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River Blog

White water rafting trip tricks, tips, packing advice, recipes, and general river talk for river trips in Hells Canyon on the Snake River, Lower Salmon Rivers and beyond:


Hells Canyon Whitewater Rafting: When the Boats are on the Water

Posted by on 3:30 pm in About us, Americas Rafting Vacations | 0 comments

We had a Hells Canyon Whitewater Rafting Trip out last week, it was a small trip- but sometimes just a couple of people make for a great, memorable trip! I will write a post next week about this trip, but in the meantime I wanted to talk about ME! When a trip goes out, I often stay in the office, to keep up on books, upcoming trips and I’m the point of contact in case anything goes awry. So, I am often thinking of projects to stay busy while the crew and guests are out enjoying a Hells Canyon Whitewater Rafting trip. Last week, I spent the time sanding and refinishing our river tables. We are always inspecting, repairing and updating our equipment to keep it up to our high standards. And our tables were in pretty rough shape, needing a whole new waterproof coating and I decided that while I was at it, I would add a little flair, so that the tables would be something pretty to look at as well. The first step was to sand off the old finish, which after a couple of summers out in the Idaho Sun, was looking pretty rough! Once I got the old finish sanded off, I snapped a photo- I never think of the “before” photo until it’s almost too late.   I debated about what to use on the table, if I should just finish them with no logo, or if I should paint the logo by hand, etc. I ended up settling with a logo in the corner and hellscanyon.com in black lettering.   Once the stickers were in place, it was time to start applying the protective finish. I used a product called Helmsman by Minwax. It is designed for wood and other surfaces that see a lot of water and weather- which is exactly what I needed. We use the tables to set up kitchen along the river banks, but on the boats, they are used as seats for either guides or guests. The tables get a lot of abuse, so the finish used is very important to keep them around for years to come- which is what I am hoping for! So, there you have, my recent project to pass the moments while the boats are on a Hells Canyon Whitewater Rafting trip. See you on the...

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Salmon River Whitewater Rafting: It’s a Family Thing

Posted by on 2:35 pm in Americas Rafting Vacations, Past River Trips | 0 comments

Earlier this summer, we had family in town visiting. We had planned all sorts of activities for the weekend, but had a day that we were still undecided about what to to do. So, as Sunday rolled around, we all talked about a couple of ideas for the day, but ended up settling on- you’ll never guess it- a Salmon River Whitewater Rafting trip! Who’da thought right? Since we only had one day to spend, and it was a small family trip, it didn’t take long to get ready . We grabbed sandwiches, a cooler and tossed a boat on the trailer. It wasn’t long before we were standing alongside the Salmon River launching a 14′ paddle boat.   The souls on board included my Sister and Brother-In-Law and their two boys. I was the shuttle driver and was lucky enough to have a co-pilot: my 7 month old nephew! As the boat left the water, baby and I headed down the road for our first stop to have some sweet potatoes riverside (not me of course, I had a sandwich) and wave as the raft went by. Only, we must have gotten busy eating sweet potatoes and giggling, because we didn’t see the raft pass by. The Salmon River was flowing at a pretty good speed, it was late June and probably hitting the 13,000 cfs mark. I misjudged how quickly they were traveling. I loaded baby up and headed down the road to wait at the bridge to get some photos of the whitewater there. But, I never saw them. I was puzzled. Were they really going that fast, or was I just really slow? Soon enough it was apparent that I was just really slow! I had missed the upper section of their rafting trip by a long shot, so I headed into Riggins and met the raft at the city park. We laughed for awhile and then made a plan for me to get at least a couple photos. I headed down to time zone bridge, hopped out of the car, had baby in a carrier, Canon Rebel TDI in hand and found a great view of timezone rapid. There, I was finally able to get some great photos and boy was I glad I did. Here are some of my favorites from the day:   We had a great day, in fact, I can’t think of a better way to pass the time with friends and family then a Salmon River Whitewater Rafting trip! See you on the...

