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RIVER Explorers on the Salmon

Trip Description


August 13-16, 2017 Trip Full 

Calling all RIVER Explorers! Join us for a unique rafting experience perfect for families with kiddos ages 6-12. Get ready to explore the Salmon River Watershed! RIVER stands for Rafting to Investigate Valuable Ecological Resources, a trip that will engage the senses, educate the mind, and inspire the heart. A learning adventure with a dedicated naturalist exploring and playing with the kids in an outstanding wilderness setting. And kiddos will be included in the guide experience as well.

For 4 days, float the beautiful Salmon River while investigating its remarkable watershed. Throughout the trip, our guest instructor, Dr. Ruthi Davenport, will lead free-form explorations with the children focused on the plants, animals, water, rocks, Native Americans, and more. Ruthi is a gifted musician and songs will play a major role in the trip as well. Read more about RIVER Explorers.

As the longest free-flowing river contained within 1 state in the lower 48 United States, the Salmon River is arguably one of the most beautiful rivers in North America. Crystal clear water flows 425 miles through a pristine watershed, which is primarily wilderness. Float through 4 deep river canyons while navigating exhilarating class III and IV whitewater in a guided oar boat, paddle raft, and/or inflatable kayak. We also bring along stand up paddle boards. The white sand beaches are perfect for beach games as well as camping. And we’d like to mention that our gourmet menu is capstoned with locally raised and grown ingredients. Let our guides take care of every last detail while you build memories to last a lifetime. This trip is ideal for families with youth ages 6 and up.

2017 RIVER Explorers on the Salmon: August 13-16, 2017, $1295/Adult & $1125/Youth 

2017 Salmon River Canyons Rates & Dates
*Length of trip determined by first group to register

4 Day 5 Day 6 Day
Adult $1295 $1595 $1795
Youth (18 & under) $1036 $1276 $1436

4, 5, or 6 Day Trips*:
July 3, 8, 13, 14, 23, 31
August 7, 13, 17, 28
September 3

*Length of trip determined by first group to register
** = value season (10% off adult rates)
2016 Special Trips: July 15-18 and August 17- 20= Music for Wild Places on the Salmon River

Cancellation Policy: Your reservation will be confirmed after we receive a deposit of 50% of your total trip cost. Your trip balance will be due 30 days prior to your launch date. This deposit is non-refundable. In the event you need to cancel your trip, please contact us as soon as possible so we can try to find someone to fill your seat. If you find it necessary to cancel after your final due date we will not refund the cost of your trip unless we fill the trip.  You are welcome to transfer your seat to another person.  We highly recommend buying Travelex Travel Insurance to protect your investment.

The following itinerary is a “typical” trip. Please know that natural occurrences happen on the river (large groups may move slower than smaller groups, etc.). We do our best to keep the trip moving along, but know we may not meet these times exactly. And the last day, we do not recommend large travel plans. We will do our best to take-out on time, but natural occurrences like wind can foil the best laid plans.

Each day, Ruthi will lead guided explorations of the river bank environment when the time is right. Here is a free-form schedule to the trip:

— Gathering after breakfast, before launching (~30 – 60 minutes): Could include songs, current location on the river, what’s coming up today, observations this morning of our site, experiences in the night, a lesson, an experiment, something to watch for, a story

— Gathering after lunch (~30 – 60 minutes): Could include mapping site, finding current location on river on a map we use each time, observations of this site, a lesson, journaling, drawing, painting, sculpting, photographing

— Evening gathering: Kids help set up camp and settle in, then there is an evening gathering. Could include exploring site before dinner, finding a quiet place to sit and observe.

— Family Fire: (~ 30 – 60 minutes) Close the day to tell our story of the day, other stories, questions, lessons, observations, looking at the stars, songs, drumming, gratitudes

Day 1 – Launch/River Day: Depart from the Quality Inn Lobby at 8:30am to the river launch (~2 hour drive). Meet your Winding Waters’ guide crew and Ruthi at the launch. Following a brief risk management talk, embark on the beautiful Salmon shortly before lunch. A delicious lunch will be served riverside. Encounter rapids such as Pipeline on this first day with time to swim, fish, explore archaeological sites and take in the breathtaking views. Arrive in camp around 4pm. Expect a fun evening beginning with a beach game followed up by a show-stopper meal, good conversation and evening fun. Feel free to bring a musical instrument.

