fbpx 208-347-3862

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:


Idaho Rafting: What we do During Winter

Posted by on 5:12 pm in About us, Americas Rafting Vacations | 0 comments

When meeting someone new, there is the inevitable question: What do you do? Parker and I are very fortunate in that we get to tell people that we own an Idaho Rafting Company, America’s Rafting Company. After relaying that to a new acquaintance, there is often much discussion about what that entails, along with the inevitable question, “Well, what do you do in the winter?”. We have an ever-evolving answer to that question. I imagine that people can picture us taking exotic vacations, lounging around the house, skiing all day, everyday, etc. The picture that they paint is a very exciting one that I wish was the truth. But, the truth is far from that. We really are very busy in the off-season. On a typical year, we will start our season in late March with Steelhead Fishing, which then leads into rafting the Owyhee River (it’s an early season, spring run-off river). Then in April/May we will usually visit the Snake River in Hells Canyon for some Idaho Rafting. The canyon is so deep (the deepest in North America) that spring time, warm weather and wildflower blooms come much earlier than they do in other parts of the state. Once June arrives, we begin our main season, floating through Hells Canyon with the kiddos out of school, things start to pick up quick. In late June, once the spring run-off has slowed a bit on the Salmon River, we can start frequenting it’s white sandy beaches. Throughout June, July, August and early September we run around like crazy from one river canyon to the other. It’s really quite exciting. When October hits we are back at it, with Chukar Hunting and Steelhead fishing through mid-November. At that point, the snow starts to fly and we pack up camp and put all the gear to bed for the winter. Phew, that’s a long list of activity! It’s definitely enough to keep us busy. We use the winter months: December-March for a little R&R, but it’s mostly filled up with re-organizing for the upcoming season, marketing, updating the price list and the website, lots of blogging, lots of emails and lots of office work in general. I’m not complaining though, our office is quite cozy, the woodstove is crackling near by and just outside the window, I can see Brundage Mountain Ski Resort and watch the snow fall. Life’s pretty good around here, but with all that snow falling, someone has to keep up on it, that leads me to these photos: So, our answer to the question about what it is we do in the winter is work, just not the fun kind of work we do in the summer: no rafting, no dutch oven riverside cooking, no huge grocery shopping trips, no sandals, no swimming, no river time… gosh, when you put it that way, winter sounds pretty depressing! I’m glad for the snow and old man winter, but I’m starting to eye the calendar in a different light- I’m counting down until our first Idaho Rafting trip! See you on the river…...

read more

Family White Water Rafting in Idaho

Posted by on 4:53 pm in About us, Americas Rafting Vacations, Past River Trips, River History | 0 comments

As I sit at my PC, I marvel at the ways that the computer has enabled us to connect to others far away, to keep up on the lives of loved ones, and to share photos of captured memories with friends in another time zones. The computer has brought so many advantages, but along with those come disadvantages. Parents have to monitor screen time, as a society we sit too much and don’t use our bodies enough, information is instant at the touch of a button, in order to have a social interaction, you no longer have to leave your house, and the list goes on. With the Facebook, twitter, pinterest, our world has changed and our children are changing – how do we curb that? I don’t think we do. Just like anything in life, balance and moderation are key. It’s important to know when to unplug, where to unplug and how to unplug. In addition, it’s becoming even more important to make memories outside of the screen – go outside, play in the dirt, breathe fresh air, feel the earth under your feet. Take in this beautiful planet in any way you can. Looking for answers? Take your family on a white water rafting trip for goodness sake! On every family white water rafting trip I have ever been on, there’s come an inevitable point in the trip, the last day, you make a turn around the last bend in the river and the take-out appears in the distance. Whether it’s Pittsburgh Landing on the Snake River, Heller Bar from the Salmon or Birch Creek on the Owyhee River, I know that the take-out is coming, but as it appears on the horizon a fleeting thought goes through my mind, “go back, row up river, I’m not ready to go home!” However, I know it’s not possible and maybe that’s why I love family white water rafting trips so much, because I never want them to end! Lucky for me, I own a river company and can go rafting for a living, pretty fortunate soul, I am! What I love the most about family white water rafting trips, is the uninterrupted interaction. There are no watches, no ringing cell phones, no unanswered emails, really there are no demands at all! You’re on river time. There is nothing like it in the world, it’s the most exhilarating, yet relaxing trip all in one. If you’re planning a summer getaway this year, and you’d really like to get your children or your spouse unplugged and connect, a family white water rafting trip is the way to go! Book your Family Adventure...

