Lower Salmon River Rowing Clinic

Location Idaho Adventure Level Moderately Challenging Minimum age 18 (16 with parent/guardian also in the class) River Rating Class III From $1799
Book Now Call toll-free 1 (800) 346-6277

Learn to guide your own raft on the Lower Salmon River with the company twice named “The Best River & Sea Outfitter On Earth” by National Geographic Adventure.

Learn to guide an oar raft down the Lower Salmon River in Idaho with one of the most reputable river outfitters in the world. As you venture through the stunning Seven Devils region with striking canyon scenery, sandy beaches, and incredible wildlife, our experienced guides—all with whitewater rescue training and extensive guiding experience—will share a wealth of river skills and rowing techniques with you.

On this 5-day, 4-night beginner whitewater rowing course, you’ll learn and practice essential rafting 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. No prior outdoor or whitewater rafting experience is required.

This 5-day floating whitewater clinic is ideal for:

  • Anyone interested in working as a professional whitewater rafting guide
  • Parties interested in guiding their own private river trips
  • Anyone who appreciates experiential learning or an active vacation experience and is interested in whitewater and river safety

Why choose OARS for a Lower Salmon River Rowing Clinic?

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:

  • We use top-notch, well-maintained equipment and set the gold standard in safety
  • We keep our courses small, with 1 guide for every 3 guests (1:3), so every participant receives plenty of personal attention
  • 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

Start Your Career as a River Guide 

While OARS’ rowing clinics are ideal for anyone looking to learn something new or develop their whitewater rowing skills, our whitewater guide school programs are better suited for aspiring river guides with no prior experience. If you’re an experienced guide and would like to get your foot in the door with OARS, we encourage you to read our Hiring and Guide School FAQs and fill out an employment application.

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 oar rafts in Class III whitewater
  • Learn hydrology, boat-rigging, and essential safety techniques
  • Elevate your prospects of working as a professional river guide or become a 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 rowing clinic 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

We’ll depart Lewiston for a scenic 2-hour drive to our put-in at Hammer Creek. Once at the river, we’ll start instruction with an introduction to the features of our rafts. 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 we’ll discuss and practice boat rigging. On the water each day, everyone has ample opportunities to row at various whitewater levels. There are also a variety of boat sizes and loads, and participants rotate from craft to craft practicing in lighter, more maneuverable boats up to heavy, fully-loaded gear boats. Each rower can expect to row about one-third of the time.

There will also be sufficient time for questions and discussions during our lunch stops, as well as in the evenings during classroom instruction sessions when we’ll dive into whitewater topics from A to Z.

You’ll return from the Lower Salmon Rowing Clinic with a better understanding of: 

  • Reading whitewater, route selection, and maneuvering oar rafts in Class III whitewater
  • Raft rigging/de-rigging and knot-tying
  • River signals and how to communicate with your crew
  • Camp skills – choosing a camp, food packing/cooler maintenance, and minimum impact strategies, including the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace
  • Tying up and anchoring boats
  • Basic river safety principles, including safety equipment 
  • Equipment care/maintenance, introductory field repair
  • River etiquette – local regulations/river-specific mandates

Day 5

The final morning on the river offers one last opportunity for you to practice your newly acquired 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
August 23$1,799
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 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 high-quality rafts, 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

The Lower Salmon River rowing clinic uses oar rafts, as learning/enhancing rowing skills is the focal point of this trip. Please be aware that we will ask you to share boat time and rowing opportunities with your fellow travelers. Learn more about rafts 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
August 2370-10055-7065-70


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, 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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