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OARS Guide Kerry Athey Shares What Makes Idaho’s Main Salmon River the Perfect Outdoor Adventure

OARS Guide Kerry Athey Shares What Makes Idaho’s Main Salmon River the Perfect Outdoor Adventure…

Kerry Athey grew up on the rivers of the West. From the age of two, when his parents took him on his first rafting trip down Utah’s San Juan River, he’s been running rivers. Now, even after working as a guide for OARS Dories in Idaho for the past three seasons, it’s still hard for him to wrap his head around the fact that he’s able to do something he’s always loved and get paid for it. But what he does know for sure is that it’s the ideal situation for somebody who loves rivers. From big sandy beaches to the best side hikes and sights, Kerry shares what makes the Main Salmon River so special…

OARS Guide Kerry Athey Shares What Makes Idaho’s Main Salmon River the Perfect Outdoor Adventure

Beach vacation redefined

“The coolest part about the Main Salmon is you have all these huge, sandy beaches in this otherwise forested, big wilderness area. After spending a day on the water, you find yourself on this beach that seems so out of place. Usually people are like, ‘Whoa, that doesn’t belong here.’”

Best camp

“Magpie. It’s around mile 30 or so. You get this micro-climate by the creek with all this plant life that’s not really found anywhere else in the canyon. It seems almost coastal right there whereas a lot of the rest of the scenery is more mountainous.”

OARS Guide Kerry Athey Shares What Makes Idaho’s Main Salmon River the Perfect Outdoor Adventure

Sweet surprises

“Buckskin Bill’s. There’s this little museum about this crazy mountain man who used to live on the Salmon River. It’s a pretty classic Idaho story. You can look at all his stuff and watch a pretty outrageous video about him that was made in the 80s, so it’s pretty funny. You can buy ice cream there too, which is huge on the fourth day of a trip. You’re in the heart of this massive wilderness reserve and then you go to this crazy museum and get an ice cream bar.”

Tricky rapid

“My favorite rapid is probably Big Mallard. At high water, there’s this big wave, but at medium flows it’s this huge boat-flipping hole and then at low water there’s this big massive rock—Mallard Rock. You don’t see it, you don’t see it, and then you see it.”

Go-to beach game

“You set up two ammo cans and then you have 30 feet of bowline between you and another person. Each person stands on an ammo can 10 to 15 feet away and you play tug-of-war. Your goal is just to pull the other person off the ammo can or take away all their slack. It makes for a good time, a good competition.”

Meditative moment

“One of the favorite hikes we do is Indian Creek hike, which is into this grove of Pacific Yew trees. If folks are up for it, we encourage them to take a vow of silence. It’s shady, you can hear the creek running, and people just take a little time out of their day to reflect on where they are and the trip. That’s a really special thing that we’re able to do.”

River trip magic

“Everything just becomes blissfully simple. Your entire goal on the trip is just to move downstream. You can find some comfort in that.”

Explore Idaho Rafting Trips


Photo of Buckskin Bill’s Lookout at Five Mile Bar – D Guisinger/Flickr



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