read more

The Many Rivers of Idaho – Whitewater Rafting in Idaho

Posted by on 6:35 pm in Americas Rafting Vacations, River History | 0 comments

Living in Idaho is a dream come true for many. Especially when involvement in the Idaho Rafting is your livelihood. There is no other state in the lower 48 that competes with Idaho in river miles, wilderness, or pristine back country. So, in this post today, I’m going to talk about the many rivers of Idaho. America’s Rafting Company floats 3 rivers: the Snake River, through Hells Canyon, the Salmon River and the Owyhee River. Those rivers are by far our favorite, but we may be a bit biased!   Here is a list of some of the other rivers in Idaho listed from North to South: St. Joe River: (Northern Idaho) difficulty III-IV, season is May through June. The St. Joe river begins in the Bitterroot Mts. on the border between Montana and Idaho. It’s a major tributary to Lake Couer D’elane. Lochsa River: (Northwestern Idaho) difficulty class IV-V, season is April to July. Lochsa is a Nez Pearce word for rough water. The Lochsa is considered one of the best Idaho Rafting rivers because of it’s continuous whitewater in Idaho, as it has 30+ miles of class IV rapids. The Lochsa also starts in the Bitterroots, it flows down to join the Selway River to form the middle fork of the Clearwater River. Selway River: (Northwest Idaho) difficulty  class IV-V, season is May to September. The Selway River drains from a Southern end of the Bitterroot mountains and ties into the Lochsa River. The Selway is a very sought after Idaho rafting trip and is considered one of the big four in Idaho. In order to see the Selway, like many rivers in Idaho, you have to join a licensed outfitter or draw a private permit, which could take many years. Clearwater River: (North Central Idaho) difficulty class II-III, season is January to December (if you’re crazy). The Clearwater is often visited by Steelhead Fishermen, it has many tributatires coming out of the Bitterroot Mountains, it eventually meets up with the Snake River near Lewiston. Salmon River “The River of No Return”: (Central Idaho) difficulty class III-IV, season is May to October. The Salmon River is one of Idaho’s most famed water ways. It begins in the Sawtooth Mountains and flows dam-free, unchanged by man until it meets up at the confluence with the Snake River. The Salmon River is the river that puts Idaho rafting on the map as the world’s whitewater capital! If you’re ready to take an exhilarating trip down the Salmon River- you know who to call! Snake River: (South Central Idaho) difficulty class III-IV, season is March-October. The Snake River is one of the major rivers for the Pacific Northwest. It is the largest tributary to the Columbia River. It is the largest North American River that empties into the Pacific Ocean. it begins in the western mountains of Wyoming, flowing across the entire state of Idaho, in what’s considered the Snake River Plain. From there it enters world renowned Hells Canyon on the border between Oregon and Idaho. Hells Canyon is known not only for it’s Idaho rafting and whitewater, but it’s white sturgeon. The fish can range anywhere from 3-11 feet in length and way upwards of 600 pounds! There are many reasons that America’s Rafting Company for it’s featured river, to find out...

