Idaho River Rafting, Middle Fork of the Salmon River

This is the American West at its best.

Idaho River Rafting, Middle Fork of the Salmon River


This is the American West at its best: an undammed river flowing through a wilderness of big mountains, blue sky, and pristine water. We invite you to spend a week in the Frank Church Wilderness area river rafting, hiking, and exploring one of the great wild areas of the northern Rocky Mountains, where bighorn sheep still roam wild and cutthroat trout swim in clear, fresh water. The river drops 3,000 feet in elevation through the course of the 106 miles down river, and you will have expert guides leading the way as you enjoy the scenery.

We've picked the best outfitter to guarantee the quality of the experience. Solitude River Trips was chosen as the Orvis Expedition of the year in 2006. A Middle fork Salmon River whitewater rafting trip in one of the greatest wilderness experiences left in the lower 48 and if you are an angler, the fly fishing enhances the amazing experience.

During the 6 day scenic float trip, you will tour in oar-powered rafts, paddle rafts, inflatable kayaks, and if you book an angling package, in McKenzie River drift boats. You will encounter more than 330 rapids. Some are class 1 riffles accessible to beginning paddlers: others are heart-pounding class III and IV whitewater runs, rapids that have helped make the Middle Fork of the Salmon River one of the most prized white water rafting rivers in the world. Names like Velvet Falls, Pistol Creek, Hells Half Mile, Powerhouse and Rubber are legendary rapids in white water rafting circles; you will experience them all as we make our way down the river.

There's hiking to see Native American pictographs and waterfalls, inflatable kayak instruction for those who want more excitement, and stops to soak in hot springs.

Space is limited to 20 people total, including 10 anglers, maximum.


Day 1 (the day before your float trip begins) | Arrive Stanley, Idaho

Arrive at the Mountain Village Lodge by 5:00 PM in time for a 6:00 p.m. pre-trip orientation meeting. Your guides will provide a thorough overview of what to expect, answer any questions, and pass out your waterproof bags so that you can pack your belongings that evening. Lodging and dinner on your own.

Day 2 | The Middle Fork of the Salmon River

Breakfast on your own.
We drive to the launch site at Boundary Creek. By mid-morning we’ll be on the water and the rhythm of the river takes over. We will travel in oar and paddle boats. Everyone stops for lunch at the same spot mid-day, where the guides and crew have set up a picnic with food and drink. You can relax, enjoy lunch and share the morning’s experience. Sometimes there will be a hike, perhaps to a cave with pictographs or a waterfall, or you can relax in the sun.

After lunch, you continue downstream with stops to enjoy a local hot-spring or have a quick swim. The pace is relaxed and there’s plenty of time to enjoy the scenery before pulling into camp late in the afternoon.

Camp is set up for you by the crew and there are cold drinks, beer, wine and snacks waiting. All you have to do is carry your personal bag to your tent and unfold your sleeping bag. (By the way, a large, comfortable sleeping bag and extra-thick pad are supplied. You do not have to bring one.)

Dinner is an elaborate and colorful event as the guides cook up a feast over an open fire, using traditional Dutch ovens to prepare hot biscuits and cakes. They’re masters of campfire cooking and take great pride is the quality – and abundance – of the food. Expect fresh fruit and vegetables at every meal, along with western fare like steaks and salmon.

Days 3-6 | Floating the Middle Fork

Enjoy sunrise and a hot cup of cowboy coffee in the wilderness. Breakfast is served around 8:00am and by 9:00am you’re normally on the water. Inflatable kayaks called “duckies” are available for the more adventurous. There are instructions and the raft guides will lead the way, making sure you’re adequately prepared before you head into the whitewater. If you prefer to relax and just enjoy the scenery, you’re welcome to do that too, and the raft guides will be happy to provide insights about the natural and human history of the “River of No Return.”

If you choose to book an angling package, you will not be disappointed by the size or numbers of fish. The cutthroat trout of the Middle Fork are wild fish that compete constantly for the food supply, so they’re muscular and rise quickly to a dry fly. There are lots of them, perhaps as many as 4,000 per mile, and you’ll get lots of strikes. We use barbless hooks, and these fish will shake it off quickly until you get the feel for keeping them on the line. It’s not unusual to get 20 – 40 hookups a day, or to land that many fish on a good day. It’s good sport and they’re some of the prettiest trout in North America.

