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.
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.
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
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
7 PM, the evening before your trip
Approximately 3:30-4 PM to Lewiston
Dates & Prices
20% discount off regular price for active military personnel, emergency first responders, and students with a valid university ID!
The Need-to-Know Info
Included in Your Trip Cost
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
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, which will be an opportunity to practice de-rigging. 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. You can relax, enjoy a drink if you wish, and reflect on what you learned that day with your fellow traveling companions. While at camp, there will be opportunities for “classroom” sessions before or after dinner or even after breakfast the following morning.
The first wake-up call in the morning 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 you’ll have another chance to practice rigging the boats. We’ll then head downstream and continue instruction.
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|
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.
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|
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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