double clickIdaho Rafting FAQ; Snake River Rafting Questions
Idaho Rafting
Hells Canyon

Hell's Canyon Vacation Questions

A rafting vacation in Idaho on the Snake River 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 the outfitter? You'll find answers to all these questions and many more in the categories below.

Physical Requirements

What are the physical requirements for this trip?

Please consider carefully any medical or health condition that would endanger yourself, or others on the trip, or diminish the enjoyment of an adventure vacation such as this. Factors of age, weight, lack of conditioning, heart or other disease can become exacerbated by the environment, remote distances from a hospital, and physical challenges of a rafting adventure. It is critical that you are in reasonable health and physical fitness at the time of departure so that our staff can focus their attention equally on all trip participants. If you are taking any medications, we should be made aware of these and what these medications are treating. If you have any questions or concerns please talk with us and we can help you consider your options.


  • Fit into our Type 5 Life Jacket (maximum chest size is 52 inches and minimum weight is 50 pounds) required by the National Park Service.
      • Each guest wears a lifejacket 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 lifejackets we supply 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 lifejackets fit those 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 - 52 inches (76-132 cm). Body shape can also affect the proper fit of the jacket. If you are unsure, call and speak with us. If unsure, we’ll mail you one of our jackets and you can try it on.
  • Securely grip ropes provided for handholds while running the rapids.
      • Gripping the ropes on the raft is the only way to ensure you stay on board. Factors such as where you sit in the raft in relation to where the waves crash can be a factor, but whitewater rafting can give an unpredictable ride.
      • 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).
  • Traverse and navigate uneven terrain over sand and rocks on hikes and in camp.
      • 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 onto a slippery raft can require a 2-3 foot high ascent. Boats are sometimes moving up and down and side to side when tied up in faster current.
      • 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. These beautiful hikes lead to sparkling streams, pristine pools and ancient American Indian ruins. 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.
      • In camp, you will need to have the same mobility over uneven terrain, and be able to carry your personal bags. Also, keep in mind that paths from your campsite to the toilet facilities would not be classified as 'easy' to navigate at night.
      • 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.
  • Carry your own dry bag which will include your duffle bag along with the sleeping bag and ground cover we provide.
      • Though a cargo raft will go ahead each day to set up camp, guests are required to carry their own waterproof bags with personal gear from their campsites to the rafts each morning before leaving camp. This can be very difficult for some guests due to the uneven terrain, deep sand, and steep beaches.
      • 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.

The nature of an outdoor adventure includes exposure to weather conditions such as heat, sun, wind or rain - sometimes in the extreme. With proper preparation procedures such as applying sunscreen, wearing the right clothing, etc., many of these factors of weather (even in the extreme) can be mitigated, and do not have to be a negative factor. Factors of age, weight, lack of conditioning, heart or other disease can become exacerbated by the environment, remoteness, and physical requirements of a rafting adventure.

    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. An evacuation may present many challenges such as inclement weather, darkness, or delays based on when and where the evacuation is taking place.

Personal benefits of full (honest) health 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.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.

What's the best way to get physically fit for a rafting trip?

Physical fitness on a rafting trip is probably the very best way to get the most out of your adventure. Hiking to hidden attractions away from the river's edge, shooting rapids with anticipation rather than anxiety, and possibly even swimming in the river are among the more active things where being more fit will enhance your whitewater rafting vacation. Feeling confident with your abilities is always a great feeling, but the rewards you'll get from physically preparing your body for a rafting trip will pay off in numerous ways, possibly adding years to your life. Now THAT'S living! So, how does one best prepare physically for a rafting adventure? Great question. One of Western's river guides has created a wholeprogram called "River-Fit" to help guests make the most of their fitness preparations before a rafting trip. We encourage you to take advantage of his custom-fit knowledge and program at

Below, we've made a list of simple exercises that can be combined together and are specifically applicable to a rafting adventure:

Strength: Gripping ropes (or paddles) is one universal constant for any rafting trip. Start squeezing stress balls or spring-loaded grip strengtheners. Keep these small items handy (pun-intended) while stopped at a red light, working at the desk, or while walking and talking. Legs are another key area to focus on - especially if you want to explore the side trips away from the river's edge. Start with walks around your neighborhood while gripping hand weights to strengthen your grip simultaneously. You might as well do some curls with those hand weights while you're at it! Some hikes require some (or a lot of) stair-stepping activity. To really get your legs ready, consider squats, burpees, jump rope, or jumping jacks. All the little muscles in your feet that give you balance will come in very handy while walking on uneven terrain.

