People travel from all over the world to raft Idaho’s amazing Middle Fork of the Salmon River. It is simply the best river trip on planet Earth. You’ll love it for the continuous Class II-IV whitewater that is incredibly clear, great for fly-fishing, and offers some of the best rafting and kayaking in the world. The scenery is jaw-dropping, the weather has warm to hot days with pleasant evening temperatures, and the higher-elevation limits pests like mosquitoes. Along the journey, you’ll find hot springs to soak in, a variety of campsites (from heavily forested to sandy beaches), interesting Native American sites, gorgeous waterfalls, and great hiking opportunities.
Beginning as a small, quick stream close to 6000 feet above sea level, the Middle Fork increases more than five-fold in volume over its 100 mile course. The upper river flows through a tight canyon covered with Douglas fir and lodgepole pine. As your journey continues, the elevation drops close to 3,000 feet and the canyon opens up to feature ponderosa pine, sagebrush and mountain mahogany, which are more typical of the high desert.
The last two days, you’ll travel through the impressive Impassable Canyon, with almost vertical rock walls that soar above the riverbed. You see the Middle Fork at its full strength here. The rapids are bigger and closer together. At the end of your trip, you’ll reach the confluence with the Main Salmon River. It is bittersweet as you near the take-out, but a landslide in 2003 created one last rapid, called Kramer, to give you the perfect finish for your river trip. You’ll take-out at Cache Bar, having traveled through one of the largest wilderness areas in the United States.
Trips on this wild river can vary greatly throughout the season as no dams regulate the flow. Early June is when the river is at peak flow, so you can run the full 100 miles in a quicker 4 or 5 day trip. Kayakers and adventure enthusiasts enjoy the river from June through early July, when the higher flows provide an ultimate thrill. Families usually prefer July and August trips, when the weather is warmer and the flow is suitable for children. The first 25 miles of the Middle Fork become too shallow to raft safely usually between the end of July or early August. These late-season trips fly into an airstrip along the river and enjoy the last 75 miles of the river at a more leisurely pace.
Our office staff can help you consider your group size and age to help determine the best time to experience this incredible river.