White water rafting trip tricks, tips, packing advice, recipes, and general river talk for river trips in Hells Canyon on the Snake River, Lower Salmon Rivers and beyond:
There’s not much worse than opening a cooler up mid-adventure to find the grapes swimming in a lovely pool of lunch meat juice. Or that the lettuce is frozen and the raw chicken is warm. Or that you’ve simply run out of ice. Here are some tips and tricks that our cooler packing professionals at America’s Rafting Co have figured out over years and years of packing for multi-day Hells Canyon rafting adventures:
1. Preparation is your friend.
Marinating meat? Dicing veg? Slicing raw chicken? These are tasks that are best suited to be done pre-trip in an indoor kitchen. Taking time to marinate meats* and prep out some food leaves you with a cleaner camp kitchen, a generally a cleaner cooler, less stress and just more time to enjoy your adventure. Pulling bags of pre-marinated grill-ables out of your clean cooler is sure to impress your friends too.
*vacuum sealers are dreamy for the cleanest cooler friendly marinades
2. Pack separate coolers for beverages and food.
Coolers stay the coldest when not opened every 2 seconds for a frosty beverage. With separate coolers, the beverages stay at whatever drinkable temperature they’re at and the food safely keeps cold at the same time. Also, keeping raw meat away from the rims of drink cans is highly recommended, but if a stray bottle of wine happens to find its way into the food cooler…it’s not the end of the world.
If you don’t have the luxury of multiple coolers, beverages can be put with food. Be sure to refrigerate them ahead of time, and place them on top in the cooler for easy access. Just be careful they don’t squish any items below!
3. Pack big coolers.
The biggest ones you got. This obviously depends on the length of your adventure and how much food you’ll be packing, but the right amount of ice takes up a ton of cooler real estate. You want a cooler than can comfortable fit all your food and a ton of ice without an excessive amount of empty space. Any empty space will cause your ice to melt faster. If you find yourself with too much space in a cooler, just add more ice. It can always be used in a delicious beverage or to ice down an injury *knocks on wood*.
4. Choose your type of ice wisely.
You’ve got a few options here: ice cubes from your freezer, block ice from the store, or our favorite: plastic milk jugs filled with water and frozen. These jugs are inexpensive, reusable, work great, and keep the cooler water inside the jugs instead of mingling with the food. Take any plastic container (milk, juice, vinegar, etc), wash it out, fill it, and freeze it. When your next adventure arises, you’ve got a big free chunk of ice in the freezer. They can be put in the bottom of a cooler as is, or smacked with the back of a hammer into smaller chucks of ice (but then it’s obviously not reusable). Just be sure to give the jugs a wash after use with any raw meat or questionable cooler.
Don’t have the freezer space for a small army of frozen milk jugs? Block ice from the store works great too. Pro Tip: Cut a piece of cardboard the size of the inside of you cooler to put in between the ice and food. This’ll stop your food items from swimming in the dreaded cooler water.
5. Pack too much ice.
The right amount of ice in a cooler really depends on outdoor temperature and length of trip. Hot weather means packing more ice, cool weather means packing less, and a 5 day trip needs way more ice than a day trip. It’s difficult to give a hard and fast rule about ice quantity, but in general it’s always better to bring more than less.
Pro Tip: Worried about the amount of ice you’re bringing? Got an extra cooler? Pack a bunch of ice into the spare cooler for a backup and refill the food cooler whenever it needs it. The ice cooler will stay cold because it’ll hardly ever be opened and as a bonus you’ll have clean ice for beverages.
6. Ice goes on the bottom.
Duh. But really, put a nice thick bed of ice on all (or almost all) of the bottom of the cooler. This keeps your food from getting squished and keeps the cooler juices away from the food. If you layer your food correctly (See No. 8), everything will be cool, safe, and clean. If it’s super hot out (100+F) or if you’re worried about it, a thin ice pack can be layered over the top.