Lungs & Heart: Breathing heavy is a sure sign your heart rate is up. You probably know lots of ways to get your heart rate up, but one of the best ways to work your entire body (muscles AND heart and lungs) is an exercise with a stupid name, called 'Burpees.' (No, that's not what you get from consuming a 7-11 Slurpee too fast). You can do burpees at any pace you are ready for, but do it long enough to get breathing hard, then catch your breath and repeat for, say 5 minutes a day. Add in walking your dog, using hand-grip weights, or anything else that also strengthens your grip to be more time efficient as you prepare.

Flexibility: Sitting in a raft is different from how we normally sit in a chair. Walking on uneven terrain is different than on a paved path. Flexibility may be more important than strength in helping prevent injuries. Consider that when you absolutely don't want to exercise, but you do have a minute to stretch. Always be stretching.

Balance & Mental Awareness: Of course knowing your own limits is vital for keeping yourself safer - and that responsibility can't be placed on anyone but you! While exercising and preparing for your rafting trip, pay attention to two things: (1) Your own sense of physical balance, and (2) how much harder you can push yourself than you initially may have thought. These two things will keep you safer, while also moving beyond self-imposed limitations and comfort zones. That's the definition of a great adventure!

Drink lots of water: Get used to drinking a lot of water as you exercise more. In the hot sun, even simply sitting on a raft, you will sweat and burn more calories than you may have thought. Hydration is not an area to 'push through' and 'be tough' about! Drink water! Reward that hard-working body!

Swimming skills are a plus! Swimming is a great way to prepare for a rafting trip too. You may (voluntarily or involuntarily) be doing some swimming on your rafting trip. Don't let that scare you. You've got a Personal Flotation Device (PFD, aka life jacket) on at all times and may only need to do some strokes and kicks to get yourself back to the boat, or to shore.

Myth #9 on our 11 Myths of Whitewater Rafting page dispels the notion that you must be athletic to enjoy a rafting trip. Take a look there if you want to learn more about what to expect on rafting vacations.

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.
If I'm pregnant, can I still go rafting?

If you are pregnant, you will not be permitted to go rafting. Our trips take place in remote wilderness settings where access to advanced medical care can be hours away (possibly overnight), and conditions such as extreme heat and vigorous activity can exacerbate discomfort and any known or unknown conditions.

Please remember that you will not always be pregnant, but the river will always be here. We do not believe it is worth the risk, no matter how early you are in your pregnancy. We think moms are special and hope you understand.

Can I bring a CPAP machine on the river?

If you use a CPAP machine, please ensure that you can complete the trip if your CPAP machine fails or your batteries don’t last. Medical evacuation is only available for severe injury or an imminently life threatening condition. You must be able to safely complete the trip without a working device! Please contact our office to advise us if you will be bringing a cpap machine on your trip. 1-801-942-6669

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.

Food, Beverage & Dietary Information

What can I expect to eat, and can I make substitutions?

