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:
On of our favorite and most unique adventure trips happened last September. It was a trip that we had been looking forward to all season and it was one of the last of the season- a great note to end on! The adventure trips that I’m talking about was #HellHikeandRaft. It was a trip that I detailed over the course of 2 blog posts (click here and here for those). The trip was also documented by some very epic adventurers who we are proud to now call friends and Alumni! During last year’s trip, Adam, Scott and Parker put their heads together and it was decided that there would be another #HellHikeandRaft. From this awesome pilgrimage through the back country of Idaho, grew another idea that came to surface in the name of Epic Social Adventures. The guys behind Epic Social Adventures (Scott and Adam) were on that first of many adventure trips to come! We are excited to be on this journey with them and look forward to seeing where it will go from here.
Back to #HellHikeandRaft 2015- the plan is definitely on course. We have dates picked out, they’re sandwiched in between other adventure trips that will comprise the best month for backpacking and rafting in Idaho: August! Announcements of new and incoming adventurers are being made and we couldn’t be more excited to meet each person and take them deep into the back country. There is no better way to become close friends in such a short amount of time than a trip into the wilderness, and this adventure trips is sure to make social media friends into real life confidants. It’s pretty neat what happens in the wilderness- inside jokes are made, countless laughs shared, cheers recited and all the while adventure looms around each corner. Our adventure trips are a magical way to spend 6 days, this crew has no idea what they’re in for and we wouldn’t want it any other way.
Now, come on August, let’s get these adventure trips underway.
Be sure to follow along on our facebook page to see the crew announcements!
Take me to the river…
Idaho whitewater most likely conjures up images of rafts, rapids, river, canyons, and the great outdoors, right? Wrong. Idaho whitewater is so much more than that! When thinking about Idaho whitewater, you have to think about it as a liquid flowing, constantly changing entity. The behind the scenes of what it takes to get that Idaho whitewater there and how you got there to see it.
In order for Idaho whitewater to become what it is, we need snow! So, this week’s post is all about the snow (not the bass) We rely on our snow packs to fill the rivers of Idaho and provide that much needed whitewater throughout the summer, and year-round. All of the rivers will ideally flow year-round, not just in the Spring and Summer. That means we need A LOT of snow! This past weekend, our hometown celebrated just that- SNOW, and winter in the form of a 10-day (it’s still happening) long Winter Carnival. This year marked 50 years of Winter Carnival for McCall! We attended the opening ceremonies on Saturday- there was a parade, snow-bike race, monster dog-pull, vendor court, and the list goes on! My most favorite part of Winter Carnival is the snow sculptures! Artists come from all around and are commissioned by local businesses to build their most creative sculpture from snow and ice! It’s absolutely astonishing what these guys and gals come up with and how big some of the sculptures turn out! Some of my favorites this year were the 30 foot tall snowman, Olaf and Sven and a little airstream camper! There were over 30 sculptures altogether. We were lucky enough to have some family in town, so we of course took them on tour to show off all the snow and winter we love and adore.
Soon enough, those sculptures will melt and run into the streams and tributaries, then all the snow will melt and become what we know and love: Idaho whitewater! Now get out there and play in the snow!
So, I decided to do an A to Z post, all about rafting in Idaho. It may get a bit quirky and I hope give you a laugh or two, so here goes…
Rafting in Idaho A to Z
A- appetizers- served nightly
B- Babe the Big Blue Gear Boat- she makes it on almost all our trips
C- counting down the days until river season
D- delicious food
E- everyone will enjoy
G- gear, a lot of gear
H- hot weather- makes that river feel oh so nice!
I- rafting in IDAHO- more whitewater miles than any other state in the lower 48
J- jump in the boat, or into the water
K- kayak, inflatable or hard-shell, they’re all perfect for the Salmon River
L- liberating, jumping off sturgeon rock is liberating
M- marshmallows, roasted around the campfire
N- no shoes, no shirt, no problems!
O- oars to get us down the river
P- paddle, paddle, paddle
Q- quick, the trip goes too quick
R- river, of course
S- sturgeon, some of the biggest fresh water fish are caught in Hells Canyon
T- tents! or not, your choice
U- universal fit life jackets
V- views, some of the best views on the planet!
