Camp on big sandy beaches, splash through fun rapids in four distinctly beautiful gorges and swim, stand up paddleboard and inflatable kayak on this ultimate Idaho adventure.
The Lower Salmon River in Idaho meanders warm, wide, and mellow, making it a great rafting getaway for families and first-time rafters. Idaho’s Lower Salmon River is home to some of America’s most beautiful inland river beaches, super-sandy and sprawling alongside clear, mellow pools, which are perfect for stand-up paddleboarding and playing in inflatable kayaks. There’s no shortage of thrill-seeking either. Some of Idaho’s most famous whitewater rapids, gorges, and viewscapes—like Demons Drop, Snow Hole, and Blue Canyon—are just around the bend.
The Lower Salmon River exhibits a side of Idaho seldom seen by most visitors. Distinguished from the forests and mountains that make up much of Idaho’s wilderness, this river runs through the warmer, drier canyon country of the Seven Devils. The Lower Salmon is also a veritable treasure chest of intriguing stories and relics from the past. Known human history dates back to a mind-boggling 10,000 years ago when the first humans inhabited the river canyon, leaving a wealth of Native American rock art.
Soak up the sun, ramble with the river, and enjoy a picture-perfect summer vacation, complete with beach vibes, deep in the wilderness of northwest Idaho.
What to Expect
Itinerary & Map
Itinerary at a Glance
We pride ourselves in running a relaxed and flexible schedule. Every Lower Salmon River rafting trip is different depending upon the group, other trips on the water, camp locations, and sometimes the weather. The following is a sample of what your trip might be like:
The Day Before Your Trip
The evening before your trip, we’ll meet for a pre-trip orientation in Lewiston, ID. This is an opportunity to meet your fellow travelers and trip leader, and ask any last-minute questions.
We’ll depart Lewiston for a scenic 2-hour drive to our put-in at Hammer Creek. Once at the river, we meet the rest of the crew, and after an informative safety talk, our adventure begins!
Those ready to cool down might swim through Rollercoaster Rapid at the entrance to Green Canyon. Then, we may stop to visit some ancient pictographs before more whitewater action in rapids like Wright-Way, Demons Drop, and Pine Bar.
The first day generally sets the pace for our trip. We’ll spend a few hours on the water, sometimes stopping for a short hike, a swim, or a visit to pictographs or another historical site. Come lunchtime, we pull over to a sandy beach and enjoy a delicious picnic. After feasting and relaxing on the beach (or perhaps swimming, a game of Frisbee, or a nature walk), we get back in our boats for more exciting whitewater. Be sure to try your hand at the paddleboard and inflatable kayak.
Mid- to late- afternoon, we stop and make camp. You grab your bags and set up your tent while we take care of the kitchen and “living room”—camp chairs and the site for tonight’s campfire (if permitted). Read, nap, or just sit back and laugh with friends and family as we prepare dinner.
After a satisfying feast, the evening is yours to spend however you wish. Maybe music, stories, or jokes will bring us together tonight; maybe the popping of the fire, the whisper of the river, and the clarity of the big, star-filled sky will encourage silent reflection on the amazing wilderness that is, for now, our home.
Days 2 – 3 or 4 (depending on trip length)
Each morning, you’ll be greeted with hot coffee, tea, and cocoa as breakfast is prepared by your guides. After a hearty breakfast, you pack your belongings and have some more time to relax while camp is broken down and the boats are loaded.
Our journey down the Lower Salmon continues through Green Canyon, then into Cougar and Snow Hole canyons, each offering a different perspective on the striking scenery around us. All the while, the river slowly unfolds its long and varied history, providing glimpses of old mining and ranching sites, geological displays of basalt formations, remnants of ancient Indian cultures, and remains of old Chinese stone houses.
As we float along the river, we’ll keep an eye out for the wildlife that inhabits the canyon. Golden eagles, ospreys, and river otters make frequent appearances; if we’re lucky, we might also see beavers, cougars, and Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep.
Entering Snow Hole Canyon, we face some of the biggest, most exciting whitewater of our trip–Half and Half, Snow Hole, and China Rapids.
Early-season boaters can experience the challenge of Slide Rapid in Blue Canyon, perhaps the most spectacular of the four gorges. Hikers in the group might enjoy climbing to a vista point for an impressive bird’s-eye view of the river winding through the steep and slender canyon.
Finally, the Salmon merges with the Snake River, again doubling in size on its’ run north to the Columbia and west to the Pacific Ocean.
Day 4 or 5 (depending on trip length)
The last day we’ll float past the confluence with the Grande Ronde. A motor may be used on the last portion of flat water to the take-out at Heller Bar where we’ll bid farewell to our guides and travel by van back to Lewiston.
Meeting Time & Place
7 PM, the evening before your trip
Approximately 3:30-4 PM to Lewiston
- Destination River
- Meeting Parking
- Point of Interest
- Take Out
Dates & Prices
Save $100 on 2024 departures when you’re one of the first to book by March 31 and request “Premier Pricing” over the phone.
|2024 Departures||Adult Price||Youth Price|
|June 29 All Adult||$1,349||–|
|2024 Departures||Adult Price||Youth Price|
|July 15 Craft Beer Tasting||$1,599||–|
|July 22, 30||$1,599||$1599*|
|August 7, 15||$1,499||$1,399|
|August 16 Women’s Wellness||$1,799||–|
|August 31 All Adult||$1,499||–|
|September 1, 8||$1,499||$1,399|
*Youth pricing not available for trips departing in July; Women’s Wellness is an all-adult trip.
