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Salmon River 5 Day Kayak Course

Trip Description

2020 Dates TBA: Join Winding Waters and Central Oregon Whitewater Academy on a beginner to intermediate whitewater kayaking course down the lower portion of the Salmon River known as the Canyons. Over 5 days and 53 miles on the Salmon, the excellent instructors from COWA will help you improve your paddling skills in both river running and play-boating. Check out the founder and owner of COWA’s Bio, Will Howerton. The pool and drop characteristics of the Salmon River provide the perfect classroom for kayak instruction. Run class II to IV whitewater under constant expert instruction, then enjoy the large pools between rapids to relax and soak up the landscape. This course is all-inclusive, including round-trip transportation to and from the river and raft support.
More information about the Salmon River Canyons

Beautiful white sand beaches and crystal clear water
Kayaks in one of the Lower Salmon's three beautiful canyons
A camp from above
Fully-catered experience
Moonlight on the Salmon River
Salmon River Country
Relaxing in camp

Kayak School on the Salmon River, 5 Days: July 16-20, 2019

Adult $1695
Youth (10-18) $1495

General 2019 Salmon River Canyons Rates & Dates* (Trips without Kayak Instruction)
*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, & 6 Day Trips*:
July 3, 9, 22, 29
August 6, 12, 21, 28

*Length of trip determined by first group to register

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. If you find it necessary to cancel your trip, you should notify Winding Waters River Expeditions in writing or by e-mail immediately.  If written cancellation is received (call to verify) before the final balance is due, you will be given a refund less the amount of the deposit.  Again, deposits are not refundable.  If cancellations are made on or after the final due date, no money will be refunded.  If you are unable to go on the trip, you are welcome to find a replacement for yourself.  Please understand that once you’ve signed up, we lose the right to sell your reserved space to other individuals or groups.  Therefore, we regret that we cannot make exceptions for personal emergencies.  For this reason, we highly recommend buying Travelex Travel Insurance to protect your investment.

Winding Waters River Expeditions reserves the right, either prior to or after departure, in its good-faith discretion and in circumstances that warrant it, to change or re-price any trip.  This includes the possibility of moving to a different river or river segment due to extreme water conditions, forest fires, road closures and/or acts of God. If we are not able to provide a substitute trip, river, or altered itinerary and have to cancel the departure completely, you will be refunded in full. Refunds are limited to the amount actually paid to Winding Waters River Expeditions.

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.

Day 0 – Arrival Day: Arrive at the Quality Inn in Clarkston, WA by 6PM for our pre-trip orientation. Dinner is on your own this evening. If you are staying at the Quality Inn, you can leave your vehicle parked here for the trip, as well as store valuable items in a safe.

Day 1 – Launch/River Day: Depart in the Bus to the Pine Bar launch on the Salmon River about 8AM. Meet the Winding Waters team at the launch. We’ll spend the day warming up for the rapids downstream by practicing in the pool and eddy lines, as well as running Pine Bar Rapid. After a day of instruction and river running, arrive to a camp set-up by the Winding Waters guides. For many participants, the time spent at camp is as enjoyable as the time spent floating on the river. Relax at the river’s edge on the white sand beaches while your guide team prepares a delicious, healthy dinner. In the evening, enjoy campfires (weather permitting), songs, and stories.

Day 2 – River Day: We’ll begin our river journey today. The river starts with easy rapids and a big water feel. You’ll get a chance to find your rhythm while working with your instructors in the flat water and class II rapids. Depending on water levels, we may camp near Cliff Rapids to take advantage of a fun play wave.

Day 3 – River Day: Experience bigger rapids and more fun play spots. You’ll find rapids such as Pipe Line, Lorna’s Lulu, and the Bungholes as we move toward Snow Hole Canyon. Located in this beautiful canyon is Snow Hole Rapid, where the river charges through powerful class III+ and IV waves and holes. Challenge your skills or feel-free to walk around the rapid before finishing the day at a beautiful large beach camp.

Day 4 – River Day: After leaving Snow Hole Canyon, enjoy a mellower float on your way to Blue Canyon. This canyon is home to more great rapids, and you’ll love flying right down the middle of ones like Sluice Box. The lower end of this exciting canyon leads to the confluence with the Snake River. Camp generally near the confluence, in the same area where Native Americans previously traveled for vision quests.

Day 5 – River/Take Out Day: With some flat water between the confluence and Heller Bar (the take-out), hop in the rafts and enjoy an easy ride through this beautiful, remote stretch of the Snake River. At Heller Bar, ride in the Bus back to the Quality Inn in Clarkston, WA. Plan to arrive there anywhere between 5 and 7pm. We recommend not making large travel plans this evening (flights, long drives, etc.). 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:

  • Professional kayak instruction from Central Oregon Whitewater Academy
  • Round-trip transportation to and from the river
  • Outstanding, fully catered guide service, along with all necessary equipment
  • All camping equipment, including spacious tents, thick sleeping pads and sleeping bag if needed
  • All meals from departure to return

Put-In/Launch (Pine Bar, ID)

Take-Out (Heller Bar, WA):

Q: Do you need experience for this kayak course, or can you take beginners?
A: This course is geared towards beginner & intermediate kayakers who have some experience. Beginners need to have taken a 2 day beginner course or the equivalent. Please contact Will Howerton of the Central Oregon Whitewater Academy if you have questions about your skill level. 541-728-4101

Q: Do you provide equipment?
A: Yes, Central Oregon Whitewater Academy can provide all necessary kayak equipment to get you safely down the river. Winding Waters River Expeditions (WWRE) provides all camping equipment including tent, pad and sleeping bag if needed. More information about WWRE’s equipment is below. Please contact Will Howerton Kayak if you have questions about kayaks, etc. 541-728-4101

Q: What is the level of difficulty of this river?
A: 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.

Q: What if my family would like to join the trip, but do not want to kayak?
A: Make it a family rafting trip! We can accommodate both families and kayak school participants together on this trip. We take children ages 5 and up on this stretch of river. 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: 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.

  • Pre-trip orientation talk will take place at the Quality Inn at 6PM the night before your launch date.
  • Nearest Airport(s): Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport, Lewiston, ID
  • Shuttle Service: Quality Inn has an airport shuttle to the Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport in Lewiston, ID
  • Transportation provided to and from the River from the Quality Inn
  • 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?
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 after the trip. Give us a call if you wish to discuss further.

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 women, we recommend wearing your bathing suit under your clothes if you wish. 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 in Clarkston, WA the morning of our departure.

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: Visit our Weather & Water Page for information on air temperature and water flows for different times in the year. 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.