read more

Idaho Whitewater: The Boat Makers

Posted by on 2:37 pm in Americas Rafting Vacations, Equipment | 0 comments

“I wasn’t born in Idaho, but I got here as fast as I could”,  that’s a saying that we have painted on a sign in our home. It has been sort of a mantra for Parker and I these last couple of years. We were drawn to Idaho for a number of reasons, probably the most relevant was Idaho White Water. We’d known for quite some time that we wanted to start a whitewater rafting company. So, here we are living in Idaho, owning and operating an Idaho whitewater company and loving it. The Idaho white water community is unlike any other. We’re composed of outfitters, guides, boat makers, professionals, the list goes on. This past spring we participated in an outstanding convention called “Idaho River Rendezvous”, I’ll talk more about that next week. But, it was a great coming together of people. It made me realize what an outstanding whitewater community we have here in Idaho- unlike any other state. Which makes sense, our whitewater is unlike any other place in the world, so why wouldn’t we have this stellar community with a common goal- promoting and preserving Idaho White Water. I digress, I really came here to write this post about our boatmakers. When I say boatmakers, I’m referring to rubber rafts, like these: There are more boat companies per capita in Idaho than there are anywhere else in the world! Don’t quote me on that- I made it up, but it is true. Check it out: NRS- Northwest River Supply, probably the biggest of the companies, they have everything you could ever need to outfit a trip, whether it’s a small day trip down the Boise River, or an epic 4 day trip down the Snake River in Hells Canyon with America’s Rafting Company- they’ve got it. They’re located in Moscow, ID and employ a lot of college students from U of I. Parker and I toured their warehouse recently and were amazed at the size! It covers 2 football fields! We are registered as outfitters with them and can get things in a hurry, usually next day. They’ve been great to work with and we look forward to a long working relationship with them. Cascade Outfitters– a company in Boise, ID. They supply river gear, dutch ovens, life jackets, etc. and have a great show room/store front. They are also the home of Maravia boats. When you go visit their store, you look in at the boatmakers in action, it’s pretty impresive. Maravia are a quality boat made from a PVC material. Aire– they are a boat making company in Meridian, ID. There is a store front that features life jackets, gear, paddles, etc. but they’re big claim to fame is the warehouse where Aire boats are manufactured. We are pretty new to the Aire scene and had to go check it out. Parker and I took a tour of their warehouse as well, learning as much as we could about their boats. They have some really great features that you don’t see in other boats, such as their floor- it has holes in it, which fill up a chamber with water. It allows for better tracking and gives you some more weight in the bottom. The Aire boats are pretty advanced and very clever...

read more

Whitewater Rafting Idaho: How we Pack for a River Trip

Posted by on 11:54 pm in Americas Rafting Vacations | 0 comments

There is a lot of planning and preparation that goes into a whitewater rafting Idaho trip. Just like any vacation, or camping trip, but on a larger scale, because everything that the guides and guests need for the next three to six days has to be loaded up and meticulously planned for- there is no access or grocery stores once the boats leave the launch site. So, it takes us a couple days to prepare. It takes a lot of preparation to get ready for a rafting trip– whether it’s a 1 day or a 6 day, we have to be prepared, equipped and ready for anything that may come our way. We want to be sure that if a need arises whether it’s something gone wrong with the gear, someone needs a shoelace replaced, or a full-out emergency. As outfitters, we are prepared for it all! So, in this post, I am going to go through a bit of the process for packing a river trip… So, in anticipation of a trip here is the timeline for a Saturday launch date. Thursday: buy all fresh fruits and vegetables, and meats. We have a well stocked river kitchen with most of the pantry staples, like cake mixes, crackers and canned goods, we’ll shop in the river kitchen as well as the local market. We try to source as many local and organic ingredients as possible. Friday: pack day: prepare salads, bake cookies, load coolers, load truck, count life jackets, review first aid kits, fill-out paperwork, etc. We also meet with our guests on the evening before to hand out dry bags for packing, sign waivers and answer any looming questions that may be causing the pre-trip jitters. Saturday: leave the warehouse and head to the launch site. At the launch site we arrive 1 hour before the guests, so that our boats are rigged and ready, when guests arrive we load up their bags, the gear boat takes off and we go over safety and what’s on the agenda for the day. Sunday: more of what happened on Saturday- floating, lounging, eating, blasting through HUGE rapids, hiking, basically the most fun you’ve ever had in your whole life! Monday: all that fun continued, if it was a 3 day trip, this would be the take-out date. We’d reach the take-out, have a late lunch and hit the road back to civilization. You can read more about what is done at the take-out. So, that’s the timeline of what it takes to pack a whitewater rafting Idaho trip. All that work in the beginning is so worth it. Being prepared for anything that can arise on the river is essential to the functioning of the trip and can make the difference between an OK trip and a stellar trip. So, join us on a whitewater rafting Idaho trip! See you on the...