Y-you, the trip wouldn’t be any fund without YOU!
Z- z shaped tan lines on all the feet of your river guides
Well, there you have it folks, that is rafting in Idaho, A to Z. Except X. I could use some help on X, if you can give me a great idea for the letter X I will gladly mail you a hellscanyon.com sticker! Leave your idea for Rafting in Idaho, the letter X in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!
Many of you may know the adventure-mobile, some more personally than others. If you’ve been on Idaho rafting trips with ARC than you’ve taken a lovely and entertaining ride in the adventure-mobile (15 passenger van)! The ride in the adventure mobile is quite different on the way to the river than it is on the way home from the river.
On the way to the river for one of our Idaho Rafting Trips the adventure-mobile is full of excitement and anticipation, the conversation is light and introductory, strangers getting to know each other, likely thinking, “what in the world am I getting myself into?” Then we make the last crest over Hells Canyon Dam (if on a Hells Canyon trip) and our passengers get to see the river for the first time- the river, not the reservoir that we have been travelling along the whole way so far. Trying to explain to first timers that the river is there, below the miles and miles of water is like telling someone that underneath the color black is a whole spectrum of other colors. It’s hard to imagine where the river once was, until you make that last stretch over the dam and see where the real river is, the white water, the water’s edge, get a glimpse of what Idaho rafting trips are all about. It’s so hard to imagine what the reserviors have taken away until you get to see what is left. But, I digress- back to the adventure mobile!!
When the adventure mobile is coming back home after one of our 3 or 4 day Idaho rafting trips, the
conversation has turned from small talk to reminiscing and laughter, those guests that were once strangers are now friends. They’ve been through the deepest or second deepest canyon in North America and loved every second, they’ve shared laughs and memories, they’ve fished side by side, they’ve eaten at the same table. There have been many connections made on Idaho rafting trips that last a lifetime. The adventure mobile transcends strangers into friends and will turn around to do it again the next week. The adventure mobile is so much more than a means of transportation for a bunch of travelers, it’s a means to adventure and memories, unforgettable vacations and new friends. The life of ARC’s adventure mobile during the summer is just that- full of adventure!
Then, the summer winds down and the adventure mobile gets a thorough scrub down and check up. Then she’s parked at ARC’s headquarters and is left to wait, count down the days until summer rolls around again. Here are the latest pictures of the adventure mobile, she’s covered in snow tucked in nice and tight for the rest of winter. Waiting for the song birds of Spring to signal that summer is on it’s way.
Does she look a bit lonely? Join ARC on one of our Idaho rafting trips this summer to get to know the crew and more importantly the infamous adventure mobile!!!
One of the first phrases I learned in Spanish as a freshman in High School was: “Donde esta el bano?” Where is the bathroom? Such an important phrase when travelling abroad or in an unfamiliar place. When nature calls, you had better know where you’re headed and in a timely fashion. The same goes for an Idaho river rafting trip. We get a lot of questions from our guests before the trip, what kind of clothes to wear, how big are the dry bags, etc. The question that we are asked the most frequently is: what are the bathrooms like? It’s a very valid concern for many and we want to be sure that guests are as prepared and comfortable as possible before embarking on a 4 day Idaho river rafting trip deep into the back country.
Some of the funniest conversations I’ve had with guests preparing for their first trip with us have been about the bathroom facilities. I have gotten all kinds of questions and painted pictures for people about what the bathroom will be like. Before they ask the question, they’ve often already thought of what kind of facilities will be available. I’ve had a guest assume that we would carry large port-a-potties along with us. We’ve also had people assume that they’d just be told to do ALL their business in the river. Or that there would be flushing toilets at all the camps. If it has to do with bathrooms in the backcountry, we’ve heard it and wanted to write this post to set the record straight.