We know delicious food is an essential part of any adventure! On your Idaho rafting trip, you can expect hearty and healthy meals served family-style. Enjoy a balanced breakfast with fresh juices, omelets, fruits, and cereals. Lunch features a variety of sandwiches with deli meats or chicken salad. Dinners are a highlight, with options like fresh Alaskan salmon, prime rib, side dishes, salads, and mouthwatering Dutch oven desserts

Here's what you can expect:

  • Fresh, High-Quality Ingredients: We use fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and meats to prepare hearty and healthy meals.
  • Breakfast: Start your day with a balanced breakfast featuring fresh fruit juices, omelets, fruits, and cereals.
  • Lunch: Power through the afternoon with deli meats or chicken salad sandwiches.
  • Dinner: Savor satisfying dinners featuring fresh Alaskan salmon, prime rib, delicious side dishes, fresh salads, and decadent desserts cooked in Dutch ovens.
  • Limited Customization: While we can't offer extensive per-person customization, we do cater to preferences like how you'd like your steak cooked or eggs prepared.

Read more about allergies and substitutions below.

Substitutions for guests with SEVERE ALLERGIES

We want everyone to have a fantastic experience on our rafting trips! However, due to the remote nature of these adventures, our ability to accommodate special dietary needs can be limited. If you or any of the participants in your party have special dietary requirements or severe or life-threatening allergies, a multi-day rafting trip may not suit you.

What you need to know:

  • Severe Allergies: We cannot guarantee safety for severe allergies that could cause anaphylaxis. You must bring enough EpiPens to meet your needs. An EpiPen injection is temporary, and river evacuations can take multiple hours.
  • Limited Kitchen Facilities: We use camp stoves with limited cooking space and propane.
  • Storage Challenges: The rafts have limited cooler space and dry storage, which is shared with other gear and food.
  • Remote Locations: We operate in areas with limited access to specific ingredients.
  • Guide Duties: Our guides are responsible for all aspects of the trip, including cooking. They may need more time to prepare elaborate meals for individual needs.

What We Can Do:

  • We offer a pre-designed menu: This menu is prepared efficiently and caters to various dietary preferences.
  • We try to accommodate some requests: If you have allergies or sensitivities or follow a specific diet (vegetarian, etc.), let us know in advance.
  • Severe allergies require discussion: If you have a severe allergy, we must discuss the feasibility of managing it on the trip.

What You Can Do:

  • Pack Supplemental Food: You can bring additional food that doesn't require cooking by our guides or using our cooking equipment.
  • We offer plenty of options: Snacks, fresh fruits & vegetables, and various side dishes.
  • Bring your own approved items: We have limited cold and dry storage on the rafts for your additional food.

Planning is Key!
You must inform us of any dietary needs well in advance, at least two weeks before your trip departure. This allows us to discuss options and ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

What beverages are supplied and what can I bring?

There will be juice, coffee, tea and cocoa each morning. During the day, there will be 2 complimentary sodas and beers per person, per day available and a limited supply of wine with dinner. You are welcome to bring along any additional drinks, please make sure to label your personal beverages. No glass beer bottles please. Bottled wine is fine.

Can I bring my own 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.

Reservations & Cancellations

What deposit is required?

An initial non-refundable deposit of $500 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 offer a 48 hour courtesy hold, no deposit required. Exceptions to this standard courtesy hold time are evaluated as to how many seats are still available and how close the actual travel date may be.

When is final payment due?

Payment in full is due 120 days prior to trip departure and is non-refundable. Payment may be paid by check or credit card.

How can I make payments?

For your convenience, you can make secure payments online at anytime into your reservation by using the provided 'Manage Payments' link provided in your order email. Final payments are due 90 days prior to trip departure and can be made through this link or by calling 800-453-7450 to speak with our office staff.

We reserve the right to cancel your reservation if full payment is not collected by the due date.

What is the cancellation and refund policy?

An initial deposit of $500 per person is required to secure your space. This deposit is non-refundable. Payment in full is due 120 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.

Your trip operator, ROW Adventures, reserves the right, either prior to or after departure, in its good-faith discretion and in circumstances that warrant it, to change or re-price any tour, trip, or expedition. This includes the possibility of moving to different river or river segment due to extreme water conditions, forest fires, road closures and/or acts of God. If we are not able to provide a substitute trip, river, or altered itinerary and have to cancel the departure completely, you will be allowed you to use the full value of your non-refundable payments as a credit for a future trip. ROW Adventures reserves the right to cancel trips that are below the trip minimum (usually 6 persons). All trip members will be notified a minimum of 30 days before the trip departs and will receive a full refund.

