By Julie Trevelyan


Salmon river facts: Take an Idaho rafting vacation on the thrilling Main Salmon River or Lower Salmon River and you’ll discover a landscape of canyons and vistas that steal your breath. The Lower Salmon takes you through four canyons with fancifully descriptive names—Green, Cougar, Snowhole, and Blue. The Main Salmon bumps you over 40 rapids. Whichever journey you choose, the Salmon River serves up primo adventure. We wrangled up some pretty nifty facts about this river so that when you show up for a rafting trip, you’ll already know all about the Salmon.

1) The Salmon River was first called Lewis’s River for famed explorer Meriwether Lewis (yes, of Lewis and Clark). This, despite the fact that the intrepid adventurers found the river too rough to navigate. We bet that’s because they didn’t have the awesome river rafting boats of today.

2) It’s known as “the river of no return.” This rather ominous moniker is due to early explorers being able to raft down the river, but not be able to return upstream due to the tremendous current. (Don’t worry, we definitely plan to safely return you from your whitewater rafting trip on the Salmon.)

3) Nez Perce Indians first inhabited the area, and you might get a chance to spot some of their ancient ruins on our Lower Salmon rafting trips. The Nez Perce became known for their gorgeous spotted horses, called Appaloosas. Breeding and riding Appaloosas is still a tradition among some modern-day Nez Perce.

4) You might see a river otter. Yep, a real, live, cute river otter. These playful creatures can sometimes be seen diving for fish on the river or even pushing one another down a mudslide. They sure know how to have fun!

5) Determined native fish of the Salmon River travel about 1,800 miles to and from the Pacific Ocean to get back to the Salmon and spawn, via the Columbia River and Snake River. This is one of the longest spawning runs in the world.


Julie TrevelyanWritten by Julie Trevelyan.

Julie is a freelance writer and wilderness guide in southern Utah. She especially enjoys books, coffee, yoga, wild country, horses, and dark chocolate. See more of her work at