“Pack it in, pack it out”, “Leave no trace”, “Take only photographs, leave nothing but footprints” these are mantras of America’s Rafting Company when it comes to our back-country philosophy. That means the same thing for human waste as it does trash and recycling. If we bring it into the river canyon, then we need to take it back out. America’s Rafting Company supplies the cadillac of river toilets, called the Johnny Partner. We want to provide the best quality up to date and safe gear on the river and in camp, that includes our toilet system! Our Johnny Partners are even equipped with an Oak toilet seat! We take great pride in our toilets. The bathroom facility is always set up with a great view of the river- sometimes it’s one of the best views in camp! Always private and secluded, but open to the air to provide the maximum freshness and breeze. The toilets are set up to provide toilet paper on a toilet paper holder, a.k.a. screw driver, wet wipes are available for hands as well as hand sanitizer and a waste basket. The wishy washy (hand washing station) is in camp with running water and bio-degradable soap. It’s really a plush experience that will leave you pleasantly surprised by the luxury afforded in a back country toilet.
The toilet tanks are sealed up when camp is packed up and taken to the SCAT machine after the trip is over. There are two SCAT machines in the state of Idaho, and they are of course conveniently located near the take out for the river. The machine that we frequent is in Riggins, ID on the way home from the river. It’s essentially a large dishwasher for toilets. It’s a great machine that makes short work of an otherwise hated undesirable job.
So, there you have it. A very detailed answer to a very common question!
This past weekend was a great one! The weather had been calling for snow all week, so we were anticipating a weekend indoors due to the snow (really limits visibility) but, ended up pleasantly surprised by the warm sun and blue skies! In preparation for the upcoming season, I took some time on Saturday to make some banana bread. On all of our Snake River rafting trips, we serve a special breakfast that calls for homemade banana bread. During the winter, I stock up on “red-band bananas” as our local market labels them and bake banana bread to stow away in the freezer for our upcoming Snake River rafting trips. It’s a great way to spend a snowy Saturday afternoon, while Parker is in EMT class.
Sunday, the snow cleared away and the skies were a magnificent blue! A day spent outside was calling us, so we loaded up the dogs and the snow shoes. Many of you may remember Tub and his antics from the Snake River rafting trip: #HellHikeandRaft, he was visiting over the weekend, so he joined our adventure and played in the snow too! It doesn’t take long to get from our shop to pristine untouched snow, like a whole five minute drive and we were in a great big meadow with snow shoes strapped on and ready to go. After the first 1/2 mile or so, layers were shed, it was a beautiful day. We explored a bit and with tired pups and tired humans, headed back to the car.
How was your weekend: what were your adventures? Any snow-shoeing or baking?
It’s no secret that I love Idaho white water rafting. In fact, I found that I loved it so much, I made it my living! It’s a great way to spend time during the summer and keeps me plenty busy during the winter. I love everything about Idaho white water rafting, but I definitely have my favorites:
- The food! Food is by far one of my favorite hobbies: menu planning, shopping, cooking, prepping, etc. etc. I love it all! So, it’s no surprise that food is my favorite part of a rafting trip. The food that we bring is delicious, don’t get me wrong, but there’s something absolutely magical about having a leafy green salad, a crisp glass of wine or a huckleberry hotcake fresh off the griddle. Eating in the backcountry is an adventure all in itself!
- Unplugging! No cell phones, no computers, no electronics. Each time I go on an Idaho white water rafting trip I reel through my to-do list, thinking of all the things I didn’t do, emails I didn’t send, etc. But, as we descend further into the river canyon, there is absolutely nothing I can do about it, my iPhone will be in airplane mode for the next four days, and that to-do list will be there when I get home, as they say, out of sight out of mind. I re-focus my thoughts to what I’m about to experience and take it all in.
- The Tranquility! There is nothing more peaceful than the quiet of the river canyon, hearing oars dip in and out of the water in rhythm. The tranquility offered by the canyon is top notch! It’s hard to find that kind of quiet anywhere, the noise that you do hear is laughter, rushing water, conversation, camaraderie, and pure happiness.
- River Time! Being on river time is hard to recover from. There are no watches, no deadlines and no time constraints on the river. We eat when we’re hungry, wake up when you’re refreshed, drink when you’re thirsty, nap on the river bank if you’re tired, it’s the ultimate vacation, let the sun dictate your schedule, reconnect with that primal self that we try to suppress and shape into the person that dresses up for work, arrives on time and always answers the emails. An Idaho white water rafting trip will give you the time to shut the door on that person, even if it’s only for 3 days.
