RIVER RATING: Class II-IV
TRIP MILES: 40 Miles
PUT-IN: 25 miles upstream of Riggins ID
TAKE-OUT: Riggins ID
RETURN TIME: 3:30 PM MST Riggins, Idaho
AGE LIMIT: Minimum age is 8
BOAT TYPE: Paddle Raft, Oar Raft, Inflatable Kayak
TRIP INCLUDES: Services of our talented adventure consultants and professional guides, all meals/beverages as indicated in the itinerary (including beer and wine), all rafting/camping gear, and transportation to/from river meeting points.
DOES NOT INCLUDE: 6% Land and water access fee, Airfare/transportation beginning and ending points, gratuities for guides, travel protection plan, pre-& post-trip hotel, items of a personal nature.
Before our trip begins we meet in Riggins, a small town located in a canyon overlooking the confluence of the Salmon River and the Little Salmon River in west central Idaho. Riggins lies off of US Highway 95, and it is easily accessed by car traveling north or south along the highway. The nearest commercial airports are: Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport (two hours drive); Spokane International Airport (four hours drive); and Boise Airport (four hours drive). If you are flying into one of these airports, you can then rent a car to reach Riggins.
Once in Riggins, we recommend that you stay at either the Best Western Salmon Rapids Lodge (877-957-2743) or the River View Motel (888-256-2322). Both hotels have storage facilities for your luggage while you are on the river and cars may be left in their parking lots.
We meet you at 7:30 PM Mountain Time the evening before your trip at the Best Western Salmon Rapids Lodge. Once we have gathered, we have an orientation meeting to further discuss what to expect on the next day’s adventure, answer any last minute questions you might have, and provide you with waterproof bags. We'll also have some of our specialty outdoor items for sale such as ROW hats, eyeglass retainers, and T-shirts.
- ACCOMMODATIONS: Salmon Rapids Lodge (Not Included in trip cost)
- MEALS INCLUDED: none
Unless otherwise directed by your team leader at the orientation meeting, we gather at 8:00 a.m. to leave the Best Western Salmon Rapids Lodge in the ROW bus and drive about one hour to the put-in site.
We board the rafts and set off on our trip down the wilderness shrouded canyon of the Salmon River. Soon after our launch you come upon the rambunctious whitewater of Vinegar Creek Rapid found just below the confluence of Vinegar Creek and Salmon River. As we continue our paddle through the canyon for the rest of the day, you can witness the passage of the river and wilderness Lewis and Clark once wondered at.
We set up camp near some mountain hot springs around 4:00 in the afternoon. Enjoy the free time for a dip in the springs, hiking, fishing, or relaxing on the banks of the river. We reconvene for hors d’oeuvres around 6:00 before settling in for a delicious and fresh dinner. Bring the day to a close with campfire camaraderie and sleeping under the star-studded summer skies.
- ACCOMMODATIONS: Riverside Camping
- MEALS INCLUDED: L, D
The morning begins bright and early around 7:00. Enjoy fresh-brewed coffee and the brisk mountain air before breakfast is served and we pack up camp. The rafts are loaded and we depart from camp around 9:30 for an adventure-packed day of rapids, magnificent scenery and fun.
Today we encounter Ruby and Lake Creek Rapids, two of the biggest of the river’s rapids. These rapids are thrilling examples of "pool and drop" rapids, where a series of short rapids are followed by quiet pools. Pool and drop rapids are perfect for our inflatable kayaks, or "Daring Duckies" as we call them, and provide a brief respite as you head toward the next thrilling drop. If the rapid levels are right, we might stop at Ruby Rapids to collect the star garnets that rest on the large rocks along the shore and in the sand. Between each roaring rapid, you may float alongside the raft in the warm water or soak in the sun and the alpine scenery from a drier perch. Elk, deer, moose, and mountain goats roam the river banks while eagles, hawks, and osprey can be seen swooping down from their towering roosts in search for fish.
We once again make camp in the afternoon, leaving plenty of time for you to discover wilderness adventures off the water. Enjoy hors d’oeuvres and wine among nature’s sights and sounds while the evening meal is prepared. Afterward, take in the bright night sky and the relaxing sound of the river rippling past as you settle in for the night.
- ACCOMMODATIONS: Riverside Camping
- MEALS INCLUDED: B, L, D
Today takes you from one turbulent rapid to another! We break camp and breakfast early once again before setting out on one of the best stretches the Salmon River has to offer. Today’s float brings out your intrepid spirit as you travel through the Time Zone Rapids, followed by the Tight Squeeze Rapids, Chair Rapids, Trap Rapids, and Fiddle Creek Rapids. Between chutes and pools, drops and eddies, learn more about the Salmon River’s history, its reputation as “The River of No Return,” and the pioneers and miners that tried to make their fortune along the foaming river.
