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:
Hello! Hope you all had a great adventure some weekend! Here at ARC headquarters, things are still quite busy, despite the season. Fall is typically our busiest behind the scenes season, as we are busy tying up loose ends from the summer. We get all of our equipment put to bed for a long hibernation into winter and finish up outside projects before the snow flies here in Meadows Valley.
This Idaho Rafting Company was busy this weekend, working on a new boat shop (we are at max capacity in our current boat shop) so a new one is going up! We have had a lot of rain over the past weekend, so we’ve been trying to squeeze in some time outside in between the showers. The boat shop is all flagged and marked, holes will be drilled this week for the poles and progress will continue! The weather forecast is going to be chilly, but dry, so fingers crossed we can make some progress on the shop this week!
We were able to escape the boat shop for a bit and take a drive up the Salmon River to see some fall colors and take a couple little side hikes, the weather was perfect and the drive/hike was just what we needed- we really miss the rivers when we don’t see them for a couple weeks, so it was time to check in and ogle some whitewater! Here are a couple shots from that drive:
Say the word vacation around a group of working adults and they may mumble about how they need a vacation or can’t get a vacation, and then they’ll likely conjure up images of palm trees and sandy beaches, or a trek through Europe, or sipping margaritas in Mexico. Vacation can mean so many different things to different people. It’s not often that vacation conjures up images of brisk whitewater, inflatable kayaks and dutch oven cooking. But, to us those images are the ideal vacation. Just like any vacation, a whitewater rafting vacation can be restorative, adventure some and energizing. It can mean re-kindling a flame, re-connecting with grown children or reminiscing with college buddies.
When asked what a whitewater rafting vacation is like, it’s hard to narrow it down into a couple concise sentences when conversing with a new acquaintance. It’s hard to put into words the meaning of riverside coffee, or sinking your feet into the sand and chatting with your better half, splashing in the water with your children. There are no rules (other than a couple safety topics) there are no bosses or emails or cell phones or traffic jams or anything that may cause stress. There’s just you, your river crew and comrades, the gear and endless opportunities to get to know yourself again, contemplate the meaning of life and just exist in the moment.
Perhaps my most favorite concept on a whitewater rafting trip is the concept of time, or lack there-of. I am often asked what time will we be on the water each day- what time will we eat, etc. While we do keep to a pretty general timeline on the river, there really is no set time, other than river time. We eat when we’re hungry, sleep when you’re tired and drink when you’re thirsty. We move at the speed of the river- there is no rushing the Snake or Salmon River, there is only existing within the confines of the river canyon, and exist we do.
I hope that you’re able to experience the best vacation on the planet with us, a whitewater rafting vacation.
America’s Rafting Company floats the Snake River through Hells Canyon, the Salmon River and the Owyhee River in Oregon. We are often asked what the difference is between Snake river rafting and Salmon river rafting. There are many aspects from each river that can make for a very different experience on the water. The Salmon River Rafting trips that we offer are set up in a similar fashion to our Hells Canyon Snake River trips, so today we’ll point our the major similarities and differences.
Salmon River rafting trips require the same kind of boats that the Snake River does, our inflatable rafts are made by AIRE and they are great quality, they get us down the river in style and class. We love working with AIRE- they are a local Idaho company with great vision and customer service! We have very similar equipment in terms of camping and cooking, and most all of our gear is the same for our Salmon River rafting trips and our Snake River rafting trips, but there are a few very different aspects of the two rivers to point out:
First, the Salmon River rafting is lined with sandy beaches! White, pristine sandy beaches. Whereas the Snake River has more rock/gravel bars. The reason the Salmon is full of sandy beaches is an interesting fact: the Salmon River is the longest running river in North America without any dams. That means all the snow melt and run off carries a lot of dirt and debris, which floats down the river and gets deposited along the river banks. On the Snake River the same concept is happening: the sand is running down into the tribuataries and into the Snake, but the Snake is a dammed river. The sand is instead getting trapped above each of the three dams leading into Hells Canyon. Eventually the sand and silt will become too much of a problem and the reservoirs (Brownlee, Oxbow and Hells Canyon Reservoirs) will need to be dredged to rid them of the sand.