Day 2 – River Day: The morning routine: hot drinks and fruit juice will be served by 7am and breakfast by 8am. The guide crew will break camp and after a brief discussion of the day’s plan, begin the day’’s float by 10am. Today we will enter Snow Hole Canyon and see more exciting whitewater, including Half and Half, the infamous Snow Hole, the Gobbler, Bodacious Bounce and the Bungholes. Also take time to visit a Chinese rock house, swim, fish, scan for wildlife and chat with friends. Lunch will again be served riverside today with camp arrival by 4pm. Expect another fun evening of beach games followed up by a fantastic meal, good conversation and evening fun.

Day 3 – River Day: Morning routine. Run more rapids such as China Bar, Eagle Creek, and Wapshilla. Lunch will again be served riverside with camp arrival being around 4pm. In camp take a swim, go on a short hike, read a book, catch a fish, play Bocce Ball, or simply lay in a hammock. You can expect an evening beginning with a delicious meal followed up with good conversation and games.

Day 4 – River/Take Out Day: Today we will pass the confluence of the Salmon and Snake Rivers. This spectacular location marks the end of the Salmon. A short hike at this confluence affords a 360 degree view of both rivers. Down-river, visit Cache Creek Visitor Center and Museum, a former homestead site where we typically have lunch. The shuttle van will be waiting for us to transport you back to the Quality Inn. Plan to arrive there anywhere between 5 and 7pm. If time permits, we highly recommend a trip over to our hometown of Joseph, Oregon. This is about a 2 hour drive.

Included in your Trip Cost:

  • Round-trip transportation to and from the river
  • Outstanding, fully catered guide service, along with all necessary equipment
  • All camping equipment, including spacious tents and thick sleeping pads
  • All meals from departure to return
  • All instruction

Put-In/Launch (Pine Bar, ID)

Take-Out (Heller Bar, WA):

Q: Do you need experience to go on this whitewater rafting trip, or can you take beginners?
A: The wonderful thing about rafting with an outfitter is that you do not need any experience. When joining a whitewater rafting trip with Winding Waters, guests are at ease knowing we have trained, professional guides who know the river. The level of difficulty of a river is based on the character of its whitewater rapids. The Salmon River has class III-IV whitewater and is a pool and drop, stair-step river. Stair-stepping means there will be a pool, then a drop where we find our rapids. We have taken many novices down this river and they have felt very safe in our hands. In fact, this is the main river we recommend for families with small children.

Q: What’s the youngest age you can take on this trip?
A: We can take children ages 5 and up. We have child-sized US Coast Guard-approved personal floatation devices (PFD’s). The white sandy beaches, warm water, and fun rapids of the Salmon make for an ideal whitewater rafting vacation for kids. We’re happy to consult with parents about any specific questions.

Q: Can we charter a private trip? How many people do we need?
A: We are glad to offer private charter trips to groups of 15 or more. A charter trip means that your group consists of all of the trip’s participants. We do not sell that trip departure to any outside guests.

Q: What time and where do I meet for my trip? Where is the nearest airport?
A: Lower Salmon Meeting Place and Time: Quality Inn and Suites in Clarkston, WA @ 6PM the night before your launch.
▪ Nearest Airport(s): Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport, Lewiston, ID
▪ Shuttle Service: Quality Inn has an airport shuttle from the Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport in Lewiston, ID
▪ Transportation provided by Winding Waters River Expeditions to and from the River from the Quality Inn in Clarkston, WA
▪ Trip Put-In (launch site): Hammer Creek or Pine Bar, both approximately 1.5 hours from Lewiston/Clarkston.
▪ Trip Take-Out: Heller Bar, about 45 minutes from Lewiston/Clarkston.

Q: Can you advise us on tipping/gratuities?
A: We treat our tipping discussion with great care. Our guide crew will work very hard to make your vacation the best it can be. If you wish to tip, we recommend treating it like a restaurant. Anywhere from 10-20% of your trip cost for the crew is standard. You can either give your lead guide cash at the end of the trip or put it on your credit card. The gratuities will then be distributed among the guide crew. Give us a call if you wish to discuss further.