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Whitewater Rafting- What to Expect on a Multi-Day Trip

Posted by on 2:05 pm in About us, Americas Rafting Vacations | 0 comments

So, you’ve booked a multi-day trip. What in the world have you gotten yourself into? Here is a quick guide about what you can expect on a multi-day whitewater rafting trip with America’s Rafting Company: First, you’ll have to decide what kind of boat you want to ride in, we have a variety of rafts/Kayaks to take on the river, you can get detailed information here. They include an oar boat, a paddle boat, or inflatable kayaks. The availability of each boat depends on your trip size, but typically we take oar boats and inflatable kayaks for the adventurous souls. We send out a questionnaire to get a feel for the groups size and boats desired once a trip is booked. Also, on this questionnaire is information about any allergies, so that we can plan our menu- which typically includes a full hot breakfast complete with fresh ground coffee and orange juice, a riverside style sandwich bar for lunch and a gourmet dinner, topped off with dutch over dessert! We really go all out when it comes to cooking on the river, in fact that’s one of my favorite parts! As for camp, once most whitewater rafting trips, camp is set up when you get there. Tents are pitched, beds are made and appetizers are waiting! When you get to camp, you can grab a glass of wine, throw a line out in the water, reel in a 10 ft sturgeon, or just put your feet up and relax. It’s really up to you. The guides will busy themselves cooking dinner and in no time, you’ll have a full belly and a smile on your face! We really have thought about all the details- in fact, we have specially designed river toilets that are set up in a a private location. We will set a paddle out on the route to the toilet, and you’ll know that if the paddle is up- pants are up. If the paddle is down- pants are down. A little humor involved in an avoided subject can go a long ways! Whether it’s a quick 3-day whitewater rafting trip or an extended 6-day trip- we will work everything out for you and make sure that you have everything needed to feel safe and comfortable out on the river. Until next...

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Idaho Whitewater Rafting | It’s not all Whitewater…

Posted by on 12:58 am in Americas Rafting Vacations, Past River Trips | 0 comments

…once in awhile you have to sit down and eat some wild blackberries Summer is here and in full swing, for us, that means we are busy packing and unpacking dry bags, tents and coolers. There has been plenty of Idaho Whitewater Rafting for us this summer, with some more trips on the books. For others, it may mean that they’re planning last minute adventures before the kids go back to school. In the last couple weeks, we’ve not only been loving on summer time, but we’ve been enjoying the fruits of summer’s long hot days. This past Saturday, we went to McCall’s Farmer’s Market and what did our wondering eyes behold? So many people, vendors and goods. We were drawn to the local wild foods that many of the vendors brought. In particular, the wild blackberries, huckleberries, plums, apricots and mushrooms. At the market we purchased some wild plums and a King Bolete mushroom- touted to be one of the best edible wild mushrooms, we didn’t realize that they were already out and growing in the forests near our house. We had some rain recently, followed by hot weather which is the perfect growing condition for the King Bolete. We took our wild plums home and snacked on them all weekend and used our giant mushroom in a tri-tip and veggie shish-ka-bob. And boy oh boy, was it delicious! I would have to agree with the mushroom judges- the King Bolete had such great texture and flavor, that it sent us into the woods on our own hunt for more mushrooms. We weren’t as successful as we would have liked to of been in finding any but we did find many other varieties and had a wonderful afternoon. So, what does all of this talk about wild foods have to do with the Idaho Whitewater Rafting? Well, it just so happens that the river canyons (the Snake and the Salmon Rivers) are loaded with wild fruits and berries. There are many orchards left over from days past, when Hells Canyon was a mining and ranching area. Many of the orchards still exist today, on our Idaho Whitewater Rafting trips, we often stop to see if the fruits are ripe and if we’re lucky, we’ll be able to gather some sun kissed apricots that bake perfectly into a riverside dessert- dutch over cobbler. Wild Blackberries Blackberries flourish alongside the river banks, there are a many camping spots along the river that are lined with blackberry bushes. But don’t forget about the apples, cherries, and peaches that hide away in maintained and over grown orchards lift by early settlers you never know what you may come up with on a hike along the river bank, the possibilities for a wild culinary adventure are endless. We have been known to mix up some blackberry mojitos, blackberry pancakes, blackberry chutney, a blackberry glaze for grilled chicken, and the list goes on. So, in order to experience some of these wild food adventures, you’ll have to visit Idaho for some whitewater rafting. We spend so much time in the river canyons, that we know when the fruits are ripe, so it’s not all about whitewater. Once in awhile you have to sit down along the river and eat some wild blackberries. Here is...

