Main Salmon River Into the Wild Trip

Main Salmon Into the wild Trip Summary


The Main Salmon River of Idaho is an unbeatable river trip.  It has world class whitewater. The scenery is second to none and the canyon hosts all the wildlife one could hope to see on a river trip.  The Main Salmon River, or “River of No Return” as it’s nicknamed lies in the heart of the largest contiguous wilderness area in the lower 48 states.  Due to it’s remote location and long length a full trip through the canyon is typically six days.  We have come up with our half trips for those who simply can’t get away for the full trip.  So now you have the option to get into the Main Salmon without being away from home for nine days.

This trip allows folks to experience the upper half of the Salmon River which is a wonderland for any whitewater lover.  Filled with thrilling rapids each of the 3-days on this trip this will keep even the most experienced inflatable kayaker or rafter entertained.  The first and last nights of the trip include stays at riverside backcountry lodges and the trip includes a scenic charter flights in and out of the canyon.  If you are looking for arguably the most scenic, remote, and exciting 3-day rafting trip in the country, the Main Salmon upper-half is your trip.


What our guests have to say...

Main Salmon Into the Wild Trip

Reviewed by Dr. Oak on July 31, 2012

“5 Day Main Salmon River with OTT”

"We just got off the Main Salmon with Aaron, Bubba, and Patty. It was a 5 day, 4 night lodge trip. Wonderful, well-organized trip with lots of gorgeous scenery and great food. The guides were all extremely competent, and were the nicest, most squared-away people you would ever want to spend time with. This trip and outfitter is very highly recommended, no reservations."

Main Salmon Into the Wild Trip Itineraries

Trip Logistics Overview

The Main Salmon half-trip transports folks from Boise and back to Boise at the trip conclusion.

Detailed Itinerary for Upper Salmon 4-day Trip (5 actual days Boise to Boise)

The upper half-trip is 4-days but it actually includes 4 nights and 5 days of travel.

Day BEFORE trip launch: Arrive at the Boise Idaho airport the day BEFORE your trip launch by 1:45 PM. We will have a charter flight to fly you from Boise to Salmon with GEM AIR which takes about 1.5 hours and is a beautiful flight over the sawtooth mountains. When you land in Salmon a bus will be waiting to take the group to the trip launch point at Corn Creek. This is about a 2 hour bus ride paralleling the Salmon River the entire way. The bus will make one stop at the North Fork store for any last minute provisions and bathroom stops. The store does have a small liquor store for those last minute needs (liquor portion not open on Sundays) The group will drive past the point where Lewis and Clark left the river and headed north deciding the river was too treacherous.

When you arrive at Corn Creek the guides will be waiting for you and a jetboat will be waiting to pick up the group and ferry everyone across the river and to the lodge for the evening. A delicious dinner will be served at the lodge and there will be plenty of time for the groups first horseshoe tournament, card games, or swimming down at the beach. After dinner is the trip orientation where you will receive dry bags, ask any questions you may have, and learn about how you will be spending the 4 days. The following morning the group will launch after breakfast and begin the journey downstream.

Day 1:Launch from corn creek and look forward to a GREAT DAY of warm up rapids. Floating away from Corn Creek into the rugged and foreboding landscape of the Salmon River Canyon one cannot help feeling the excitement of heading into the wilderness and away from civilization. There is something special about this canyon that overtakes people at this moment. Around the first couple corners brings the group to Killum Rapid and the first whitewater challenge of the Salmon River. This class III is mostly down the big waves in the middle and leads to lots of hooting and hollering. This will set the tone for the thrilling river challenges for the next couple of days. Day one continues with Alder Creek, Lance Bar, Devils teeth and and a number of other thrilling whitewater challenges. Most trips break up the day with a stop at Lance bar to walk amongst the homesteader cabins and roam through the orchard. Try and picture living here, alone, 70 years ago. Look around and feel the isolation and the independence. It’s an experience hard to picture in our modern world.

