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River Blog

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:


Rafting Shoes: the good, the bad, the flip flops

Posted by on 8:58 pm in Americas Rafting Vacations | 0 comments

Rafting Shoes: the good, the bad, the flip flops

So you’re going whitewater rafting. The packing list says to wear sandals with a heel strap. What exactly does that mean?

Here’s our recommendations for our favorites, shoes that will work, and shoes that should be banned from wearing on rafts.

The BEST Rafting Shoes

If you’re looking to buy a new (or used) pair of water shoes, these babies are our favorites.


These are the guide favorite of river shoes. They are super comfortable and versatile for going from rafting to light hiking. Just be sure to wear them a few times before your river trip. They can take a little getting used to but all the straps are adjustable so pop them on and start getting that classic river foot tan.


These classics are still just that, classic. They’re great when you don’t want the toe strap that Chacos have, but they are a little less sturdy.

River sneakers are great. They are the best of sneakers but are quick draining and drying. You can also accidentally kick rocks without bleeding. (Always a plus.) These are perfect if you’re looking for a versatile shoe that you can wear on the river trip and then wear on the ride home.


Keens are great river shoes too. They also provide great protection for kicking rocks (if you haven’t yet been on a river trip, you’ll soon understand it’s easy to kick rocks). The leather variety is slow drying and I would not recommend them if you’re purchasing new. If you already have the leather, they still work!

The OK-est Rafting Shoes

Did you dig through your garage and find a pair of water shoes that may work? These shoes will absolutely get you through a rafting trip without floating down the river without you.

Water Shoes can be great, or they can break or rub your feet. If they’re high quality or shoes that you’ve worn a bunch and love, great! They will work.

If they are new to you or look cheaply made, proceed with caution. Keep in mind that you’ll be living in these shoes during the day when they’ll be almost always wet. You’ll also be getting in and out of the boat onto rocks, into sand and probably hiking around. If there’s a chance of them breaking or being uncomfortable I’d recommend packing another pair of water shoes or old tennis shoes (see below) as a backup.

Water Shoes that are more like water socks are not recommended.

The Rafting Shoes that Work in a Pinch

These are the bare bone of usable shoes. They each come with their own perils but do work and are approved for a rafting trip.

Old Tennis Shoes

Only have old tennis shoes lying around? Don’t mind your feet being wet all day? Then tennis shoes will work for you! They will get dirty from being in the river and sand for days, so be sure that they are an old pair and bring another pair of shoes to wear as camp shoes.

Fancy Strapy Sandals

Strapy sandals are iffy. If they’re an outdoor brand and have a heel strap they are ok to use. Keep in mind that they will be wet, and you will be walking around in them. Leather sandals will also get larger when soaked in water all day.

After the river trip these shoes will be a little dingy and stretched out so beware and bring old sandals.

The Blacklist of Rafting Shoes

Nope. Never. No way. These kind of shoes will float right off your feet and get lost before the trip is even over.

Flip flops

Flip flops are notorious for falling off feet, and floating away down the river. It’s not only sad to lose a pair of shoes but it’s also littering. Please do not wear flip flops on the river. However, flip flops are acceptable shoes to wear in camp at night.

Interested in Idaho whitewater rafting? Americas Rafting Co offers some of the best whitewater rafting vacations in Hells Canyon on the Snake River and on the Lower Salmon River.

10 Fun Facts about Hells Canyon

Posted by on 9:58 am in Americas Rafting Vacations, Hells Canyon Rafting Trips | 0 comments

1. It’s the deepest canyon in North America

True. It’s deeper than the Grand Canyon by almost 2,000 feet. The Snake River lies 7,993 feet below the peaks of the Seven Devils Mountains on the Idaho side and the Blue Mountains on the Oregon side

2. The Snake River runs north through Hells Canyon

It seems weird that a river runs north but it actually happens all the time. The Nile, Red River and Florida’s St. John’s River all flow northeast to name a few.

3. It’s on the border between Idaho and Oregon

In fact, the Snake River make-up over half the border between the two states.

4. Hells Canyon got its name from the earliest white explorers.

Many tried to tame the Snake River with boats and ferry, but hardly any were successful. The name “Hells Canyon” first appears in a book from 1895 and it’s been known at such ever since. If you’ve ever seen its dark canyon walls, the name Hells Canyon should be no surprise.