Our journey along the river brings us back into Riggins, upon which we unload our kayaks and return to The Best Western Rapids Lodge before the end of the afternoon.
- MEALS INCLUDED: B, L
Here at ROW Adventures, our first and foremost goal is for you to have an enjoyable and safe experience. While most of our trips are suitable for beginners, some of our trips are more active than others and it’s important that you understand the physical requirement of the trip you choose.
All of our multi-day rafting trips are active adventures that involve some level of physical exertion and possible exposure to the elements including but not limited to wind, rain, heat, sun, cold temperatures and cold water conditions. ROW Adventures is able to accommodate people with physical limitations, disabilities, and medical conditions; please speak with your Adventure Consultant if you think you will require any additional assistance while on the trip. We ask that you consult your Doctor if you have health or medical conditions that could impact your ability to participate in an active and outdoor adventure. In general, all trip participants must be able to do the following:
- Wear all protective and safety equipment that is required by ROW Adventures and recommended/required by industry-wide standards.
- Load and unload, on their own or with the aid of a qualified companion, the bus and/or van providing transportation for ROW Adventures activities.
- Reach the river access points (put-in and take-out) on their own, or with the aid of a qualified companion.
- Enter and exit the raft, kayak and/or inflatable kayak on their own or with the aid of a qualified companion.
- Remain seated and balanced in a floating raft, canoe, kayak or inflatable kayak w/ the aid of adaptive equipment, if necessary.
- Perform all on water activities, including following instructions that like paddling commands from the guide in class I and higher whitewater on their own or with the assistance of a qualified companion.
- Float on their back when entering moving and still water. The participant must be capable of turning from face-down to face-up in the water with the aid of a Personal Floatation Device and must be able to hold their breath while underwater.
- Remain calm and keep breathing under control in the event of a whitewater swim.
- Get out from under a raft, whether the raft is up-right or capsized, in moving water.
- Climb into the raft, with the help of another person, should an involuntary swim happen at any point on the river.
- Make progress toward the shoreline or a raft by swimming in moving water and must be able to exit the river and ascend the shoreline once reached.
- Participate as an active paddler when instructed by the guide for the duration of the trip.
- Move about the campsite on their own or with the aid of a qualified companion on all trips that include overnight camping and/or lunch.
Packing properly for a river trip is CRITICAL to your enjoyment while on the river. We recommend that you prepare yourself for three basic scenarios:
A cool day on the river.
A warm day on the river.
Time spent lounging in camp.
Take care of these, and you are free to let the river and the canyon work their magic.
Weather in the northwest is unpredictable. You must come prepared for the cold/wet weather and hot/sunny weather – sometimes even on the same day! The following information will help you be prepared for the expected as well as the unexpected events of your trip. You may not use all of the gear listed below, but we recommend bringing it all!
DRYBAGS THAT ROW PROVIDES
One large waterproof bag (16” in diameter x 33” tall) per person. This will contain your sleeping bag as well as your personal clothing and items. This bag is NOT accessible during the day as it goes ahead of the group with our cargo raft.
Note: This bag will also contain additional gear provided by ROW: Sleeping bag, flannel liner & pillow
A small daypack (9” in diameter x 20” tall) for items you want to access during the day such as rain gear, sunscreen, camera, medications, etc.
WHAT YOU SHOULD PACK:
All of your personal items should be packed into a soft-sided duffle bag approximately 12” x 13” x 24” in size. Due to weight allowances and raft space, please limit your gear to 20-25 pounds. This bag will then go inside of your large waterproof bag provided by ROW.
ITEMS FOR ON THE RIVER
Two T-Shirts (1 quick dry and 1 cotton for a hot day)
One light long-sleeved shirt for sun protection and cool evenings. Popular options are a rash guard or sunscreen shirts.
Two pairs of shorts (nylon quick drying always better than cotton).
Light pants are great for sun protection or on a windy day. Lightweight zip off pants works great.
Swimsuit – two-piece suits are easier for women - tankinis with river shorts are a great option.
One pair of river sandals (must have an ankle strap, no flipflops!) Velcro is okay if in good condition. Popular name brands include Chaco, Teva, Keen, or Merrells. Tennis shoes with polypro socks are a good option if your feet tend to get cold.
One Cap, Sun Hat or Visor (ROW hats are available when you arrive.)
ITEMS GOOD TO HAVE IN YOUR DRY BAG ON THE RIVER
One rain suit, jacket & pants (windbreaker without cotton liner works well, but no cheap ponchos)
Mid-weight to light-weight long underwear tops and bottoms. Best worn over a swimsuit and undershorts.
