double clickMain Salmon River Rafting Questions
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.

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 terrains such as rocks, steep sandy beaches, and flat locations. Climbing onto 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 a 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.
      • 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, green fern glens, and ancient American Indian ruins. Though all the hikes are not mandatory, when the rafts are tied up in the 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 to your campsite while doing so. 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 in 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 20-pound duffle bag along with the sleeping bag and ground cover we provide.
      • 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.
      • 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 diseases 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 (or is that footy)? 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 lifejacket (PFD) 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.

If you think there is a chance that you may be pregnant after making your deposit you should take out cancellation insurance that would have coverage to cancel for any reason or plan to have someone take your place. We offer the name change option for you or anyone in your party for $50 per person.

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?

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 complimented 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.

If you or any of the participants in your party have special dietary requirements, severe or life-threatening allergies of any kind, a multi-day rafting trip may not be a suitable trip for you. Due to space limitations and the nature of our buffet-style meal service, we are unable to accommodate dietary requests such as Kosher and Vegan. If you are unable to find options on our standard meal service (see below) that meet your dietary needs, you may supplement the existing meals where necessary with some of your own food, as long as it does not require cooking on our limited stove and cookware surfaces.

Please Note: If you have a gluten free, vegetarian or pescatarian dietary request there will be a $50 fee added to your reservation.



  • Eggs to order, sausage, hash browns, bagels, donuts, fresh fruit, fruit juice
  • French toast made with Texas toast, pork chops, bagels, donuts, fresh fruit, juice
  • Omelettes, scones, fresh fruit, fruit juice
  • Pancakes with fresh blueberries, bacon, fresh fruit, fruit juice


  • Lunch meats (turkey and roast beef), assorted breads, assorted cheeses, lettuce, tomato, pickles, olives and red onion. Peanut butter with assorted jams as an alternative. Apples, oranges, cookies, chips
  • Chicken salad with pita bread. Peanut butter with assorted jams as an alternative. Apples, oranges, cookies, chips
  • Tuna salad with pita bread. Peanut butter with assorted jams as an alternative. Apples, oranges, cookies, chips


  • Appetizers: Fresh fruit with yogurt dip, crackers with Brie cheese and raspberries, fresh veggies with onion dip and ranch dip, tortilla chips with salsa and guacamole
  • Entrees:
    • Steak or garden burgers,corn, potatoes, tossed green salad with assorted dressings, rolls
    • Stir fry pork and veggies with egg rolls, spinach salad with almonds, oranges, red onion and chow mein noodles, broccoli
    • Spaghetti with marinara or bolognese sauce, zucchini casserole, tossed green salad with assorted dressings, garlic bread
    • Chicken fajitas, beans, rice, sauteed veggies, guacamole, salsa, sour cream
  • Desserts:
    • Strawberry shortcake
    • Chocolate Cake
    • Cheesecake
    • Peach Cobbler
    • During fire restrictions, dessert options may vary.

Snacks may include: trail mix, granola bars, Chex mix, Ritz bits, Rice Crispy treats, candy bars and honey roasted peanuts. Fresh fruit is also available on request.

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 and dinner on the river. Day 5 will have breakfast and lunch on the river. There are many eating establishments in McCall, Idaho for dinner on Day 5.

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.

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 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.

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

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 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.

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! On a Main Salmon trip, when 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.

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 inches high x 16 inches 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 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. The 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 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 the 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.

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 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 occasional 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?

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 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.

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.

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.

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 meet in Boise, Idaho 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 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?

Pre and post trip lodging accommodations are optional and suggested that you choose to add them to your reservation. The cost of these accommodations will be added to the total price of your trip based on your travel plans.