7. Put (almost) everything in ziplocks.
Got a block of cheese from the store? A few carrots for dinner? A couple sticks of butter? A package of lunch meat? Put. Them. In. Ziplocks. Then when you eat only half the cheese, you’ve already got a container to put in back into. The carrots, butter, and lunch meats will not be swimming in the cooler water no matter how hard they try. Got leftovers? These lightly used ziplocks work great for that too.
8. Pack only cold or frozen food.
Cooler’s aren’t refrigerators. They’ve only got so much cooling power in the ice, which is really for keeping cold food cold and not for making food cold. By refrigerating or freezing everything ahead of time, you’ll extend the lifespan of the ice in the cooler.
Leftovers are a tricky situation with coolers. Put leftovers into a cooler and you risk losing the ice quickly and warming the cooler up. Leaving the leftovers out and you’ll risk them going bad. Handle leftovers at your own risk.
Pro Tip: freeze all meats before putting them in the cooler if you’re on a multi-day trip. It’s free ice, safer for the meats, and they’ll eventually thaw out as the days go on. Just be sure to take the first night’s meat out earlier to give it a chance to thaw.
9. Use your noggin when it comes to layering foods.
Food at the bottom of the cooler touching ice will stay the coldest (and sometimes freeze) while items at the top of the cooler will be warmer (and sometimes be at questionable temperatures). Food like meats and dairy that need to stay very cold should be put at the bottom of the cooler: on top or next to the ice. All raw meats should be put together and at the very bottom of the cooler (this will keep them as cold as possible AND from contaminating other foods). Produce is best on the very top of the cooler where it won’t get squished, contaminated or frozen. Everything else should be tetris’d into the middle. The tighter the pack, the longer the cooler will stay cold.
Pro Tip: packing soft produce like peaches or tomatoes? Cut off the bottom of a small cardboard box so it’s just a few inches tall. Put in all your soft produce and you’ve got the perfect disposable bruise-free container.
10. Clean coolers after every use.
I know, it’s not our favorite task either but it makes packing for your next adventure a breeze instead of a moldy gamble. We recommend simply washing it with a hose, sponge/scrubber and dish soap in your backyard. A little bleach goes a long way if it got grimy or *gasp* you didn’t wash it right away.
Put a thermometer in your cooler. This is the only true way of knowing how safely your food is being stored. The ideal cooler temperature is below 40F.
Looking for an adventure but want to skip all this cooler packing and maintenance? Check out ARC’s Hells Canyon Rafting Trips and Salmon River Rafting Trips for incredibly fun all-inclusive overnight rafting trips with no food planning or cooler packing sight.
HELLS CANYON RAFTING
The Snake River begins in Yellowstone National Park in northwest Wyoming. It runs first south, then west across all of southern Idaho. Once the Snake River touches Oregon it starts to head north into the deepest canyon in North America, Hells Canyon. The Snake River continues running north through Hells Canyon marking the border between Oregon and Idaho.
Hells Canyon rafting is possible year round, but the ideal rafting time is May through September. Temperatures can get over 100° during the end of July and August, but the Snake River is warm and great for swimming.
Camping in Hells Canyon is first come first serve, but there’s almost always plenty of beautiful campsites for everyone.
Transportation and camping before and after rafting Hells Canyon:
There are few roads into Hells Canyon. It is carved through the Blue Mountains in Oregon and the Seven Devils Mountains in Idaho making for beautiful driving to and from the river. Hells Canyon rafting starts at the Hells Canyon Dam located 62 miles from Cambridge, Idaho. There are plenty of pay campsites and free campsites along the winding road to the dam, but no camping within a mile or 2 of the boat ramp.