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Backpacking the Seven Devils Mountains: The Loop

Posted by on 2:21 pm in Americas Rafting Vacations, Backpacking | 0 comments

I have been backpacking all over the western United States in many different mountain ranges, with many different people. But, I don’t know that I could choose another mountain range that I like more than backpacking the Seven Devils Mountains. I love everything about backpacking- the simplicity, the exhilaration, the exhaustion the tests you can put yourself through and most of all the scenery! There is a part of backpacking that really can get tedious, after spending the first stretch of your hike checking out new scenery and enjoying the views, you get to your destination, remark at how much work you just put yourself through and then you have to  turn around and go back the same way you came! That’s the great part about the backpacking the Seven Devils, there is an entire loop to follow- no backtracking! There are many other hikes just off the loop to get to the various lakes, peaks and valleys, one can easily spend 3-10 days staying very close to the loop and never having to go back the way  you came. It’s a great feeling to know that each day, you’ll be seeing something new- new vegetation, new canyons and streams and even a new state! There is a section on the loop where you can peer over into Oregon! A view from backpacking the Seven Devils. The Seven Devils are comprised of many peaks, seven of which are the tallest and they are aptly named- with a devilish twist. Below are the peaks with their elevation and GPS coordinates. He Devil 9,393 ft 2863 m 45.324135°N 116.548418°W She Devil 9,380 ft 2859 m 45.323996°N 116.540596°W Devils Throne 9,281 ft 2829 m 45.308791°N 116.554899°W Tower of Babel 9,268 ft 2825 m 45.330067°N 116.528399°W The Ogre 9,255 ft 2821 m 45.319545°N 116.532146°W Mount Baal 9,160 ft 2792 m 45.326203°N 116.533349°W The Twin Imps 8,999 ft 2743 m 45.2992°N 116.5649°W The Goblin 8,980 ft 2737 m 45.318332°N 116.525026°W The Devils are part of the Hells Canyon Wilderness, they are flanked by the Snake River (which forms the Idaho-Oregon border) on one side and the Salmon River on the other. For the most part the trails are well marked, and there are resources available to take with you on the trail, so that as you hike you can read about the history. There is a ton of wildlife in the Seven Devils Mountains, including elk, bighorn sheep, deer, mountain goats, black bear, cougar and rainbow and cut throat trout. The lakes and streams and waterfalls seem endless, around almost every bend you’ll find a clear running creek or a sign pointing the direction to the next lake. You don’t need to pack in a ton of water as it’s plentiful. We are very diligent and take purification tablets, but the water seems so clear that you could dunk your head in and drink until you’re full (not that I have ever done that- wink, wink!) The alpine lakes are perfect for swimming after a long day on the trail and the creeks along the way offer a nice foot bath for tired soles. The amenities available in the Seven Devils make backpacking a dream and a trip that anyone can do with a well packed backpack and a good pair of hiking boots. If you’re not ready to venture out on your own, give America’s Rafting Company a call and...

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Backpacking the Seven Devils Mountains: A trip that Should be on Everyone’s Bucket List.

Posted by on 1:47 pm in Americas Rafting Vacations, Backpacking | 0 comments

When we got back from our most recent adventure, I couldn’t wait to sit down and share the experience with our readers! America’s Rafting Company set out on Sunday Morning to take a group backpacking in the Seven Devils Mountains here in Idaho, in fact the trail head is just about an hour away from our back door (how lucky are we!). This trip gave us such great joy and appreciation that it’s going to be hard to fit it all into one post! We are one of two Outfitters in Idaho that have a backpacking permit in the Seven Devils Mountains. We have a specific route that we can hike down to the Snake River and float out of the canyon on rafts, rather than having to back track. It’s one of the most unique trips that we offer. It happens to be one of my favorites as well. I have been backpacking for many years now, I love the simplicity of backpacking. It’s a very minimalist sport and I love that whatever I bring in to the wilderness is packed in by me. There is hardly any impact on the environment and I can travel to places so beautiful that not many people get to see. Backpacking the Seven Devils Mountains is not a trip for the faint of heart, you have to have some really good, broke in hiking boots, a lot of will power and some humor to get you through the long days spent on the trail. If you can get all of that together and put some supplies in a pack, then I promise that anytime spent hiking in the Seven Devils will not be wasted. You will be in awe of the peaks and valleys and alpine lakes. It’s a trip that was on my bucket list for a long time and each time I visit the Devils, I think of another stretch of the trail to add to my bucket list, in fact, the trails have become a permanent fixture on my list. I am counting down the days until our next trip. In next week’s post, I will write about some of the basics of the trails and the geography and landmarks involved. Until next time, here are some...

