Middle Fork River Expeditions

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.

Wilderness and Travel Medicine Conference Joins MFRE Sept 9-14, 2018

We are excited to partner with Wilderness and Travel Medicine this summer.  If you are a doctor and need credits for your continued education this is the best way to get those credits you need and most definately the most fun!!

Wilderness and Travel Medicine specializes in the highest quality expedition, travel, and wilderness medicine CME conferences for medical professionals. Our courses prepare participants to become more adept at rendering emergency medical care in wilderness environments, which can be remote and austere. These courses are also excellent preparation for medical problems associated with foreign travel, medical missions, and disasters.

Our Wilderness Medicine conferences have earned a reputation of excellence for over 25 years largely on the strength of our world-class faculty. Another unique strength is the emphasis on more practical topics and workshops. We are also the largest provider of CME conferences in adventure travel locations worldwide.

We are gratified that many of our participants rate our CME courses as “the best” and return year after year! (see our testimonials). We hope you can join us!

Please see more info at


Also go to our partner for this trip Bio Bio Expeditions.

Middle Fork of the Salmon CME


Middle Fork River Expeditions has been in business for over 60 years and that is no coincidence. MFRE was chosen as one of the top 3 river outfitters in the world by National Geographic Adventure magazine in 2008 and 2009. We focus on our guests experience to not just see the river from a distance, but to experience it intimately with the leadership of experienced guides. With over 70% of our guests as past clients or referrals from past river travellers we guarantee a world-class river adventure. Our mission is to allow river travellers the opportunity to unplug from modern society and reconnect to oneself, family, and friends through nature’s lens. This adventure allows you to have a digital detox from technology and reconnect to a more simple and fulfilling pace of life.   There is no Wi- Fi in the wilderness, but we promise you will find a much deeper connection.


Our equipment is specially designed for wilderness whitewater rafting, and offers mild and wild boat choices (oar boats, paddle boats, inflatable kayaks and stand up paddle boards). Our river guides are seasoned professionals, licensed by the state of Idaho and First Aid and Swiftwater Rescue Certified. They are expert river runners, magnificent cooks, great storytellers, and knowledgeable, helpful outdoorsmen and friends.


Join Middle Fork River Expeditions for a magical wilderness river vacation this summer!

Musicians Joe Craven and Keith Greeninger join MFRE this summer!

We are so lucky to have Musicians Joe Craven and Keith Greeninger join MFRE this summer!  The trip date is Aug 16-21 and it is sure to be an amazing trip with these two musical wizards.  They are joining for some amazing music on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.  This trip is just announced and is going to fill up fast, so give us a call and we can hold the space for you.  We hope to see you on this magical mystery tour this summer!

Holiday River Expeditions names Middle Fork River Expeditions as their Idaho Affiliate

Here ye, here ye!  Holiday River Expeditions and Middle Fork River Expeditions have begun a new chapter in their partnership; now allowing Holiday to continue offering world-class trips on the Main as well as the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. We at holiday don’t choose our partners lightly; we feel anyone who we would book for must meet a high bar and have some key trappings of Holiday’s ethic and service baked into their own operation.  That brings me to the story of James Ellsworth.

James, a 5th generation Utahn, spent much of his childhood water-logged in 10 man military surplus rubber-rafts that his grandfather would use to take float trips with his Salt Lake City based company’s employees.  These rouge “business retreats” were a great excuse for James to sneak out into nature and a spark for wild rivers was ignited.  He spent a number of years guiding on the Salt River and working towards a Masters in Geomorphology, studying sand-bars in the Grand Canyon.  Eventually, time in the classroom was eclipsed by the sheer awe of ‘doing the thing’ and living his life on rivers. So in 1993 he found his way to Holiday River Expeditions where he angled for one of a few coveted guide positions in that years batch of candidates.  He knew his years of experience guiding on the Salt wouldn’t do him much good and ironically be seen as a count against him, as Holiday guides truly excelled when they learned the “Holiday Way” from the start. Yet Ellsworth’s background in geology and as he says “asking the question ‘what’s happening?!’” earned him a spot on the team due to Holiday River founder Dee Holladay’s persistent emphasis on interpretation.