Join OARS for Class III whitewater fun on our adults-only trip through the Gorges of the Lower Salmon River
Join OARS and Payette Brewing Co. for five days of fun, sun, sand, and delicious craft brews on this adults-only Lower Salmon River trip
The Need-to-Know Info
Included in Your Trip Cost
Not Included in Your Trip Cost
- Transportation to and from Lewiston, ID
- Pre- and post-trip accommodations and meals
- Insurance of any kind, including a travel protection plan
The number and variety of boats on an OARS trip will vary based on water levels, the number of participants, and other factors we take into account when planning your adventure. Please be aware that in doing so we will ask you to share boat time with your fellow travelers. We don’t assign boats, nor can we guarantee exactly which crafts we bring, but trust us to provide you with the best possible mix for you and others on your trip.
Learn more about the OARS Fleet and the boats that may be a part of your experience: Oar raft, dory, inflatable kayak, stand-up paddleboard, and paddle raft (requires 11 or more trip guests).
After each active day on the river, we pull ashore to camp for the night. Our first task is to unload the boats using a fire line of crew and guests to expedite the process. Individuals then collect their waterproof bags and locate an area on the beach to camp for the night.
While you put up your tent, the guides will set up the kitchen and central dining/seating area with camp chairs. They will also locate a secluded area away from camp to set up the portable toilet, where privacy is assured.
As guides prepare dinner, hors d’oeuvres are served. This is an opportunity to relax, enjoy a drink if you wish, and reflect on the day with your fellow traveling companions.
In the morning, the first wake-up call lets you know that coffee, hot water for tea or cocoa, juice, fresh fruit, and cold cereal are ready. You can fill your mug and grab a bite, then begin to pack up your personal belongings and sleep gear as the guides prepare breakfast. After breakfast, the entire camp is broken down and packed up. Once the guides have all of the gear loaded back onto the boats, we’ll head downstream to see what new adventures await us.
More info about Meals & Dietary Restrictions can be found on our Trip Resources page.
Average Air & Water Temperatures
|Air (Day) °F||Air (Night) °F||Water °F|
If you’re seeking a low-intensity whitewater adventure, this trip will really float your boat! Plenty of fun Class III rapids alternate with long stretches of calm, glassy water that provide the perfect opportunity to lean back, have a quiet conversation, and marvel at the gorgeous scenery. Swimmers in the group will love the ample opportunities to cool off in the river’s calm pools; they might also experience a swimmable rapid or two! For the more adventurous, the Lower Salmon offers great conditions for inflatable kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding.
Before booking your trip with OARS, there are a few important considerations we’d like you to know about.
Reservations and Deposits
A $400/person deposit is required at the time of booking. Deposits may be made by check, money order, or Visa/Mastercard (American Express and Discover incur a 3% processing fee). Prices are in US Dollars, and all payments must be made in US Dollars. Payment of the deposit establishes your acceptance of our complete Terms and Conditions. Individual departures and trip capacity are strictly limited by the managing agency.
Canceling your trip after your deposit is processed will incur cancellation fees because OARS has absorbed costs on your behalf and will turn others away who would like to book the spaces we’re holding for you. Final payment is due 60 days before departure. Accounts on which final payment has not been received 50 days before the departure date will be canceled without exception.
Cancellations and Refunds
Your deposit is fully refundable, less a 3% processing fee, for 7 days after you book when you submit a deposit 7 days or more before the final payment due date.
If you must cancel your reservation after the rescission period described above, your cancellation fee will be determined according to the schedule below. We do regret we cannot make exceptions to the cancellation policy for any reason, including foul weather, poor air quality, wildfire activity, acts of terrorism, civil unrest, or personal emergencies. There is no refund for arriving late or leaving a trip early. For these reasons, we strongly urge you to consider purchasing a travel protection plan.
|Date of Cancellation||Cancellation Fee|
|180 or more days before your trip||$50/person|
|179 – 90 days before your trip||$100/person|
|89 – 60 days before your trip||$200/person|
|59 days or less before your trip||Full Fare|
Please note that different deposit/cancellation policies may apply for charter groups. Refer to the group organizer’s confirmation email for details.
OARS reserves the right to cancel any trip due to insufficient registration or other factors that make the trip impractical to operate. In such instances, we will inform you at least 45 days before departure. Do not make nonrefundable travel arrangements unless you have spoken to your Adventure Consultant regarding the status of your trip.
If a trip must be canceled or postponed due to force majeure (factors outside the control of OARS), OARS will provide full credit for payments made toward future travel, or a refund less a 5% service fee plus any nonrefundable payments made on your behalf to 3rd-party suppliers. OARS will make good faith efforts to recover deposits made on your behalf to 3rd-party suppliers, however, we can’t guarantee recovery of any or all of the advance payments made. OARS is not responsible for expenses incurred by participants in preparation for a canceled trip.
If you need to move your reservation to a different trip during the same season, or to a credit account for the following year, there is a $25/person fee up until 90 days before departure for a one-time transfer of your payment. Transfer requests made 89 days or less before departure will be treated like a cancellation according to the schedule above.
O.A.R.S. Dories, Inc. is a licensed & bonded outfitter on the Lower Salmon River
Ancestral Lands Acknowledgement
We respect and recognize that many of the river canyons on state and federal lands where we operate are the ancestral homes of indigenous communities. Where we operate on the Snake and Lower Salmon Rivers between Hammer Creek and Heller Bar, we acknowledge the territories of the Nimiipuu, Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla.
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Adventure Level: Moderate
Minimum Age: 7 (12 – 15 during high water)
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