People from all walks of life and all ages join our trips. We get a mix of couples, singles, families, and friends usually between 25 and 60 years of age. Our Family Magic trips host kids as young as five and we've taken folks that are in their nineties. Some have never been camping and others have extensive wilderness experience. Some are physically challenged. Some are very active and some are not. Without exception everyone comes to have a good time and the variety of people and interests found on each trip makes it all the more fun. Our adventure consultants know that a primary consideration may be the mix of people on the trip, so we're happy to tell you who has signed up and help you choose a compatible group.
Most trips include at least ten guests and a maximum of 14 to 28, depending on the trip. One-day trips may have 30-42 guests. Our average trips size is 16, but trips in May, early June, and September are generally smaller with 8-12 guests. Let us know what size group you'd like to be with, and we can tell you which trips are likely to be full and which are likely to be smaller.
Much of this will depend on how long of an adventure trip you want and what time of year you can go. Our Missouri River canoe trip is a wonderful river trip with no whitewater. You'll find mild whitewater on the Grande Ronde or lower Owyhee. Intermediate whitewater trips include the Snake in Hells Canyon, Salmon River Canyons, Rogue River or the Middle Fork of the Salmon (from July 6th on). More advanced trips would be the Middle Fork in June, the Bruneau, the Middle or Upper sections of the Owyhee. For shorter trips, the Moyie, St. Joe and Clark Fork are good choices. The Lochsa is enjoyed most by experienced rafters; however, if you're confident in the water, healthy, and feel adventurous, it could be a good choice. Note that we have trips that combine time on the Lochsa with time on other rivers.
While a few rivers we run get too low to float after the spring snowmelt is gone, most have plenty of water all summer long and into the fall. While there is no lack of exciting whitewater throughout the summer, it is generally true that the high water of May and June creates the season's most thrilling rapids. September is also a great time as there are fewer people on the rivers and fall colors are beginning to show. Each river is different. Salmon River Canyons trips start in early July and we recommend that very young children between 5-8 wait until after July 15th. (However this all depends on winter snowfall, so check with our office.) The Middle Fork of the Salmon is highest in June and is best suited for those with previous rafting experience and good physical fitness during that time, while July and August have more moderate flows. The Snake is dam controlled, so generally anytime during our May-September season will see similar flows. The Rogue is also dam controlled which generally means that there is not extreme high water during the May/June run off period. The Lochsa and St. Joe are examples of rivers with fairly short seasons and peak flows most likely from May 25-June 5th. Mother Nature calls all the shots, so we never know exactly when peak high water will be each year. If you're new to rafting and/or unsure, call us to make sure you choose an appropriate trip, and also read our Essential Eligibility Requirements.
The ROW style of camping is very comfortable. On most trips (but not all) a cargo boat travels ahead to set up your spacious tent and a complete kitchen area. We provide tents, sleeping pads, nice sleeping bags, flannel liners and pillows. Meals are served at tables with chairs and we do the dishes. Solar showers offer the chance to wash up during the trip. Summer nights in Idaho, Oregon and Montana are typically warm and some guests enjoy sleeping under the stars. If you'd like to know more, give us a call.
ROW is firmly committed to the responsible stewardship of the rivers we run and the earth at large. In our office, at our warehouses and on the river we abide by the 4 R's - Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose and Recycle. On the river we take every possible precaution to minimize our impact. Everything we carry in, we carry out. We build our fires in metal fire pans and carry out the ashes. and human waste is carried out in our portable toilet system.
On many of our summer trips, frequent swimming leaves you feeling clean. For those who want to soap up, we always do so well above the river's high water line (not even "bio-degradable" soap goes in the river). We also take sun-showers on many of our trips and the hot water is great for shampooing and taking a sponge bath. Buckets of river water help with the process.
At each camp we set up a special, private tent with a portable toilet inside, which works just like yours at home, without the flush. This is available from the time we get to camp until we leave the next morning. The views from our toilet locations are simply inspiring. Nearby we set up a hand washing system. During the day, liquid waste goes in the river by simply wading into the water or going for a swim. A day-use toilet is available too for solid waste. If you have any other questions or concerns please call our adventure consultants.
For feminine hygiene, come prepared with some small zip-lock bags. These are useful for disposal during the day while on the river and can be put into our trash containers at camp. Along with our toilet supplies, ROW will have extra pads and tampons available. Using portable toilets allows us to carry out all human waste.
Mosquitoes are rare or nonexistent on the rivers we run. There are sometimes bees and flies and it's a good idea to bring some repellent. If you have a bee allergy be sure we know and bring your own medication. Snakes are also rare, especially during the heat of summer when they tend to come out only in the cool of night. They fear us more than we fear them and do a good job of staying out of sight.