5. No roads cross Hells Canyon

And only 3 roads reach the Snake River from Hells Canyon Dam to the Oregon and Washington border. It makes for quiet and peaceful Hells Canyon rafting. No cars or trucks in sight or earshot.

6. The Snake River’s headwaters start near Yellowstone National Park

And it travels 1,078 miles across southern Idaho, to the Oregon-Idaho border, through Hells Canyon, combines with the Salmon River, and finally converges with the Columbia River in Washington.

7. Hells Canyon is 10 miles wide as it’s widest point

And on average about 5,500 feet deep.

8. The Snake River has carved out Hells Canyon for more than 6 million years.

The river’s now flowing 7,993 feet below the mountain tops of the Blue Mountains in Oregon and Seven Devils Mountain in Idaho.

9. The protected area around Hells Canyon called The Hells Canyon National Recreation Area

And has nearly 900 miles of hiking trails, some right along the Snake River.

10. There are remnants of people living in the canyon 7,100 years ago, but it’s possible that human lived there 15,000 years ago.

Petroglyphs, arrow heads, and pit houses are just some of the remnants still found in Hells Canyon.

3 people pose under red pictographs of and eye shape and a rake shape in hells canyon on a snake river rafting trip

Interested in seeing Hells Canyon for yourself? A Hells Canyon Rafting Trip is the perfect way to see the canyon. Check out here for more information.

The Essential Lower Salmon River Rafting Reading List

Posted by on 9:37 am in Americas Rafting Vacations | 0 comments

Interested in learning more about Lower Salmon River rafting? Here are some great books with information spanning geology, stories, to the beginning of rafting the Lower Salmon River.

Tents are spread out on a sandy beach on the banks of the Salmon River, waiting fro the rafting trip to arrive

River of No Return |  Cort Conley and John Carrey

A great book with mile by mile history and stories of all of the Salmon River.

Indian Creek Chronicles | Pete Fromm

A great story about a modern day mountain man spending seven grueling winters months in a tent in Idaho.

River Tales of Idaho | Darcy Williams

A variety of short stories about Idaho’s rivers.Native American tales through the homesteading years of the 19th century to modern stories.

Roadside Geology of Idaho | David Alt and Donald Hyndman

Dive deep into Idaho’s vast geology. Learn about ow Idaho was formed or follow the book while on an Idaho road trip to check out the geology mile by mile.

Myths of Idaho Indians | Deward Walker Jr.

A readable and enjoyable book covering the best-known myths about Indians in Idaho.

Interested in learning about the Salmon River or Snake River first hand? Check out out Salmon River Rafting Trips and Hells Canyon Rafting Trips for more information.

Best time to raft Hells Canyon?

Posted by on 9:53 am in Americas Rafting Vacations | 0 comments

Hells Canyon rafting is some the best in the US: secluded, serene, and an absolute blast of an overnight rafting trip. We often get asked when’s the best time to raft Hells Canyon. Every season is different in the canyon with its own pros and cons.

Spring Hells Canyon Rafting


  • BIG. WATER. Hells Canyon is a dam released section of the Snake but the spring runoff is still the largest water of the year. The high water make the bigger rapids huge while washing out some of the Class II and III’s.
  • Green, green, green! Hells Canyon looks like Ireland in the spring. The hills and walls of the canyon are various shades of beautiful green.
  • Waterfalls everywhere: every side creek is running and there are many surprise waterfalls to see are you’re floating down the river
  • The Snake River is pretty warm for the time of year. Hell Canyon’s water is held back by many dams causing the water to warm in the reservoirs. HellsCanyon Dam is also a top fed dam, meaning that it pulls water from the warmer top of Hells Canyon reservoir instead the cooler bottom. The side creeks all rush with ice cold water from the mountains adjacent but the river still stay relatively warm.
  • Animals are out and about. The bottom of the canyon is much warmer than any area in the surrounding mountains, so in the spring the animal come down to the river. Black bears, bighorn sheep, mountain goats and deer are some of the big game to keep an eye out for.


  • Rain. Spring is the rainy season. You might luck out and get some sunny days, but definitely bring your rain gear.
  • It’s a little chilly. With highs in the 60’s and lows possibly getting down to the 40’s, its super important to bring the right kind of gear to keep the trip enjoyable and fun.
  • Small camps. With the water high, the camps get small. You can plan around this and look for larger camps but sometimes there aren’t any eddy’s to park in.
  • Not good for fishing. The big water blows out the fishing.

