Middle Fork River Expeditions

Seasons in the Frank Church Wilderness

Seasons in the Frank Church Wilderness

My name is Sadie Grossbaum, and I am a guide for MFRE. I am currently care taking the Flying B Ranch on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. It is pretty incredible here in the winter. It hasn’t gotten above 20 degrees Fahrenheit in a few days, and the river is starting to freeze. Yesterday I found mountain lion and coyote tracks crossing an ice bridge that spanned the river below Aparejo Rapid. Watching the Middle Fork in winter has me thinking about all four of her seasons and how different and wonderful each one can be.

The Middle Fork and Main Salmon, the rivers at the heart of the Frank Church Wilderness, are found in central Idaho. Central Idaho is in the North West, meaning it gets four seasons a year. Three of those seasons you can experience on the river with MFRE. I would like to take a minute to talk about what the three different seasons have to offer.

You can’t run these rivers in the winter (see ice bridges I mentioned previously) so let’s start with Spring. MFRE’s first trip launches June 2nd and it is always a trip to be remembered. The Middle Fork and Main Salmon Rivers are free of dams so we boaters are at the mercy of the snow pack and the spring weather. Our early June trips tend to be high water, meaning big exciting, fast white water. Hot springs are best enjoyed after getting splashed by a huge wave! That is just the river, but the landscape is incredible too, everything is green, waterfalls are flowing and the whole river corridor is waking up with the coming of spring. The Arrow Leaf Balsam Root’s yellow flowers cover the green hillsides, the elusive Western Tanager bird darts around the bushes. Spring on the Salmon is my favorite time, and if you have done a trip in the summer or fall, you may want to consider and adventurous June trip.

Next comes the sunny days of Summer. The water warms up and swimming in the river is a treat. The heat of the day gives you the encouragement you need to rinse off under the crisp waterfalls coming out of the canyon walls. The white water is still world class, but not quite as epic as the floods of early June. The fishing starts to get good, and we break out the inflatable kayaks and paddle boards so you can pilot your own craft. You can’t beat summer in the Frank Church. My dad booked a trip this year and I recommended a July trip because it is a classic river trip experience. Picture putting a camp chair in the river so you can keep your feet in the water and watch the river roll by as you enjoy the last sun of the day.

As the days start to get shorter, we float into our fall trips. I must say, September on the river is a magical time. The water drops and the nine-bark bushes on the hill sides start to turn red. The mornings and evening are a bit cooler, and the fishing gets even better. We start to see more wild game down by the river and hear the clucking of chukar in the rocks. With the low water, the boating gets technical – weaving between rocks that a few months ago were multiple feet underwater. In the fall you get to see the bones of the river, it’s another great time to be out here.

Any time of the year out here is magical, but what I am trying to speak to is how dynamic and changing the Middle Fork and Main Salmon Rivers are. Heraclitus said, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” These rivers change as the seasons do, and each season highlights and shows different characteristics of the place. I hope this discussion of the different seasons in the Frank Church can give you a different perspective on a trip out have done or are thinking of doing. I’ll be keeping my toes warm and watching the ice float down the river, enjoying the winter and looking forward to the spring floods.

I hope to see you in the Frank any season.   Sadieanne Grossbaum

The Frank in the Winter, all the white!

The Frank in the Spring, all the green!

Moors and McCumber 2020

Check out Moors and McCumber’s video from last summer and join them this summer Sept 1-6 on the Middle Fork and Sept 7-12 on the Main Stem!



Our Family

The eclectic MFRE family prior to our early season lap down the Middle Fork! We love taking people down the Salmon, join us in 2020!

Why do we guide?






Why guide? ✨
These photos depict a fairly honest day in the life of a river guide.
Mornings that start in the pitch black, accompanied by head lamps and the gradual scent of crispy bacon and fresh coffee.
I often lick my front teeth while opening my eyes after five days of the 9-5 river grind and sand crunches between my teeth and tongue. ✨
Followed by yoga and boat-rigging, morning push off is typically a chaos-filled launch at 10am under direct sunlight. Many hours each morning are spent story telling, laughing, scouting rapids and stopping for hikes and pictographs. We spend our afternoons deep in play, grateful and excited to be at camp. In the heat of July we don’t eat until 8pm and we spend our camp time playing games, chatting, dancing and singing around the fire, cooking steaks and portobellos, and debriefing long days in the Frank Church Wilderness.