One synthetic or wool mid-weight sweaters for layering on the river on cool days.
Sunglasses with retaining cord/device
Bee Sting kit for those allergic to bees
Water bottle with carabiner
Extra Sun Hat, Cap or Visor
ITEMS FOR TIME AT CAMP
Two Short sleeve shirts (Enjoy clean and comfortable cotton)
One pair of pants (lightweight nylon, cotton or fleece)
Pair of shorts
One synthetic mid-weight sweaters for cool evenings
Underwear and socks
Flashlight or headlamp with extra bulb and batteries
Skin lotion, lip balm, waterproof sunscreen, etc.
Toilet kit - toothbrush and paste, soap ( biodegradable is best, no soaps can be used in the river), camp towel, washcloth, comb, handkerchief, a small pack of tissues, small mirror, moist towelettes, shaving stuff, feminine sanitary supplies, etc.
Extra eyeglasses and/or contact lenses strongly suggested. ALL glasses need a head strap!
One pair of tennis shoes or walking shoes for cooler weather and hiking. (We don’t recommend you bring large hiking boots as they take up too much space and aren’t necessary.) Flip-flops are also comfortable for easy walking on sandy beaches!
Camera – waterproof digital with extra batteries & memory card recommended. Many guests use smartphones (there is NOT cell service on the river). A waterproof case is highly recommended for protection and ease of use.
Sarong – many uses--a good item to help you cool off if you do not want to swim.
Sundress for camp
2-3 Carabiners for clipping items to the boat
Plastic garbage bags (2-3 for separating dirty/wet clothes in your waterproof bag)
Cards, games, books, musical instruments, journals
Fishing gear and Idaho fishing license if you plan to fish - must be in a protective case & disassembled. Only catch and release fishing with single barbless hooks is allowed!!
LAYERING FOR OUTDOOR COMFORT
Clothing layers are the thermostat of the wilderness. As you get ready for your river trip, think about dressing in layers. By adding and subtracting layers you can keep yourself perfectly comfortable. If you were to look into the dry bags of a well-prepared river guide you would see packing for three weather scenarios -- cold, wet days; hot, summer days; and cool evenings and mornings in camp. All of your on-river clothing should be made from synthetic fabrics with names like fleece, pile, polypropylene, Capilene™ or polyester. A cotton T-shirt is used occasionally on hot, sunny days, but cotton clothing is best saved for on-shore camp use.
LAYER #1: The layer next to your skin should be close-fitting and thin. Start with a swimsuit and/or swim trunks and synthetic or wool shirt as a base layer. You do not want to wear cotton on the river on cool rainy days. The evaporation of water from a wet cotton layer will actually make you colder! Synthetic fibers maintain insulative properties when wet and "wick" moisture away from your skin.
LAYER #2: The next layer should also be made of a synthetic fiber, but should be a bit heavier in weight. If you get too warm you can always peel this layer off.
LAYER #3: The outer layer is what is known as the "barrier" layer. This layer should be waterproof and loose-fitting enough to give you a good range of motion. The idea of this layer is to seal out water, and seal in the warmth generated by you and insulated by layers # 1 and # 2. A good rain suit can do the job, or a good paddling jacket and pants. Not only will this protect you from rainstorms, but chilly water temperatures when running rapids as well!
If you plan to fish, please bring your own fishing gear (with a protective case), as we do not have any to loan. An IDAHO fishing license is required if you plan on fishing. You can pre-purchase a license by going to the website https://idfg.idaho.gov/license/purchase-options. You can purchase a license in Riggins only if arriving prior to 6 pm. You must have a current driver’s license to purchase a license.
LIQUOR AND PREFERED BEVERAGES
ROW packs moderate quantity of soft drinks as well as wine and beer for legal age guests. If you bring liquor, please give it to your guide in a labeled plastic container. Beer should be in cans - No glass beer bottles please. Bottled wine is fine. All liquors in IDAHO are sold in State Liquor Stores with limited hours. Please be aware we have limited space on our rafts therefore moderate quantities, please. If you are arriving after 7 pm BE SURE TO PURCHASE your liquor at home and bring it with you.
Some of our favorite books on the Salmon River
Cadillac Desert: The American West and its Disappearing Water, by Marc Reisner (Penguin Books).
This is an enlightening and easy to read book about water politics in the West. It does not contain much about Idaho – but is still a must read – especially with the current debate over removing the four lower Snake River dams. Highly Recommended.
