Which one to choose?
You can’t go wrong with which river you choose for your vacation. Both rivers are amazing and you cannot make a bad choice. The Middle Fork of the Salmon River is more adult appropriate and the Main Stem of the Salmon River is more family friendly. Here are a few things that set them apart.
Main Stem of the Salmon River
- Large Sandy beaches for camping. The middle fork is mostly rocky camps. Kids play in the sand all day.
- Water temps are over 75+F by August, which ideal for swimming.
- Pool and drop rapids, so can swim and float in river in calm sections of the river. The middle fork has too many rocks so you can only swim in a few spots and it’s around 60-70+F.
- Many historic sites along river, including Yellow Pine Bar, Campbells’ Ferry and Buckskin Bill’s. You meet 3 couples who are living here and they have amazing stories to tell.
- Stand up paddleboarding (SUP) is ideal on the Main Stems of the Salmon River, often dubbed the best SUP river in the world for it’s fun and easy wave trains.
- Home of the Best Hot Springs on the Salmon River: Barth Hot Springs.
- You can catch fish and eat them, Middle Fork is all catch and release.
The Middle Fork of the Salmon River
- Continuous 100+ rapids for 100 miles. In comparison the Main Stem of the Salmon River has around 50+ rapids. The rapids are more technical on the Middle Fork.
- There are no motor jet boats on the Middle Fork, you see them about once a day on the Main Stem. This is a non-issue for most people.
- Has 6 hot springs compared to 2 on the Main Stem.
- Veil Falls- One of the most amazing waterfalls you will ever experience.
- Logistics on getting to meeting point for the Middle Fork are easier than the Main Stem of the Salmon River.
- Designated camps so you know where you will camp each night. The Main Stem has some reservable camps but many are first come, first serve.
An Idaho whitewater rafting trip on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River is second to none and is known as “The Best River in the World”. The Middle Fork Salmon River is a true wilderness trip… it’s the the largest, most remote, roadless and unspoiled Wilderness Area in the US. It also incises through America’s third deepest river canyon and is the headwaters of the longest free flowing river in the US. The Middle Fork of the Salmon offers 100 miles of Wild and Scenic free-flowing river and over 350 rapids, class I-IV.
The Middle Fork of the Salmon provides the ideal setting for a whitewater rafting trip as it flows entirely through protected wilderness lands — the largest wilderness area in the lower 48 states. See primitive America — unspoiled and beautiful. Explore ancient Indian caves and pictographs and a hermit’s homestead, enjoy blue ribbon cutthroat trout fishing, soak in natural hot water springs. View many kinds of wildlife — bighorn sheep, river otter, Golden eagles, elk, deer, beaver, osprey and moose.
The Middle Fork of the Salmon River is one of a few choice rivers designated by Congress as “Wild & Scenic” in 1968. This ensures it will remain forever as it is now — crystal clear, wild and free, with no dams, roads, or pollution. Nothing is allowed to spoil the land or your experience.
The Main Stem of the Salmon River is the longest undammed river in the U.S., and also boasts the second deepest canyon. The Main Stem of the Salmon River offers free-flowing Class III whitewater that’s great for any age and experience level, big sandy beaches perfect for camping and playing, beautiful mountain scenery, abundant wildlife, and a natural hot spring are all hallmarks of the Main Stem of the Salmon River. The river is the perfect trip for families, as the water is warmer and the sand bars are huge for camping and playing games. Perhaps inappropriately dubbed the “River of No Return” by early river runners, the Main Stem of the Salmon is in fact a river you’ll want to return to again and again.
Middle Fork / Main Stem Combo Trip
Both the Middle Fork and the Main Stem of the Salmon River offer different experiences. For those who find it difficult to pick which one is right for them, we offer the best of both worlds in a combination trip. Combining the Middle Fork and the Main Stem of the Salmon River is a rare opportunity to run the longest undammed stretch of river in the United States. You’ll float over 190 miles and descend 4,000 feet from a high mountain stream to a powerful western river. As the river grows, each bend offers an ever-changing vista from high-mountain alpine scenery to big-wooded canyons and everything in between. The Middle Fork and Main Stem of the Salmon River cut through the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area; at 4.7 million acres, the largest wilderness complex in the contiguous United States.
EXPERIENCE THE RIVERS
Join Middle Fork River Expeditions to relax, dine, laugh, escape, and raft the most exciting wilderness whitewater rivers in the US. These are the only two rivers we run so we run them well, the best rivers in the West, and we are experts.
Canyon and Mountain Views
Indian Caves, Pictographs and Pithouses
True Wilderness Experience
Hike along the Middle Fork Trail, which covers 80 of the 100 miles of the Middle Fork
Relax in many Hot Springs
World Class Cutthroat Trout Fishing
Relaxing under the Stars
Being lullabied at night by the river
Whitewater (Oar Boat, Paddle Raft, Inflatable Kayak, Stand-Up Paddling options!)
Laughs all day long
Fun Games at night (horseshoes, bocce etc.)