These are just a few of my favorite things about an Idaho white water rafting trip, of course I really do love every bit of it, but this is what sets the trip apart for me. What truly makes me miss the river when I’m not there. The itch has set in and I am already counting down the days until I get to see the deep river canyons again. The river has a way of getting under your skin and settling in, it’s something that will pull you in and make you want to stay or come back and visit again. What are your favorite things about a river trip?
Take me to the river… (no, for real, I’m ready, let’s go!)
Welcome back from a cold January weekend! Here at America’s Rafting Company headquarters, we’ve been gearing up for our summer already. Hard to imagine wearing shorts, sandals and sunscreen when the high is a bone chilling 20 degrees outside and snowing, but summer will be here before we know it and we’ll be ready to put on some white water rafting trips! In order to be ready, we start planning a year or more in advance. We spend the winter keeping up on our social media accounts, emails with past and future clients, gear upkeep and most recently facility upkeep! Phew, winter is almost as busy as summer for us! White water rafting trips take a lot of planning and prep work behind the scenes, so we really do need an entire off season to get caught up and ready to go!
The big projects that America’s Rafting Company has been taking on lately, are the boat shop and this weekend we began some work to finish our warehouse kitchen and build some more shelving and organization. Parker and I have been racking our brains on how to make the space that we have efficient and useful. This past season, what we had worked, but it could have worked a whole lot better. Pack days at the ARC headquarters (which happen the day before a trip goes out) were chaos! Some of that chaos could be avoided if we had more efficient stations and systems in place. Here’s what our pack day used to look like: I go shopping very early in the morning (we’re talking 6 am, the store is just turning on their open sign) clip board in hand, I get all of our perishable items, dairy and produce. Most of our dry goods are purchased in the beginning of the season and our meat is delivered to the warehouse. After loading the ARC-mobile up
with oodles of ice, milk and fresh produce, I head back to the warehouse and unload everything, of course I always have donuts for the guides to sweeten the deal! When the car is unloaded, the warehouse becomes a war zone- zucchini and pineapple rolling around, once we even had a giant watermelon drop and crack on the ground which ended up being a sweet sticky mess! Eventually those groceries are packed away in coolers and boxes, ready to go on white water rafting trips the next day. There are 4-6 people milling around the warehouse with checklists flying and reminders piped out to whoever is listening. It was always great fun and very rarely was anything forgotten for the white water rafting trip, it all worked out in the end and if we finished packing early enough, we were awarded an afternoon at Lost Lake Reservoir!
So our plans for the warehouse will include some different stations in different areas of the warehouse, we’ll have a station with open shelving and all of our dry goods, there will be plenty of counter space and storage. We are also re-working part of the prep kitchen, we found that last year we needed more drawers
and lots more counter space and you guessed more storage! So, Parker and I have started work on what will be a new and improved warehouse, in the meantime, above is what an entire rafting company looks like shoved into two very small spaces. Good thing we played a lot of Tetris growing up, we’ve needed that expertise to stack boats and boxes and coolers and life jackets and sleeping bags and dutch ovens and who knows what else! Keep your eyes posted for updates on construction, organization and white water rafting trip planning!
In the last post about the Owyhee River, I talked a lot about the history of the Owyhee River and why America’s Rafting Company loves this little river, “Oregon’s Grand Canyon” so much. The history behind setting aside acres and acres of land for a designated wilderness is fascinating and something that anyone with a passion for the outdoors, preservation, wildlife, ranching, and living should read about (so click here to see it). Our great nation has made a point to set aside land and let it be wild- no roads- no motors- no wheels- accessible only under your own power, or that of a horse. This is unique to the United States, there are few other countries in the world that have done this. Reading up on the wilderness act, you will likely find information about Idaho, the state with the second largest wilderness area, Alaska is the first. You’ll also read about senator Frank Church from here in Idaho, for which the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness is named. Being stewards of the land as an outfitter is an honor and a privilege that we don’t take lightly. That is one of the reasons why we love what we do. Joining America’s Rafting Company on a multi-day river trip will give you a sense of that, especially on the Owyhee River where you will feel like the only people on earth, where the land is wild and the foot print of man-kind is so small, sometimes you’ll wonder if you’ve been the only person to stand in that very spot along the Owyhee River’s edge.