read more

River Rafting in Idaho: Rowed Hard and Put Away Wet!

Posted by on 6:00 pm in About us, Americas Rafting Vacations | 0 comments

Now, now- get your mind out of the gutter, I am talking about boats here! River Rafting in Idaho is an unforgettable adventure, everyone should have on their bucket list and go sooner than later. But, all that fun can take a toll on the equipment, in particular the boats. Since the boat is quite possibly the most important piece of equipment, what with keeping you afloat for 3-6 days, we pay close attentions to the upkeep of our vessels. This is one of our gear boats, “Babe” getting a good scrub down. CLICK HERE TO SEE A GLIMPSE INTO THE LIFE OF A GEAR BOAT MAN. Often times, at the end of a trip, our shuttle driver (me) arrives at the take-out with fresh baked croissants, local apples, home-made chicken salad and fresh lemonade, so guests are able to relax, have lunch and relish in the memories of the last couple days spent river rafting in Idaho, before we make the trek out of the river canyon and back to civilization. During that time, the guides busy themselves tearing down boats and loading gear into the back of the truck. It’s quite a feat to watch- they are quick and precise. The de-rig the gear, tie up the oars and scrub down the boats. There’s a song that I sing, much to the annoyance of the guides, it goes like this: “A clean boat’s a happy boat and happy boats don’t flip!” I often embellish a bit and make up words to go along with it, but it’s a true little statement, whether it’s annoying or not! It’s vitally important to keep all of the boats clean from sand and debris, we splash it off with river water, scrub it down with our hands and let it sit to dry. But, often there’s not enough time for it to dry, hence, the title of this post- “rowed hard and put away wet”. The boats are rolled up into small little bundles and tossed into the back of the truck until the next trip. Here is our boat “Babe” getting a scrub down, see all that faded blue and yellow? Here’s Babe again, bright and shiny and waiting for gear at Hells Canyon Dam All that river rafting in Idaho and rolling and unrolling can be hard on the boat, so at the end of the season we take the boat out, blow it up and go over it with a fine tooth comb, ensuring that there are no trouble spots, we replace D-rings and valves if needed, then give it a good bath. We use a product called “Inflatable Boat Cleaner” it removes all of the grime from the rubber- leaving it shiny new looking. Then we let the boat dry really well, roll it up for the last time and put it to bed for the winter. The boats get all the R & R they need and in the spring, we blow the dust off and anxiously wait for our first trip of the season! See you on the...