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Hells Canyon Whitewater Rafting: The Canyon’s History

Posted by on 2:52 am in Americas Rafting Vacations, River History | 1 comment

Lately we’ve been talking all about the Salmon River, so let’s switch gears here and focus on a river that is close to my heart, in fact, it might just be my favorite river that we float. That’s not to say that I don’t love the running the Salmon or the Owyhee River’s or backpacking through the Seven Devils, it’s just that I feel like I know Hells Canyon better than any other river or trail out there. The familiarity with the river does not come just from charging it’s rapids and hiking it’s trails, it truly comes from the people, the history and the author’s that present the history of the canyon. Not only is the Hells Canyon Whitewater Rafting unsurpassed, but the rich history in the canyon is so well documented that it doesn’t take much research to get to know where the canyon came from and where it is headed. There are many books written about Hells Canyon, some of our favorites are Snake River in Hells Canyon by Carrey, Conley, Barton and Home Below Hells Canyon by Grace Jordon. The first book, Snake River in Hells Canyon is the ultimate guide to Hells Canyon, it is a book adored by most river guides and any river enthusiast with a peaked interest in the river and it’s history. The book starts out at with an introduction of the most notable figures involved in the river in many different capacities, from Captains to Ranchers, this book covers it all. After the introduction, the book follows the river, starting at Mile 1- Hells Canyon Dam and ending at Mile 81- Heller Bar. The authors highlight every creek, historical site, landmark and rapid along the way. I came to love the Canyon so much after one trip in particular. Parker and I decided to plan an 8 day Hells Canyon float trip. As outfitters in Hells Canyon, we hold a permit with the United States Forest Service, it is a prestigious permit to hold, as there are only 12 permits in existence. One way to preserve the Canyon’s beauty and history is by limiting the amount of people that are able to float the river during the peak season, so we are allocate 12 launch dates in from Memorial to Labor Day, which work out to be every 8 days. So, last summer, Parker and I had an early June launch date that we hadn’t filled, and my birthday was coming up, so we decided that we would plan a trip for the full 8 days and float from Hells Canyon Dam to Heller Bar (a trip that is usually done in 4 or 5 days). We started reading book at Mile 1 and continued as we passed each mile. We stopped and hiked up to each historical marker and took note of every landmark that we passed. We had each read the book, but never paid that much attention to the detail and matched the book up with each river mile. It was such a great experience, and have us so much more knowledge about the canyon, now when we float the river we can point out each landmark and share the story with our...

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Salmon River Whitewater Rafting- America’s Rafting Company Shares their Salmon River Trip

Posted by on 2:26 am in Americas Rafting Vacations, Past River Trips | 0 comments

We float the Salmon River, the Snake River in Hells Canyon and the Owyhee River. This past weekend we floated the Salmon River with a great group of people. The night before we put our boats on the water, the air was very chilly- not really what you’d expect at the end of June. But, looking at the forecast, we knew Mr. Sun was working up to a big weekend. The temperatures were predicted to be in the high 90’s low 100’s. When the mercury peaks that high, there’s one place that we like to be- on the river! As we rigged our boats, the sun beat down on us, it was quite a contrast from before, but thankfully we had the refreshing water of the Salmon River right in front of us, and cooling off was just a short dip or quick wade away. Once the boats were ready and everyone was loaded into them we set off on a memorable Salmon River Whitewater Rafting trip. There are four canyons on this section of the Lower Salmon River- Green Canyon, Blue Canyon, Show Canyon and Cougar Canyon. All these steep canyons offer amazing solitude rarely seen in this day and age with no road access or trails your only option is by boat.We float Green Canyon on our one day trips, and in order to experience the other two canyons, we recommend planning at least a 4 day, though ideally 5 day trip. The river corridors in Idaho are rich with history, and the Salmon River is no exception of that. Some of the most detailed and well preserved pictographs are located on the Salmon River. For most pictographs, there are a couple of figures, usually very simple in nature, but there is one pictograph on this river that has so much detail and design, you really have to stop and ponder what the meaning of it is. Taking a Salmon River Whitewater Trip is the best way to see the well preserved history, as the canyon walls are very steep, making it difficult to hike in. Along with great history, the Salmon River presents some great whitewater! There are many class II rapids with calm, fun waves,  there are also a couple of class III and  IV rapids that can really get your blood pumping, then there is one single class V rapid that can give you quite the thrill! This is a very elusive rapid, as it’s deemed un-runnable at certain high water flows, yet at low water flows it’s barely a ripple in the river! This past weekend the flow was right around 14,000 cubic feet/second so it was perfect! It wasn’t anything that was going to knock us out of the boats, and was just a long wave train of big roller coaster rapids. We scouted the rapid, The Slide,  just to be safe and certain that we knew the safest run. *This is a shot taken with out Go Pro, entering Snow Hole Rapid. All in all it was a great trip, with great people. We enjoyed hot summer days, white sandy beaches to camp on, outstanding dutch oven cooking, enough whitewater to make anyone smile and just that general idea of being on “river...