The presence of Native Americans in the Owyhee Canyonlands is hard to ignore, where arrowheads are easily washed up along the river banks (it’s illegal to touch them or take them) and pictographs and petroglyphs mark many rocks and walls along the canyon. It is very clear that “Oregon’s Grand Canyon” is not just thought to be grand in this modern day, it has been a grand river since the beginning! Native Americans such as the Shoshone Paiute and the Klamath tribes would have frequented the river for hunting, fishing, refuge for the hot summer sun and a place to gather and celebrate. To learn more about the Shoshone Pauite tribes, now of Duck Valley, CLICK HERE, there are some great videos about the history of the tribes as well as information on how the Duck Valley Indian Reservation came to be. An attribute of particular interest is how the Owyhee Canyonlands served to be a place of refuge for the Shoshone Paiuite tribes during the Bannock War of 1878. The military as well as many settlers were hunting Indians, a bounty was placed on their scalps in 1866: $100 for a male, $50 for a female and $25 for a child. This act pushed the Native American’s to escape and they used the Owyhee Canyonlands as a sanctuary to evade the military and bounty hunters. The Owyhee Canyonlands are very steep, harsh and difficult to access, the terrain is near impossible for anyone on foot, but especially for the military with their cavalry, cannons and horses. But, for the Native American’s who were accustomed to the climate and the harsh terrain, the Owyhee River was their only means of escape and survival and to this day, the Owyhee River is sacred to the Shoshone Pauite tribes. Which lends to a very significant reason behind making the Owyhee Canyonlands a protected Wilderness. Here are some photos of the Owyhee River that we have taken:
The Owyhee River white water rafting trip that we offer is so much more than just rafting. There are hot springs along the river’s edge. The fishing is outstanding! Before the dams were placed on the Snake River, the Owyhee River was an outstanding fishing ground for Chinook Salmon traveling back from the ocean to spawn. Now since the dams are in place, the Salmon do not run wild and free like they used to. Being on an Owyhee River trip, you’ll see pictographs and hopefully other artifacts, we tread lightly on the ground in order to preserve the river for those still to come. It’s an opportunity that not many people get, but if you do, it’s one that you won’t soon forget.
Hello 2015! We made it, glad to be here. This post is more of a Holiday review than just a weekend review, we took some time off to be with friends and family over the holidays. We hope you had a great Holiday Season, too! The crew at America’s Rafting Company sure did, we are very fortunate to be surrounded by a great group of friends, awesome and supportive family and amazing clients that all help make the holidays merry and bright. Now that 2015 is here, we are starting to think about white water rafting in Idaho again! Looking forward to an even busier season this year.
We kicked off our Holiday Season with a get together of friends, most all of them are/have been river guides. It was so great to see everyone and catch up. Working in the outfitting and guiding industry often means that during our busy season we don’t get to see our friends and family as much as we’d like and sometimes not at all. Having friends that are river guides means that A) they “get” our lack of communication, and B) they’re on the river too, so we’re really not ignoring each other, just waiting for slower days to come around. So, in spite of hardly getting to see each other during the season, we plan for celebrations and get togethers in the off season, where river lore and stories about white water rafting in Idaho are told. Mingling and walking around the party, there was a ton of talk about the river canyons, how we’re glad to have a break, but can’t wait to go back! White water rafting in Idaho is just around the corner, so for now we’ll soak up our off time with some reminiscing and holiday cheer!
We also got to see lots of family and spent the time cooking, laughing and eating oh, and of course there were some gifts exchanged too! Christmas is such a magical time in Idaho, especially for America’s Rafting Company. Being from Northern Nevada, we did get snow here and there, but nothing like the amount of snow we have piled up in our yard now, and for me- the more the better! We truly live in a great place, with four distinct seasons, winter wonderland being my second favorite to summer of course! I digress. Back to the holidays: New Year’s came and went without a huge bang, instead the evening was spent around the fire with movies and treats and family. Closing the door on 2014 meant welcoming 2015 with open arms, which leaves us looking back at the year, remembering what a great one it was and feeling nothing but excitement and enthusiasm for what 2015 will bring to us. Here’s to a New Year and a whole lot of white water rafting in Idaho!
Here are some images from 2014: