Listen to yipping coyotes and howling wolves at night. Soak in natural hot springs. Keep watch for black bear, bighorn sheep and other wildlife. See for yourself “The West” as Lewis and Clark experienced it over 200 years ago. Experience the deepest canyon in the United States. Raft exciting rapids in sun-drenched water. Discover history through Native American pictographs, petroglyphs and pioneer homesteads.
No other Idaho whitewater rafting outfitter offers as many river rafting vacation options, trip variations, or the boat selection (oar rafts, dories, paddle rafts, inflatable kayaks and stand-up paddleboards) that OARS does. We provide clean comfortable camps and we are sure you won’t soon forget our fresh (often organic, always abundant) delicious camp cooking. For rafters and anglers of all abilities, Idaho is the real deal. Trips include friendly, professional guides who set the gold standard in whitewater rafting safety with unparalleled experience. Many of the folks escorting you downriver have been with our company for decades; others were even born into the business. They all work hard to ensure that each of you has a quality trip.
Idaho Whitewater Rafting for “First-Timers” and Intermediate Paddlers
Idaho has more miles of whitewater than any other state in the county. So, it should come as no surprise that OARS offers a wide variety of river trips for first-timers and intermediate paddlers. Most Idaho rafting trips are appropriate for children as young as 7 years, but more experienced adventurers will not be disappointed with long stretches of Class III whitewater and abundant hiking and fishing opportunities on all of our Idaho rafting trips.
Options include 4- or 5-day trips on the family-friendly Class III whitewater of the Lower Salmon River, 6-day trips on the Wild & Scenic Main Salmon River—where fun Class III whitewater is complimented by huge sandy beaches, a natural hot spring and lush alpine scenery—or 3- or 5-day trips through the deepest Gorge in North America on our Hells Canyon Snake River rafting tour. For families with older children, late season trips on the Middle Fork of the Salmon are also appropriate for children as young as 9 years.
Idaho White Water Rafting Excitement for the “Adrenaline-Infused”
Whitewater rafting on the Class IV Middle Fork Salmon River with at least 1 rapid every single mile for 100 miles makes for an exceptionally exciting ride. During high-water flows, especially early in the season, this river will have you gasping for more!
Idaho Whitewater Rafting for the Food, Wine, and Craft Beer Enthusiast
Experience the Snake River through Hells Canyon or the Middle Fork of Salmon River while sampling an eclectic selection of premium wines presented by some of the finest vintners in the West. You’ll enjoy delicious hors d’oeuvres with your wine while your evening meal is prepared by a gourmet chef.
Or, elevate your Idaho rafting experience on our 6-day Main Salmon Wilderness Gourmet trip featuring local craft brews, wines of the Pacific Northwest and farm-to-table meals prepared by an acclaimed Idaho chef. It doesn’t get any better than this.
What sets our gourmet river trips apart? Knowledgeable wine stewards, guest brewers and gourmet meals that showcase the flavors of the Northwest. The wines and microbrews are carefully chosen to complement the menus each night, making dinner seem closer to a fine restaurant experience than a campsite on a scenic river. The combination is unbeatable!
Guided Fishing Trips on Idaho Rivers
Spend 6 days fishing on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. For those in the rod and reel set, early fall on the free-flowing Salmon River is signaled by the biggest hits of the year—some of the finest Blue Ribbon catch-and-release trout fishing in the nation. The Middle Fork of the Salmon is one of the original Wild and Scenic Rivers. Flowing through the largest federally protected wilderness in the continental U.S., the Middle Fork offers rugged and varied terrain. And, although the whitewater may be world renowned, simply put, the fishing on the Middle Fork Salmon River is superb, and offers some of the best cutthroat fishing in Idaho.
The most popular gamefish in Idaho is the trout. Rainbow, cutthroat and the rare red-band and bull trout are all native to the state’s waters. Brook and German brown trout have been introduced to Idaho’s waters. Fishermen rave about the steelhead and rainbow trout fishing opportunities. Smallmouth bass fishing is at its best on the Snake River. When the high waters of the Middle Fork begin to slow—usually in July—the fish begin to run. The Middle Fork is a catch-and-release Blue Ribbon trout fishery, teeming with 12-15-inch beauties. If you’re an avid angler, this is the river for you. If you choose to do some fishing on your trip, you will need to bring your own gear. For specific information, call the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at 800-554-8685 or go to their website.
