If you’re thirsting for adventure, excitement, scenery, and overall happiness on white water, head straight for Idaho. This is where you will find the best whitewater rafting in the world. White water rafting in Idaho delivers breathtaking scenery and exciting rapids. However, there are so many quality river options that it can get confusing. To make planning this trip easier, a list of the top three whitewater rafting adventures in Idaho have been listed below.
Middle Fork Salmon River
The Middle Fork Salmon River has so much to offer that the majority of this post will focus on it. From strictly a rafting perspective, the Middle Fork Salmon River offers Class III and Class IV rapids. It begins at the Sawtooth Mountain and drops nearly 3,000 feet for over 100 miles. Most trips are 6-8 days, and you’re going to see and do a lot more than you think during that time frame, which is what makes this journey so special.
In addition to rafting, you’re going to be exploring the wilderness by foot. In fact, you will be in the Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness. This is the largest intact wilderness in the Lower 48 with 2.3 million acres. It was created by the United States congress in 1980 and has been protected incredibly well ever since. Whether hiking or rafting, you might spot bear, moose, elk, or even the rarely spotted wolverine. You won’t need to worry about safety with these wild animals as long as you’re in a group and don’t provoke them.
When you pause your rafting, you will also have an opportunity to soak in natural hot springs–five different ones to be exact. The first one you will come across is Trail Flat Hot Spring, which you will reach after 7.3 miles of rafting. This large crystal clear pool can fit more than 10 people.
Next up will be Sheepeater Hot Springs, which you should hit your first night. This spring isn’t as large, but you might spot deer and goats.
After that, you will hit Sunflower Hot Springs, which is an elevated pool that can only fit 3-4 people but offers views of the river. You can also take in, or stand under, a nearby waterfall.
Loon Creek Hot Springs is next up, and it’s the largest hot spring on the Middle Fork Salmon River. It’s a 1-mile hike to get there, but this deep thermal pool is worth the effort.
Hospital Bar Hot Spring is the last one you will hit. This is a small pool that can only fit 2-3 people.
Another advantage to rafting the Middle Fork Salmon River is that it’s known for having the best fly fishing in the world. Therefore, you can mix whitewater rafting, the best fly fishing in the world, soaking in hot springs, and standing under a waterfall all in the same trip.
Lower Salmon River
The Lower Salmon River offers Class II and Class III rapids, but it’s mostly Class III. This is a 72-mile stretch that is the longest free flowing river in the Lower 48. In addition to fun rapids, you will find beaches, river canyons, as well as warmer water and air temperatures. This is due to the lower elevation. It’s highly recommended you nap and swim at the beach during your trip. And if you like to fish, bass fishing is popular here.
The Lower Salmon River is ideal for families. It’s a mellow and more affordable trip than the Middle Fork Salmon River. You will have several opportunities to stand up paddleboard or use an inflatable kayak in one of the pools.
Pay attention while here and you will see Native American rock art. You also might see river otters and big horn sheep. Unlike most wilderness in Idaho, which is green, this dry canyon territory.
If you want to see part of the river prior to rafting, you can drive along it just below the town of Riggins.