You'll find a wide variety of weather during the season although, in general, the trips we run are warm and sunny. In May and June the weather is more variable and can range from short snowstorms or rain and 40 degree weather to sunny with blue skies all in the same day. The same is true in the fall. July and August do have the most consistently good weather with daytime temperatures reaching 100 degrees. However, a rainstorm can happen any time and it's important to bring a two-piece rain suit and follow our suggested packing list for each river.
We are one of a few outfitters that offer a unique wilderness lodge to lodge trip on the Rogue River in Oregon. During the day you raft through the Rogue River's splashy rapids and stay in warm comfortable lodges in the evening.
The level of fitness required depends on the river you choose. On ROW's trips lasting three or more days you have a choice of craft. Oar-powered rafts are those where the guide rows and you simply relax (or hold on in the rapids) and these require very little effort. Paddle rafts and inflatable kayaks require more effort as you will have a paddle in your hands and will be paddling during the rapids. On ROW's one- and two-day trips we only offer paddle rafts unless a specific request is made in advance. You should be reasonably healthy and must be able to fit into the PFD (personal flotation device) we provide. (Any person weighing more than 260 pounds or having a chest size greater than 52" should contact our office before signing up for any trip.)
On some of our more challenging rivers where unintentional swimming, long hiking or high elevations are a possibility, a higher level of fitness is advised. Always discuss with our staff if you're unsure what's acceptable for you. If you're still in doubt about your ability to go rafting, or your fitness, check with your doctor before you go. While many trips require little physical fitness, being in good shape will enhance your vacation. Be sure to read our Essential Eligibility Requirements.
Absolutely! ROW has been running Family Magic trips since 1988, designed by ROW's owners and their children, Mariah and Jonah. Children as young as five are welcome on these trips and only families are allowed. Older children may also enjoy our Snake River in Hells Canyon, Rogue River, and Middle Fork of the Salmon trips too. Few vacations offer the opportunity for uninterrupted, quality sharing as does a river trip.
Yes! ROW has taken people in their nineties on our trips. It's important that you're fit and active and choose an appropriate trip. Many grandparents bring their grandchildren on our Family Magic trips.
Yes! Everyone on a ROW trip wears a Coast Guard-approved PFD (personal flotation device). These are designed to keep you afloat in the event that you find yourself in the river. Many non-swimmers go on rafting trips and they have a great time. It is important that you are not afraid of the water. Non-swimmers should not go on class IV or class V trips. Please call us if you have any questions or concerns about this.
Wilderness travel and whitewater rafting have inherent risks and ROW does a number of things to manage these risks. It begins when you first contact us. We'll help you select a trip that matches your experience and abilities. You are also responsible for selecting an appropriate trip, and reading our Essential Eligibility Requirements. On the river you will find that our guides are carefully chosen, skilled professionals with the appropriate training and experience. We use the best available equipment and give a thorough safety briefing prior to all departures.
All our guides are certified in first aid and river rescue. Many have had advanced training specific to the wilderness environment in which we operate and are certified as Wilderness First Responders or Emergency Medical Technicians. Thus we are able to cope with most on-river accidents. If, in our judgment, evacuation is deemed necessary we have several options depending on weather and our location. Sometimes we are near remote ranches or roads that we can use to evacuate. On our remote wilderness trips we carry a satellite telephone and/or satellite texter. (Cell phones don't work in the remote areas where we travel.) We can use these to contact emergency transport, including helicopters. Evacuation, if needed, can take from as little as a couple of hours to as many as 24 hours, or in extreme cases, longer than this depending on the situation, weather and location.
Rivers with class IV or above whitewater have a higher risk of falling out than rivers with lower class rapids. That said, it can happen on any river. Before you go on any trip you'll be given a safety orientation with extensive instructions on what to do if you fall in and how to float in the river. Many people have taken multiple trips and never fallen in. Some people fall out on their first trip. This is part of the inherent risk of whitewater rafting.
For shorter adventures you'll meet the team leader at your designated rendezvous place and time. They will give an orientation talk, collect your release forms, distribute wet suits if appropriate and then get everyone on the bus. You'll go to the put-in, where the trip will start, and the team leader will give you a safety orientation. Then you'll head to your boat. The boats typically seat six to seven people and a guide. The guide will give you further instruction on how to paddle and how to follow his or her commands. Then you'll head on down the river and have the time of your life!
See our Packing Lists for each trip we run. Most people already own the items needed. ROW provides wetsuits and wetsuit booties on all whitewater trips in May and June.
Full course meals from lunch the first day through lunch the last day. One-day trips include lunch only. Professional river equipment including: rafts and their accessories, Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices (PFD's), waterproof bags for personal gear, waterproof boxes for cameras, sleeping bags, sleeping bag liners, pillows, thick foam self-inflating mattresses, tents and ground cloths. Wetsuits and booties are provided on all cold water trips in May and June. Also, transportation to and from the river from a designated meeting place as indicated on the trips schedule. Prior to your trip we'll send you a complete packing list of appropriate clothing and optional items such as cameras, water bottles, etc. Since many folks like to learn about the areas they visit ahead of time, we also send a reading list which complements our "on-river" library.
