Main Salmon River Rockies

Idaho's Salmon River, the Grand Canyon of Idaho, is one of the longest free flowing rivers in the United States and cuts through a vast area of incredibly rugged Rocky Mountain wilderness - the largest wilderness area in the Lower 48. The canyon it creates is the second deepest on the continent and it has a timelessness and mountain grandeur that is matched by few rivers anywhere. It is one of the last big mountain rivers remaining in the world that is undammed and for 85 miles it is virtually untouched by modern civilization. It is a rafting trip of a lifetime, a multi-sport adventure, one of the world's premier wilderness rivers, and an adventure that we are honored to offer.

Known as the "River of No Return" by early explorers the Salmon is a big mountain river. It has big water with spring flows rivaling that of Colorado's Grand Canyon and big, fun, roller coaster style rapids; a big, incredibly beautiful, river corridor set in a massive wilderness with peaks rising over a mile above the river; huge sandy beaches shaded by towering pine and fir trees ; big side creeks full of trout - creeks that would be called rivers in many parts of the world; a long history full of big personalities, characters, and stories; a ton of wild life including Big Horn sheep, black bear, and bald eagles; and most importantly it offers a big authentic wilderness experience.

However, despite its size, history, remoteness, and ominous sounding nickname the Salmon River is incredibly friendly and comfortable. It features warm summer days lasting until nearly 10:00 in the evening, cool nights perfect for sleeping under the stars, water perfect for swimming, natural hot springs to soak in, perhaps the best beach camping anywhere, trout fishing, a ton of hiking, and whitewater that is exciting yet safe. People have said that it feels wild, untouched, and rugged but at the same time comfortable, forgiving, and almost luxurious – a journey that combines a perfect beach vacation with the solitude and beauty of a vast wilderness and the excitement of a mountain whitewater river.

The whitewater features big water wave trains punctuated by calm green pools. It is fun and exciting, but great for almost any age level. You have the choice of sitting in relaxing oar boats, participating in more exciting paddle boats, or navigating the whitewater in an inflatable kayak or a stand up paddle board (this adds a big level of excitement to the rapids).

The options for each day can turn the trips into a multi-sport adventure for those interested. The river is perfect for inflatable kayaking and stand up paddle boarding. There are both mellow and epic hiking options and there is trout fishing. It is not uncommon to have a group leave together in the morning, split for hiking, fishing, or a stop at one of the historic wilderness homesteads, and then come back together as they float into the evenings camp to tell the stories of their day.

Idaho's Main Salmon is one of those rare river trips that is ideal for the seasoned whitewater connoisseur, someone wanting to make the jump from shorter wilderness trips like Oregon's Rogue River, or for complete first timers looking for their first river trip or an amazing vacation. The trip can be enjoyed by those wanting high adventure, those wanting a very active trip, and those just wanting a beautiful lazy vacation. Our salmon trips range from groups of families to college buddies to chartered private trips and it is not uncommon to have trips enjoyed by three generations of family or friends.

Summer Fly Fishing on the Main Salmon
Cutthroat trout were once the dominant trout species of the western United States. In fact, cutthroat were the first salmonid chronicled by Lewis & Clark on their historic journey west. Through the years the Salmon river and its tributaries have remained one of the great strongholds for this fish and a trip down the main Salmon provides a spectacular setting to pursue them. These facts along with the fish’s natural beauty and its willingness to take a dry fly have made it a favorite for many western anglers.

The vast majority of the fishing on the main Salmon is where the small steep side creeks enter the river and then up the creeks as far as you are willing to hike. On normal group trips anglers will have the opportunity to ride in the same raft and stop at the numerous side creeks on the way down the river. This fishing will be lightly guided by the accompanying rafting guide so anglers should be prepared with all necessary tackle and flies. On these trips anglers can expect to have one to three hours of fishing each day.

New for 2015 Momentum will be offering fully guided fishing trips on trip dates when fishing on the creeks will be at its best. On these trips each professional fishing guide will take two anglers down the river stopping and fishing the creek mouths and hiking up many of the spectacular creeks. Fishing boats will often depart camp prior to the rest of the group and have lunch on their own and then meet up with the rest of the group just in time for dinner. On these trips anglers can expect to have three to six hours fishing each day.

For families of all ages looking for a spectacular river trip, with beautiful beaches for camping, and the opportunity to fish small creeks for the Salmon’s abundant, willing cutthroat trout this is the trip.

6-Day Salmon Rafting Trips:
The trip begins and ends in Boise and includes a scenic small plane flight to the river and five nights of camping along the river.

Overnight camping trips are an incredible way to fully experience the amazing qualities of the Salmon, nature as a whole, and the people you are with. Most are surprised by the quality of the food, the overall comfort, and the many intangibles that characterize extended time on the river. We are extremely proud of our comfortable camping in wilderness places. As with all our overnight trips the camping on the Salmon is deluxe and the food is excellent and served in a dining room where the sky is the ceiling.

The relaxed pace of the 6-day allows us to fully immerse ourselves in the experience, with time for activities such as hiking, swimming, fishing, beach games, and just lounging around. We spend the days floating down river, the evenings on large sandy beaches, and the nights under the stars. We fall asleep to the sound of the water gliding by and the anticipation of all that will come from the next day.

Day 1:
Our trip starts in Boise Idaho where we board a small plane for a scenic one hour plane flight over the Idaho Rockies to the little town of Salmon. There you will be met by one of the guides and we will drive a little over 2 hours to our "put-in" at Corn Creek. On the way we will stop at the North Fork Store for last minute necessities, fishing permits, personal drinks, etc. At Corn Creek we will meet the rest of the crew, have lunch by the river, do an orientation talk, and pack our dry bags. After loading our gear and ourselves into the boats we push off and head down the Salmon River and into the largest wilderness area in the Lower 48. For six days we will float the Salmon as it cuts a huge and beautiful canyon through the remote and wild Idaho Rockies. The canyon is home to abundant wildlife including bear, big horn sheep, river otter, dear, bald eagles, and osprey.

Days 2-5:
Each morning after a hearty breakfast and plenty of time for a second cup of coffee we will break camp and head down river. Days will include time on the water, a lunch stop, time on the beaches, time for optional side hikes (the hiking is world-class), fishing options and stops at side creeks, historic sites, and even natural hot springs. Each day also features sections of big, fun, roller coaster style rapids and views of the incredible beautiful and varied river canyon with peaks rising over a mile above the river. The exact itinerary and length of each day will depend on water levels, weather, and the interests of the group. There is an incredible amount to see and a ton of options – it is a true wilderness playground.

Day 6:
Morning comes once again with coffee, tea and the sound of birds in the canyon. Our last day includes one of the biggest rapids on the trip and a chance to experience the river for one last morning. We reach the end of our river trip around lunch, say goodbye to most of the guides and begin the drive back to Boise and civilization. We will take a quick break in the mountain town of McCall for a snack and a break, say goodbye to the trip leader, and then get back to Boise around 7:00 in the evening.

Rates and Details

2020 Rates: $3,150 per person for a 5 night/6 day package fishing package, $2,390.00 per person rafting package

Included: Transportation to/from the river from Boise including a small plane flight, all meals on the river, all river equipment, all camping gear (if needed).

Not Included: Transportation to Boise, meals and accommodations in Boise before or after trip, alcohol, fishing licenses.


Species:  West slope cutthroat trout

Season: July - September

Capacity: 24 total 

Map: Salmon, Idaho