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.
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.