Middle Fork River Expeditions

Joel Bourne, National Geographic Contributing Writer gives MFRE a Testimonial

Testimonial from Joel Bourne (Author of National Geographic article)
James and company, I just wanted to thank you once again for a spectacular trip down the Middle Fork, and especially for the attention you gave to my son, Sam. You’ve got an excellent crew of guides, and we enjoyed our time in the boats with each of them. I also appreciate your focus on curing “nature deficit disorder” in today’s kids by safely introducing them to wild places, wild rivers and the rich cultural history of the region. You are planting the seeds for the river rats–and protectors–of tomorrow. It was by far the best guided trip I’ve been on, and I’ve been on a few.

All the best,
Joel K. Bourne, Jr.
Contributing Writer
National Geographic

Idaho River Rafting

Idaho River Rafting is amazing as Idaho has more than 16,000 miles of navigable rivers to run. Some of the favorite Idaho river rafting trips are the Middle Fork of the Salmon and the Main Salmon in the Frank Church Wilderness of No Return. The Selway River would join these two as the best of the rivers in Idaho. Idaho river rafting is on par with anywhere in the world in terms of whitewater and scenic beauty.

Rapids on the Middle Fork of the Salmon in June is high and lots of fun whitewater. Idaho river rafting on the Middle Fork is also great in July-September every year.

We specialize in having the most river craft options than any other company, including whitewater dories, drift boats and Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Surf Boards.

So come join the fun, Idaho river rafting this summer with Middle Fork River Expeditions.

See you in Stanley!


National Geographic Magazine Article- Wild and Scenic Rivers Act

Joel Bourne, the writer for the Nov, 2011 issue for National Geographic Magazine, traveled with his son Sam on an MFRE trip in summer 2010 for use on the article.

Boundless Rivers, by Joel K. Bourne, Jr., photographed by Michael Melford (Page 134) For most of the 20th century, the federal government seemed determined to dam virtually all the major rivers in the country, harnessing their power for electricity, irrigation, navigation, water supply and flood control, with little regard to the lasting effects on the rivers themselves. But in 1968 President Lyndon Johnson signed the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, sparing eight rivers and narrow buffer zones around them from dams and development. The Act was passed largely thanks to the work of twin brothers, John and Frank Craighead, and now covers 200 rivers in 39 states and Puerto Rico. Author Joel Bourne, Jr., writes of how crucial the Craigheads’ work was: “Because [they] and others loved moving, living, untarnished waters, we now have some left to cherish.”

Fly Fishing on the Middle Fork Salmon Record Levels for summer 2011

The fishery on the Middle Fork Salmon River in Idaho was amazing this summer. One MFRE client caught 103 fish before quitting to have supper. He then caught 35 the next morning on the same fly and took the rest of the day off. The point is that the Middle Fork Salmon River in Idaho experienced fantastic fishing this summer and it felt like these are the good old days on the Middle Fork. The fish population is thriving. Now if only we can get more salmon up in the Middle Fork drainage we would be very happy for that. Imagine fishing for Salmon throughout the summer.

we have 16 foot McKenzie Drift boats on the Middle Fork Salmon down to around 2 ft. on the river level gage. After that, we bring an oar boat with a fishing frame with large casting braces. That usually happens in early August sometime. So the drift boats are used primarily in late June to late July.

So come on out and join us this next summer of 2012 on the Middle Fork Salmon River.

See you in Stanley,


Middle Fork Salmon River July 15-20, 2011 Testimonial

Below is an e-mail we received from a guest on the July 15-20, 2011 departure. She has been with MFRE 4 times and has travelled with other outfitters to other parts of the west many times as well.

” Dear James,

Thanks for an incredible trip. Thanks again for making delicious, gluten-free meal options. All the meals were sensational…that salmon was to die for!

All your guides are exceptional. Josie your dog (or is it Josey as in The Outlaw-Josey Wales?) was a great little spirit to have along with us. As you know, this trip with you was my fourth run down the Middle Fork with MFRE. They have all been great. I can see that you and your guides do go the extra distance. You’re the only person I’ve met who can offer so many activities without it seeming like you’re a social director. That takes a lot of finesse. Your knowledge about geology, the river, nature, psychology, cooking, entertainment and people are all great assets but it’s your genuineness and good-hearted ways that pull it all together. I loved it all but just remember, you could do half as much and still be right on the mark. That said, thanks for making this my best MFRE trip to date.