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Salmon River Rafting Trips- America’s Rafting Company Floats the Salmon River

Posted by on 10:50 pm in Americas Rafting Vacations, Past River Trips | 0 comments

Typically, people booking our trips plan months in advance, it’s not exactly something you can drop what your doing and the next day take off on a 3-Day whitewater trip. Some diligence, questioning and lots of preparation goes into it. However, that’s not always reality. I have always been a last minute planner, I can’t foresee what’s coming in my life for much further than two weeks out. That has always been the case for me, except when it comes to booking trips for our company, that I can do up to two years in advance, the nitty gritty may not be planned out, but the general outline is there. That comes with the territory I suppose, but it also takes some of the rush in packing and the thrill in knowing in just a few short hours, your plans went from another mundane day to a fun filled adventure! So, when we got a call last Sunday afternoon from someone interested in a Salmon River rafting trip for the very next day, I was thrilled, it was crunch time! Parker was doing some yard work and I was working on that weeks blog post, when he came dashing up the stairs and said, “Hey, I just booked a Salmon River rafting trip for tomorrow!” I was sure he was joking and told him he wasn’t getting out of yard work that easily! He assured me that he did in fact book a trip, and I needed to call her to work out all the details and get payment. So, I did and we were set, plans were made to meet them for coffee in the morning to give our pre-trip safety talk and we’d be off down the river! In our warehouse, we have a general supply of food and treats for trips, but we always have shopping to do the day before to get things like bread, meat, cheese and fresh fruit, so we headed up the canyon and grabbed what we needed for the day. In less time than it takes to mow the lawn, we had the cooler packed, the boat blown up and life jackets loaded. We even had time to finish our yard work and blog post. When you go rafting for a living, packing and unpacking becomes second nature, being married, we have been together long enough that we can work together quickly and efficiently to get the job at hand done! So, the next morning, we had a cup of coffee with some great folks from Texas, they were in Idaho for the annual Weiser Fiddle Festival. They were very talented folks and we were thankful to spend the day floating the river and getting to know them. The Salmon River rafting trip went off without a hitch, we had a great lunch enjoyed riverside and the weather was perfect- not too hot and not too cold, but just right! So, the next time you are looking for a last minute adventure in Idaho, be sure to call us because it’s nice to mix it up every now and then, come float through the Green Canyon of the Salmon River! See you on the...

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Idaho Whitewater Rafting: The Little Salmon River

Posted by on 1:48 pm in Americas Rafting Vacations, Past River Trips | 1 comment

We live in New Meadows, ID. There are mountains, streams, rivers and valleys that seem to go on for eternity. There is one little stream that has had our attention for years, folks ’round here call it the Little Salmon River, it’s an eye-catching little river that runs along Hwy 95. The larger Salmon River flows unencumbered throughout Idaho, in fact it is the longest free flowing river in North America, meaning that there are no dams or other man-made features that hinder or alter the river’s natural course. But, enough about the Salmon River, that is another post all in it’s own right. Let’s get back to the Little Salmon, which we have been eyeing for quite some time, we’ve heard stories told that many people have floated it, but we had never had the pleasure of launching our boat on the water that flows right through our little piece of heaven of earth- Meadows Valley. We have tried a couple of times, without success to organize a float, but hadn’t actually made it happen until recently. In fact, we (along with many close river guide friends) spent Easter Sunday afternoon scouting the river to see what it had to offer in terms of Idaho whitewater rafting. The river is fed by snow melt off, it rages in the spring and very early summer and then slows down to a small stream in late summer and early fall, so our window of opportunity to find the perfect flow was small. For all of the rivers that we float, we keep an eye on their flow, we had been watching this flow all spring and when we scouted it on Easter Sunday, it was at 1700 cfs (cubic feet per second) that flow was definitely do-able, but with a little more water it would have been just right for us to take a raft down. On a Tuesday morning in early June, Parker and I were working in the office, getting some mailers out to past/present/future guests, and we got a call from a friend of ours, they were in town, had their boats loaded and were headed to our warehouse. That was the call we had been waiting to make and here it was, knocking at our door, the time had come to float the Little Salmon River, the flow was just right, the air was warm and we had plenty of well trained, professional river guides to share the river with. What a great way to spend a Tuesday! Parker and I hurriedly got our boats loaded, grabbed our dry suits, life jackets, throw ropes and our faithful river dog, Scout and headed down the road. A short drive later (15 minutes from our back door) we were at the river and rigging boats. In our group, we had two different types or water craft: two rafts and two inflatable kayaks, there were 7 of us and 3 dogs. We were set. One of the crew had floated the river a few weeks earlier and for the rest of us, it was our maiden voyage. We decided to set out with one raft in the lead, the two kayaks in between and our raft pulling up the rear. We all stayed close together and kept a watchful...

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