Summer Hells Canyon Rafting


  • The weather is hot and the sun is shining. Summer hits and the rain stops. It’s gloriously sunny and makes you want to get splashed, have water fights, and swim. It’s a great summer vacation.
  • The stars are incredible. With the skies crystal clear, the star gazing is amazing. The milky way stares down at you through the dark canyon walls, and every now and again a shooting star or satellite streaks across the sky.
  • The whitewater is fun and rollercoaster-y. The water level mellows out in the summer and creates fun wave trains. Some waves are still boat-sized, but all the rapids start to pack a punch instead of just the Class IV’s.
  • Wild fruit blooms. Hells Canyon is full of wild fruit planted from old inhabitants and spread by animals: cherries, mulberries, plums, apricots, raspberries, dates, apples, and more. Because Hells Canyon is a warmer climate than its surroundings, look for fruit that in civilization has already been in season for at least a few weeks.
  • Great fishing. Trout, smallmouth bass, sturgeon and catfish fill the river and because Hells Canyon is so remote, there are plenty of fish to catch even for the most inexperienced fisherman.
  • It’s quiet in the canyon. Hells Canyon is strictly regulated for both rafting and jet boating, so you’ll only see a few other groups on the river throughout the whole multiway trip.


  • Smoke. Forest fires are a fact in the West and occasionally smoke gets blown into Hells Canyon. It’s hard to predict when the canyon will be smokey because it could be from fires as far away as Washington or even Canada.
  • The heat. It can get too hot in Hells Canyon. Temperatures over 100 are common but it usually cools off at night for a great sleep. Hikes in the cool mornings are recommended as is a lot of swimming and drinking water.

Fall Hells Canyon Rafting


  • The weather is beautiful. Hells Canyon cools off just a bit to around the 80’s. Warm fall days on the warm Snake River are great.
  • The rapids are still great. As the water lowers, the Class IV’s get smaller but the Class III’s get bigger and sportier. The only exception in the Class IV called Waterspout which pretty much just keeps getting bigger as the water goes down. Keep an eye on the rapids at lower water. They can be surprising.
  • Chukar hunting. A chukar is an upland game bird that looks like a partridge or small chicken. The hunting season opens in September or October and Hells Canyon makes for great hunting grounds.


  • It’s dry. Like dry dry. There usually isn’t much rain throughout the summer, so by the time fall comes along the canyon is brown and dry. Occasionally there is a fire warning or ban, so just be cautious.
  • Chance of rain and cooler weather. Fall is a hard time to predict the weather in Hells Canyon, so bring clothing for everything.

Winter Hells Canyon Rafting


  • Steelhead fishing. You can steelhead fish Hells Canyon October through March. Unfortunately, the steelhead runs haven’t been great in the past years so do some research before you head out.
  • It’s quiet. Hells Canyon is usually quiet but it gets even more so in the winter. Besides the occasional jet boater you’ll have the canyon to yourself.
  • Chukar hunting season is usually open until the end of January.


  • It’s cold. It hardly ever snows in the canyon but be prepared for cold weather.
  • It’s slow. The water is running low in the winter, so be prepared for a slower ride.

Want to experience Hells Canyon rafting yourself? Check out more information on overnight rafting trips here or give us a call at 208-347-3862 to chat about the best time to go!

5 Things You Kids Will Learn on a Hells Canyon Rafting Trip

Posted by on 10:53 am in Americas Rafting Vacations, Hells Canyon Rafting Trips, Rafting | 0 comments

1. How to live without electronics

Sturgeon Fishing | 208-347-3862 | Americas Rafting Company | Idaho | Oregon | Hells Canyon

Everybody probably spends a little too much time looking at screens. Rafting trips provide the best break from all that technology. Unplugging and going into the wilderness with family and friends can really show anyone how much technology in involved in their day to day life whether positively or negatively.

2. History (without calling it history)

Hells Canyon is full of history from Native Americans to the homesteaders of the 18th and 19th centuries to more modern dam building. Guides tell stories all day about the history related to what part of the river they’re on. Kids learn history without even realizing it.

