Middle Fork River Expeditions

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

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