ROW provides camping gear such as tents, sleeping bags, pads, chairs and much more. You're only responsible for bringing your clothing and personal items such as toiletries, camera, etc. As for clothing, most people already have what they need. Some may need to purchase rain gear or other items. A complete list is provided along with suggested places to buy any gear you may not already own.
It's important to drink plenty when you're outdoors so ROW provides fresh drinking water at all times. In camp there's also juice, herbal tea, black tea, coffee and cocoa. We provide two complimentary sodas and two beers per person, per day and complimentary wine with dinner. If you wish to bring more sodas, beer or other alcoholic drinks to enjoy in the evening, bring them along. We'll have cocktail ice.
If you're riding in an oar-powered raft on one of our multi-day trips then you can fish between the rapids during the day. We also offer special fishing trips on the Middle Fork of the Salmon.
We offer a varity of 1-3 day fishing trips through ROW Adventure Center on the St. Joe and Coeur d'Alene Rivers in Idaho.
Everyone has their own taste in music, and for many, the only music they want to hear is that of birds chirping and the river flowing. Thus, please bring headphones if you want to listen to your music.
Yes. Today's cell phones do it all, and we recommend you purchase a floating waterproof case for your cell phone. We have these for sale prior to our trips.
Just call our office or complete our online reservation request form. You may obtain immediate confirmation by using your credit card to charge the nonrefundable trip deposit, however, confirmation is not final until we also receive a copy of your completed trip application. Otherwise we'll send you an invoice and trip application form which you need to return along with your deposit. Credit cards are accepted for deposits only - the balance must be paid by check. While it is possible to join our trips on short notice, space is limited and we recommend you sign up well in advance.
The quality of our food reflects the quality of the wilderness environment we travel to. We hand-select the freshest fruits and vegetables we can find and pack them carefully in huge ice-coolers. Likewise, these coolers carry fresh dairy products and meats. From these ingredients, we prepare bountiful, healthy meals.
Sustainably harvested wild Alaskan Salmon served with a fresh garden salad
Prime Rib combined with a fresh Chilean salad and Idaho mashed potatoes
Big salads of vegetables and fruit add color and variety to every meal
These are a few possible entrees. Our desserts are made each evening in our Dutch ovens and range from authentic cobbler to pineapple upside-down cake. We serve juice each morning and moderate amounts of bottled wine with dinner. We also provide two beers and two sodas or juices per person per day. There's always plenty of cold water, lemonade mix, tea, coffee, and cocoa. You're welcome to bring your own beverages or alcohol as well. We always have plenty of ice to keep your drinks cold.
Check out our blog: Dutch Oven Cooking on the River
In addition to the sweep boat that carries all the camping gear, we use two other kinds of river craft.
The traditional raft is a 16-foot self-bailing, oar-powered raft which a guide controls with two large oars. (Many companies use 18-22 foot rafts, which take a good deal of the fun out of the rapids.)
We also offer smaller 14-foot paddle rafts. Four to six people paddle while a guide steers.
Many people enjoy rotating between both crafts during a trip. On the few trips we operate with less than 13 guests, we may not have enough people to support a paddle raft.
Read More: Whitewater Craft Guide: Meet the ROW Fleet!
On any river trips, the guides are the most important factor for your safety, enjoyment and the success of the trips. ROW guides are exceptional people with years of river experience.
We maintain a tobacco-free policy and most of our guides have taken interpretation courses from certified instructors. We look for guides who are willing and eager to share, teach, listen, learn, laugh, play, discuss and, above all, work hard to provide a safe, relaxed and spontaneous adventure.
While in camp two or three guides are preparing dinner while the others are free to spend time with you. They might challenge you to a fun game of horseshoes, give you historical information on the river (ROW has an on river library) or just sit and visit with the group. Our guides are the main reason many of our guests return to ROW time and time again. (References gladly provided.)
The level of fitness required depends on the river you choose. On ROW's trips lasting three or more days you have a choice of craft. Oar-powered rafts are those where the guide rows and you simply relax (or hold on in the rapids) and these require very little effort. Paddle rafts and inflatable kayaks require more effort as you will have a paddle in your hands and will be paddling during the rapids.
On ROW's one- and two-day trips we only offer paddle rafts unless a specific request is made in advance. You should be reasonably healthy and must be able to fit into the PFD (personal flotation device) we provide. (Any person weighing more than 260 pounds or having a chest size greater than 52" should contact our office before signing up for any trip.) On some of our more challenging rivers where unintentional swimming, long hikes or high elevations are a possibility, a higher level of fitness is advised. Always discuss with our staff if you're unsure what's acceptable for you.
If you're still in doubt about your ability to go rafting, or your fitness, check with your doctor before you go. While many trips require little physical fitness, being in good shape will enhance your vacation.