What types of wildlife inhabit the river canyons and surrounding mountains?
The large mammal population includes elk, moose, white-tailed deer, mountain goats, big-horn sheep, mountain lions (cougars), short-tailed bobcat and lynx. Gray wolves were re-introduced to the Idaho wilderness in early 1995. As a result, about 350 wolves now roam the Frank Church Wilderness Area and the Selway/Bitterroot Wilderness to the north and adjacent country. Although there’s no guarantee, wildlife sightings are common on most Idaho rafting trips.
Birds in Idaho? You bet!
The official state bird, the mountain bluebird, is just one of hundreds of birds that may be seen on your Idaho vacation. A year-round population of white pelicans thrives in the Snake River drainage. Idaho has many migratory birds such as the Caspian tern, snowy egret, great blue heron, black-crowned night herons and tundra swan. One of Idaho’s most significant water birds is the trumpeter swan, a large white bird that weighs, on average, 24 pounds and has a wingspan of 10 feet. Game birds include grouse, pheasant and the chukar (a partridge-like gamebird). Idaho’s most notable birds are its raptors. You may have the opportunity to see eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, turkey vultures, northern harriers, kestrels and possibly even bald eagles and osprey.
Of Historic Interest…
Idaho was first inhabited by two Native Peoples: the Shoshone and Nez Perce tribes. The first outsiders to arrive were probably Eurasian hunters who crossed the Bering land bridge from Siberia during the Ice Age. About 1000 AD Idaho’s tribes began using the bow and arrow as their primary hunting tool and began to make and use pottery. Northern and Southern tribes dwelt in winter in circular homes, and a rich tradition of rock art dates from this period. Petroglyphs have been carved into rock walls and boulders and are abundant on the western Snake River Plain.
Perhaps 8,000 Native Americans lived in Idaho in 1805, when Lewis and Clark became the first Caucasians to pass through the region that later became a state. Between 1842 and the 1860s, more than 50,000 Americans crossed the continent in covered wagons on the Oregon Trail. The trail followed the course of the Snake River for much of its journey through southern Idaho. At the time, Idaho was not a state, but a part of the Washington Territory. Idaho became the 43rd state on July 3, 1890, with a population of 88,548. Its 2006 population reached nearly 1.5 million people.
Why OARS in Idaho?
We hire only the best guides. Many have been rowing rafts and dories for decades. More than a couple of our guides were born into the Idaho rafting business. Curt Chang, our Idaho Operations Manager has been running rivers in Idaho for nearly 50 years. That’s a tremendous amount of insight, wouldn’t you agree? Our guides are safety-conscious with extensive wilderness experience. OARS provides the best guide-to-guest ratio in the adventure travel business, thus ensuring your questions are answered and your concerns are given the personal attention you deserve. And, our team of friendly and knowledgeable Adventure Consultants are available year-round to answer your calls and help plan your Idaho rafting vacation.
OARS sets the industry standard for high quality service and excellence in adventure. We have led more than 500,000 guests to some of the most beautiful places on Earth, never losing sight of one of our foremost goals: to make the joys of the world’s most wild and wondrous places accessible to everyone—no matter how experienced. Our company is routinely honored for its adventures and its customer service. National Geographic Adventure, Outside and Sunset magazines have proclaimed OARS adventures as some of the “Best Trips on the Planet.”
We care about the places we visit. OARS follows “minimum impact” travel procedures by traveling in small groups and avoiding areas that are under-managed or over-visited. We’re a proud partner of Leave No Trace and we actively train our guides and seek to educate our guests in LNT practices. We supply reusable insulated travel mugs on all of our trips and encourage our guests to refuse single use products. Each year, in partnership with our guests, we actively support Idaho Rivers United, Greater Hells Canyon Council and other Idaho conservation efforts through voluntary traveler donations and fundraising events. Our offices in California and Grand Canyon are also 100% solar powered.