You’re in the field most of the day, and there’s no rush to get to camp, so you can enjoy it to the fullest. Expect sunny days with temperatures rising from 50F in the morning to 80-90F in the afternoon. It’s generally dry during the summer, although afternoon thunderstorms are not unusual, so you’ll need to pack a rain jacket. Evenings will be cooler in the early, higher stretches of the river, and you’ll want a sweater or light jacket when it drops into the high 40’s.

We won’t know the actual campsites until immediately before the trip, but we can guarantee they will all be impressive and beautiful. Tents are roomy 4-person outfitter tents for 2 people that the guides set up and take down for you. There’s a toilet tent with a privy set up nearby. Hot water is available for a “shower” each evening and to wash up in the morning.

Day 7 | Cache Creek - Salmon - Stanley (or Boise)

We float all morning enjoying a final half-day rafting before getting to our take out where the Middle Fork meets the Main Salmon River at Cache Creek, over 100 miles from where we started.

At confluence of the Middle Fork and the Main Salmon River we change out of our river clothes, say farewell to our guides, and take a private bus to Salmon, Idaho, about 2 hours away, stopping for a picnic lunch along the way.

At Salmon, a charter flight back to Boise is available, which takes about an hour, and arrives around 5:00 p.m.

The private bus will continue from Salmon back to Stanley, where the trip started, arriving around 5:00 p.m. You have the option of staying on the bus and going back to Stanley. The trip officially ends on arrival in Stanley for those who choose this option and the hotel arrangements are on your own.

We highly recommend taking the charter flight from Salmon back to Boise. It’s a scenic flight, the airport is just minutes from the downtown, and it makes for a nice, simple transition back to civilization before heading home.


What To Bring

  • 2 – 3 shirts with short or long sleeves
  • Swimsuit
  • Shorts that dry easily
  • Synthetic Long Underwear Top and Bottom
  • Quick Dry Long pants
  • Fleece sweater or vest
  • Sandals or wading shoes for river
  • Rain jacket and pants (or long poncho)
  • Sunhat
  • Towel
  • Sunscreen
  • Toiletries
  • Small flashlight or headlamp

Note: This is a partial list of essentials. A more detailed list with optional recommendations will be sent when you book the trip. All camping equipment is included. Basically you just bring your clothing.

Fly fishing: 4 or 5 weight rod, floating line, chest pack. The guides supply gear and flies, and we highly recommend that you use their flies. However, the most common flies used are will be size 10 PMX and Hopper patterns. We recommend that you bring your own rod(s) if you’re an experienced fly fisher, but the guides will have rods for you to use at no charge. We can’t guarantee in advance exactly what models the guides will have.

You Will Not Need

  • Day packs
  • Boat bags
  • Waterproof duffle bags for the river: we supply duffles for the river that are uniform in size. Your personal items will go in this for the float trip. Your travel baggage will be stored while you’re on the river and collected at the end of the trip.
  • Waders
  • Fishing vests

Fishing License
If you plan on fishing you need an Idaho fishing license for this trip and we highly recommend that you purchase it online before arrival.

Website for fishing licenses:

You can also buy your license in Stanley, Idaho, on the afternoon of arrival.

Planning Materials
We will send you a trip planner with a detailed packing list prior to departure.

Pricing & Dates

Pricing & Dates for Idaho River Rafting

July 1-6, 2014 (Orvis Week)
August 2-7, 2014 (NEW!)
August 10-15, 2014 (Orvis Week)
August 18-23, 2014 (NEW!)

Prime mid-summer dates
5 night/6 day float trip
Ideal for both rafters and anglers

$2,095 per person rafting package
$2,950 per person fishing package

If the river is low and we can’t put in at Boundary Creek, then a $125 per person additional charge will be added for the charter flight to Indian Creek airstrip, 25 miles downriver.


  • Land transfers to put-in & take-out points on the river from Stanley
  • Meals: all meals during the raft trip. Camp dinners include wine, beer and soft drinks
  • All camping equipment, including tents, sleeping bags, pads & pillow, drink cup and water bottle
  • 12”x24” duffle bags for packing your personal clothing
  • Waterproof boat bag
  • Services of expert guides

Not included:

  • USFS fees - $86.85/rafter and $112/angler
  • Fishing license (approx $35)
  • Tips to guides and staff
  • Hotels and meals in Stanley


    Contact the expert at Orvis Travel:
    Abby Liell
    Idaho River Rafting
    Mon-Fri, 9am - 5pm (ET)
    Orvis International Travel

    800-547-4322 | 802-362-8790

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