Hiking the Middle Fork of the Salmon River

While many people have floated the Middle Fork, few take advantage of the beautiful trail that runs along most of its course. These trips offer you a chance to hike some 48 miles over six days in the middle of the biggest wilderness area in the contiguous United States. The Middle Fork flows through the heart of the River of No Return Wilderness, a crown jewel of our nation's Wilderness system.  You hike with only a daypack as our supply raft carries all the camping gear and your personal belongings.  Passenger rafts also accompany the trips, so should you choose not to hike at any point, you can board a raft to continue downstream.

ROW Adventures pioneered these raft-supported hiking trips along the Middle Fork of the Salmon in 1990.  We offer similar trips on the Snake River in Hells Canyon, and the Rogue River in southwest Oregon.  These Rocky Mountain hiking tours offer you the chance to hike at your own pace while marveling at magnificent Idaho river canyon scenery. There's time to pause and take photographs, be awed by towering ponderosa pines, breathe the rejuvenating mountain air and feel the comfort of earth underfoot.  Our supply raft travels ahead and when you arrive at camp each night, your tent and gear are waiting for you. 

On the trail, one of our expert guides accompanies you.  Our guides are a fount of knowledge regarding the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness and the flora and fauna you experience along the way.  This is an opportunity to learn about the Rocky Mountain ecosystem including the specific plants and animals of the Middle Fork of the Salmon.  There are many birds of prey, waterfowl and songbirds to be seen.  If you're lucky, you also may see bighorn sheep, black bear and otter.  Plants of note include mountain mahogany, Douglas fir, ponderosa pine, various species of sagebrush, ninebark, gooseberry and much more.  You see firsthand the results of forest fires that have burned through the area over the past 50 years and learn about the role they play in forest ecosystems, as well as the history of fire management in the West.  There are also pioneer homesteads to visit, each with a story of colorful folks.  Perhaps one of the greatest treasures of the Middle Fork Salmon canyon are the rock art sites of the native peoples that make this land home.  There are over a hundred sites in the Middle Fork canyon, of which we know about only a few.

If you love fishing, there's time at camp to throw out a line. The Middle Fork of the Salmon is a blue-ribbon cutthroat trout fishery, where catch-and-release fishing maintains a robust and active population of trout.  The transparent waters make this a fly fisher's heaven.

Another delight of the Middle Fork of the Salmon are the hot springs.  They exist in abundance in the Rocky Mountains due to shifting geology and fissures in the earth's crust.  For us they are a welcome place to soak at the end of a day of hiking.

Come explore with us!  Your guides prepare your meals and provide superlative guest service.  All you need to do is hike the moderate trails, relax, and take in the sights!

Honoring Native People and Lands: Recognizing the significance of our travels through Indigenous territory, we would like to recognize the communities whose lands we visit. It is our hope, in doing so, to honor their legacies, their lives, and their descendants. To learn more about territory acknowledgment and specific information about the Native communities of this region, please visit our Territory Acknowledgement page.

The cooler months in late August and September have been our guests favorite for hiking the Salmon.  Please contact us: info@rowadventures.com | 208-765-0841 to learn more!

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salmon river hiking group
salmon river hiking group

Itinerary

Map of the middle fork of the salmon river
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Day

Hiking the Middle Fork of the Salmon River

The Middle Fork of the Salmon River trip is one of the most popular rafting trips on the planet.  We've designed the perfect walk so you can have a chance to hike some 48 miles over six days in the middle of the biggest wilderness area in the contiguous United States.

Daily on the Trail

The Middle Fork Canyon is a place of superlative beauty. Your interpretive guide will point out prehistoric cave and rock paintings from the days of the Tukudeka, or Sheepeater Indians. You will hike through granitic pine-studded mountains rising to a sky of magnificent dimension and often enjoy transparent views to a golden pebbled river bottom. There are several hot springs along our route and we’ll stop to enjoy them, perhaps even making camp at one.

In this unspoiled land, we’re very likely to see bighorn sheep, probably more than once as they use licks along the river. We’ll also see eagles, hawks, songbirds, and waterfowl and if we’re lucky, we’ll have sightings of deer, elk, mountain goats, mink, and river otter.

Raft Supported

This trip offers luxury camping and fine dining. Around 4:00 pm we arrive at camp. The cargo boat has gone ahead of the walkers and has the kitchen set up as well as the spacious 2-person tents that ROW provides. All you have to do is carry your personal gear to the tent of your choice and roll out your thick sleeping pad and sleeping bag. This leaves plenty of time to relax, climb a mountain, read a book, take a dip, watch for birds, throw out a fishing line or soak in the rays of the sun.

 On the fifth day of our adventure, we enter Impassable Canyon, a narrow, granite-walled canyon of spectacular dimension.  When the trail was being built by the CCC in the 1930’s they got through just eight miles before they gave up to the vertical walls of granite and turned the trail west to head up Big Creek. 
 
On our last day, you enjoy a long day of whitewater fun on the river.  For about 20 miles we are in a narrow granite-walled gorge of spectacular dimension, the constriction of the river, coupled with the large volume of water makes for an exciting day.   Then a 2-hour bus ride will put everyone in the town of Salmon at about 5 pm.  We make hotel reservations at the Stagecoach Inn that evening.  Therefore, you can make your return travel plans the next day. 

Gourmet Eating

Enjoy our gourmet hors d’ oeuvres and meals. dinner. The quality of our food reflects the quality of the wilderness environment in the Middle Fork canyon.  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 or made-on-the-river lasagna is a few possible entrees.  Big salads of vegetables and fruit add color and variety to every meal.  Desserts are made each evening in our Dutch ovens and range from authentic cobbler and 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.

When to Go

The cooler months in June and September have been our guest's favorite for hiking the Salmon.  Please contact us: info@rowadventures.com | 800-451-6034 to learn more!

Dates & Rates

Supplementary Information

6-Day - Middle Fork of the Salmon River
Departures:  August 31, Sept. 9
Adult Price: $2870

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