Is cancellation insurance available?

If you are concerned about the possibility of having to cancel, you will find information about cancellation coverage at

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?

There is a minimum requirement of 6 passengers to confirm any launch.

While we fully expect to operate each of our scheduled departures, there may be times when circumstances beyond our reasonable control cause us to be unable to operate a specific departure. These may include, without limitation, acts of nature, government restrictions, pandemic or illness, weather conditions, and other unforeseen circumstances. Please reference our full policy provided at the time of reservation.

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 Snake River trip is 18 passengers.

How many guests per raft?

On a Snake River trip, you will have your choice of rafting in an oar boat, paddle raft and inflatable kayaks. An oar boat can take 4 guests with a guide comfortably and the guide is the only one with oars to paddle. A paddle raft has a maximum capacity of 6 passengers and 1 guide, with a paddle raft, all guests and guide will paddle. There are inflatable kayaks available part-time on appropriate sections of the river for those who want to take on the challenge of the rapids (no guide on an inflatable kayak).

Can I charter my own private trip?

You can charter your own private rafting trip on the Snake River through Hells Canyon by confirming all 19 seats. Get your group together to celebrate a special occasion, family reunion, all women or men group, etc.

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

Arranging a group trip with Western is an easy task! Begin by calling our office 866-904-1160 and making your own reservation. Members of your group may then call in and mention that they are traveling with you. If group members are paying separately each can have their own reservation while still being tied together as a group.

Depending on availability, it may be possible to place a courtesy hold for a few days on your specific trip date to enable your friends to call in with their own deposit. Seats would then be released from that hold as they place their individual reservations within your group.

What if I’m traveling solo?

Any river trip is a great experience for solo travelers. Meet like-minded, adventurous, new friends!

Traveling with Children

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

The minimum age on a Snake River trip is 10 years old in the early season (May and June). July, August and September launches have a minimum age of 7 years old.

What if my kids are picky eaters?

You are welcome to bring along whatever food items that your child prefers. Hand-selected fruits and vegetables are carefully packed for each trip along with meats and fresh dairy. Breakfast food offerings are eggs, pancakes, French Toast, and cereals. Fruit juice is available at breakfast. Lunches generally include deli meats and peanut butter and jelly with cookies afterwards. Dinners will include appetizers, main dishes and desserts, all cooked fresh. There is a conscious effort to serve local foods on Idaho rafting trips.

Is this the best trip for younger children?

The Snake River in Hells Canyon is a great trip for kids in July and August when the water is warmer. With the big sandy beaches, kids enjoy the camptime playing games and swimming close to shore. The Snake River is also a good location for fishing in camp.

Preparing & Packing

What should I bring?

All guests should come dressed and ready to raft on the first day. Also, be prepared with river clothes and personal hygiene items in a soft-sided duffel bag approximately 12 inches x 13 inches x 24 inches in size on the day of your river departure. Any extra luggage can be shuttled to the Hells Canyon Grand Hotel while you are on the river. When you get off of the river in Lewiston, your extra bags will be waiting for you at the Hells Canyon Grand Hotel. All guests are given a large gear bag for their duffel bags and a day bag to use for smaller items like camera, sunscreen, necessary medications at the pre-trip orientation. You will want to pack your dry bag the night prior to trip departure so that you will be ready for the trip first thing in the morning.

Do I need a wetsuit?

In the early season, May and June, you will be provided a wetsuit and wetsuit booties. A splash jacket and rain gear are important clothing items for the early season on a Snake River trip. These will protect you from the cold water rapids.

Can I bring my own lifejacket or PFD?

Guests are not allowed to bring their own lifejacket or PFD. Western River Expeditions is 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 lifejackets. 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 floatation than the typical personal jacket.

What about fishing on the river?

