Groups in row boats on the Salmon River in Idaho.

Salmon River Rafting & Dory Trips

Three women posing as Salmon's on the boat on the Salmon River.

Experience Idaho’s Salmon River

High in the Sawtooth Range of eastern Idaho, the Salmon River begins a twisting journey through the heart of the state before merging with the Snake River along the Oregon border. Traveling that contorted route, the river drops more than 7,000 feet, all the while growing in size as each fork adds volume. It is one of the largest rivers in the continental U.S. without a dam on its mainstem, and it is the longest river system contained entirely within a single state.

The Salmon River is not only one Idaho’s premier rafting destinations, but it’s revered as one of the best rafting destinations in the lower 48. This, combined with a blue-ribbon trout fishery, natural hot springs, and diverse scenery, make it a favorite with OARS guests.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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What Salmon River trip is right for me?

Middle Fork Salmon River — One of the most in-demand rafting trips in the United States, the Middle Fork of the Salmon has consistent whitewater, excellent fishing and hiking, and some of the most beautiful riverside campsites imaginable. Departure dates are late May through September, with a minimum age of 12 (15 during high water in the spring and early summer).

Main Salmon — Featuring miles upon miles of protected wilderness, the Wild & Scenic Main Salmon River offers a rich river experience, including free-flowing Class III whitewater that’s great for almost any age and experience level, and a variety of boat options, including rafts, dories, inflatable kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards. Departure dates run June through September with a minimum age of 7 (12 at high water).

Lower Salmon — The Lower Salmon River in Idaho meanders warm, wide, and mellow, making it a great rafting getaway or dory trip for families and first-time rafters. This stretch is home to some of America’s most beautiful inland river beaches and mellow pools, perfect for stand-up paddleboarding and playing in inflatable kayaks. Departure dates start in July and run into mid-September, with a minimum age of 7 (10 at high water).

Combo Trips — For those that want to experience multiple sections of the Salmon River, OARS offers several combinations. The Ultimate Salmon River Experience includes the Middle, Main, and Lower portions over 17 days. There’s also the Main/Lower, a 165-mile connection that features big sandy beaches and legendary rapids. OARS’ Middle Fork and Main Salmon River rafting combo offers the best of the best—an Idaho rafting journey down the two most beloved segments of Idaho’s Salmon River, one of our nation’s most epic rivers.

What is the whitewater like on the Salmon River?

The rapids on the three commercially-rafted sections of the Salmon River vary from splashy fun Class II to raging Class IV+ whitewater at high water. Between the Middle, Main, and Lower, the Middle Fork has the highest concentration and most intensity of whitewater, while the Lower is best for families. High-water conditions are a possibility on all stretches of the Salmon River and can last into mid-summer, depending on winter/spring snowfall.

What specialty trips are available on the Salmon River?

OARS offers all-adult, wilderness gourmet, as well as women’s wellness trips on the Main Salmon River. We bring a hard-sided dory on almost every Main and Lower Salmon trip, and our annual dory school takes place on the Lower Salmon. Trips focused on fishing, as well as wine tasting, are offered on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Departure dates and more details of each are listed on the Main and Lower Salmon trip pages.

Is there fishing on Idaho’s Salmon River?

Yes! The fishing on all three sections of the Salmon River is incredible. The Middle Fork is famous for its blue-ribbon trout fishery. In addition to trout, other game fish include steelhead, sturgeon, and smallmouth bass. Anyone 14 years and over needs to have a fishing license. Children under 14 years do not need to buy a license, but they must be accompanied by an adult from their party with a valid license.

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Group white water rafting down the Salmon River in Idaho.

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