Secondly, the other major difference in the two rivers is the history. The Snake River canyon is lined with homesteads and mines from decades past. The Salmon River was used and inhabited primarily by the Nez Pearce Indians and Chinese miners. There aren’t many old homesteads or cabins along the lower Salmon River. So, if you’re a history buff and interested in seeing old cabins, equipment and homesteads than the Snake River would be a great choice for you!
Thirdly, the Salmon River and the Snake River vary in their directional flows and the way the sun rises. It’s a very peculiar thing, but the Snake River in Hells Canyon actually flows from South to North. The Salmon River primarily flows from East to West. This has a large impact on the summer days. In Hells Canyon, when the sun rises and sets, you have a lot of cover from the canyon walls. Whereas the Salmon River gets sun very early in the day and it sets very late in the day. So, a trip where swimming and sun bathing is a priority- we suggest the Salmon River.
The scenery and terrain in Hells Canyon and in the Salmon River canyon are similar, they run parallel of each other for many miles and are in close proximity to one another.
The whitewater is superb and comprise many of the miles of whitewater that contribute to Idaho being the state with the most whitewater miles in the lower 48. America’s Rafting Company is fortunate enough to get to visit both river canyons on a regular and when asked what our favorite river is- well, you’ll just have to come out and meet us in person to find out!
The count down to the first day of fall is on! September 23rd here we come. Our warehouse is pretty quiet these days at America’s Rafting Company, our trips have slowed down considerably, our guides have gone home and we are looking forward to what fall, winter and spring will bring. We’ll have time to reflect on our 2014 whitewater rafting in Hells Canyon and the Salmon River season. We’ll be able to unfold and recount each trip one by one, sharing it here with information about the fishing, the photos and the best of all the amazing people we met this summer. As I type this post, I can see out the office window, there is cloud cover and it looks like rain may be on the horizon, which leads me to think about the storms that we encountered this summer while whitewater rafting in Hells Canyon.
It seemed that if there was a storm, it was slated to unleash on our launch date, we didn’t have many whitewater rafting in Hells Canyon trip this summer that didn’t put up with a storm of some kind- whether it was rain, wind or just plain hot, we endured all kinds of weather!
What does America’s Rafting Company do to prepare for any and all weather? First we start by listing various layers of clothing on our packing list, it’s important to bring layers when planning a trip in the elements. So, we suggest having everything from a bathing suit, to fleece, to a rain jacket. Most of our trips will only require shirts and shorts during the day and possibly a lightweight long sleeve at night. We do recommenced that a rain jacket be kept out in the day bag so that it is accessible during the day, once in a while we’ll get a thunder storm that can chill you right to the core.
We have a saying that ,”there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear”. So, another item that we pack on all of our trips is our parachute, it’s perfect for keeping out the rain and providing much needed shelter from a blazing summer sun.
Whitewater rafting in Hells Canyon has brought us many different battles with weather, most of our trips this summer experienced just a bit of rain at night, which sent the guides running to get rain flies on tents in the middle of the night (we don’t typically set the tents up with the rain flies on, as they can get quite warm and block the view of the gorgeous night sky) But, we have had trips that were down right wet and cold, this summer we launched a 4-day whitewater rafting in Hells Canyon trip, the forecast had been clear for the trip for weeks, then right before the guests arrived, the weather took a turn for the worst. Rain and wind were predicted for all 4 days of trip, the day they got off the water- sunshine and summer time! Just our luck. The rain came, the thunder and lightning came and the wind picked up, the parachute was out at each camp, rain flies were attached and rain jackets were sported for the whole trip. The guides and guests were troopers- they didn’t seem to mind one bit, they understood that Mother Nature has her own agenda and all we could do was get our gear out and brave it!
