Wilderness Adventure of a Lifetime
The Middle Fork of the Salmon River is the best river trip in the world. Flowing through the heart of the 2.4 million acre Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, the river moves past scenic alpine terrain, stream-side hotsprings, cascading waterfalls, eventually culminating in the imposing sheer granite walls of Impassable Canyon. Designated by Congress as one of the eight original Wild and Scenic Rivers, the Middle Fork of the Salmon River has nearly continuous whitewater for the entirety of the trip and is an opportunity for an unparalleled wilderness rafting experience.
Located in Central Idaho, the Middle Fork is within driving distance of Boise and locations throughout the Pacific Northwest. It can also be reached from airports in Stanley and Salmon, Idaho or Missoula, Montana. Many traveling to the area combine their trip with a scenic drive through the nearby Sawtooth Mountains.
There are no dams controlling the flow of the Middle Fork, and the river changes character throughout the summer. Early season trips when flows are the highest and is the best time to come if you are looking for a wilder ride. By July, after the peak runoff, the river subsides to still fun, but wider spaced rapids. Whatever time of year you decide to come, a trip down the Middle Fork of The Salmon River is an experience that you won’t forget.
Middle Fork of the Salmon River Trip Highlights
Formed in the shadow of the rugged Sawtooth Mountains, the Middle Fork of the Salmon River carves a path through the second largest wilderness area in the lower 48 states. The trip starts in an alpine forest at Boundary Creek near Stanley, Idaho and for the first twenty miles, contains nearly continuous Class III and IV rapids. After Pistol Creek Rapid, the gradient eases up, but still moves quickly with a lot of fun whitewater still to come. Along the way, it is not uncommon to see Osprey, river otters, and Big Horn Sheep. Downriver, the open alpine terrain transitions to a series of rocky canyons that eventually lead into to Impassable Canyon’s striking granite walls and numerous waterfalls. Veil Falls, among the most picturesque on the entire trip, drifts in the breeze across in expansive grotto that is reached by a short scramble from the river.
Off the rafts, there are many chances to explore by foot and immerse yourself in the surrounding wilderness. In camp, the guides prepare healthy food and assist everyone in finding the perfect home for the night. Several hot springs, either at the river’s edge or accessed by a short hike, offer a great opportunity to relax after a day on the move. Longer hikes to a few beautiful viewpoints are also available for anyone looking for a more action in the day. Historic sites including Native-American petroglyphs, and more recent mining and homesteading ruins offer a captivating glimpse into the Middle Fork’s past. As the sun sets on the Middle Fork, the canyon walls come to life in brilliant colors, eventually fading into a veil of stars unlike any night sky you have seen before. By the end of the trip, any one of these amazing sights or adventures on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River will have made your visit worth it, but together they create a once in a lifetime wilderness experience on the best river trip in the world and we’re excited to have you join us.
Northwest Rafting Company is licensed by the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Licensing Board and is operated under special use permit with the Salmon-Challis National Forest. We are an equal opportunity employer.