North America’s premiere alpine river experience, the Middle Fork Salmon guarantees a wild ride with over 100 rapids, natural hot springs, and complete wilderness immersion.
It’s true—it doesn’t get any better than this. Winding more than 100 miles—and boasting non-stop whitewater—there’s no wondering why Idaho whitewater rafting on the Middle Fork of the Salmon is considered unparalleled.
One of the continent’s premium rafting destinations, the Middle Fork’s legendary waters churn through high country forests, granite canyons, swirling seas of grassland, and some of Idaho’s most storied spaces. The river’s banks speak of the state’s proud heritage, its Native American history, pioneer sites, and natural habitat for a wondrous world of wildlife. Not to mention, this Wild and Scenic River is a nationally recognized Blue Ribbon trout fishery.
Of all the rivers that flow through Idaho, perhaps the most spectacular is the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.
What to Expect
Itinerary & Map
Itinerary at a Glance
We pride ourselves in running a relaxed and flexible schedule. Every Middle Fork 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 in either Stanley, ID or Salmon, ID (depending on your departure date*) for a pre-trip orientation. This is an opportunity to meet your fellow travelers and trip leader, and ask any last-minute questions.
*Early- to mid-season trips (May – July) typically depart from Stanley, ID. Late season trips (Aug. & Sept.) depart from Salmon, ID.
We’ll take a scenic flight to our put-in at Indian Creek, where your boats and crew await you. (At certain water levels, we may be lucky enough to put in further upstream at Boundary Creek, which we access by ground shuttle. The trip will start there whenever possible.)
After an informative safety talk, we take to the pure waters of the breathtaking Middle Fork. Within moments, you’ll experience your first rapid, an appropriate introduction to this river whose exciting, consistent whitewater doesn’t stop until its confluence with the Main Salmon.
Our high-elevation put-in point rewards us with fantastic alpine scenery, and we spend our first day among deep green forests, dramatic mountains, and crystal clear creeks that pour out of the woods and into the river.
The first day of our Middle Fork Salmon rafting trip generally sets the pace for our week on the river. Typically, we spend a few hours on the water in the morning, sometimes stopping for a great hike, a visit to a waterfall or a Native American pictograph, or a soak in a natural hot spring. Come lunchtime, we stop to enjoy a delicious riverside picnic. After feasting and relaxing (or perhaps swimming, a game of Frisbee, or a side hike), we get back into our boats for more exciting whitewater before reaching camp by mid- to late afternoon.
Days 2 – 5
Continuing down the Middle Fork Salmon for the next few days, thick forests give way to miles of open grassland dotted with cool glades of pine. The views remain stunning, and the whitewater action-packed. Huge rapids like Tappan Falls and Cove Creek are interspersed with less intense yet still thrilling whitewater in the form of wave trains, chutes, and drops.
Our journey downstream takes us to more hot springs, alcoves decorated with Sheepeater Indian pictographs, and magnificent Veil Falls, a unique waterfall that plummets freely into a natural amphitheater from a high rock overhang.
Toward the end of our voyage, the Middle Fork rushes into Impassable Canyon, a narrow gorge that creates some of the most high-intensity and continuous whitewater of the trip. Paddle hard through Redside, Rubber, and Hancock rapids and enjoy the sudden, spectacular change in scenery from wooded hills to the sheer granite walls and huge boulders of Impassable Canyon.
Our final day of this Middle Fork Salmon River rafting adventure, we reach the confluence with the Main Salmon, and shortly after, our take-out. From here, you’ll be shuttled back to Salmon, ID.*
*All trips return to Salmon, ID regardless of departure date.
Meeting Time & Place
Stanley, ID or Salmon, ID (depending on departure date)
7 PM, the evening before your trip
Approximately 4 – 6 PM to Salmon, ID
Dates & Prices
|June 15, 24||$3,899|
|July 2, 10, 18, 26||$3,899|
|August 11, 19||$3,599|
|August 27 Wine on the River||$3,899|
Please call for charter date availability
• Flight package from Boise or car shuttle
• $4 per day Recreation Enhancement Act Fee
The Need-to-Know Info
Included in Your Trip Cost
*Early- to mid-season departures (June/July) meet in Stanley, ID. Late season departures (August/September) meet in Salmon, ID
Not Included in Your Trip Cost
- Transportation to and from Stanley or Salmon, ID, and back from Salmon, ID
- Pre- and post-trip accommodations and meals
- Insurance of any kind, including a travel protection plan
*For early- to mid-season trips that depart in Stanley, ID and return to Salmon, ID guests typically need to arrange to have a car shuttled to Salmon for after the trip.
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, inflatable kayak, 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|
Rated Class III-IV, the Middle Fork Salmon has more whitewater rapids than any similar-length river in the U.S.—over 100 rapids in 100 miles. Turn by turn, as each tributary surges into the river, the Middle Fork dramatically changes character from a big creek into a thundering river, all the while creating rolling wave trains and thrilling drops.
Before booking your trip with OARS, there are a few important considerations we’d like you to know about.
Reservations and Deposits
An $800/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 90 days before departure. Accounts on which final payment has not been received 60 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||$100/person|
|179 – 120 days before your trip||$200/person|
|119 – 90 days before your trip||$400/person|
|89 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 transfer from one trip to another within the same season, there is a $50/person fee up until 120 days before departure. You may choose to make a one-time transfer of your payments to a credit account for use during the following season, which incurs a $100/person fee up until 120 days before departure. Transfers made after this time will be treated as cancellations.
O.A.R.S. Dories, Inc. is operated under special use permit with the Salmon-Challis National Forest.
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 Middle Fork of the Salmon River between Guard Station Campground and the confluence of the Middle Fork and Main Salmon Rivers, we acknowledge the territories of the Nimiipuu, Shoshone-Bannock, and Lemhi-Shoshone.
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Adventure Level: Moderate
Minimum Age: 7 (12 – 15 during high water)
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