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:
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.
8 Reasons To Go Overnight Whitewater Rafting
1) Get away from it all.
No bosses calling, emails buzzing, or morning alarms. There’s no cell service on the Snake River and Salmon River and that means it’s a great time to decompress and take a break from modern life. Wake with the sun, sleep with the stars, and raft when it’s nice and hot.
2) Bond with your friends, kids, brother, mother…
Jump into a whitewater rafting adventure and I promise you, you’ll bond with your trip-mates. Saving your buddy from slipping out of a raft in a rapid, helping your child catch a fish, or inflatable kayaking with your sibling will create a stronger bond than a city experience ever could. Memories that are talked about for a lifetime are made on rafting trips.
Our Salmon River Whitewater Rafting Trips are perfect for big families, big groups, and smaller kids who’ll love the big sandy beaches. Our Hells Canyon Rafting Trips are great for anyone who wants to get out there and explore the deepest canyon in North America.
3) It’s a good bang for your buck
The price tag of an overnight whitewater rafting trip can look steep, but these are all-inclusive vacations: 3 Day, 4 Day or 5 Day Hells Canyon rafting trips where we take care of it all. There are no extra expenses or hidden fees of a standard vacation (and it’s nearly impossible to spend money while in the deepest canyon in North America). They are full days of entertainment with guides to show you the best spots around, 3 scrumptious home cooked meals a day (plus appetizers, desserts and snacks), happy hours, games, fishing, hiking, and much much more.
4) Take a big breath of fresh air
Nothing beats that fresh mountain air.
5) Feel like a kid again
When was the last time you went on an adventure? Tried something new? Held a water gun? Or laughed so hard you cried? Whitewater rafting is an adventure brings out adrenaline.
6) Eat like a king (or queen)
We don’t joke around when it comes to food. Our food is tried, tested and then tried and tested some more. Weare obsessed with putting the best rafting food out on our river tables. We have a catering and restaurant background and we pack that quality right into the rafts. Homemade freshly baked cookies? Check. Fresh baked croissants with chicken salad? Check. Fall off the bone Pineapple BBQ Chicken? Check. Hot breads every night? Check. Homemade desserts like Strawberry Shortcake and Chocolate Cake? Yup. We make meals that don’t weigh you down, but fill you up for the adventure of a lifetime.
7) Happy hour anyone?
Who can say no to an ice cold beverage, cocktail, mock-tail, beer or shirley temple after a hot day on the water? We make a different specialty cocktails every night with appetizers to boot. We highly recommend enjoying these sitting riverside with your toes dipped in the water.
8) Those stars!!!
Deep in the wilderness of Idaho, there’s no light pollution from big cities or even little towns. The sky is vast and dark and filled with thousands and thousands of stars. Staring up at the sky from the depths of Hells Canyon with it’s huge canyon walls, these stars will knock your socks (or Chacos) off. We provide tents, but most end up pulling their cushy sleeping pads out of them and sleeping under the stars. There’s nothing like rolling over in the middle of the night, catching a glimpse of the star-studded sky and trying your hardest to stay awake for just a moment longer to gaze above.
The 2017 whitewater rafting season has finally hit it’s end. Our jam packed summer rolled right into fall and then on into December!
The boats have been scrubbed down, de-sanded, rolled up, and put to bed for the winter. Our repair projects are piled a mile high for a snowy day and even the store is empty and waiting on a fresh coat of paint and a redesign. There are dozens of recipes to test out for next season and we are certainly ready to try them out (white queso, club sandwiches with homemade honey mustard, cookies, cream cheese stuffed bagels…but more on those later).
Thank you to all who made this year so spectacular!