I guide for the feeling I get when I watch fellow guide and dear friend, Sadie Anne stomp her boots around hot coals and swing dance people into the sunset all the same breath. ✨
I guide for the ability to not only indulge in my own love for the river, but for the ability to share that love…to share knowledge and history of a protected wilderness area with hundreds of people from around the country. ✨
I guide for the adrenaline I get every time I drop into whitewater with 12 kids screaming on the front of my boat. ✨
I guide for the stories I get to tell and the stories I get to hear. ✨
I guide because I get to be celebrated for being silly. ✨
I guide because I get to make mistakes and learn from and with the people around me. ✨
I guide because the look in a once-stranger’s eyes after after a week on the river is what life is all about. ✨
Join the MFRE familia this summer, we know how to have fun!

High water on the Main & Middle Fork!


This season we launched on the Main and Middle Fork with an awesome group during the first week of June. With tunes by the fire, lots of women on the oars, a visit from the family dory, and successful lines, we made it down in 7 days! With whitewater and music on our hearts and minds, we are excited to be weeks into our season. This summer we have a number of music trips that we are looking forward to. Please stay tuned for blogs as those trips go by. Sending love from our Stanley ware-home!

Musician Keith Greeninger- Middle/Main combo Aug 16-27, 2019

Few people have as much soul, volume, and joy in their voice than @keithgreeninger. Anyone that knows him can attest to his character AND how fun it is to be on the river with him! Please join us in welcoming him on the Middle Fork of the Salmon this summer August 16th-21st or the Aug 22-27 Main Stem of the Salmon River. He brings it!!! There is space left on this trip, register at Idahorivers.com! #mfre #middlefork#salmonriver

Musicians Joe and Hattie Craven Aug 14-19 Main Stem of the Salmon River

Joe & Hattie Craven (members of @joecravenandthesometimers ) are facilitating a music trip with MFRE this summer!
When: August 14-August 19th!
For 6 days on the Main salmon, you will get to experience the magic of Joe and Hattie (father/daughter duo) in a family and friends songwriting and music-curation trip! We will raft, eat and hike our way down the Main with some of our dearest friends and there are more than 12 spots left!
Book with us at https://www.idahorivers.com/dates-and-prices/ and spread the word to folks who may be interested! These two radiate positivity and anyone who joins us for this will be thrilled they came! 🙂

Year of the River Dog and MFRE Has a DOG Friendly River Trip on the Main Stem of the Salmon River in Idaho Sept 7-12, 2018

Dog Friendly River Trip on the Main Stem of the Salmon River in Idaho are happening this summer in honor of the Year of the Dog in the Chinese New Years Calendar.   The Sept 7-12 departure is open to 6 lucky dogs and their human families.  All dog must be well behaved and have a pre-trip screening.  If the dog is deemed too aggressive or not getting along with the other dogs then the dog and the family will be asked to leave the trip on the morning of Sept 8 and take a jet-boat upstream to the put-in point.  This cost will be on the owner of the dog and the river trip fee is non-refundable.  So please be sure that your dog is ready for this trip!  We of course hope this does not happen and will do whatever we can to make sure we don’t get aggressive or poorly behaved dogs on trips.  The dog interview process will be done on Skype or a  Zoom meeting to try and prevent any aggressive or non-friendly dogs from participating.  Ultimately, it is up to the owner to know whether or not their dog gets along with human beings and other fury friends.  All participants must bring the following for their dog.

  1. One long leash on one short (approximately 20 feet and 4 feet)
  2. Dog life jacket
  3. Dog food in waterproof container or dry bag and food bowl
  4. Sleeping pad
  5. treats!