Be well. Be happy. See you next summer.


Audrey A. ”
Middle Fork Salmon River Participant
July 15-20, 2011

ISUP (Inflatable Stand Up Paddle) Boarding on the Main Salmon RIver in Idaho

Middle Fork River Expeditions has 3 ISUPS we use on both the Middle Fork and the Main Salmon. The Main Salmon River is really best for the stand up paddle boarding as it is a pool and drop river. Therefore, you can paddle on the calm stretches and then shoot down thru the rapids sitting on the board. Our paddles are full height adjustable so you can then paddle it sitting down. When the rapid is over, you get back up and paddle. The middle Fork of the salmon river is a little different as it is a continuous river, so there are only a couple of sections we run the paddle boards and usually just use them around camp at night. We have C4 Waterman paddle boards and they are super stable. All participants must use a life jacket and helmet at all times when paddle these boards. All participants must also be able to self-rescue and have strong swimming skills.

So come and join us in the summer of 2012 on the Middle Fork of the Salmon or the Main Salmon and try out these amazing river paddle boards. It gives a whole new dimension to the river experience. You can paddle them like a surfboard on your belly too.

We hope to see you in Idaho this summer of 2012, not just to river raft but to river paddle board to your heart’s content.

Yours for paddle boards, Ellsworth

Grand Canyon Dory for Sale

Lost River Boatworks os hand making Grand Canyon Dories in Pocatello, Idaho. These boats are custom made adn perfect for the Grand Canyon, Main Salmon River, or most rivers on the Colorado Plateau. If you are interested in a grand canyon dory please give me a call and I will get you in touch with Willis McAleese, owner and founder of Lost River Boatworks. Simply, rafts are ugly and dories are beautiful.

Come join us next summer in one of these beautiful dories on the Main Salmon River in Idaho.

Yours for rivers, Ellsworth

Middle Fork of the Salmon River Information

Pre-trip Orientation

You’ll want to arrive in scenic Stanley, ID the day before your trip. It is a beautiful small town nestled at the foot of the Sawtooth Mountains. At 7:30 PM, there will be an orientation meeting at the MFRE Warehouse, located just down Highway 21 between the Triangle C Ranch and Meadow Creek Lodge and Spa. Here you will meet James and the other guests on your trip.

James or an MFRE representative will distribute dry bags, sleeping bags and pads, so you can get packed up and be ready to head out in the morning. You’ll also find out if you’ll be flying or driving into the river and what time to be ready (usually 8 AM). You can ask last minute questions and fill out a quick form if you’re having your car shuttled to Salmon. There’s a store right next to the Mountain Village lodge where you can pick up any last minute things for the trip.

Day 1- Make sure to eat a hearty breakfast and meet your group in front of the hotel at the designated time, with everything packed in your dry bags and dressed for the Middle Fork Salmon.

For trips in May- early July, you’ll ride by bus to Boundary Creek, (about an hour). Late July-September, the first 25 miles of the river are too low to run, so you’ll fly to Indian Creek aboard a small charter plane. The flight is short (30 minutes) but beautiful and lands on an airstrip right along the Middle Fork. On the Bus we have a general safety talk.

When you arrive at the put-in, you’ll meet the rest of your guides, listen to a brief talk from a Forest Service official about caring for the canyon. During this time, the guides are loading the boats and preparing to shove off on the Middle Fork.

“If I had to choose one river to run, once a year for the rest of my life, the choice would be easy. I would choose the Middle Fork.”
– Jerry Rice (former NFL player)

If you begin at Boundary Creek you’ll encounter a small, fast stream with lots of rocks. Be ready to paddle and listen to your guide’s commands. It is too tricky and shallow for inflatable kayaks in this section. If you begin at Indian Creek the river is larger and deeper making it appropriate for inflatable kayaks.

