Main Salmon

Explore the Iconic River of No Return


Walk barefoot on the sand. Feel the warm canyon breeze on your face. Soak in a natural hot springs. Whether you are a first time rafter or a veteran river rat, you’ll be enchanted by the Main Salmon River of Idaho. Weaving east to west through the largest wilderness area in the lower 48, the Salmon River passes blanketed wildflower hillsides, deep canyon walls, cascading side streams, and large sandy beaches. Fun, sun, and rapids for the family, a group of college friends, or the solo adventurer. Come see some of the best of what Idaho has to offer!

Trip Highlights

  • 6 days, 80 miles
  • Class II-III whitewater, perfect for families
  • Refreshing water for swimming and paddling kayaks or stand up paddleboards
  • Huge sandy beaches for great games, comfortable camping, and star-gazing
  • Rich history, Native American sites and pictographs, pioneer homesteads, miners and legends of the river
  • “Hot Tub” hot springs
  • Rich geologic history through the heart of the Atlanta batholith

In the heart of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness flows the Main Salmon River. Class III “pool drop” rapids promise a fun and exhilarating ride in the capable hands of our seasoned guides. Relax in the oar boat, grab a paddle in the paddleboat, or captain your own inflatable kayak – you choose just how much excitement you want.

The Main Salmon is a rare outdoor adventure, pairing a perfect beach vacation with the solitude of a vast wilderness. The water is warm in July and August, which makes for great swimming and inflatable kayaking. Lounge on the beach, or grab your hiking shoes to explore historic homesteads and rocky canyon ridge tops. There’s truly something for everyone. While our veteran guides have the unique opportunity to navigate many different rivers throughout the summer, the Main Salmon is one they hold near and dear. Want to reserve an entire trip for your group? Ask us about charter trips!

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The Stats

Departure Month June, July, August, September
State / Region Central Idaho
Adventure Level Relaxed, Moderate
Price Range Under $1500, $2000 - $3000
Activities Hot Springs, Hiking, Native American Sites, Pioneer History, Rafting, Wildlife, Whitewater Rafting, Inflatable Kayaking, Family Rafting



The Main Salmon trip begins in Salmon and ends in Boise, Idaho.

Before the trip:
Fly commercially into Boise, Idaho, then take Gem Air into Salmon, Idaho. If you plan on driving, you can have your car shuttled with River Shuttles or All River Shuttles.

Driving: If you choose to drive to Salmon, you can arrange to have your car shuttled from Salmon to the take-out (Carey Creek or McCall) by River Shuttles or All River Shuttles.

Gem Air
Phone: 208.756.7382
Email: [email protected]

River Shuttles
Phone: 800.831.4942
Email: [email protected]

Lodging Before: Make your reservations at the Stagecoach Inn (208.756.2919). Your motel will pick you up at the Salmon Airport. We will have an orientation at 6:00pm the evening before your trip begins at the Stagecoach Inn behind the hotel by the river.

After the trip:
We provide transportation to Boise from the take out. We recommend staying at the Best Western Vista Inn near the airport (800.727.5006). All trips will have a van or bus ride to McCall, then on to Boise for an early evening arrival.

Sample Itinerary

Day before the trip: Arrive in Salmon, Idaho (flights from Boise to Salmon are available through Gem Air).  Orientation meeting at 6pm riverside on the back lawn of the Stagecoach Inn. We will distribute river gear and answer any last minute questions.

Day 1: We’ll meet at 8:30am and drive roughly 2 hours to the Corn Creek put-in. When we reach the river, your guides will be ready to tie your gear down and have a brief river safety talk. Then we’re off! We’ll stop for lunch on a sandy beach a couple of miles down the river, and later maybe stop to look at some Native American pictographs. Soon everyone will start getting into the flow of the trip. After a great afternoon of a few fun rapids and quiet stretches of river we’ll find a nice campsite on a beautiful beach and make our home for the night.

Day 2-5: We like to keep our trips flexible and choose activities that suit each group. There will be opportunities to hike, fish, explore pioneer homesteads, soak in a natural hot spring, and relax around camp.  Generally, we are on the water for about 4 to 6 hours each day and the rapids are fun class II-III.

Day 6: We’ll have a fun float with one or two good rapids then continue on to the Carey Creek take out.  We provide transportation to Boise, Idaho via McCall, Idaho arriving early evening.


Camp Life and Meals

Yes, we do normally change campsites every day.

On the River

Clothing, Footwear, and Gear



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