read more

White Water Rafting Trips: Back to Back

Posted by on 4:31 pm in Americas Rafting Vacations | 0 comments

In the summer, we launch a white water rafting trip in Hells Canyon about every 8 days. Our average length trip is 4-5 days. So, that gives us a bit of down time in between. During that down time, we unpack, wash coolers, life jackets, sleeping bags, tents- pretty much every single piece of equipment that goes down the river gets a thorough scrub-down once it’s back at the warehouse. Having those few days off the river allows plenty of time to wash, repair and repack for the next go around. We even have a bit of time to relax, catch up on office work and write a blog post or two! It gives a little order to the chaos that is summer. However, our fall trips this year ended up being a totally different scenario. It just happened to work out this year that the guests we booked for our white water rafting trips had very specific dates they could get away from work, and with a short season, we didn’t have a ton of time to work with. In fact, we ended up having 3 back to back trips! We began on October 4th, launched that morning and ended on October 17th. Each and every day in between we were out on the river. And by we, I mean Parker and the guides. I, on the other hand kept the home fires burning, packing and unpacking gear, getting groceries and supplies prepped for the next go-round. It was a wild ride here at America’s Rafting Company. Most days, we didn’t know if we were coming or going! I would pick the guys and the gear up from Pittsburgh Landing, we’d stop in Riggins; refuel with diesel and propane, and get the local river gossip. Riggins is the white water capital so there are always good stories amongst river guides and sometimes- they almost sound true! Once we were back to the warehouse, we’d work for a couple more hours. The food and drinks were ready, so we would wash coolers, swap life jackets, tents, sleeping bag and gear and then throw it all back in the truck to take off a 5 am the next morning! It was crazy to say the least. Here are some photos from the launch: So, we took a less than ideal (booking trips back to back) and made it work great! The trips went off without a hitch! We have since washed all of the boats and gear and stored everything away for the winter. More on that next week. In the meantime, click this link to get an idea of what to expect on a white water rafting trip with America’s Rafting Company… See you on the...

read more

Whitewater Rafting Idaho | Spring & Fall Trips vs. Summer: What to Wear

Posted by on 9:02 pm in Americas Rafting Vacations | 0 comments

Phew- it has been a wild ride here at America’s Rafting Company lately. You may have thought that we disappeared off the face of the earth- but, really we just disappeared to the deepest gorge in North America- Hells Canyon. Sidenote: Hells Canyon is deeper than the Grand Canyon- that is a little known fact. Whitewater rafting Idaho is not only a great summer trip, but is very enjoyable in Spring and Fall! We just got back to the office and settled after three back to back rafting trips- we were in Hells Canyon rafting for 10 days straight and are looking forward to another 4 more before we retire the boats for the season. When talking about our recent news, I get a lot of the same questions. I have had many people ask me what the heck we are doing on the river when it’s this cold? Well, my friends- there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear! So, my answer to their question is: heck yes! We are still enjoying Hells Canyon rafting in October and on into November. In fact, Parker and I have visited the deepest canyon in North America in January! Yes, that’s right folks- I have been whitewater rafting in January and I lived to tell about- in fact, I would take that trip again in a heartbeat! The canyon is so deep, that the air temperature stay quite warm, and as long as you’re geared up appropriately, you’ll have the time of your life! So, when booking trips for Spring and Fall, we have a different packing list prepared, because it’s important to be prepared for any kind of weather- rain, sun, snow, hail, etc. The elements are unpredictable in the canyon- so we always prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Layering your clothes is key! Having a moisture-wicking bottom layer, a fleece mid layer and a water proof outer layer is what we recommend, that way, you’re ready by a huge wave of Snake River water to hit you and when you land, you’re ready to shed a layer or two and do some exploring. There is of course the element of safety- the life jacket, which in the cool weather doubles as an insulator. The thick padding on our Type V pfd’s (personal flotation device) will not only keep you above water should you fall in, they’ll keep you warm while sitting atop the boat.   Along with layering, you’ll want to think about your feet. The boat is a self-bailing boat, meaning that the water is draining on it’s own, but there is a certain amount of river water that stays in the boat, which makes it hard to avoid wet feet all day long. It’s wildly important to have a warm waterproof shoe on. I typically wear my BOGS, they are tight fitting and keep me warm. Other types of acceptable shoes include river booties, rain boots with wool socks or something lined in gore-tex.  Just like any other outdoor activity, as long as you’re packed and dressed appropriately, you’ll enjoy yourself that much more, the same goes for whitewater rafting. Having the right gear can make all the...

