Rafting Idaho's Salmon River Should Be on Your Summer Bucket List

The skies are blue, the temperatures are warm, and wildflowers are in full bloom: welcome to the heart of summer. What better way to spend glorious summer days than with a rafting trip?

By: The Outbound Collective + Save to a List

Nothing invites adventure more than perfect summer conditions and long days filled with ample hours of sunlight. Idaho’s Salmon River is the perfect way to tap into that summer adventure with wild rapids, breathtaking scenery, riverside hot springs, and beautiful beaches. This is an epic summer trip that will have you making return plans before you’re even off the river.

Photo: Dusty Klein

The Salmon River offers 425 miles of adventure, dropping 7,000 vertical feet from its headwaters and is a protected Wild and Scenic River, flowing through the Frank Church - River of No Return Wilderness. It's also the second deepest gorge in North America, divided into three sections (all perfect for rafting): the Main Salmon, the Middle Fork, and the Lower Salmon

Photo: Dusty Klein

Rafting the Salmon River in July and August provides for long stretches of mellow river water in between major rapids - giving you plenty of time to have a snack, a cold drink, take a swim, and relax before reaching the next set of rapids. The stretches of calm water are especially popular with kayakers and stand-up paddle boarders during the summer (we recommend bringing inflatables). After a day full of exhilarating whitewater, you’ll be able to pull off the water to a campsite and continue exploring. There are numerous hikes, hot springs, swimming holes, and archeological sites hidden along the river. Make sure to bring a camera to snap a few images of local wildlife and phenomenal sunsets. 

There are a handful of ways to experience the Salmon River: you can obtain a permit through a lottery system on recreation.gov and plan a trip of your own. Make sure to pick out campsites along your route ahead of time. You can also hire a licensed outfitter to guide you and your group, or take a jet boat to a lodge along the river. Check out some of Visit Idaho's best resources here.

Photo: Dusty Klein

No matter how you plan to experience the Salmon River, you and your entire group are guaranteed an epic adventure that will allow you to reconnect with nature and will leave you smiling.

Explore Visit Idaho to find more incredible adventures for your time in Idaho.

Cover photo: Dusty Klein

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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