Lower Salmon River Dory School

Location Idaho Adventure Level Moderately Challenging Minimum age 18 River Rating Class III From $2299
Book Now Call toll-free 1 (800) 346-6277

This trip is a “must-do” for all rafting enthusiasts!

Learn to row a dory down the Lower Salmon River in Idaho with one of the most reputable river outfitters in the world. Dory rowing/handling requires different and more refined skills than rowing a raft, and since we’ve been at it in Idaho for 50 years, we’re happy to share our extensive knowledge with you. If you’ve already done an OARS rowing clinic, this is the perfect follow-up. 

As you venture through the stunning Seven Devils region with striking canyon scenery, sandy beaches, and incredible wildlife, our experienced guides will share a wealth of river skills and dory techniques with you. These dedicated professionals—all with whitewater rescue training and extensive guiding experience—hold a deep passion for running dories and carrying on the legacy of these beloved boats on the rivers of the West.

On this intermediate dory rowing course, you’ll practice and hone your rowing skills as you make your way downstream, camping at different locations throughout the trip. Instruction and hands-on learning occur both on the river and in camp. Rowing a dory is no easy feat. Prior rowing experience is required.

This 5-day whitewater rowing clinic is ideal for:

  • Anyone who has participated in an OARS rowing clinic and is looking for the perfect follow-up course
  • Private boaters who are interested in learning the intricacies of rowing dories 
  • Private boaters who want to take their river trips to the next level, with insider tips from expert guides
  • River enthusiasts with prior rowing experience who appreciate experiential learning and are interested in elevating their whitewater and safety knowledge 

Why choose OARS?

As one of the pioneering companies behind the whitewater industry, OARS has been guiding people on rivers and coastlines worldwide since 1969. But beyond our 50 years of experience:

  • OARS is the largest and most geographically diverse whitewater rafting, dory, and adventure travel outfitter in North America
  • For more than 40 years, OARS has been fostering the tradition of dories in Grand Canyon, Idaho, and more recently, Utah
  • We keep our courses small, with 1 guide for every 3 guests (1:3), so every participant receives plenty of personal attention
  • We use top-notch, well-maintained equipment and set the gold standard in safety
  • Our experienced, well-rounded guide instructors are personable, approachable, and the best in the business
  • We are committed to treading lightly on the environment
  • Outside magazine, National Geographic Traveler, MSNBC, Good Morning America, Condé Nast Traveler, and Men’s Journal have all recognized OARS as offering some of the “Best Trips” on the planet
Trip Highlights
  • Row through four distinct canyons on Idaho’s Lower Salmon River as you train with professional guides
  • Gain fundamental skills to confidently maneuver dories in Class III whitewater
  • Learn hydrology, rowing techniques, dory packing methods, and essential safety and first-aid skills
  • Elevate your knowledge about the nuances of multi-day river trips and become a more confident private boater

What to Expect

Itinerary & Map

Itinerary at a Glance

We pride ourselves in running a relaxed and flexible schedule. Every Lower Salmon River dory school experience 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.

Day 1

Instruction starts on day 1 with an introduction to dory features, design, and handling practices. We will review basic rowing techniques, body ergonomics, and reading water before pushing off. After some time on the water, we’ll row downstream and set up camp for the evening.

Days 2 – 4

After coffee and breakfast each morning, we pack up our belongings and then discuss and practice boat loading. Experience and skill will determine when and where students will be able to row while making every opportunity for growth. 

We stop each day for lunch with sufficient time for questions and discussions. Back on the water, we take turns finessing our rowing skills until we reach camp. Instruction continues during the evenings in camp when we’ll have a chance to review whitewater boating topics from A to Z.

