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Salmon River 5 Day Rafting Adventure

Trip Description

2024 Launch Dates:

July 3rd: (4 day only)
July 9th: (4 day only)
July 15th: Full
July 16th: Full
July 21st: Full
July 23rd: Full
July 29th: Full
July 31st: Seats Available
August: 6th Seats Available
August 12th: Full
August 20th: Open
August 25th: Full


Custom Private Charter Dates available upon request

Join us on 5 day trip of a lifetime through the lower portion of the Salmon River known as the Canyons. This rafting adventure is quite possibly the best family vacation available today. 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. The white sand beaches are perfect for beach games as well as camping. Let our guides take care of every last detail while you build memories to last a lifetime. And we’d like to mention that our gourmet menu is capstoned with locally raised and grown ingredients. We are happy to accommodate most dietary needs upon request. This rafting trip is ideal for both thrill-seekers and relaxation-seekers alike ages 5 and up.

Sunset on the Salmon
Snowhole Canyon
Class III and IV whitewater
Beautiful white sand beaches
Snowhole Rapid, Class IV Whitewater
Deep canyons where all you hear is the trill of Canyon Wrens & laughter from the group
Fascinating geology, including Columnar Basalt
Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep
Class III and IV whitewater
Beautiful white sand beaches and warm, crystal clear water.
Quality family time
A typical beach camp along the Salmon
Sumo wrestling…a hilarious scene
Rest, relax, and let us take care of everything
Native American pictograph site in Green Canyon
Cliff jumping
Wild caught salmon cooked on a cedar plank is one of our mouth-watering specialties.
The zen of the canyons
Perfect adventure for individuals, families, and groups
Farm fresh eggs (from our WWRE chickens), fresh breads, and seasonal fruits are always on the menu.
Dinner on the Salmon
Inflatable Kayak Fun!
Beach Bocce Ball

2024 Salmon River Canyons Rates & Dates
Interested in a trip all to yourselves? Contact Us to discuss our Private Charter options.

4 Day 5 Day 6 Day
Adult $1485 $1865 $2085
Youth (18 & under) $1188 $1492 $1668

2024 Dates:
July 3, 9, 23, 29
August 6,13,20,25

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 non-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.  

Travel Protection: In today’s changing travel environment, it’s important to protect your travel investment so you can relax and enjoy your trip. Unforeseen events such as flight delays, baggage loss or even a sudden sickness or injury could impact your travel plans. For your convenience, we offer a Travelex Insurance Services protection plan to help protect you and your travel investment against the unexpected. For more information on the available plans www.travelexinsurance.com or contact Travelex Insurance 800-228-9792 and reference location number 37-0062.

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 any trip itinerary.  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. 

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 in Clarkston, Washington at the Holiday Inn by 6PM Pacific Standard Time for our pre-trip orientation for introductions, to discuss the trip, receive personal dry-bags, and answer any remaining questions. If you are staying at the Holiday 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 from the Holiday Inn Lobby at 8:30AM (PST) to the river launch (~2 hour drive). Meet your Winding Waters’ guide crew 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 Demon’s Drop and Right Way on this first day through Green Canyon 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 merriment. 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 Cougar Canyon and see more exciting whitewater. 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 merriment.

Day 3 – River Day: Morning routine. Today we will enter Snowhole Canyon, 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 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 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 5 – 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 Holiday Inn. 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:

  • 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, & cots
  • All meals from departure to return

Put-In/Launch (Hammer Creek, ID or Pine Bar, ID). The first map below is for Hammer Creek, ID:

Pine Bar, ID Put-In/Launch:

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 offer private charter trips to groups of 15 or more. A charter trip means that your group makes up 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: Holiday Inn in Clarkston, WA @ 6PM (PST) the night before your launch.
* Nearest Airport(s): Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport, Lewiston, ID
* Shuttle Service: Holiday 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 Holiday 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 10-15% of your trip cost for the crew). 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. And please know tips are not expected.

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, sleeping pads, & cots.
3. Tents: We provide roomy 3 person tents (for 2 people) and have tents sizes for up to 5 people. 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. Please purchase an Idaho fishing license online prior to your trip Google “Buy Idaho Fishing License”.

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 got home late last night from a five day trip down the Lower Salmon with Paul and Craig (and Todd and Celia) from Winding Waters. There were 15 people in our group and 12 of them were students between the ages of 11 and 16….it could have been a really challenging trip. I don’t think a single thing was less than perfect. Paul and Craig are unfailingly warm, kind, knowledgeable, and organized. I’ve been around a great many whitewater guides and this is who you want planning and executing your trip. Every day was filled with river fun, cozy beach camps, and we were *remarkably* well fed. I won’t recount every moment of how great it was, so message me if you’d like more detail. We started planning next year’s trip the very first day on the river with them. They are the kind of people you feel lucky to have met, and we can’t wait to see them again.” ~Jennifer, Seattle, WA

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.