The other extreme weather we encounter more than rain or lightning is the extreme heat- there are some whitewater rafting in Hells Canyon trips as well as the Salmon River rafting trips that the temperatures will reach 110+! We prepare for the sun just like we do the rain, we encourage lots and lots of water during the day, the sun zaps the moisture right out of your body when it’s that hot. We always have sunscreen at the ready and promote it’s use each and every day, the parachute also comes out to play- offering some much needed shade during the peak hours of the day. When we’re on the water, most people are in the river more than in the rafts- we get plenty of swimming, jumping into the cool clear river is most refreshing on a hot summer day. The great thing about being on the river: there is not a shortage of water, whether it’s icy cold in a water bottle and cool and clear to swim in, a whitewater rafting trip is the perfect place to be when temperatures soar!
Most of the time, Idaho’s summers bring us gorgeous blue skies and warm temperatures during the day and clear night skies for all the stargazing you can muster at night.Once in a while, we’ll get some adverse weather. America’s Rafting Company prepares for all of it and will ensure that the proper gear is packed and at the ready, no matter what Mama Nature has in mind!
Wait a second, it’s July 29th?!? I can’t believe how quickly summer is flying by! They say that time flies when you’re having fun and it can’t be more true during the summer. I wish we were at the start of June again, just creeping into our whitewater trips, but sadly our launch dates are flying by so quickly, I can hardly keep up! I’ve been terrible about blogging and facebooking out Idaho Whitewater Rafting, but I will definitely have a lot to write about this fall once things finely go back to a normal pace.
We’ve had a great season so far: lots of big trips, lots of big whitewater and lots of big adventure! We’ve been in and out of the Snake River Canyon 6 times this summer and visited the Salmon River Canyon 4 times! We still have quite a few more trips up our sleeve for the summer and even into the fall. By October 1st, we’ll have our boats rolled up and put to bed after out Idaho Whitewater Rafting season. I won’t drag on and on about our trips, instead, I will just share some of my favorite photos so far of Idaho Whitewater Rafting:
We’ve got a 6-day Hells Canyon trip out on the water right now, Parker and I are going to sneak in to join them- they’re having too much fun without us and we can’t stand it. Once we get back, we will welcome August with open arms, it will be a great month!
Phew! The first day of summer has come and gone and we are well into our 2014 Rafting Season! It’s been great fun so far, I wanted to expand on a question that we get a lot, so I’ve titled this post “White Water Rafting for Kids”. One of the most common questions we get when planning for a trip is about children and white water: What age is appropriate? What class of rapids are ok for little ones? Which river is better for a child?
Well, in this post I will answer all of those questions for you! First and foremost “What age is appropriate?” We are licensed by many state and federal agencies, including the USFS and BLM. While there are many guidelines to follow on licensing and boating requirement set forth by those agencies, there is no set age limit for our trips, that is to be determined by the individual outfitter. It seems that industry standard sets the starting age at around 7 years old. That is the guideline that we have chosen to follow as well, although we always give parents the option and ultimately you just need to know your child to make that decision. We have taken children rafting that are younger than 7 and they’ve done amazing, we’ve also taken kids that are older than 7 and the didn’t do so well, they weren’t comfortable with being in the boat, on the water for a full day. So, first we ask if the child knows how to swim and if they are a thrill seeker kind of kiddo. If so, then they are probably going to be great at white water rafting for kids! If they are not comfortable with the water and don’t like amusement park rides, going fast or getting wet, then white water rafting may be something to hold off on and wait until they are a bit older.
The second question we get a lot is about the Class of rapids that are appropriate for children. The main rivers that we run (Salmon River and the Snake River through Hells Canyon) both boast Class III and IV rapids. They are great choices for children. In Hells Canyon there are two large Class IV rapids that parents may choose whether or not their children go down the rapids, as there are nice trails on the river bank to walk down are around the rapid. On the Salmon River, we don’t have the option of walking to avoid the rapids, but if visiting the Salmon River in August, the rapids are more tame than in late June-July when the water is still rather high. So, when planning a white water rafting for kids vacation, give us a call and we can talk about the best time of year to see each river.