For the first 34 miles of Hells Canyon, there are no roads or bridges in sight. This section, designated as a Wild and Scenic River in 1975, is preserved to keep it natural and the river free-flowing. At 34 miles Pittsburg Landing is visible on the Idaho side of the Snake River. The dirt road into Pittsburg Landing boat ramp is about 20 miles from the town of White Bird, ID but about an hours drive. It winds up the Seven Devils Mountains and the Salmon River Drainage and crests over into the Snake River drainage, dropping a huge amount of elevation in about 10 switch backs. Enjoy the view but go slow and watch for other vehicles during this stretch. Trailers are ok on this road. There is pay camping and bathroom facilities in Pittsburg Landing, although at this time there is no potable water.
After Pittsburg Landing, it’s about 46 miles until the next boat ramp: Heller Bar in Asotin, WA. Some books and maps do show another ramp located in Oregon called Dug Bar. This road is not well maintained, requires a 4 wheel drive vehicle, and is not recommended as a usable boat ramp. Heller Bar is located at the confluence of the Grande Ronde River and the Snake River. It’s an easy 30 mile drive from Clarkston, WA on a mostly paved road that slowly turns into a 1 lane road. A Washington park pass called a Discovery Pass is required in order to use the Heller Bar boat ramp. A daily or annual pass can be purchased ahead of time online. There is no where to buy a pass at Heller Bar. There is no camping at Heller Bar but there are hotels and some pay campsites closer to Clarkston, WA and Lewiston, ID.
Hells Canyon Rapids:
Hells Canyon has Class II-IV rapids that vary greatly by water flow. Idaho Power and The Hells Canyon Dam are in charge of how much water runs through Hells Canyon and it can vary about 10,000 cfs a day depending on the year. The Class IV rapids are Wild Sheep Rapids and Granite Rapids located within 10 miles of the dam, and Waterspout Rapids can sometimes be considered a Class IV rapid at lower waters. All 3 of these rapids are wide and long making for super fun high volume river rafting. A professional guide is recommended.
Interested in rafting Hells Canyon on a guided trip?
America’s Rafting Co provides the best whitewater rafting trips in Hells Canyon from May through September. Click here for more information on a Hells Canyon overnight rafting vacation.
Are you a seasoned rafter and looking into Hells Canyon rafting on your own personal trip? Three private permits are available for everyday during the primary season from the Friday before Memorial Day through September 10th. These permits need to be purchased ahead of time HERE. The lottery on these permits run from December 1-January 31 but cancellation permits are usually available after those dates. Outside of the primary season, self-issued permits can be filled out at the Hells Canyon Dam.
Other helpful information for Hells Canyon Rafting:
SEVEN DEVILS MOUNTAIN HIKING LOOP WEATHER:
Average Temperature and Days of Rainfall for the Seven Devils Mountain Range, Idaho
|Max Avg Temp||78°||76°||63°|
|Min Avg Temp||49°||50°||40°|
|Days of Rain||3||3||4|
Joining us on a Hell, Hike and Raft Trip? The weather in Hells Canyon in much different at 8,000 feet below the Seven Devils Mountains. Check out the Hells Canyon Rafting Trip forecast here.
LOWER SALMON RIVER WEATHER:
Summers are beautiful in Idaho on the Lower Salmon River. With normally sunny days and temperatures in the 80’s-90’s, it’s a great time to be either whitewater rafting on the Salmon River or relaxing on it’s white sandy beaches.
Average Temperature and Days of Rainfall on the Lower Salmon River
|Max Avg Temp||91°||95°||84°|
|Min Avg Temp||58°||59°||50°|
|Days of Rain||3||3||4|
Water Temperature on the Lower Salmon River
LOWER SALMON RIVER FLOWS:
The Salmon River is the largest undammed river in the lower 48 states. It flows freely from the deep wilderness of Idaho for 425 miles until it meets the Snake River. The Salmon River balloons in the spring with all the melting snow runoff from the Sawtooth Mountains, Salmon River Mountains, Lemhi Range, Clearwater and Bitterroot Ranges. The Lower Salmon River is best run for whitewater rafting after the spring runoff during July and August.