An example of skills taught during OARS’ intermediate dory rowing course:

  • Basic rowing review, ferry angles, and river hydraulics
  • Maneuvering and finessing dories through a variety of whitewater levels, water depths, and rocky conditions
  • Avoiding flips, plus how to right a flipped dory when it happens
  • Rigging, packing, river repair/patching dories
  • Tying up and anchoring boats
  • The history of dories

Day 5

The final morning on the river offers one last opportunity for you to practice your newly-acquired dory rowing skills. After lunch, we have a short float to our take-out point at Heller Bar. At the take-out, we’ll pack our gear into the vehicles before a scenic drive back to Lewiston.

Meeting Time & Place


Lewiston, ID

Meeting time

7 PM, the evening before your trip


Approximately 3:30-4 PM to Lewiston

Trip Map

Dates & Prices

20% discount off regular price for active military personnel, emergency first responders, and students with a valid university ID!

2024 DeparturesPrice
July 23$2,299
Book Now



Ways to Save

To book with one of our special offers, call 1-800-346-6277 or contact us today.

The Need-to-Know Info

Trip Details

Included in Your Trip Cost

  • 5 days of whitewater rowing instruction and camping skills on the Lower Salmon River + fundamental safety training
  • Catered camping: All meals from lunch on day 1 through lunch on the last day, with limited beer and wine with dinner
  • Expedition equipment, including highest-quality dories, 2-person shared tent, sleep kit, personal flotation device (PFD), helmet, waterproof bags, camp chair, as well as eating utensils and plates
  • Transfers from Lewiston to the river and back

Not Included in Your Trip Cost

  • Transportation to and from Lewiston, Idaho
  • Pre- and post-trip transportation, accommodations, and meals
  • Insurance of any kind, including a travel protection plan
  • Gratuities

Whitewater Dories

Dories are the kings of big-volume rivers like the Colorado and the Salmon. These rigid boats were first used commercially in the Grand Canyon by writer/conservationist/river guide Martin Litton. Hard-hulled and ultra-buoyant, dories shoot through rapids and make wave trains feel like roller coasters.

Learn more about dories and the rest of the OARS Fleet.

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) °FAir (Night) °FWater °F
July 60-10055-7055-70


Plenty of fun Class III rapids alternate with long stretches of calm, glassy water that provide the perfect opportunity to learn the skills needed to row whitewater dories, have a quiet conversation, and marvel at the gorgeous scenery.

Before booking your trip with OARS, there are a few important considerations we’d like you to know about.

  • Physical Requirements: Your outdoor adventure will be an active participatory trip. Please inform us of any physical limitations you may have as soon as possible. If you exceed 260 pounds, please give us a call. Make sure you are exercising frequently in the months leading up to your trip and can meet our Essential Eligibility Criteria.

  • Whitewater Orientation: To increase your safety, we expect everyone to watch our Whitewater Orientation video before joining us.
  • Trip Forms: Each participant will need to complete the required trip forms within two weeks of making a booking. Refer to your confirmation email for the link to the online forms. If you prefer to fill out paper forms, please let us know right away. If you are reserving within 60 days of departure, your forms must be completed immediately to ensure we can properly plan for your trip.

Reservations and Payments

A $400/person deposit is required at the time of booking with final payment due 60 days before departure. Accounts on which final payment has not been received 50 days before the departure date will be canceled.

Payments can be made by check, money order, eCheck, wire transfer, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover. 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. Your payment is fully refundable for 7 days, less a 3% processing fee, after making a reservation when you reserve a trip 7 days or more prior to the final payment due date.

Cancellations and Refunds

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. If you must cancel your reservation after the rescission period described above, your cancellation fee will be determined according to the schedule below.

We regret that 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. For these reasons, we strongly urge you to consider purchasing a travel protection plan.

Date of CancellationCancellation 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. The remainder of your payment can be transferred to another trip within the same year (or to a credit account for the following year). No refund.
59 days or less before your tripFull fare

Canceled Trips

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 prior to departure. Do not make non-refundable travel arrangements until you have verified with OARS that your trip is confirmed. 

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 the initial deposit amount and any non-refundable 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 cannot 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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