Q: What kind of boats do you use on this trip?
A: We can use 4 different types of boats on this trip: oar boat, paddle raft, inflatable kayak, and stand-up paddle boards. On an oar boat, a guide rows the boat while you enjoy the scenery. In a paddle raft you are an active participant in paddling with others and guide. An inflatable kayak is a single boat where you guide yourself with instruction if needed. A stand-up paddle board is basically a large surf board with a paddle.

Q: What equipment and services do you provide?
A: We provide the following equipment and services beyond guiding boats on every trip:
1. Paddle (if you’re on a paddle boat), PFD (life jacket), and helmet (for those riding in inflatable kayaks or stand-up paddle boards).
2. Camping Equipment: tents and sleeping pads. Sleeping bags can be provided at request.
3. Tents: We provide roomy 3 person tents (for 2 people) and have tents sizes for up to 5 people. We set up all tents, unless you request otherwise. But the real joy is sleeping under the stars…
4. Meals are prepared in our complete “”camp kitchen”” and you will dine at tables with tablecloths, chairs, plates, silverware, and napkins. We take care of all aspects of food prep, from cooking to dish clean-up.

Q: What kind of clothing should I wear/bring?
A: During the day, quick drying shorts and tops work best. For your feet, synthetic sandals like Chacos work great that have straps to hold them to your feet. We do not recommend flip-flops. In the evenings and mornings, we recommend warmer layers, including a fleece jacket, pants, socks, and closed-toed shoes (like tennis shoes). Additionally, shoes for hikes are recommended. You can purchase river shirts, river hats, sunblock, sunglasses, and other items in our Boathouse Shop prior to your trip.

Q: Can we fish on this trip?
A: Yes, the Salmon River has fun Smallmouth Bass fishing. We can throw in fishing gear for while we’re floating, as long as it does not interfere with the group traveling in a timely manner down the river. You can purchase a fishing license online at this link for your trip: https://id.outdoorcentral.us.

Q: What about bathrooms while we’re on the river?
A: We have you covered. We follow “”Leave No Trace”” minimum impact camping and traveling etiquette on all river trips. The bathroom facility we use is called the River Bank Toilet System. When in camp, we set up the toilet in a separate, private area, complete with toilet paper and hand sanitizer. The guides will explain all of the details of how to use it.

Q: What advice do you have regarding batteries for camera equipment and keeping camera equipment dry?
A: If you want to bring your portable video camera and/or digital camera, but are concerned about batteries running out, you have 2 options. One, bring extra batteries (at least 2 more than you think you’ll need). Two, bring a portable solar-powered battery recharger. They do exist and we’re pleased to report- they do work! As for keeping your electronic equipment dry, we provide small dry bags that stay with you on the boat during the day. We also sell small hard-shell, water-tight, and padded Pelican cases in our Boathouse Shop.

Q: What kind of weather and water temperatures are typical on this trip?
A: Jenna- Caleb: Can you copy chart on our weather page for the air temp information? Water temps generally range from mid 60’s to mid 70’s.

Q: Do I need to be a strong swimmer to come on your trips? What if one or more in my group doesn’t know how to swim?
A: You do not need to be a strong swimmer, or even know how to swim to enjoy a river trip with Winding Waters River Expeditions. All participants are required to wear a US Coast Guard-approved PFD, or personal floatation device (back in the old days, we called ’em Life Jackets). These high buoyancy jackets are designed to keep your head above water should you find yourself having an out of boat experience. Now, that said, if you do not know how to swim and you are afraid of water – river rafting is probably not going to be your cup of tea.
Small children (ages 5-10) typically aren’t good developed swimmers, yet they love our trips. We have child-sized PFD’s and look after our smallest guests with great zest and joy.

“We had a great time and were treated so very well by the WWRE staff. I spent a lot of time picking out the outfitter for this trip and was not disappointed in the least bit. WWRE lived up to all of our expectations plus delivering more than we could have ever expected. We are now considering what WWRE trip we want to do next. We are definitely coming back for more.” ~David, Houston, TX

“The guides went out of their way to pay extra attention to our girls, humoring them far beyond the call of duty and making their experience one they won’t soon forget. We had a great time and would highly recommend it to anyone who was thinking about taking a trip to that part of the country.” ~Kevin, Washington, D.C.

Need more convincing? Check our reviews on Trip Advisor. And check out more Winding Waters Testimonial Videos like the one below on our Youtube page.