Recent River Flows on the Lower Salmon River
Interested in joining America’s Rafting Company for an unforgettable Salmon River Rafting Adventure? Learn more by clicking here.
HELLS CANYON WEATHER:
Summers are absolutely gorgeous in Hells Canyon. Usually about 10° warmer than surrounding towns, Hells Canyon is known to be hot throughout the summer which is ideal for whitewater rafting trips. The Snake River’s temperature usually stays between 60°-70°, perfect for refreshing swims.
Average Temperatures and Days of Rainfall in Hells Canyon
|Max Avg Temp||69°||82°||92°||94°||82°|
|Min Avg Temp||49°||55°||64°||64°||58°|
|Days of Rain||8||7||3||3||4|
HELLS CANYON DAM RIVER FLOWS:
The Snake River is controlled by the Hells Canyon Dam, which is the start of Hells Canyon Whitewater Rafting Trips. The highest water of the year is normally in the spring through May and June, then the level slowly lowers throughout the summer. High water provides big roller coaster style waves and quick water, sometimes even burying rapids into nothing but flat water. Lower water amplifies rapids making them super splashy and fun. All levels are a blast in Hells Canyon and there’s always water throughout the summer thanks to the Hells Canyon Dam!
Recent River Flows at the Hells Canyon Dam
Interested in jumping on a whitewater rafting trip in Hells Canyon with America’s Rafting Company? Click here to learn more information about this one-of-a-kind rafting adventure!
Whitewater rafting as a family is something special:
smiling, laughing, and bonding together on an epic adventure vacation that everyone will look back on fondly.
That’s the fun and easy part…The hard part is deciding if an overnight whitewater rafting vacation is right for you and your family.
What if someone falls out of the boat?
What if the kids have trouble sleeping outdoors in the tents?
What if they don’t like the food the guides prepare?
What the heck needs to be packed?
These are all super common concerns. Here’s a look into the concerns and perks of a family whitewater rafting trip:
Boater safety is the most important thing on the river. Fun is second. Between safety talks, ALWAYS wearing lifejackets on the boats and going over even the worst case scenarios, we want everyone to know what to do if something doesn’t go quite right. Chances are if someone does fall out of the boat, they’ll go for a quick swim through a few waves and be pulled right back into the raft. Sure, it can be scary but most swims lead to a great story and laughter for years to come.
Those kids will have smiles plastered to their faces. From getting splashed in the rapids, to swimming in the long stretches of calm river, to pulling out fish after fish after fish, to trying inflatable kayaking for the first time, to playing bocce ball on the riverside beaches, to seeing a bear walking down the shore, every kid on a river trip finds an activity that glues a smile to their face. And it’s contagious.
Packing for whitewater rafting trips is easier than it seems. Packing lists make it a breeze and America’s Rafting Co provides all the big comfortable sleeping items: a large tent, thick cushy sleeping pad, freshly laundered sleeping bag, sheets and even a pillow. There’s alway enough room in the dry bags for all personal items plus any favorites to make the trip incredibly comfortable. It’s not like backpacking where there’s only a certain amount of weight you can bring. Bring what will keep everyone warm (or cool), dry, and happy and the rafts will easily do the work of carrying the weight.
Sleeping outdoors in a tent is made easier by pure exhaustion. After dinner, dessert, and any last minute beach games, when it starts to get dark bed calls hard even for the little ones. After days of swimming, rafting, fishing, hiking, and just being outdoors, kids are beat by dusk. The 4-person tents are slotted to sleep 2 and there’s always the option of sleeping outside the tents under the incredible starry Idaho sky.
River trips are made for eating, and we’re not talking about canned or dehydrated food. Instead we’re packing juicy melons grown in Idaho for breakfasts, fresh grain salads, sandwiches and homemade cookies for lunch, and a whole lot of good food for dinners: appetizers, grilled meats, salads, freshly bakes breads and homemade desserts. Have you caught on that river trips are wilderness luxury yet?
