Rafting the Main Salmon River in Idaho

Main Salmon River rafting trips give you access to the most pristine and untouched terrain in the United States. The river rushes north, off the slopes of the Sawtooth Mountains in central Idaho and along the edge of the Salmon-Challis National Forest before taking a hard turn to the west, into the 2.3 million acres of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. This is where you come in. Prepare to embrace the best of Idaho river rafting: clear water, sandy beaches, hot springs, trout fishing, and rich history.

The Main Salmon is an ideal trip for families, with warm water for swimming and beach camps for playing. It’s also becoming known as one of the best rivers for stand-up paddleboarding, with fun, easy wave trains. The longest undammed river in the United States, the Main Salmon is a living museum, with historic miner’s cabins, homesteads, pictographs, and pit houses left by early indigenous cultures.

Holiday has partnered with Middle Fork River Expeditions (MFRE) to offer this special, bucket list trip. MFRE’s owner, James Ellsworth, is a former Holiday guide who has been running safe, quality river trips in Idaho for over 20 years. MFRE itself has been in business for over 60 years. In addition, over 70% of their guests are returning clients or referrals from past clients. We’re proud to partner with a company that shares our values. Enjoy gourmet food, world-class scenery, and superb service on a Main Salmon River rafting trip this season.



Please note, all September Main Salmon trips run as 5 day trips. Standard 5 day trip pricing is $2,419 for adults and $1,899 for kids 16 and under. Guests on September launch trips will need to fly out from Mackay Bar Ranch; flights are an additional ~$250/person.

Discounted youth rates apply to children 16 and under for Idaho rafting trips.

Rafting the Main Salmon river takes you through the ancestral lands of the Nimiipuu (Nez Perce). We honor and acknowledge the Nimiipuu as the ancestral and present day people who live on and care for these lands. Read more about our land acknowledgements here.
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Trip Overview

  • Type:


  • Location:

    Salmon River - Idaho

  • Length:

    6 Days

  • Dates:


  • Meet at:

    Salmon, Idaho @ 7:30 am

  • Difficulty:


  • Min. Age:

    6 (12 in June)

  • Deposit:



  • Fun rapids for inflatable kayaks and stand-up paddleboards
  • Warm water for swimming
  • Big sandy beaches for playing
  • Clear water for trout fishing
  • Visit Barth Hot Springs and Buckskin Bill's cabin
  • Meet modern-day homesteaders at Campbell's Ferry and Yellowpine Bar
  • Great family trip
  • Longest un-dammed river in the United States
Getting Here Before You Go Packing List FAQs

Rates & Dates

6 Day

  • Adult:
  • $2,419
  • Youth:
    18 and under
  • $1,919
  • Senior:
    65 and older
  • $2,419
  • Group:
    10 or more
  • $2,419
Book This Trip
Check Availability
  • June
  • 19, 27
  • July
  • 5, 13, 21, 29
  • August
  • 6. 14, 22, 30
  • September (5 day)
  • 7, 15, 27

Please note: Group discounts for the Main Salmon apply for 18 or more. Group discounts do not apply to music trips.

6 Day Music Trip

  • Adult:
  • $2619.00
  • Youth:
    18 and under
  • $2119.00
  • Senior:
    65 and older
  • $2619.00
  • Group:
    10 or more
  • $2619.00
Book This Trip
Check Availability
  • September 4
  • Joe Craven


The Salmon River is born on on the northern slope of Galena Summit in the Sawtooth Mountains. For almost half of its 425 miles, it flows north, then turns west 20 miles north of the small town of Salmon, Idaho. From the Corn Creek put in, float through the breathtaking mountains and canyons of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. Take out at Carey Creek, Idaho, approximately 80 river miles to the west. To travel between those same two points by car would require a drive of over 400 miles! Main Salmon trips are a true wilderness experience.

Sample Itinerary

Meet at the Stagecoach Inn in Salmon, Idaho at 8:30 p.m. (Mountain Time) the night before the trip begins. We’ll have a pre-trip orientation to get acquainted, address questions, and show you how to pack your waterproof gear bags.