During Ellsworth’s tenure at Holiday Tim Gaylord, Holiday’s Operations Manager recalled “he certainly showed his ability to grasp our concepts, and quickly moved through the ranks to become a trip leader” James even started to influence Dee and the “Holiday-Way” when he piloted our first draft at a compost system.  On river James would collect food scraps and then make a short stop along the shuttle drive back to headquarters to visit the local Green River horses along Hastings Road and give them a humble feast.


His love of animals was notoriously remembered by Holiday staff; as he had a Bonnet Macaque monkey named Fred who lived at the headquarters one summer.  Fred would get into all kinds of trouble, including deflating the air on the boat-trailer spare-tires by pushing the needle valve in and blowing pressurized air into his mouth. He was also quite an escape artist, once found relentlessly honking the horn of a U-haul truck down at the John Wesley Powell River History Museum surrounded by a crowd of confused tourists. In any case, James’ love of the wild led him to continuing his life’s work in the wilderness beyond Holidays shores and also left Holiday with a newly instituted “Pet Policy”.

In 1997, James headed to Mountain Travel Sobek where he spent the better part of a decade on the administrative end of an outfitting company; managing hundreds of employees all over the world and taking point behind the scenes for multiple first descents.  While getting a feel for the back-end operations with Sobek, James found himself up in Stanley Idaho acquiring a permit on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Once he had a taste for crystal-clear Idaho rivers, he couldn’t leave.  Meeting with veteran river-outfitter and founder of Middle Fork River Expeditions, Pat Ridle, he expressed interest in a dream of someday running his own outfit out of the quiet town of Stanley; and not a year later, in 2007 Pat was calling James back to pass the torch of Middle Fork River Expeditions to the next generation of boaters; thus the present day outfit was born.

After acquiring a Main Salmon permit MFRE was a dual river trip company; able to offer exhilarating more adult focused Middle Fork trips in the earlier season as well as integrated family friendly trips on the Main Salmon, having its best months in the latter half of the summer. James has spent the past decade shaping MFRE with the skills James had acquired at both Holiday and Sobek, including a full-scale renovation of the original boat-house in Stanley. Now in 2017, with James acquiring the final touch to his new boat-house, Holiday Idaho’s original ice-making machine, Middle Fork River Expeditions sits perfectly positioned as a northern partner to Holiday’s Colorado Plateau based river trips.

James has maintained many of the same ethical standards he had while guiding for Holiday, one of the most important of which is a commitment to motorless trips.  With a fleet of entirely oar-powered craft, MFRE trips are following in the oar-strokes of Dee Holladay, using this quiet and intimate way of transportation to better enjoy the hush of nature and the truly incredible alpine wilderness both sections of the Salmon River cut through.

Both of these river trips garner their own respect for similar reasons; both stretches have clear water, great fishing, thrilling whitewater, ponderosa forested shorelines and a smattering of epic hot-springs.  However there are hallmark differences between the Middle and Main:  While the Middle Fork is a narrow gorge and has literally hundreds of rapids, the Main opens up to more spacious big white sand beaches. The Middle Fork noted for its pristine wilderness aesthetic also contrasts with the frontier homesteads along the Main; places like the outpost of the  infamous Buckskin Bill or more modern land stewards like  Doug and Phyllis Tim’s homestead. Each waypoint with its own charm and character to add to the overall wilderness experience.

Us river-guides like to speak in terms of systems… ecosystems to be more specific.  In this way, James Ellsworth and Middle Fork River Expeditions has become a niche species for us: highly skilled and specialized for alpine Idaho river adventures, while we at Holiday River compliment that in the canyon-country wild rivers we run in Utah and Colorado’s boundless backcountry.  We look forward to seeing where this new network of old connections take us from here.

MFRE partners with HRE

Middle Fork River Expeditions (MFRE) partners with Holiday River Expeditions (HRE) to be their exclusive Idaho Affiliate, offering river trips on the Middle Fork and Main Salmon Rivers.

Here is a link to the HRE Blog.   

It is an honor to work with Holiday River Expeditions.  I worked with HRE from 1993 to 1998.  And once a Holiday boatman it’s part of your DNA.

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