Main Salmon River



Pine-filled mountain vistas, large sandy beaches and plenty of awe-inspiring whitewater rafting await you on this journey.


This area is home to a wide variety of wildlife including moose, elk, mule deer, black bears, river otters, golden eagles, red-tail hawks, and osprey.


Enjoy the ultimate relaxation when you reach the Barth Hot Springs, a scenic soak overlooking the Main Salmon River.


Learn the regional history of Native Americans and early pioneers with visits to ancient pictographs and abandoned mining towns.


Leave the roads and crowds behind and raft the “River of No Return”, for an enjoyable and exciting moderate whitewater trip.


You will be guided through each step of this journey by experienced guides with knowledge of the river and region.


The Salmon River cuts the second deepest gorge in North America, making this an unforgettable river running experience that shouldn’t be missed. As you travel 82 miles downstream from Corn Creek to Carey Creek, you will see a remarkable change of scenery beginning with rugged alpine mountains, moving into enchanting pine forests interrupted by solemn granite gorges that eventually open to high desert slopes. You will raft over 40 rapids, including Elkhorn and Big Mallards, two of the most famous rapids in the West. The Main Salmon is a great trip for people of all ages, wildlife enthusiasts and anyone interested in pioneer history.

This is not a tour; it’s an expedition!

A flexible, open attitude is a necessity. You will be immersed in the varying elements of nature. There is no set daily itinerary, electricity, or indoor plumbing. There is plenty of adventure, camaraderie, good food, and beautiful backcountry scenery.

Adventure Specialists

We’ve been connecting our clients to water adventures around the world since 1987. We partner with select outfitters who share our values and are pros at creating exceptional experiences. There is no fee for our service; we earn our commission from the outfitters we represent, and the cost of your expedition is the same as booking direct.


Depending on the outfitter and trip selected, trips begin in either McCall or Salmon, Idaho. Transportation is provided by the outfitter to the river via a short scenic flight (late season) or a shuttle to the Corn Creek put-in.


Trips have various take-out points depending on the outfitter, and transportation back to Salmon, Boise or McCall via a short flight or shuttle may or may not be provided by the outfitter.

Price Includes

Most outfitters will provide all the camping and river related safety equipment, along with plenty of fresh food, non-alcoholic beverages and snacks. However there are some outfitters that will ask you to supply your own camping and sleep gear. Typically, these outfitters will also have an option to rent a camp/sleep kit for an additional cost. Transportation to the put-in point and take-out point from/to your start city may be included.


Mid to late-June weather is typically in the low 70’s°F during the day and around 40°F at night with occasional precipitation. In July and early to mid-August, daytime temperatures are around 80°F – 90°F, dipping down to the 50°F at night. This is also the driest time to raft the Main Salmon. Late August and September usually have sunny days with cooler nights and some precipitation possible.

The Main Salmon River

The Main Salmon River is an undammed, free-flowing river fed from snowmelt. June has exciting high water, but by late summer, the river offers a more mellow float. You will encounter Class III rapids for a slightly technical, and very fun rafting trip. Water temperature on the Main Salmon is typically about 50°F – 65°F, a very pleasant warm river.

Boats & Group Size

Oar powered rafts are about 18 feet long and carry four to five guests plus the guide, who maneuvers the raft with a set of oars mounted on the raft. Oar trips will have 5 to 7 boats, each carrying up to 4 participants with no more than 25 in the group, plus several guides. Paddleboats are 18 feet long inflatable rubber rafts. They carry six to eight people, and each person is responsible for paddling as a guide calls out the paddling commands. Paddleboats are a team effort boat and offer riders an intimate encounter with the river. When water levels are suitable, two-person kayaks let you challenge the rapids on your own terms.

Camp Life

Whether you’re an experienced camper or it’s your first time under the stars, our outfitters are specialists in facilitating an enjoyable and relaxing camping experience. Most outfitters provide a full sleep kit with a tent, sleeping bag, and inflated sleeping pad. Some outfitters will request that you bring your own sleep kit and camp equipment, or will have a package that you can rent for an additional cost. Everyone participates in setting up and breaking down camp. A clean, private camp toilet is set up first thing upon arrival at camp and it is the last thing to be dismantled the next morning.


One thing is certain on a Main Salmon rafting trip: There will be plenty of food! A full, hearty breakfast with cowboy coffee gets the day going. A riverside picnic sets the scene for lunch where you create your own sandwich. Dinners can be anything from a New York steak, grilled filet of salmon, or a Mexican feast followed by a hot, Dutch oven dessert. There are plenty of snacks and beverages offered throughout the day. Alcoholic beverages are not included, but you are welcome to bring your own. With advance notice, all outfitters are able to accommodate for special dietary requirements.

Length: 4 – 6 days
Price: $1,250 – $2,682 per person
Season: June – September
Min. Age: 5 years during Low Water Levels; 12 years during High Water Levels
Activity: Whitewater Rafting
Adventure Level: Strong

  • I cannot tell you how impressed I was with the Rivers & Oceans’ staff, their organizational skills, knowledge and simply being just nice people. Once I decided to go with them every detail of the adventure was planned, organized and implemented without a hitch.

    Steve G.

  • Absolutely wonderful. Rivers and Oceans is operated by people who truly care about your trip and have the personal experience to help you make the best choice. Now go see for yourself and let Rivers and Oceans lead you towards the adventure of a lifetime.

    Owen S.

  • The folks at Rivers and Oceans are great. Helped us find and book a trip and patiently answered many questions over the weeks preceding the trip. Thank you.

    Greg W.

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