3. Confidence

Hells Canyon Rafting Trips are filled with new experiences even for the most outdoorsy kids. Whether its learning how to catch fish, paddle a kayak, hike a steep path to a vista, swim against the current, row a boat, or even just getting comfortable on a boat, there’s a hundred different ways for kids to grow, learn and get more confident in their abilities!

4. Astronomy

The stars in Hells Canyon are like no where else. On clear nights satellites run through the sky, shooting stars whiz here and there, and sometimes the International Space Station makes an appearance. Guides love to point out planets, the milky way and constellations while kids (and adults) eat it up.

5. Geology


From deep lava rock, to shells from an ancient sea floor, to the possibility of finding gems in rocks, Hells Canyon has a ton of interactive geology that kids love.

Want to get your kids on a memory making Hells Canyon Rafting Trip? Learn more about Hells Canyon rafting here.

The Essential Hells Canyon Rafting Reading List

Posted by on 10:45 am in Americas Rafting Vacations | 0 comments

Interested in learning more about Hells Canyon? Here are some great books with information spanning geology, stories, to the beginning of Hells Canyon rafting.

2 rafts in Hells canyon on a 3 day whitewater rafting trip

Home Below Hells Canyon | By Grace Jordan 

This easy read is a great book about the Jordan family living and sheep herding in Hells Canyon during the Great Depression.

Snake River of Hells Canyon |  Johnny Carrey, Cort Conley, and Ace Barton

This is the bible of Hells Canyon. Detailed stories of Hells Canyon’s full history. Read along with the river flow for mile by mile of almost forgotten history.

River Tales of Idaho | Darcy Williams

A variety of short stories about Idaho’s rivers.Native American tales through the homesteading years of the 19th century to modern stories.

Roadside Geology of Idaho | David Alt and Donald Hyndman

Dive deep into Idaho’s vast geology. Learn about ow Idaho was formed or follow the book while on an Idaho road trip to check out the geology mile by mile.

Island and Rapids: The Geologic Story of Hells Canyon | Trace Vallier

More in depth geology about how Hells Canyon was formed and shaped until it looks like it does today.

Hells Canyon has so much history and stories of courageous people who tried to tame it. We recommend reading these books then jumping on a Hells Canyon Rafting Trip to experience the full history: pictographs, homestead remains and the remnants of Hells Canyon’s incredible past.

How to Avoid a Sunburn on a River Trip

Posted by on 10:38 am in Americas Rafting Vacations, Hells Canyon Rafting Trips | 0 comments

Listen, I’m not trying to sounds like your mom, but seriously, a sunburn can be a rafting trip ruiner. There’s no indoors to sneak off to, no stores with tubs of aloe, and there’s way too much fun to be had to be red and in pain. Here are some tips to avoid the dreaded rafting burn.

Depending on your skin type, use your best judgment to follow all of these tips or a mix and match version that works best for you.

Use Sunscreen

Groundbreaking I know, but sunscreen really lives up to its name. Apply at least once if not twice a day, and get a friend to help apply if you choose to go shirtless under a PFD (Personal Flotation Device – also known as a lifejacket). There’s something about PFD’s that encourage painful lower back burns and splotchy shoulder patches.

Use eco-friendly sunscreen when you can

When whitewater rafting the Snake River or Salmon River, all sunscreens put on the body will eventually be splashed off, swam off, or sweated off into the rivers. These rivers converge and then head across Washington directly into the ocean. Eco-friendly sunscreens are better for your skin, the environment, and for future river trips so use ’em when you can!

Spray sunscreens can also be bad by getting most of the ‘screen into the environment and your lungs instead of on your body (not to mention some splotchy application jobs). Use them if it’s the only thing you got, but we recommend the good old rub kind.

Sunglasses are a must

It’s bright on a Hells Canyon Rafting Trip. Even though those canyon walls are tall, the sun still shines down for most of the day. Sunglasses with a strap like Chums or Croakies will do the trick.

Hats work magic

Whether it’s a baseball cap, traditional sunhat, or even a sombrero, hats can save your face, ears and neck from a surprising burn. Put one on your noggin in the morning and there’s no thought for reapplication. Hats do find their way into the river by wind, rapids, or swimming, so be sure to have a string that goes around your chin, or a hat that you don’t mind losing.