Children of Grace, by Bruce Hampton, Henry, Holt Publishers, 1994
(out of print as of March 1998 – but in ROW founder, Peter Grubb’s opinion, one of the best! Look for it at used bookstores or try www.bibliofind.com. If you're only going to read book about the Nez Perce and the war of 1879, this is the one. Highly recommended. (Out of print, available online)
Idaho Chinese Lore, by Sister M. Alfreda Elsensoln (Idaho Corporation of Benedictine Sisters and printed by The Caxton Printers, Ltd. In Caldwell, 1970).
Try your local library. (Out of print, available online)
Idaho for the Curious: A Guide, by Cort Conley (Backeddy Books).
This thick book is a great resource for the curious. Conley follows the roads and relates the natural and human history of the areas. It’s worth the money and the perfect companion in your car for your dog to read to you as you drive.
Idaho Loners, by Cort Conley (Backeddy Books, 1994).
An in-depth look into the lives of the hermits, solitaries and individualists that shaped Idaho’s history. Fun, intriguing, biographical reading. Highly recommended.
Indians of Idaho, by Deward E. Walker Jr. (University Press of Idaho).
Myths of the Idaho Indians, by Deward E. Walker Jr. (University Press of Idaho, 1982). (Out of print, available online)
Nez Perce Coyote Tales, by D. Walker (University of Oklahoma Press, 1994).
River of No Return, by Johnny Carrey and Cort Conley (Backeddy Books, 1977).
This is probably the best book to deepen one’s appreciation of the Salmon River Canyons.
Rivers of the West - A Guide to the Geology & History, by Elizabeth L. Orr & William N. Orr. (Out of print but available online)
Roadside Geology of Idaho, by David D. Alt and Donald W. Hyndman (Mountain Press Publishing Company, 1989).
Few states pack so many different rocks into such a small area as Idaho, the book covers this unique occurrence in an exciting geologic story.
Roadside History of Idaho, by Betty Derig (Mountain Press Publishing Co., 1996).
“The best way to enjoy Idaho’s rich heritage is to visit the sites where history happened”. This book transports you to those places through well-researched, well-told text and vivid historical photographs.
Salmon And His People, by Dan Landeen and Allen Pinkham. (Confluence Press, Lewis & Clark State College, 1999).
Fish & Fishing in Nez Perce Culture, illustrated with 200 color photographs as well as dozens of historic images to chronicle the importance of fish and fishing to the Nez Perce people. This books give you a real sense of how important the Salmon were and are to the Nez Perce. Highly recommended. (Out of print, available online)
Sources of the River, by Jack Nisbet (Sasquatch Books, 1994)
Jack re-creates the life and times of David Thompson fur trader, explorer, surveyor, and mapmaker who blazed the way West before Lewis and Clark. As a result of adding his own observations Jack has created a fascinating story of two men discovering the Northwest Territory almost two hundred years apart. (Author Jack Nisbet lives in Spokane and has traveled the Missouri River as a ROW interpretive guest.) Highly recommended. (Out of print, available online)
The Biography of a Grizzly, by Ernest Thompson Seton (University of Nebraska Press, 1987).
Seton wrote over 60 books around the turn of the century and was the main person to bring to Western consciousness the idea of wild animals having personalities and character, sharing life struggles similar to humans. This book is the story of the life of a grizzly cub who grows up alone in the mountains of northwestern Wyoming. Highly recommended.
The Education of Little Tree, by Forrest Carter (University of New Mexico Press, 1976).
The true story of a Cherokee boy’s unique education in the 1930’s. A wonderful book that shows the stark contrast between the values, awareness and relationship with nature of the Indians versus those of white people. Highly recommended.
The River Reader, by John A. Murray (The Lyons Press, 1998).
A collection of writings that is composed of both classic selections and contemporary writings from twenty-two diverse writers that are devoted to a single environmental subject.
The Weiser Indians: Shoshoni Peacemakers, by Hank Corless (The Caxton Printers, Ltd., 1996).
“This book documents Indian-white relations in the southwestern Idaho during the time of initial white encroachment onto Indian lands. It also offers a perspective on all native peoples of the northern Great Basin”. Besides that it illustrates the daily life and culture of an Idaho Indian tribe around the time of the first settlement of Idaho by white people. Highly recommended. (Out of print, available online)
Thunder Mountain, by Zane Grey (Walter J. Black, Inc., 1932).
A fantastic story about a gold mine near the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in the 1860’s. It is no longer in print. Try your local used bookstores for a copy of this great book!
Undaunted Courage, by Stephen Ambrose (Simon & Schuster, 1996).
A must read! A poignant human drama of Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the opening of the American West. This book is one of the main reasons so many people are intrigued by the Lewis and Clark story. Highly recommended.
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