The same goes for choosing a river that works better for your child, it really just depends on the time of year you are wanting to plan your white water rafting trip for kids. If you are wanting to do an June or July trip, it may be better to choose a Hells Canyon date, if you’re looking at an August date, choosing to visit the Salmon River may be the key. So, give us a call and we can weigh the options for each choice with you to be sure that your white water rafting trip for kids is an adventure you will never forget!
The time has come, high water is here and we’re packing for trips!!! Our 2014 Rafting in Idaho season is officially here and we couldn’t be more excited! We can’t wait to get things underway and enjoy the brilliance that is Rafting in Idaho! We’ve had some great seasons in the past, but think that our 2014 season will be the best yet!!
Rafting in Idaho can mean different things to different people, for us, it means making a living doing the most enjoyable thing on the planet: whitewater rafting!!! We are fortunate souls in that we can call rafting work! To others, rafting in Idaho may mean camping under the stars, blasting though big whitewater, spending time with loved ones on the river, reeling in a big sturgeon or simply floating down a lazy river. Whatever it means to you and however you spend your time on the water, no time is wasted when talking about, dreaming about or actually rafting in Idaho!
This season so far has brought us some Steelhead fishing trips, a couple Salmon fishing trips, an Owyhee River rafting trip. It’s been great and getting better. The Salmon River is raging right now, so far it’s peaked at 67,000 cfs and today it’s running at 46,300 cfs. CFS stands for cubic feet per second. If you were to string a line across the river, 46,300 cubic feet of water are passing that line every second! That’s huge!! That’s a lot of water! In high water season like were are experiencing right now, we see very brown water, often referred to as chocolate. There is also a lot of debris in the water- sticks, mud, etc. All the trees that fell during winter get swept down the mountain during snow melt and fall into the river, then as the river lowers some sticks are left on the river banks and some go all the way out to the ocean, or get stopped by the next dam. Those sticks in the water can be un-safe for rafts and other boats, so if we do float the river during high water we use extreme caution.
Our trips are right around the corner, the warehouse is getting packed and we are counting down the days until we are on the river more than we are off. Many fun posts are to come about our trips, our menus, our guides and our 2014 rafting in Idaho season!
Phew, summer is just around the corner, almost time for some river rafting Idaho! We are down the days until we are on the water again! We’ve kept busy at river camp (our warehouse) in order to pass the time. It seemed as if we were in the dead of winter and summer was so far away, we didn’t need to hurry to catch up on anything, we had plenty of time to work on gear, get new ordered and finish up a couple of home improvement projects. Then one morning we woke up and Spring had quickly faded to the end of May and here we are, it’s Memorial Day Weekend and we are headed out to see Hells Canyon in the morning! Woohoo!
So, in order to prepare for our 2014 river rafting Idaho season, we had to make some big purchases this year. First and probably most exciting, we purchased some new AIRE boats! Parker was able to stop by the factory in Meridian and watch part of the production. It was an exciting day for America’s Rafting Company, knowing that a whole bunch of rubber was on it’s way to becoming so pretty-darn-good-looking boats! We even had AIRE place our website on the boats, that way everyone on the river will be able to read our web address and they’ll surely want to do a trip with hellscanyon.com next year!
A second purchase we made was our BRAND NEW VAN (imagine that in a Bob Barker, Price is Right) voice. Ok, so it’s not brand new, it’s only new to us, which is basically the same thing, right? In the past, we have hired shuttle companies and/or shuttled guest’s vehicles around to the take out. Which is costly and inconvenient, so Parker spent the better part of the winter on Craigslist (that man can find some deals on Craigslist!) and finally landed on a Ford Van with a brand new motor, it’s in great shape and has very low miles, it was perfect! We headed down to Boise on a rainy afternoon and picked the beauty up. I have written about some of our adventures in the van, but not actually the purchase of the van. So, this season, we’ll be able to pick up our guests at the hotel the morning of the trip and head down the road, all excited and rearing to go river rafting Idaho! Woohoo! (this post is filled with a lot of woohoo’s)
We have gotten some more new gear, which I will share about next week, right now, I am off to finish up some last minute touches on the river kitchen in the guide house. Then pack for a quick Hells Canyon trip tomorrow. River Rafting Idaho is the best!