Fishing for trout, bass, and sturgeon on the Snake River is good. An Idaho and Oregon fishing license is required. Fishing is catch and release only. Please bring your own collapsible rod and gear.

If you are on an oar boat and in between rapids, your guide may let you fish from the raft or you can always fish while in camp.

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

Come dressed ready for the river rafting. Wear what can get wet and dry quickly. During early season, make sure to have your rain gear handy, and be sure your personal day bag is packed.

What about sun protection?

Bring along plenty of sunscreen for any rafting trip. The air will be dryer in the West than you will find in many other climate zones. You will want to keep your skin hydrated and protected from the sun. Hats and sunglasses are very important items. A sarong or head buff can also protect you while in direct sun.

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.

Am I allowed to bring a drone on this trip?

Western River Expeditions and Moab Adventure Center do not allow the use of drones on any trips.

How do I protect my belongings from getting wet?

Personal belongings for your multi-day rafting trip should be placed in a soft-sided duffle bag that will be stored away each day in a large, water tight, gear bag. This large gear bag is put on a cargo raft that will go ahead of your trip each day and be waiting for you at camp. You will also have a smaller, day use dry bag to put items like sunscreen, camera, medications, lip balm, etc into. This bag will be with you each day on the raft.

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, flannel liner, pillow, Paco pads to sleep on, camp chairs and 2 dry bags.

What do I do with extra luggage?

Any extra luggage that does not need to go with you on the river will be transported to the Hells Canyon Grand Hotel and waiting for you when you get off of the river.

What if I need to take medications?

All guests are given a day bag to use for smaller items like camera, sunscreen, necessary medications at the pre-trip orientation. Put all medications needed during the day into your day bag. If medication requires refrigeration, give it to your guides to store in the coolers. You will want to pack your day bag the night prior to trip departure so that you will be ready for the trip first thing in the morning.

On the River

What is a typical day on the river?

Wake up around 7:00am to the smell of freshly brewed coffee with breakfast to follow around 7:30. After breakfast, you will help to take down the campsite and pack your dry bags to load on the cargo raft. Once all packed for the river, around 9:30, the group gets on their way for another new adventure. You will experience plenty of rapids and dramatic scenery, take side hikes to see Native American rock art left by original settlers of the area. After a morning of river rafting, you will stop for lunch. Your guides will fix lunch while you rest or take a hike. The first few days of rafting the Snake River, you will find some of the biggest whitewater in the Northwest. Keep an eye out for wildlife like Bald Eagles, River Otter, Big Horn Sheep and Deer. You will arrive at your campsite where your tents and kitchen have already been set up. You will find your guides preparing the appetizers for the evening. After you clean up from your day of rafting, everyone gathers for a relaxing dinner and time around the campfire. Get a good night’s sleep because another day is just hours away!

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?

Hells Canyon Dam controls the water flow in the Snake River and you will find a stronger release in June and September. The classification of the rapids is subject to the size of the water and the technicality of the rapid. For general purposes, you will find class II - IV rapids on the Snake River in Hells Canyon.

What type of raft can I expect?

Rafting on the Snake River allows you a variety of raft choices to experience. You can choose to raft in an oar boat (guide only rows), paddle raft (all guests have a paddle and share in the paddling experience with the guide) or part-time in an inflatable kayak on appropriate sections of the river.

What is the water temperature on the river?

The water that flows in the Snake River through Hells Canyon runs over the Hells Canyon dam and is heated by the sun. Temperatures will range in the 60’s in June and September and 70’s in July and August.

What about swimming?

While not rafting the whitewater rapids, swimming in the Snake River will add to your 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?

The portable toilet system we use in camp (as shown in the video) is NOT available during the day while rafting. During the day your guides will take 'pit stops' (also known as 'smile breaks') where boats pull ashore allowing guests to access the river’s edge and… smile... while discreetly relieving liquid waste (#1) directly in the river’s naturally flushing current, according to regulations. This is generally done by wading into the water in a calm location or by finding a more private location at the water’s edge.