Got a super picky kid or someone with allergies? No problem. Let us know when you book the trip and we’ll be sure to pack their favorites-even if it’s mac and cheese every night.
No one is ever bored. After breakfast until the afternoon, it’s rafting time. There’s the whitewater of course, but then there’s the hikes to check out the rapids, the cooling swims in between the rapids, many different kinds of animals to look for, hikes to old homesteads to check out, lunch to gobble up riverside, and fish to catch. This isn’t the normal fishing of waiting forever to catch something and boredom creeping in. This is even a first time fisherman being likely catch something on their first, second or third cast. That kind of success leads quickly to fishing addicts. Once the rafts hit camp in the afternoon, there’s more swimming and fishing to catch up on, along with playing games, exploring camp and maybe even napping to get after.
There’s NO screen time. None. And there’s no monitoring it either. This leads to pure family time. Reconnecting and having a blast together outdoors is what a family rafting trip is all about.
The guides take care of all the cooking and cleaning. There’s no meal planning, to do lists, grocery shopping or dishes to be done. The guides take care of it all. That leaves you free to actually spend the full vacation with your family, or y’know, read a book riverside.
There’s no doubt that there are risks with whitewater rafting, but there are so many great things about taking your family on an overnight whitewater rafting trip. There is nothing better than a family having a blast and whitewater rafting together on a vacation that they will always remember.
Idaho?! Aren’t there a lot of potatoes there???
Yup, you got us. The southern half of the state is great potato growing country and we are proud of it. I mean, who doesn’t love fresh french fries?!?
The northern half of Idaho? Chock full of mountainous wilderness, rushing rivers, and massive swaths of national forests. Did you know that Idaho has 3,100 miles of raft-able whitewater rivers!? And 107,651 miles of rivers in general! If Idaho wasn’t so famous for potatoes, it would be known for its whitewater.
Idaho is a hidden gem and on the edge of that gem touching Oregon is a scar on the Earth: the deepest canyon in North America called Hells Canyon. The Snake River runs out of Yellowstone National Park, down through Wyoming and hauls through all of southern Idaho until it hits Oregon and starts running north. There, it cuts deep into the Earth: 1,900 miles deeper than the Grand Canyon!
So what’s so special about Rafting in Hells Canyon?
The Amazing Scenery:
Cut into deep dark lava rock, the Snake River flows 8,000 feet below the Seven Devils Mountains of Idaho and the Blue Mountains of Oregon. The towering canyon walls are constantly changing against the incredibly blue sky. The canyon opens into steep meadows and closes back in as the Snake River flows north. Creeks flow in through side canyons and drinkable springs pour out cold water through the rocks, all without a road or bridge in sight. For the full 80 miles through Hells Canyon, only a few roads are visible and there’s not a single bridge that crosses the Snake River.
Hells Canyon is designated as a Wild and Scenic section of river, making it extremely protected. With no roads visible for multiple 30+ mile sections of river, this section of the Snake River is extremely remote. We are always on the lookout for black bears, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, bald eagles, osprey, otters and many many more animals!
Peace and Quiet:
Hells Canyon is such a hidden gem and so strictly regulated by the Forest Service that only 5 groups can go out a day. Usually, we only see 3 groups including our own! This means that the river is yours when you’re on it. The Snake River in Hells Canyon is not a highway like some other whitewater stretches can be, but instead quiet and serene like it’s meant to be.
Whitewater rafting in Hells Canyon spans 80 miles. It fluctuates between stretches of calm flat water to big Class IV rapids with boat sized waves and in the middle are roller coaster style rapids for this large volume river. This whitewater is fun for all ages 7-70.
