Main Salmon River Facts • A Crystal Clear Sparkling Jewel of the West

The River Canyon

The Main Salmon River Canyon is the second deepest in the lower 48 United States. It is deeper than the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

Snow Run-Off

The Main Salmon River is the longest navigable undammed river in the lower 48 United States. The Main Salmon's water is from snow melting in the Sawtooth Range.

White Sand Beaches

Arguably the best river camping in the world. Camp and play under the bright stars on pristine white beaches dotted with numerous alpine conifers.

Incredible Water

Swim and wade in crystal clear fresh water that is the perfect temperature to swim all day long. Take a relaxing night swim in the many camp-side pools.

Riverside Hotsprings

Enjoy a refreshing and relaxing dip in a large, clear, clean natural hot spring that over-looks the river. It is a gorgeous location exclusive to river guests.

Pristine Wilderness

The Main Salmon River runs through the 2.3 million acre Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, the largest forested wilderness area in the lower 48 United States.

A Protected River

The Main Salmon River is highly-regulated with a lottery system to run trips during the popular season. A lottery system restricts the number of parties floating the river offering exclusive, special & uncrowded vacations.

Rich History

From its geology, to its early inhabitants to how it received its name, "The River of No Return", to Lewis & Clark. Allow our guides to tell you of the Main Salmon's intriguing culture & history during your vacation.


Enjoy peace & solitude while off-grid in a stunning river canyon with no phone service & internet. Each day is filled with lively, fun conversation & the sounds of nature.

Thrilling Whitewater

The Main Salmon is a pool & drop river, with Class II & III rapids. Most rapids are followed by a fun wave train & a calmer pool. The river is perfect for families & beginners and it has a lot of thrill to excite experienced rafters & kayakers.


Between exciting rapids, look for big horned sheep, mountain goat, a variety of water fowl, black bear, mountain lion, elk, deer, bald eagles & hawk. Listen to howling coyotes & wolves at night.

Deep & Wide River

During our vacation booking season, the Main Salmon's flow rate is exciting, fun & manageable. The river's size allows for the use of a variety of watercraft, from paddle boats, oar boats, inflatable kayaks, pack rafts & SUPs. Take a ride & try out everything we have.

A group who stopped from a whitewater rafting trip to hike along the Main Salmon River in Idaho.
••• Guests taking a break from whitewater rafting to hike to a unique stand of 500-year old ewe trees. These special trees grow in a secluded place in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness •••
Two girls rafting during a Main Salmon River whitewater rafting vacation in Idaho.
••• During Main Salmon River Rafting vacations, after each thrilling Class II - Class III whitewater rapid, there is calmer water where guests relax, swim, look at the beautiful canyon scenery. •••
Flowers seen at Polly Bemis Ranch on the Main Salmon River in Idaho.
••• Explore the gardens and historical dwellings at Polly Bemis Ranch. The ranch also has farm animals, a large sandy beach and ample shade trees •••

We are grateful for the wonderful people we meet on river trips. Words cannot express the appreciation and gratitude we have for our clients who have become family... Kind words from Shelly Russon...

"We booked a trip with Donny to raft the Salmon River with our four girls, ages 19, 17, 15 and 10. We also took my nephew Jake who was 21. We drove to Northern Idaho out in the middle of nowhere. There wasn’t a soul in sight for hours. We drove to our camp spot on the river where we would meet up with Donny and his crew. About an hour later after we set up camp, we heard cars coming. We all stopped to stare at about 6 cars that drove up the dirt trail past our campsite. To my girls' delight, the cars were filled with teenage boys! It turned out a scout troop from Seattle would be rafting with us. We all agreed the more the merrier and we really enjoyed our time with them.

This trip was one of our best vacations ever. We loved the quiet time on the river where you just float along having great discussions with each other and reveling in the natural beauty all around. These float times were not always quiet, as it was also a great time to let loose and jump in the water or join in to the ongoing water fights. We still quote some of the things that were said (yelled) to the opposing raft and we still get a great laugh every time!

We also loved the rapids! There were many great rapids that gave us a good ride but also proved to be a little challenging. It was a perfect family trip.

Donny is known in our family as 'River Indy'. He really is incredible. Having spent a lifetime rafting, we learned about many of his adventures and all of the lives he has touched in sharing his love for the outdoors.

His nickname came from an incident we had on the river one day. As we approached a rapid, Donny asked our boat if we wanted him to personally take us through it. My boat had 4 teenagers, 2 of mine and 2 of the scouts. We said 'Yes.' Donny promptly jumped in his boat and took off down the rapid. We thought he must have not heard us!

We were all stopped as we watched him complete the rapid and then row backwards upstream, which I am certain could not have been easy since it was at the bottom of the rapid. The river was still going pretty strong right there. He oared his boat off to the side, jumped out and started climbing the rock on the opposite side of the river from the rest of the group. At this point, a couple of other groups had pulled in behind us and literally everyone, probably 20 people, were stopped and staring at Donny. 'What in the world is he doing?', I wondered. It would be impossible for him to get to us. The rock on the other side was a complete wall of shale. He scaled one wall, shimmied across another, dropped to a ledge, climbed another area, repeated this a few times then leapt off the cliff into the water and swam over to us. 'Let’s Go.', he said calmly. We all stared in disbelief. Seriously, the entire thing took no more than 5 minutes. We knew right then we were in the best hands ever and River Indy was our friend for life.

Donny knew the river so incredibly well. He knew the best places to camp, where it was safe to cliff jump, where we would likely see wildlife, took us to a waterfall and pointed out some petroglyphs.

Time at camp was also something we will treasure. It is a time to read, sing, play games, enjoy each others stories and enjoy the beautiful outdoors. The downside of spending a couple of hours on a day raft trip is when it ends... I have always been so sad to get off the river after just a few hours. On a multi-day trip it’s the best thing ever to wake up and know you get to go out on the river again. It is truly the trip of a lifetime!"

~ Shelly Russon, Utah

If you would like a reference about us from Shelly, send us your contact information and we will connect you.