You will stop in the early afternoon for lunch and to stretch your legs, and then head downstream for camp. We like to hit camp early this first day, so we can have time to ease into our camp routine. There should be time for fishing, reading, playing games, visiting or a short hike. Hors d’oeuvres will be served first, followed by your first hearty gourmet river dinner. James or the Expedition Leader will give an overview of what to expect for the following day. Then you will relax until you’re ready to head to your tent for the night.

Day 2- You will wake up in your cozy tent and peak out to the beauty all around you. This is your first full river day. Coffee, tea and juice will be ready by 7 AM, along with light breakfast options like yogurt, fruit and cereal. A heartier breakfast will be ready around 8 AM, with things like pancakes and bacon, French toast and sausage, eggs-to-order, etc. You won’t go hungry on an MFRE trip!

After breakfast you’ll pack up your dry bag, and bring it down to the boats. It will take some time to get camp broken down and packed up, and we try to be on the water around 10 AM. This is fine, because you’ll want the day to warm up before you get wet.

Once again, you’ll raft until early afternoon with various stops along the way including an hour or so for lunch. Some time during the day there might be an extra stop to visit a hot spring, take a short hike to a waterfall or view the Native American pictographs.

Depending on the stops you make and the distance between your assigned campsites, you’ll arrive in camp in the early to late afternoon and you can once again relax, hike or read. The guides will make hors d’oeuvres first, followed by dinner and then off to bed.

Days 3-5
You will wake to the quiet canyon each morning and follow the routine of DAY 2, with coffee around 7, breakfast around 8 and be on the river before 10. The guides will keep you posted on which big rapids to expect during the day and they’ll pull over for lunch midday.

Campsites are assigned on the Middle Fork, so this will dictate how long you spend on the water each day. You may arrive in camp earlier in the afternoon on some days. Drinks, hors d’oeuvres and a full dinner are enjoyed each night.

As the trip continues you’ll form bonds, have more experiences to share in the evenings, and get into the flow of life on the river. Your koob game will most likely improve and you will appreciate the solitude all around you. You’ll fall asleep each night excited to do the whole thing over again.

Day 6- On this last day you’ll wake up deep in Impassable Canyon, where the river is at least five times bigger than where you started. Breakfast will be served as usual and you’ll load up for this last stretch of the Middle Fork. You’ll float through the confluence of the Middle Fork with the Main Salmon, where there’s one more great rapid to end the trip.

You’ll arrive at Cache Bar around 11AM and while the guides de-rig the rafts and load up, you’ll have lunch that has been brought in from town. Hopefully you’ll get a group photo before bidding the river farewell. You’ll load up in the bus and head four hours or so back to Stanley, ID. We make two stops on the way back to Stanley, including the general store in North Fork for ice cream and bathroom breaks.

You’ll arrive in Stanley between 4-6PM. You can then overnight at the Mountain Village Resort or the Sawtooth Hotel.

You will be happy to have floated and rafted and kayaked and stand up paddle boarded, and paddle rafted, and fished the 100 mile trip in style with Middle Fork River Expeditions. No other Outfitter offers the amazing variety of whitewater rafting craft. Come join us this summer, there are no strangers here. Only friends we have not met.

Yours for rivers, Ellsworth

Tom Crum- Aiki Works

MFRE has the joy of taking Tom and Cathy Crum and their amazing friends down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River this last two summers. We are headed to Grand Canyon on April 24- May 7, 2012 and then hopefully to the Zanskar River in Ladakh in 2013. Below is the copy direct from Tom’s website.

” Thomas Crum is an author and presenter in the fields of conflict resolution, peak performance, and stress management. He is known throughout the world for The Thomas Crum Approach, taught through best-selling books, audio and visual materials, and live presentations of varying length and designed to help people become more centered under conflict, more resourceful when facing challenges, and more effective under stress.

For over 30 years, Tom has been a teacher of Aikido, a graceful martial art which uses energy rather than force to resolve conflicts, and he includes principles and movements from Aikido, Tai Chi Chuan, Qi Gong, and other mind-body arts in his presentations, creating an experiential event which adds excitement, color, and value.