Overnight whitewater rafting trips are the best part of a day of rafting combined with all the great parts of camping. Jumping off a boat in the afternoons, guests find camp all set up including their tents. Eating great camp food outdoors, playing games like horseshoes and bocce ball, and sleeping like a baby on a cushy sleeping pad under thousands of stars is what it’s all about.
Hells Canyon was home to its fair share of homesteaders and miners in the early 1900’s and their remnants still remain. Old wooden homes, fruit trees still thriving, and landscapes changed by mining efforts still fill the canyon. There is more history than can possibly be seen in one trip. Even old pictographs hint at stories that have been lost in time. Small hikes during the rafting trips lead to traces of the old adventurers where we can get a sense of what it was like to live in such a remote area of the Northwest. If you catch it right, you can even eat fruit from their trees: cherries, plums, apricots, mulberries, apples, and even figs!
The fishing in Hells Canyon is great for first timers to avid fishermen. The canyon is so remote that it doesn’t get overfished. Smallmouth bass, trout, catfish, and sturgeon fill the river. Kids especially have an affinity towards fishing Hells Canyon. Smallmouth bass love to hit on the first, second or third cast, even from a new fisherman. Kids can fall in love with fishing, catch dozens of fish each day, and have a hard time putting down the rod even at camp. It can’t be beat!
This is not your average river trip fare. We’ve said goodbye to canned and pre-made food. We serve delicious, restaurant quality food made with local Idaho produce and meats all prepared in our outdoor river kitchen. Grilled tri-tip, baked brie, homemade cookies, chicken salad on freshly bakes croissants are just some examples. Our menu is always changing and improving. Breakfast, lunch and dinner with appetizers, mains and desserts are included with every trip. Have a food allergy or serious preference? Let us know in advance and we’d be happy to pack what you’d like! A rafting trip is made so much better with great food.
Our goal is to provide the best rafting vacations possible. Our guides are fully trained in all aspects of the river trips and are ready for any challenges that may come up. When you’re rafting in Hells Canyon with ARC, it is all about you and your friends/family/group. We want you to have the best time possible!
Are you a beginner whitewater rafter? Does your significant other/friend/child really want to jump on a rafting trip but you’re not so sure?
No problem! Guided overnight whitewater trips are perfect for even the most beginner rafters. Here are some tips and tricks to get you ready:
“Are they scary?
Is it continuous whitewater rapids?
Is it safe?”
These are some of the most common concerns for whitewater rafting trips. In both Hells Canyon and on the Salmon River, whitewater rapids make up only about 20% of the total time floating on the river. The other 80% of time is spent relaxing on calm water while floating through beautiful canyons. Both the Salmon and Snake River are large volume rivers: wide and deep with few exposed rocks. The rapids are drop-pool style which means the water pools up before a rapid, then drops through the rapid into another large pool of calm water. Many of the rapids feel almost like a roller coaster or the log flume ride at your favorite theme park.
Safety is our top priority. There are inherent risks involved with whitewater rafting and there are also safety measures we take to make it as safe as possible. Lifejackets are worn at all times while in the water and on the boats, our gear is constantly upgraded and maintained, and our guides are trained professionals with years of experience under their sun hats.
“Where is camp?
What happens when we get there?”
On overnight whitewater rafting trips, camps are packed into a big gear boat, rowed down river, and set up in a new place every night. Your raft arrives to a fully set up camp in the afternoon. This is when the magic of an overnight rafting trip happens. Dinner is being cooked for you and there’s no tasks to do, emails to answer or errands to run. There’s time to bathe and change, take a nap in your tent, fish for bass, play river games, enjoy a beer, or just sit and read with your toes in the sand. Appetizers and specialty cocktails are served nightly before dinner is enjoyed in an outdoor dining area. Then there’s dessert and a short walk to your tent. ARC provides a 4-person tents for 2 people, a thick cushy sleeping pad, a sleeping bag, a small pillow and a fitted sheet for a comfortable night’s sleep in the bottom of Idaho’s best canyons.