Sun shirts are a dream

If you’re really prone to sunburns or just want a break from sunscreen, SPF sun shirts are the way to go. They keep a good part of your body easily out of the sun and do a surprisingly good job at keeping you cool. The SPF material stays cool against the body when wet. When it dries out, a quick arm dunk into the river gets you back to feeling cool.

Shade is your friend

The sun is the strongest between 10 to 4 which is pretty much prime time for white water rafting, so hit the shade when you can. Lunch is a great time to find a shady spot and take a break from the sun. In the afternoons, camps will always have a shady spot from the canyon walls, trees, or a shade tent.

Interested in jumping onto a Hells Canyon rafting adventure? Click here for more information on the best overnight rafting trips.

7 Tips to Have the BEST Overnight Rafting Trip

Posted by on 6:27 pm in About us, Americas Rafting Vacations, Hells Canyon Rafting Trips, Rafting | 0 comments

1. Drink water. More…more…no more.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. You hear this all the time, but there is seriously no better way to keep smiles on faces and energy high than a group of hydrated rafters.

It pretty much boils down to this: playing outside takes a lot out of you, especially while on a Hells Canyon Rafting Trip. Being outside in the sunny wilderness for days with a drying Idaho breeze sucks a lot of moisture from anyone, not to mention getting sweaty from kayaking, hiking, or even sun bathing.

Drinking between a half gallon and a gallon of water for an adult will keep you happy, hydrated, and ready for any fun that’s coming your way. A little gatorade, sparkling water, or soda never hurt anyone either.

2. Bring plenty of clothing

A whitewater rafting trip is unpredictable. A rain storm can move in from no where. Your favorite bathing suit can start chaffing. Your shorts can split from jumping a little too hard off the boat. Bringing plenty of clothing makes sure that’ll you’ll be ready for any weather, comfortable all day, and a happy camper. At least half of this clothing will probably go unworn, but it’s there if you need it or need to lend out to someone who wasn’t such a great packer.

3. Pack that clothing in a bag within your dry bag

You know all that clothing you just packed? The last thing you’ll want to be doing is searching and searching through everything for the right item in your dry bag. Packing in smaller bags inside your dry bag solves this problem. A small duffle bag, a sleeping bag’s stuff sack/bag, or even a pillow case are perfect.

Organize your things into these smaller bags. Cold weather gear is often not used, but can be put into a small bag and stuffed into the bottom of the dry bag while the things you use more can stay on top. Then on the river you’ll be able to find things quickly without having to empty the whole dry bag into the sand.

4. Use sunscreen

A guide points to a big rapid in Hells Canyon while a group listens

A sunburn can be a vacation ruiner, especially when escaping indoors is not an option. Lather up folks.

5. Pack a set of shoes just for camp

Most people don’t wear their river shoes that often, or sometimes even at all before an overnight river trip. After having wet feet all day (and possibly irritation from the new shoes), a set of comfy camp shoes can feel luxurious. Tennis shoes, slip ons, or even flip flops work great. Just be sure that the footwear works for varied terrain: slippery rocks, sand, and grass.

6. Say yes.

a kayaker all in blue except for her white sunglasses, paddles through some whitewater on a 3 day hells canyon rafting trip

Yes to hiking.

Yes to inflatable kayaking.

Yes to swimming.

Yes to playing camp games.

Make the most out of your trip. You don’t have to kayak the craziest rapids, but jump in one with your favorite person and cruise the flat water sections of the river. Saying yes to everything will absolutely produce the most memorable rafting vacation possible.

7. Take a look around.

Vacations can go fast. Take a moment to pause, take a breath, and take in your surroundings. Whether it’s seeing your kids finally getting along, staying up just a little later to stare at the stars, or scanning the shoreline for the movement of an animal, whitewater rafting trips provide the perfect non-technology filled time to unwind in the wilderness, so soak it in.

Looking to have the best Hells Canyon Rafting Trip? Check out more information here.

How to Pack a Cooler Like a Pro

Posted by on 12:09 am in Americas Rafting Vacations, Equipment, River Food | 0 comments

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

Posted by on 10:47 am in Americas Rafting Vacations, Hells Canyon Rafting Trips, Rafting | 0 comments

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:


Hells Canyon Weather & Flows

American Whitewater Information | Hells Canyon Rafting

Hells Canyon Dam Current and Projected Flows