Acclaimed as “more than another talking head,” Tom conducts presentations for organizations worldwide for management and employees at all levels in corporations, government and non-profit organizations. His corporate clients include Amgen, Diebold, Sony Pictures, Sony Entertainment, Alcan, Sandia National Labs, Intel, various universities and the U.S. Government. He is a popular keynote and plenary presenter, with appearances at many international conferences and associations including the American Society of Training and Development, Franklin Covey, the Ken Blanchard Companies, Systems Thinking in Action, and Global Institute for Leadership Development.
© Doug Ellis

The Thomas Crum Approach is applicable to every aspect of our lives — relationships, family, work, and athletic performances – and Tom’s residential programs are opportunities to practice the principles in peaceful retreat settings. For those among us who like to ski or play golf, Tom integrates his work with these sports. The popular week-long Magic of Skiing program has brought skiers to Aspen, Colorado for the past twenty years, and the Aspen Ski Company has adapted Tom Crum’s work for use in their ski schools. Tom is a true golf devotee, and the Magic of Golf program applies mind/body work to the pursuit of golf as a vehicle for freedom and fulfillment.

Tom and his team are available for personal coaching in conflict resolution, peak performance, and stress management – working with executives, athletes, and the general public.

Thomas Crum books, audio and visual materials and other products have been acclaimed throughout the world. The Magic of Conflict has been honored by placement on the best seller’s list, and Journey To Center has delighted readers with stories which inspire and motivate. Tom’s latest addition to the marketplace is Three Deep Breaths: Finding Power and Purpose In A Stressed Out World (Berrett/Koehler Publishers, June, 2006.)”

Idaho Whitewater River Rafting

Idaho Whitewater River Rafting is one of the best activities you can do as a family these days. Idaho river rafting has more than 13,000 river miles to choose from. At MFRE we focus on the best idaho river rafting destinations by floating on the Salmon River. We offer both the Middle Fork of the Salmon River and also the Main Salmon River as well.

Idaho river rafting on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River are 6 days, and we float 100 miles. Idaho river rafting on the Middle Fork has over a half dozen hot springs, incredible Blue Ribbon cutthroat trout fishing, visits of lots of homesteads, and float through a canyo that is deeper than the Grand Canyon. Idaho river rafting on the Middle Fork Salmon River has more than 400 rapids in it’s 100 mile distance. Most are un-named as they are class I and class II rapids, but there are still over 60 rapids that are class III or above. Idaho river rafting does not get any better than on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. It is fun for the whole family to enjoy a vacation or holiday together rafting the great rapids of Idaho, some of the best in the country. No doubt about it, Idaho River rafting is fun for everyone who gives it a try.

So come on out in 2012 and join MFRE for some of the best Idaho River rafting ever.

We also offer Idaho river rafting on the Main Salmon in Idaho. We offer 4 day trips in 56 miles. We start the trip in Salmon, Idaho and then on Day 4 we fly you out at 10am from Mackay Bar Ranch. The Main salmon does not have excellent Idaho River rafting. It is know as the “River of History” both natural history and also human history. We visit three “working Homesteads” while on the river. These include Yellow Pine Bar, where we meet Greg and Sue. Greg makes knives out of the old cable from the cable Crossing at Campbell’s Ferry. He makes the handles for the knives out of Mountain Mohagany from the Salmon River Canyon.

We also visit Doug and Phyllis Tims at Campbell’s Ferry. They are amazing people. Doug is the founder of Maravia INC., which are the types of boat we run on the Middle Fork and Main Salmon. Both Doug and Phyllis give us an amazing interpretation of Francis Winemiler and also Jim Moore, who lived across the river and ran Campbell’s Ferry. They are in the process of finishing a book on the history of the Main Salmon River.

The last place we visit is 5 Mile Bar, which is where Buckskin Bill used to live and make his own guns. Barbara and Heinz now live there and run a permaculture garden and live off the grid completely. We can watch a video on Buckskin Bill and connect with Barbara and Heinz, who are great people that immigrated from Germany in the early 80’s and found the Main Salmon River Canyon and never left.

Idaho River rafting is best with Middle Fork River Expeditions. Please come out next summer and join us for an adventure of a lifetime. We hope to see you soon for a fun family vacation and the best Idaho river rafting, connecting with each other in the largest wilderness area in the US.

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