“Where do I, uh, use the bathroom?”
The answer is in the most scenic bathroom you have ever used. We use a system called “groovers” which is a metal box with a toilet seat on top. These are placed in private corners of camp away from tents, boats and kitchen. There’s even a door “lock” to signify that it’s occupied. The groovers come with cushy toilet paper, hand sanitizer, a hand wash station and incredible views of the canyon walls of Idaho. The only tricky part is these are only available at camp, so you’ll have to time your #2’s just right. During the day,#1’s can be done in the river. Dilution is the solution to pollution!
“What do I need to bring?”
Your personal clothing, shoes and tolietires. That’s it. We provide all the rafting gear, camping gear, food and water you’ll need. Sodas, table wine and local micro brews are packed for your enjoyment too, but if you’d like a specific beverage feel free to bring it and we’ll pack it and chill it down for you to enjoy riverside.
Here’s our summer packing list to give you an idea of what personal items to bring. We provide large dry bags to pack into and they hold a lot of gear. Crucial items are sturdy and comfortable sandals with a strap holding your heel in, comfortable river and camp clothes, and sun protection.
We are always happy to talk rafting, packing, or weather so if you run into any questions don’t hesitate to give us a call in the office at 208-347-3862.
Packing for rafting trips in Hells Canyon, Salmon River or ANY river can seem overwhelming. What to bring? Am I bringing too much? Too little? The right stuff?
Here are the answers to some of the most asked questions about packing:
How much can I bring?
A lot! That’s the great thing about rafting trips versus say backpacking trips. The boats do most of the gear moving so there’s plenty of room for anything you may need. For our overnight rafting trips, a large dry bag is provided. This bag comes with a freshly laundered sleeping bag, small pillow, pillow case and fitted twin sheet which really makes the thick sleeping pads feel more like a cool comfy bed. There’s still room in that bag for a small to medium duffle bag of personal gear. I always recommend bringing cool weather clothes even in the middle of summer, just in case. 99% of the time that stuff will end up living in the bottom of the dry bag for the whole trip, but its great to have on the off chance of bad weather or an emergency. If you happen to bring too much, it’s not a problem! We can provide another dry bag for all the excess gear.
What shoes are best for the river?
Any sturdy sandal with a strap that goes around the heel will work. There’s also a ton of options out there for water sneakers and water shoes. Even old tennis shoes will work if you have nothing else. All of these shoes will be constantly wet throughout the day while rafting, swimming, getting to and from the boats and on mini hikes. Make sure that they’ll stay on your feet and are comfortable. After a day in wet shoes, a dry pair of camp shoes can feel great too. They can be tennis shoes, sneakers, flip flops or sandals. These usually stay dry and should reflect what kind or activity you’d like to do at camp: playing beach games, hiking around, reading books etc.
What do most people forget?
The small personal items tend to get overlooked: extra contact lenses, retainer straps for sunglasses, chapstick, etc. Sometimes bring a small mirror is nice too.
Can I bring a camera?
Yes! There is ample time in between the rapids and at camp to take beautiful pictures of the scenery, friends and family. We have hard dry cases that you can borrow for the trip. They can be securely strapped to your boat so your camera will be in reach just in case a mountain goat is spotted, kids are “riding the bull” on the front of the boats, or any picturesque moment happens.
Should I bring my phone?
Sure! Just don’t throw it directly into your dry bag. Although the name is deceiving, dry bags aren’t guaranteed to stay dry. The best place to put it is in a dry camera box.
How many changes of clothes should I bring?
This really depends on personal preference. Do you want to wear the same river clothes for the whole trip? Do you want a fresh set of clothes for every day on the river and every night? Personally, I would recommend bringing new changes of clothes for most of the days. When you’re not used to being in wet river clothing all day, it can feel great to mix it up and wear something different daily. A flowy dress or a button down fishing shirt can make you feel like a million dollars at camp too!