Woof and we hope to see you on this first ever dog friendly departure!

Year of the River Dog

Musicians Moors and McCumber Play on the Sept 1-6, 2018 Middle Fork of the Salmon River trip

Musicians Moors and McCumber Play on the Sept 1-6, 2018 Middle Fork of the Salmon River trip this summer!  Please join them and all the musical fun imaginable on this amazing trip!


Check out the video above and we hope to see you on this departure.  There are only 6 spaces open so please call soon if you want to attend this amazing musical mystery tour!

2018 Sobek Heritage Rafting Trips

2018 Sobek Heritage Rafting Trips

Happy to be a part of this.  If you have any free time this next year I would suggest contacting John and sign up for a trip.

For More Information go to: http://www.wantokadventures.com

Brief descriptions of the trips follow, in chronological order.  If you have questions or would like the detailed itineraries for any of these trips contact:

John Yost at wantokwhitenile@gmail.com for more information.

**’Tis the season, so I’m throwing in a bonus gift. If you sign up for one of these trips below, you’ll also receive a signed copy of Rivergods, the seminal coffee table book that recounts the early Sobek exploratories.

World Rivers:  Morocco                                                          March 24 – April 4, 2018

A new and improved version of this old favorite, with day trips on two new rivers to go with the rollicking three-day Ahanssel River canyon.  Still featured are the Atlas Mountains, the magic of Marrakech, souks, Berber towns and forts, and the Sahara by camel back.  Guaranteed departure

NEW!  World Rivers:  Iran                                                                May 8 – 20, 2018

Yes, Iran.  On the edge of this largely desert country are mountains and rivers.  We raft four of them, visit the attractions of Tehran and Isfahan, enjoy home stays with local Iranians, and immerse ourselves in the wonders of ancient Persia.  Only four spaces left!

The Tons River, India                                                                May 26 – June 6, 2018

We’ve listed this Class IV+ whitewater wonder before but this trip is special, a commemorative journey celebrating the first descent of the river led by the late Sobek guide Jack Morison.  We warm up by rafting the Ganges, hike briefly into the Himalayas, raft the Tons in three sections broken up with stays in a mountain lodge, and experience a little-visited corner of India.

NEW!  World Rivers:  Japan                                                            June 16 – 24, 2018

Not just any part of Japan but its last remaining wilderness on the northern island of Hokkaido.  We raft four sparkling mountain streams, hike in two of Japan’s finest national parks, spend the nights soaking at hot springs inns, eat great Japanese food, and get a taste of the culture that makes Japan special.

NEW!  Honduras River Exploratory                                           August 18 – 28, 2018

These days it’s surprising to find even a creek that a raft hasn’t found, but this is much more than that.  125 miles of wild river, mainly Class III with a few IVs for good measure, that we’ve checked out by kayak.  Most of this has never been rafted so this is a very rare opportunity to participate in a significant first raft descent.

World Rivers:  Guatemala                                                        September 1 – 11, 2018

Each time we run this trip we find a way to improve it, but this time we’ve outdone ourselves, adding a fourth river and a fabulous limestone cavern, eliminating 12+ hours of driving, and keeping Tikal, the Afro-Caribbean coast, Lago Izabal, Spanish colonial forts and architecture, the mountains and the rainforest.

NEW!  Rio Usumacinta, Guatemala/Mexico                         November 17 – 29, 2018

The River of the Sacred Monkey has been run for decades but is new to Wantok.  It’s a week of Class II-III boating featuring day-long visits to two major Mayan ruins, the rainforest of the Peten, lovely landscapes and great campsites plus an expert Mayan archaeologist to enhance our appreciation of the wonders we see.

A note from your rafting guide: If you’re hankering for one of our classic adventures, please remember that for groups of four or more we can operate any of them, from expeditions like the Zanskar or Karnali rivers to World Rivers programs in Peru, Croatia, Ecuador and more.  Just let us know your dreams and we’ll help you live them.

See you on the rivers,


Contact John Yost at wantokwhitenile@gmail.com for more information.

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