Day 1:

Return to the Stagecoach Inn at 7:30 a.m. for the two-hour bus ride to the Corn Creek put-in. We’ll make one stop in North Fork, Idaho, approximately 45 minutes from Salmon. Pick up any last-minute items (fishing licenses, beer, sunscreen, etc.) at the North Fork Store. Once we launch at Corn Creek we are truly on the River of No Return! Paddleboarders will have the option to test themselves in rapids such as Killum, Gun Barrel, and Alder: all fun Class III wave trains. Others can choose to work as a team in the paddle raft, or opt for the lap of luxury on one of our oar rafts. Ply the waters for fish; even novice anglers should be able to hook a trout. Warm air and water temperatures make swimming pleasant, whether in a calm section of the river or in an eddy by our campsite. Eat your fill of Dutch oven treats, read by the river, listen to the guides sing and play guitar, and fall asleep watching for shooting stars.

Days 2–5:

So many things to see and so much time to see them! We’ll run more rapids: Black Creek, 5 Mile, Split Rock, Big Mallard, and Growler. Look for treasure at Jim Moore’s place, and explore Buckskin Bill’s homestead. Barth Hot Springs, the best hot spring in the Pacific Northwest, is a must-see. Visit with modern-day homesteaders and hear their stories of life in the wilderness. We’ll get in plenty of hiking in the numerous side canyons, including Indian Creek, where we’ll see rare 2,000-year-old yew trees. Get an eagle’s-eye view of the river and canyon by climbing up Chamberlain or Bargamin creeks, or up to Rabbit Point for amazing views.

Day 6:

Soak up the last of the river’s vibes as we float the final 5–10 miles to Carey Creek. Chittam and Vinegar Creek rapids will give us a good send off, and we’ll land at the take out at around 10 a.m. We’ll transport you and your gear to McCall, Idaho, where you can catch a flight back to Salmon or Boise with Sawtooth Flying Service. Flight cost is approximately $200.

For 5 day September trips:
Guests fly from Mackay Bar Ranch to Boise or Salmon, and start the trip at river mile 55 instead of mile 81. September brings much lower water levels and windy days on the river, making it more difficult to travel the necessary river miles each day. By shortening the river mileage, we ensure a leisurely trip with enough time to still experience the most scenic stretch of canyon. Flights are an additional $250/person.

As is true with all river trips, this is a sample itinerary subject to change based on environmental elements and campsites. Your guides will provide you with daily updates on what to expect on and off the river.

Main Salmon Boats Whitewater Rapid

Trips along Idaho’s Salmon River traverse some of the most rugged and inaccessible terrain in the contiguous United States. Please keep in mind that this is a sample itinerary, subject to change based on water conditions, weather, campsite availability, and the needs/interests of the group. Rest assured that however your days are spent, your river trip will be full of adventure, fun, and exploration!


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Holiday River Expeditions
Average rating:  
 16 reviews
 by Wes & Susan Ganter

As always, it was a truly excellent trip. Nothing could have been better. Thank you all.

 by Nancy Hughes

Great new experience on a new river!! The guides and staff were fun and careful at the same time. We always enjoy our Holiday trips!!!

 by Richard

What a crew, what an operation, what a river. This experience exceeded my expectations… I assumed it would and I was not disappointed. We will keep our fingers crossed that something wonderful might happen or perhaps Time will standstill for a moment or two and we will get to paddle with you guys once again.

Please give them all a high-five and a hug for me, especially Peg leg Pete and Misty. I wish you all a Great and safe rest of the summer and you will be hearing from us again I promise.

Richard S.

 by Bethany Irvine

Our week on the Main Salmon River was the best! Visiting Campbell's Ferry taught me more about the colorful history of the area. We learned about forest fires, how to spot common merganzer ducks, big horn sheep, mule deer and golden eagles. We ate a delicious ricotta and pesto appetizer that I can't wait to copy!

 by Bernadine Bank

It was a really great trip. The guides were incredibly accommodating. The weather was perfect and the scenery was gorgeous.

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