Should I really bring biodegradable soap?
It’s up to you! Do you mind not bathing for the whole trip or are daily baths in the clear side creeks important to you? Either way, it is good to pack just in case you accidentally touch poison ivy and need to wash it off.
For Hells Canyon rafting trips or trips on the Salmon River, here are good lists to reference while packing for an awesome river trip:
If you have any more questions about how to pack for an overnight river trip in Idaho, don’t hesitate to contact us via email or give us a call at 208-347-3862!
Waking up in the bottom of the deepest canyon in North America is wondrous.
Before the sun peaks over the towering canyon walls in Hells Canyon, the smell of coffee brewing floats into the tent on the warm morning air. After rolling off the cushy sleeping pad and out of the warm sleeping bag, you make your way down the sandy path to the river kitchen. There waiting is the largest pot of coffee you’ve ever seen and some fresh Idaho fruit to nibble on. Other early risers sit in the riverside dining room all staring at the opposite canyon wall, hopefully searching for the white fur of a mountain goat and it’s baby to pop their heads out of the dark lava rocks. A break from phones and internet feels great while getting a chance to spend time with friends and family. With the smell of bacon wafting in the air, breakfast is served: banana bread french toast, real maple syrup, thick crispy bacon, scrambled eggs, yogurt and homemade granola. The sun breaks over the canyon wall and the day immediately starts to heat up. It’s time to get rafting on the Snake River.
8000 feet below the peaks of the Seven Devils and Blue Mountains, the rafts float the wide river for long stretches of calm meandering water leading to Class II-IV rapids with big splashy rowdy waves. Fishermen (and fisher kids) pluck smallmouth bass and trout out of the Snake River with excitement.
Lore of 8…10…12 foot toothless dinosaur fish called sturgeon is told as your guide gets ready to drop a line that looks like it’s ready to pull in a small whale.
Jokes and laughter fill the boat until the whizz of the fishing line and pulling of the boat catch attention. Someone grabs the rod and starts reeling it in until you can just see the outline of the huge fish below the water. It whips it’s massive body around and just like that it’s off the line and swimming back down into the depths of the river. The sturgeon made off with the bait, but there are plenty more holes to fish downriver.
The day heats up quickly and the cool river water feels extremely refreshing while swimming, splashing and kayaking. The guides row the rafts to shore and lead a hike to pictographs painted by people thousands of years ago and remains of old homesteads from the early 1900’s. Back at the riverside beach, lunch is waiting: freshly baked croissants, chicken salad, homemade asian noodle salad, warm gooey cookies, chips and cold drinks. Everyone parks themselves in the shade to eat.
After lunch the rafting, swimming, kayaking, and fishing continues until the familiar blue raft at shore is visible, signaling you’ve arrived at camp. Now there’s plenty of time to relax: swim, bathe, read a book, take a nap, fish, play beach games or just pull up a chair with your toes in the sand. Next thing you know, there’s warm baked brie with grapes beside you and an offer for tonight’s specialty cocktail: fresh margaritas. Dinner is served a little while later: pineapple BBQ chicken with grilled pineapple, peppers and onions, coconut rice, salad, and hot freshly baked cornbread. Everyone enjoys dinner family style in the riverside dining room sharing stories and laughs from their day. A warm chocolate cake appears out of a Dutch Oven served with berries and whipped cream.
The day feels full and long, and bed is enticing. The Idaho sky above is crystal clear and chock full of thousands of stars.
The view is just too good to miss, so the sleeping pad gets pulled out of the tent, and you cozy up in your sleeping bag, trying to keep your eyes open to look at the stars as long as possible, knowing tomorrow will be another great day rafting on the Snake River.
America’s Rafting Company offers 3, 4 & 5 Day Whitewater Rafting Trips in Hells Canyon from May through September. To learn more, check out the Hells Canyon Rafting Trip details here or give us a call at (208)347-3862.