Happy Memorial Day Weekend!
See you on the river…
Last week, I posted about our visit to the Clearwater, Lochsa and Selway, so in this week’s post, I just wanted to finish that up and talk about a couple more things. Whitewater rafting in Idaho is definitely a must for us (especially since we do it everyday) but, we truly love every aspect of it and especially love exploring new rivers. Seeing those three rivers and getting to know more about them, has definitely gotten our wheels spinning. We are so excited to get back up there and spend some time whitewater rafting in Idaho!
While we were on our road trip, visiting some great areas of whitewater rafting in Idaho, we stopped by the hatchery. It was a great time of year to be there, they had just released some chinook salmon into the creek near the hatchery and had some more fish in the tanks that they would release this fall. It was great to see where they came from, how many fish they were releasing and what a great quality facility they have! In the picture of the tank below, the little black spots are salmon, the tanks were huge and there were about 40 of them all filled up like that one with little salmon!
The other thing we learned, while we were checking out other areas for whitewater rafting in Idaho, was about the great trail system along the Selway! The Selway River is one of the most pristine in the country! In terms of rafting, the USFS only allows 1 permit to launch per day, compare that to the 4 permits per day on the Snake River and 7 permits per day on the Middle Fork! The chances of a river trip coming across another river trip are very slim! The chances of drawing a permit to float the Selway are even more slim. But, backpacking along the well developed trail doesn’t take a permit, so it’s a great way to see the river, although some may consider it a lot less exciting. Here’s a photo of the trail system along the Selway River:
Whitewater rafting in Idaho is never a bad choice, no matter which area you choose! Come see America’s Rafting Company to get into the back country and visit Idaho’s premier river canyons!
See you on the river…
Idaho has more whitewater river miles than anywhere in the lower 48. Perhaps that’s why white water rafting in Idaho is an item on many people’s bucket list. Here at America’s Rafting Company, we are fortunate enough to run a couple of the major rivers in Idaho: the Snake River through Hells Canyon and the Salmon River. We, of course also run the Owyhee River and backpack in the Seven Devils, but most of our river miles are on the Snake and the Salmon. Just like many of you, we have a bucket list too! On our bucket list is comprised of traveling abroad, acquiring other river permits, visiting Alaska as often as possible and most recently: whitewater rafting the upper Selway River. We had never visited the Bitterroot Mountains, but have been dying to make a trip up there. It’s only about 2 1/2 hours away from base camp, so I’m not sure why we’ve put it off for so long (well, in our defense, we have been staying pretty busy white water rafting in Idaho) I can now say that seeing the Bitteroots and all that they hold, was well worth the wait. So, we hopped in the new van with our pooch and some sleeping bags and hit the open road. The weather was supposed to be great, a little rain here and there, but sunny otherwise and we had a couple days to spare. Maybe it was the final stretch of cabin fever that made us look for a getaway. Whatever the reason, I am thrilled we went! We had so much fun and can’t wait to go back! We headed north on 95, through Riggins, Whitebird and eventually turned in Grangeville and traveled towards the Clearwater River.
Without any true plan or itinerary, we were free to do what we wanted at our own pace. We spent some time exploring the Clearwater and watching people fish, it was a little rainy that afternoon, so we decided to keep on trekking in the van, out of the rain. After following the Clearwater for quite some time, we came to the confluence of all three rivers: the South Fork of the Clearwater, the Lochsa and the Selway, the rivers are merged into a migty force and become the Clearwater River. The confluence was quite amazing! After spending some time exploring there a bit, we decided to head up the Selway River to Selway Falls…. I will finish this post next week and talk about the trails, the Falls, the Steelhead and the magic of it all!