read more

Hells Canyon Rafting: Another Trip is in the Books- Part 2

Posted by on 7:15 am in Americas Rafting Vacations, Past River Trips | 1 comment

This is part 2 of a 2 part post- say that 5 times fast! So, in our last post, we left off just as the boats pushed off the ramp. The sun had just come out to shine, the rest of the skies were blue and the day was quickly shaping up, offering the prospect of a great Hells Canyon Rafting trip! Our fleet was a bit different on this trip- we had a demo boat from AIRE. Recently, Parker and I went to the AIRE factory in Meridian, ID. We got a tour of the facility, met the sales rep and they loaded up one of their boats for us to try out on the water- so this was our maiden voyage with the AIRE boat- more of that later, back to the Hells Canyon Rafting trip. The weather was nice, the guests were given the tour of Barton’s Cabin, a stop on the Oregon side. While the guests were exploring, the guides got lunch ready. The group enjoyed a homemade sandwich spread, riverside. Back in the boats and down the river, the boats approached Wild Sheep Rapid and later Granite Creek Rapid. The guides skillfully maneuvered through the wild and roarin’ Class IV rapids. The air temperature was perfect for an occasional splash of Snake River Water. Shortly after Granite, the boats pulled up to the river bank, ready to make camp. Off in the distance, a huge black cloud loomed high above the canyon and the guides knew that the race against the storm was on. They hurriedly grabbed tents and dry bags, huffed it up the hill and just as they pulled the tents out of their bags- the clouds let loose and rain began to pour! They got the tents up in the nick of time and went back to the boats to grab kitchen gear- midway they decided that the storm wasn’t letting up and in order to stay dry they would need the parachute.  For this camp, the guides faced a huge challenge, mid way through dinner, they decided that the rain wasn’t backing down so they decided that was a job that only a parachute could handle! No, I don’t mean that they parachuted away from camp, or had anything parachuted in. In place of a rain fly, we use a parachute, it covers more ground than any rain fly could and it’s very diverse. However, setting up a a parachute on a clear, dry day is no easy feat, it was already raining and windy on this particular night. But, they got the job done and were able to enjoy the peace and quiet of cooking a gourmet dinner, out of the rain. Kudos to our guides for getting camp ready in record time, having dinner ready and a dry place to eat it! The rest of the trip went off without a hitch, the next morning was clear and warm, the rapids were big, and the river was refreshing! Another Hells Canyon Rafting trip is in the books and despite a stormy camp for the first night, our guests still had a great time, but don’t let me try to convince you, check out this review from one of our past guests: “We found the advertisement from America’s Rafting Company on...

read more

Hells Canyon Rafting: Another Trip is in the Books- part 1

Posted by on 8:00 am in Americas Rafting Vacations, Past River Trips | 0 comments

Our last Hells Canyon Rafting trip for the Summer 2013 was a success! Fall is fast approaching and summer is winding down, but that doesn’t mean we are done visiting Idaho’s river canyons. In fact, fall is just about as active for us on the river as summer time is! But, there will be plenty of talk about fall in the weeks to come, today I am sharing our latest and greatest river trip! We launched on Thursday the 5th, floated for 3 days and I met the crew at the landing- it was a great trip!! The begining of the week had called for thunderstorms and rain showers, they were predicted to pack up and leave West Central Idaho by Thursday morning, but as we buzzed down the road, getting closer to Hells Canyon Dam we could tell that those storms weren’t ready to leave yet. Wouldn’t you know it, by the time that we were parked on the ramp and unloading gear, the rain started to pour! Luckily, all of our gear is water proof. We, however are not so waterproof. I wasn’t going on the trip, I was shuttling the vehicles, so I didn’t pack a rain jacket, but we always have spare rain jackets and ponchos in case someone forgets their’s. So, I grabbed a poncho and hefted more gear out of the truck. The guides had the boats rigged in no time and we went to the Visitor’s Center to chat and escape the rain. Shortly after, the guests arrived and they were ready to launch, we fitted life jackets, talked about safety, loaded the rafts and pushed off the dam for another epic Hells Canyon Rafting trip. Stay tuned, I will finish the rest of the story in next week’s post. In the meantime- here is a couple of shots and videos from the...

read more