of commercial outfitters wear Type V Whitewater life jackets. Personal life jackets are usually meant for lake sports and even Type III jackets, meant for kayaking or canoeing, are not acceptable for use by our guests.

Fortunately, the newer generations of Type V life jackets are very comfortable. They also have a lot more flotation than the typical personal jacket.

What about fishing on the river?

Both fly fishing and spin fishing are popular on the Main Salmon. Main species are Rainbow Trout, Cutthroat Trout and Wide Mouth Bass. Fishing on the Salmon River is catch and release only and you will need to have an Idaho fishing license along with a collapsible pole. You can purchase a license online at www.fishandgame.idaho.gov. You can also purchase a fishing license in Salmon, Idaho prior to your rafting trip (if you are spending the night in Salmon the night prior to rafting).

How should I be dressed the morning of my rafting trip?

You should be dressed ready to board the rafts. Wear what can get wet and dry quickly. You may want to wear a swimsuit with shorts and quick-dry shirt, have a sunhat with an under the chin strap or clip to your shirt, sunglasses with a retainer, footwear which can be worn on the raft and during the hikes, have your 2-piece rainsuit or splash jacket handy for your day bag.

What about sun protection?

Always be prepared for all weather conditions, especially sun. The air in the West is much drier than a more humid environment, so be prepared with sunscreen and lotion. Clothing items such as hats and sunglasses are also recommended. For additional relief when the sun is hot, bring along a sarong or head buff or use a quick dry shirt that you can get wet and drape or wear to cool off.

Am I able to charge my camera while on the river?

We are not able to supply battery backup or charging devices, you will want to bring along extra batteries or your own charging device.

How do I protect my belongings from getting wet?

Personal belongings for your multi-day rafting trip should be placed in a soft-sided duffel bag that will be stored away each day in a large, water tight, gear bag. These gear bags are stored on an Oar boat each day and are not accessible. You will have access to your ammo can on a daily basis. This will protect your smaller items from getting wet.

What gear is provided with the trip?

All of the camping equipment is provided for a comfortable camping experience. You will be given a 2 man tent, ground cover, sleeping bags, cots to sleep on, camp chairs, 1 gear bag and 1 ammo can. US Coast Guard approved whitewater life jackets, Wilderness First-Aid kit and sanitary facilities are also provided.

What do I do with extra luggage?

If you have driven to Salmon, Idaho for the river trip, your vehicle can be shuttled to McCall with your extra luggage. If you have flown into Boise and added the Travel Package to your reservation, any extra luggage not going on the river can be stored at the Vista Inn while you are gone.

What if I need to take medications?

We will want to make careful note on our rosters about any medical conditions. Please let us know when making your reservation if you will need to have your medications kept in a cool place. You can carry your medications in your smaller, day bag if you need access during the day, otherwise you can put them away in your duffel bag to have while in camp.

On the River

What is a typical day on the river?

Each day begins with a hearty, western-style breakfast prepared by your guides. Once your tents are down and bags are packed, the boats are loaded for an adventure-filled day on the river. A day on the Main Salmon will have a variety of rapids, hikes, soaking in a natural hot spring or even jumping from large rocks into the rapids along with water fights! Lunchtime will arrive for a good break from the river fun, You will stop on one of the many sandy beaches along the Main Salmon for a buffet lunch. The lunch includes breads, deli meats, cheeses, chips, fruit, veggies and dessert. After lunch, you prepare for more time on the river and possibly choosing a different raft option for the afternoon. This allows ample opportunity for everyone to experience all the raft options if they would like. A few more hours of fun in the rapids and you will stop again on a sandy beach but this time for the night! Deep in the Idaho wilderness, your campsite becomes home for the night. Your guides will prepare appetizers and dinner while you freshen up and set up your camp. Campsites are great for fishing, hiking, swimming and relaxing. Once the night has set, you can watch the stars fill in the sky with their magical performance.

How much time is spent on the raft?

Because you will want to experience all that the canyon has to offer, there will be time spent on side hikes as well as on the river, rafting. You can plan on an average of 1 - 2 hours at a time on the rafts.

What about rapids and water levels?

June is considered early season and you will experience high water rapids with ratings of class III - IV. This time of year is suited for the hearty, more experienced adventurer. During July and August when the water levels will drop and the water temperature will warm up, there is good technical whitewater that is suitable for all experience levels, some class II to IV rapids during this time of year, a great time for swimming. If going in late August or even into September, you will experience moderate technical whitewater as the levels become lower, this is the perfect time for fishing and relaxing.

What type of raft can I expect?

A Main Salmon River trip will operate with 4 choices of rafts: oar boats, paddle rafts, inflatable kayaks and paddle cats. This works well so every member of the family can choose their own level of activity. An oar boat only has the guide do the rowing. A paddle raft is a group rafting experience where all guests will have a paddle as well as the guide. There are single and double inflatable kayaks, affectionately called “duckies” available for those who want to take on the challenge of the rapids alone or with 1 other (no guide on a duckie). New to the fleet is a 2 person paddle cat. On a paddle cat, there are 2 side pontoons that you sit on top of and each person will paddle on a side (no guide on a paddle cat)

What is the water temperature on the river?

The water temperature on the Main Salmon can vary from as low as 40 degrees in June to as high as 70 degrees at the end of June and in August.

What about swimming?

Swimming in the Salmon River, during the warmer water months, will add to your memories on this rafting adventure. There are all sorts of opportunities to float along with the rafts, cliff jump and play from the sandy beaches in camp.

What bathroom facilities are available during my trip?

Because our trips operate in remote, backcountry settings, there are no permanent bathroom facilities. We use portable toilets that we haul with us. We’ve prepared a video describing toilet facilities on the river. Click here for our camping page where you will find the video. If you have further questions, please call us.

The portable toilets described in the video are available shortly after we set up camp each afternoon until we leave camp the next morning. During the day while on the rafts, the guides will make frequent stops at which you can go to the bathroom. Liquid waste goes in the water by wading into the river or going for a swim.

What do I do about feminine hygiene during the trip?

If you expect to be menstruating during your trip, we recommend the use of tampons rather than pads. During the day, you will constantly be getting wet, so pads are not ideal. If you choose to use pads, we recommend wearing a good pair of waterproof rain pants.

A good strategy is to bring several sandwich-sized ziplock bags pre-packed with individual tampons. The same bag can then be used for disposal after use. Toilet facilities will always be available while in camp and the guides will stop as often as is necessary during the day to accommodate your needs. We will always provide a means for discreet disposal of feminine hygiene items. It is best that you bring your own supplies, but we also carry a supply of feminine hygiene products.

Additional tips that have come from previous guests:

  • Bring a sarong that can be used for additional privacy. It also helps when changing clothes.
  • Wear a two-piece swimsuit such as a tankini with swimsuit bottoms covered by shorts. This is most comfortable for wearing life jackets, sitting on boats and going to the bathroom.
  • Bring hand sanitizer, baby wipes, and non-applicator tampons.
Can I be contacted while on the river?

It is not possible to be reached while on the river. You can leave the Western River office phone number (800-453-7450) or AWW Adventures numbers (800-453-1482) with your family. A message can be waiting for you as soon as you are off of the river.

Can I contact others while on the river?

There is no cell service while on the Main Salmon River. This is also your opportunity to unplug, leave the rest of the world behind and enjoy your surroundings. If you do bring an electronic device, you are asked to be considerate of other trip members and use this equipment outside of the immediate camp setting so as not to disturb the other guests.

What if there is a medical situation on the river?

Should there be a medical situation on the river, the guides will have access to Satellite phones to call for help. All guides are certified in first aid and river rescue. Many guides are certified a Wilderness First Responders or Emergency Medical Technicians. All guides carry a satellite phone along with a GPS. Satellite phones are used to contact emergency transport, including helicopters. Depending on the situation, weather and location, evacuation can take from as little as couple of hours to 24 hours in extreme cases.

Are there any guidelines about camera use on the river?

We do have several guidelines and suggestions for camera use while on your trip. You are free to film and shoot photos during our trips, however, we ask that you consult with your guide before doing so. We have some guidelines you will be asked to follow. These include:

  • Shooting from an appropriate location - Wearing a camera in certain locations could endanger yourself or others around you. If you guide feels that your use of a camera may put you or another guest in danger, you may be asked to put the camera away or move to a safer location for filming.
  • No pole mounts or extension devices on rafts - Cameras cannot be mounted to poles or other extension devices while on rafts as this may endanger you or other guests.
  • Shut down cameras in emergency situations - For the privacy of those involved and your own personal safety, you will be expected to shut your camera down if first aid is being rendered or in an emergency situation. We need all guests to remain alert and undistracted from filming or taking pictures in such situations.
  • Anticipate battery or card change necessities - If you see your card getting full or battery getting low, change them ahead of time during an appropriate moment. Rafts or vehicles cannot be stopped to change batteries or memory cards.
  • Cameras may be damaged or lost - We cannot guarantee the safety of your camera. It may become wet, sandy, lost in the river, dropped on a hike, etc.
  • Respect the privacy of others - If someone does not want to be filmed or photographed, please respect their privacy.

If you’re wondering what type of camera is most suitable for the river, here are a few thoughts.

Waterproof/Shockproof Digital Cameras - These cameras are perfect for everyday use and have become very affordable with most at $100 to $300. They’re rugged and waterproof, but also elegant and trim like any other digital camera.

GoPro and Similar Cameras - Together with their durable waterproof cases, these cameras can take some nice shots while on and off the water. Generally, the wide angle zoom cannot be adjusted so this should be taken into consideration. We ask that you plan to mount these cameras only with the head strap or helmet mount options (bring your own helmet). You will not be allowed to mount the cameras anywhere on the rafts during travel on the river.

Larger SLR Cameras - It is possible to bring a larger SLR camera, but be sure to have something sturdy to protect it. We recommend a hard-shell Pelican Case if you’re planning to bring a more expensive camera. Space is limited on the boats, so we try to keep additional camera equipment minimal.

Aquapac - This is a good solution if you aren’t in the market for a brand new camera, but just want to protect the one you have. It is a flexible waterproof housing to fit a number of camera types -- including video cameras. You do need to make sure the plastic housing stays clean as you’re shooting through it, but a lot of our guests find this to be a nice solution.

See it at Red Rock Outfitters

Batteries and Cards - While your are in remote areas during your trip, there will not be any location to charge your batteries or devices. Consider bringing extra batteries and memory cards and don't forget to charge your extra batteries before you get to the river.

Small Float - You might consider attaching your camera to a small float that may save your camera if you happen to drop it in the river. GoPro sells a small, attachable float that fits on the back of the camera housing that many of our guests find useful.

The Great Outdoors

What can I expect at camp?

A typical day on the river will get you into camp around 4:00 pm. As everyone helps to unload the rafts, you find your gear bag and set off to find your camping spot. After setting up your tents and getting cleaned up, you will find time to play games, hike, fish or just relax. After dinner, a campfire is lit, stories and jokes are shared while the stars dance overhead. The following morning, you will awaken to the smell of coffee and the sounds of your hard working guides preparing breakfast around 7:00 am. Once you have eaten and are ready for the day, everyone takes down their own tents and puts together their gear bags as firelines are formed to help pack the rafts for another day of rafting. Departure on the water is around 9:30 am.

What are the sleeping arrangements during the trip?

Camping equipment on the Main Salmon River include 2-man tents, cots, sleeping bags and ground cover. Tents are roomy and will fit 2 guests with their dry bags. If you are a solo traveler, you will have your own tent. For most travelers, the option to sleep under the stars is the most desirable.

Can I bring a CPAP machine on the river?

If you require a CPAP machine, please carefully evaluate your decision to participate on a river trip. The primary question to ask is, “am I physically fit enough to handle the physical demands?” More information is found under the section titled “What are the physical requirements for this trip?”

The next question to ask yourself is, “can I complete the trip if my CPAP machine fails or my batteries don’t last?” Medical evacuation is only available for severe injury or an imminently life threatening condition. You need to be able to safely complete the trip without a working device!

Guests who do bring these devices must bring a CPAP machine with a self-sufficient power supply. We have had guests surprised that the battery ran out the second night. The newer machines are amazingly compact with long-life battery technology, and some even have solar panels so you can re-charge while on the river.

Guests with older technology that requires 12 V automotive type batteries cannot fly the batteries to or from their river trip due to airline regulations. For guests with these machines, we will supply one long-life automotive gel cell battery, rated at 625 cranking amps, provided we receive the request at least 14 days prior to trip departure. It is important that the guest know how long one battery can power their specific machine, and they must be able to complete the trip without health risk based on the timed battery life. Guests are also responsible for bringing the right adapters and to check the compatibility at home. The battery we supply has top posts. All other connections are the responsibility of the guest.

Additionally, guests with this type of CPAP must be able to carry the 60 pound battery and the machine off the boat and across the beach to their campsite each night with their regular gear. This can often be up to 100 yards across moderately difficult terrain.

Thank you for carefully considering additional challenges that traveling with a CPAP requires on a multi-day backcountry camping and rafting expedition. It is important to us that you choose wisely, and come well prepared to self-sufficiently manage this need while camping in the backcountry.

How do I bathe while on the river?

On many Idaho summer rafting trips, frequent swimming in the clear water leaves you feeling clean. For those guests who want to clean up, it is always done well above the river’s high water line. Bio-degradable soap does not go in the river. Fill a bucket and have a friend help you by pouring water over you after soaping up above the high water line.

What about bugs?
Mosquitoes are rare or nonexistent on a Main Salmon rafting trip. There are sometimes bees and flies and it's a good idea to bring some repellent. If you have a bee allergy be sure we know and bring your own medication. Snakes are also rare, especially during the heat of summer when they tend to come out only in the cool of night. They fear us more than we fear them and do a good job of staying out of sight.
What do I do with jewelry while on the river?

It is best to leave your jewelry behind. Rafting is an active vacation and jewelry often gets in the way. Earrings and necklaces can get caught on lifejackets. Rings can also cause injuries when you are holding on tightly to ropes.

Food & Beverage

What meals are provided with the trip?

The night prior to the trip departure will be dinner on your own. On Day 1, there is a continental breakfast at the Stagecoach Inn in Salmon before you leave for the river. Lunch and dinner will be provided on the river (breakfast on your own). Days 2, 3, 4, you will have breakfast, lunch & dinner on the river. Day 5 will have breakfast and lunch on the river with a group dinner at a restaurant in McCall, Idaho.

What is the food like?

The quality of the food on an Idaho rafting trip reflects the quality of the wilderness environment of the river. Meals are plentiful enough for the heartiest of appetites. Breakfasts will be balanced with fresh fruit juices, eggs, pancakes, French toast, omelets, fruits and cereals and a variety of meats including sausage. The lunch menu includes turkey, roast beef, ham and tuna complemented by fresh tomatoes, lettuce, onions, pickles and cheese. Your choice of bread, chips and fruit, all rounded out by desserts with lemonade and water. Fantastic dinners include crisp green salads, fresh bread, New York steaks, chicken fajitas, and more. Dinners are topped off with desserts like Dutch Oven peach cobbler, chocolate cake and cheesecake.

What beverages are supplied and what can I bring?

There will be juice, coffee, tea and cocoa each morning. During the day, water and flavorings for water are available. You are welcome to bring along any additional drinks. No glass, please.

What about dietary restrictions or food allergies?