While we won't have the toilet system available during a portion of each day, if you need to go #2 during one of our pit stops, we will provide directions to a private location and supplies for a clean and convenient way to collect and dispose of things.

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 zip-lock 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 lifejackets, 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 ROW Adventures office phone number (800-451-6034) 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 Snake 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 on trips lasting three or more days. Satellite phones are used to contact emergency transport, including helicopters. Depending on the situation, weather and location evacuation can take from as little a couple of hours to 24 hours in extreme cases.

Are there any guidelines for 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. On the Snake River trips with 13 or more passengers, there will be a cargo raft that takes all tents, dry bags and kitchen gear ahead on the river each day. An extra guide will set up camp each day before guests arrive after a day of rafting. (Note: In rare circumstances there may be a trip with less than 13 guests. In this case, a cargo raft may not be run. On these smaller trips, guests and gear travel together down the river. Guides are still happy to set up your tent if you like, or you may enjoy doing it yourself.) Upon arrival into camp, you will find your dry bag on shore and you can pick a tent location and freshen up from your day on the river. This is the time when you can play games, hike, fish or just relax. After dinner a campfire is lit, stories are told and star gazing will amaze you. 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 helps to pack up 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 Snake River includes tents, self-inflating foam pads, sleeping bags, flannel liner, pillows 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.

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. Solar showers will be available on most trips, the hot water is great for bathing.

What about bugs?
Mosquitoes are rare or nonexistent on the Snake River in Hells Canyon. 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.

Travel & Logistics

When is the best time to travel?

The elevation on the Snake River in Hells Canyon is only 1,500’ at the put-in and around 800’ at the take-out. This means the weather is typically much warmer than other parts of Idaho. This trip is excellent throughout the season, but the Snake River in Hells Canyon is an ideal choice for spring or fall vacations because of the mild climate and few other people.

What weather should I expect?

Though the Snake River valley is low in elevation and does have a more mild climate than other Idaho rivers, the 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 website: Your trip will span miles of river, this forecast from the nearest major weather station may not be indicative of the entire region where your trip will take place. Weather in the canyon may vary greatly from the surrounding cities.

How do I get there?

There are 2 options for meeting for the Snake River trip.

  1. You can fly into Boise no later than 4:00pm the day prior to your river trip and meet the complimentary shuttle service that will take you to Cambridge for your first night’s stay.
  2. Drive your own vehicle to Cambridge, Idaho. You can arrange to have your vehicle shuttled to Lewiston while you are on the river trip. Your vehicle will be waiting at the Hells Canyon Grand Hotel when you arrive.

At the end of your river trip, if you flew into Boise and were picked up, you can fly out of Lewiston, Idaho from the Lewiston-Nez Perce County Airport (LWS). There is a complimentary shuttle from the Hells Canyon Grand Hotel to the Lewiston Airport. Spokane, Washington (GEG) is located 2 hours north of Lewiston, Idaho and is also an option for flights after your river trip.

What transportation is provided with the trip?

Transportation to the river on the day of your river trip from Cambridge, Idaho and the return to the Hells Canyon Grand Hotel in Lewiston, Idaho on your last day is included in the base price of your trip.

What accommodations are recommended before and after the trip?

On a Snake River rafting trip, you will begin in Cambridge, ID and end your trip in Lewiston, ID. Guests meet at the Frontier Motel in Cambridge, ID where an important orientation meeting is held at 8:30 the night prior to the rafting trip.

Make your own hotel reservations at the Frontier Motel in Cambridge by calling (208) 257-3851 or on the Frontier Motel website.

If the Frontier Motel does not have a vacancy, a good alternative is The Cambridge House Bed & Breakfast, 1/4 mile from the Frontier Motel.

After the river trip, all guests are taken to the Hells Canyon Grand Hotel (208-799-1000) in Lewiston, ID. A booking link for you to make your reservation at the Hells Canyon Grand Hotel will be provided upon confirmation of your rafting reservation.