The Middle Fork of the Salmon River offers one the best river trips in the world with its scenic alpine terrain, stream-side hot springs, cascading waterfalls, and the imposing sheer granite walls of Impassable Canyon. Formed in the shadow of the rugged Sawtooth Mountains, the Middle Fork carves a path through the second largest wilderness area in the lower 48 states, the 2.4 million acre Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.
The Middle Fork has nearly continuous whitewater for the entirety of the trip, and with no dams controlling its flow, the river changes character throughout the summer. Early season, when flows are the highest, is the best time to come if you are looking for a wild ride.
By August, after the peak runoff, the river mellows (just a bit) to still-fun, but wider-spaced rapids. This is an excellent time for families, especially those with young kids, because the thrills are high for everyone and no one feels intimidated.
Whatever time of year you decide to come, a trip down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River is an unparalleled wilderness rafting experience. 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, its canyon walls light up in brilliant colors, eventually fading into a veil of stars unlike any night sky you have seen before. Alone any one of the amazing sights or adventures on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River will make your visit worth it. But combining them together creates a once-in-a-lifetime wilderness experience that will leave an indelible impression on hearts young and old.
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.
Early season the river is fast and continuous for the the first 20 of the 100 miles. After that it eases up and gradually builds up again until the last two days which is full of great rapids. In late season, the river gradually gets more difficult each day, ending with the biggest rapids on the last day.
Off the Rafts
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 relaxing way to cap off a day on the move. Longer hikes to a few beautiful viewpoints are also available for anyone still looking for more action in their day.
Flora & Fauna
Black Hawthorn, Mountain Alder, Cottonwood, Ponderosa Pine. Cutthroat trout, deer, elk, bear, river otter, bald eagles, osprey, Big Horn Sheep, and if we’re super lucky we’ll see mountain goats.
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. Northwest Rafting Company is an equal opportunity provider.