On multi-day river trips, our food service is limited by several factors:

  • We use a portable, camp-stove style, kitchen with a limited cooking surface and a limited supply of propane.
  • Our cold and dry food storage capacity is also limited because it all has to fit on the boats along with the camp gear and the guests.
  • Because we operate in remote, rural locations, many items are simply not available.
  • Our guides, who are also the cooks, are so busy with all of the tasks involved with running a river trip, that they do not have excess time to prepare special food requests. They strive to maximize the time spent hiking, rafting and enjoying the canyon with less time spent preparing food.

Within these limitations, we’ve crafted a menu that is designed to be prepared quickly and efficiently and to appeal to a large variety of tastes. All of our meals are served “buffet or family style” with any custom, per person preparation being limited to things like “how would you like your steak cooked” or “do you prefer your eggs scrambled or over-easy?”

While we try to accommodate some special dietary needs, we are not always able. If you have a specific food allergy or sensitivity, please let us know. If you have dietary restrictions based on a lifestyle choice or religious practice, please let us know. If your food allergy is severe, we need to have a more in-depth conversation about what can and cannot be done.

Please understand that we may not be able to completely meet your needs. However, we have found that most people find what they need from within our established menu.

The policy we have developed to maximize the common welfare of all guests on a river trip, and to allow our guides to focus their time and attention on critical aspects of a trip is that:

  • Guests may bring supplemental items if they do not require special preparation by our guides, or use of our cooking facilities. We will always have an ample supply of snacks, fresh fruits, vegetables, and side items to choose from. While our storage space is limited, we have both cold and dry storage available on our boats for any supplemental products you may bring.
  • We cannot absolutely guarantee your safety if your food allergy is severe enough to cause anaphylaxis. You must bring an adequate supply of your own Epipens to meet your needs. Please understand that one injection of an epipen will only last 10-20 minutes and that an evacuation from the river may take hours.

Please let us know of any special dietary needs well in advance. Special food requests made within two weeks of the trip launch date may not be able to be accommodated.

Can I bring my own food and snacks?

We bring a variety of snacks on every trip. As a general rule, snacks will be served mid-morning and mid-afternoon while traveling down river. If you would like to bring some of your own snacks, small, pre-packaged items are best. We can provide cold or dry storage. If you have special dietary needs, bringing some of your own snacks that work well for you is a great idea.

Travel & Logistics

When is the best time to travel?

With runoff on the Main Salmon, June water levels can be high and especially suited for the hearty adventurer. Trips in July through August are when the rafting season is at it’s peak. You will see more boaters in July than in August.

What weather should I expect?

Keep in mind that weather in the northwest is unpredictable. You will want to come prepared for cold/wet weather and hot/sunny weather – sometimes all in the same day! For up to date, current weather forecasts, go to our Main Salmon Weather page. This weather link is for Salmon, Idaho and can change at any time. Weather in the canyon can vary.

How do I get there?

There are 2 options to get to your Main Salmon rafting trip. You can add the Travel Package to your reservation if you are not traveling by car. This way you can fly into Boise, Idaho (BOI). You will spend the first night at the Vista Inn on the airport property. Early the next morning, at 5:30 am you will meet the special charter flight shuttle. You will board a plane that will take you on a beautiful early morning flight over the Central Idaho Wilderness Area to Salmon, Idaho where you will meet your guides and the rest of the group. At the end of your rafting trip, after the last night in McCall, there is ground transportation provided back to Boise by 12:00 noon).

The other option to get to the river trip is to drive to Salmon the night prior to your rafting trip and spend the night there. An orientation meeting is held at the Stagecoach Inn at 7:30 pm that night (this is where you will get your gear bags and ammo cans to pack for the trip). The following morning at 7:30 am all guests meet outside the Stagecoach Inn to get on the road for the rafting adventure. Your vehicle can be shuttled to McCall while you are on the river for an extra fee (you will not return to Salmon).

What transportation is provided with the trip?

Transportation from Salmon to the river on the day of your river trip and to McCall on your last day is included in the total price of your trip.

Are accommodations included before and after the trip?

Your total trip price will include all accommodations. All lodging is based on double occupancy with single supplement charges added if necessary.

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