Sometime in the afternoon the group will float into a riverside camp on a big beach with opportunities for swimming, relaxing, and possibly hiking. Guides will show the group how to set up their tents and begin making appetizers and preparing dinner. Grab a beverage, kick back and enjoy just being away from your phone, your work, your tv. Enjoy being with your friends and family in the middle of the lower 48’s largest wilderness area.

Day 2: Start off with some Native American pictographs and then more rapids and beautiful scenery. Probably just before lunch the group will arrive at Black Creek rapid in the heart of the black canyon of the Salmon River. This granite gorge is a beautiful part of the river that culminates in one of the premier rapids of the trip. Black Creek is a newer rapid created by a land slide in 2011 which damned the river and created what is now the steepest drop on the river. Shortly after everyone paddles this exciting rapid Barth Hotsprings arrives on river left and it’s time to soak for a bit.

When everyone is done soaking in this scenic hotsprings it’s down river towards camp. The afternoon likely includes a couple great rapids and maybe a few hikes if the group is up for it.

Day 3: Whitewater Day: Today may include a hike or two, but it’s primarily about running rapids. Today will have some of the greats of the river including Bailey, Five Mile, Split Rock (A favorite rapid of numerous guides when asked for favorite rapid from any river) and the exciting Big Mallard. These rapids combine to make day three a highlight day on the Main Salmon combining great scenery with plenty of excitement.

At the end of day three the group will float into Whitewater Ranch; our lodge for the night and your exit point from the canyon.  A small tractor will be waiting to take all the gear up to the lodge and it’s a short 1/4 mile walk up the property. When we arrive you can hop into a hot shower before you head out to explore historic cabins, walk down to the pelton wheel and see first hand how they produce their electricity. Visit the garden and see where tonights veggies are coming from or relax with good book. Whitewater Ranch is a special place where you will quickly feel at home. The owners are hosts in a way that only folks living in the backcountry can be and you will quickly fall in love with them and their beautiful home.

After a delicious home cooked meal its out to relax around the bonfire and re-live the stories from the trip for tomorrow you fly back into the fast paced outside world. When you’re done taking in the stars stars and have laughed enough with your trip-mates it’s off to a soft bed for a great nights sleep.

Day 4: Awake for a delicious early morning breakfast before packing up your gear.  When you are all packed up it’s out the dirt runway just up from the house.  Your airplane should coming buzzing down the canyon right on time.  The group will load into the small air crafts and be quickly on your way with a beautiful flight to Boise Idaho.

Main Salmon Into the Wild Travel Info

Where to Meet Orange Torpedo Trips

Upper 1/2 Main Salmon Trip

1. You need to check into the GEM Air desk at the Boise Airport by 1:30 pm MST the day BEFORE your scheduled trip launch. Their desk is at the west end of the baggage claim terminal outside of airport security. A guide from OTT will meet you when you land with the rest of the group in Salmon Idaho. Note from GEM Air: “We ask that each customer come with no more than one medium- or two small-sized bags that weigh no more than a total of 35 lbs. Large hard-sided luggage will not fit.”



Upper 1/2 Main Salmon – Boise Idaho.

If you fly in the night before you need to meet us or decide to stay the night trip concludes there are a variety of hotels near the Boise airport that offer complimentary shuttles. One that we have used is:


Upper 1/2 – No great camping options exist directly in the Boise area.


Flying In

Upper 1/2 Main Salmon – Boise Idaho

Please fly into and out of the Boise Idaho airport.


Typical Weather

Averages are:

  • June · High 75 F Low 45F
  • July · High 90 F Low 60 F
  • August · High 88 F Low 58 F

Main Salmon In the Wild FAQs

  • Q: Gratuity, is it common to give tips and how much?

    Gratuity is certainly appreciated but by no means required. At the conclusion of a trip please just give any gratuity to the head guide who will divide it evenly among the crew. Standard restaurant gratuity percentages tend not apply on these trips, so what we have seen over the years on the Main Salmon is an average of approx: $75-$100 per person in a group. So a group of four would be about $300-$400. That is what we typically see on this trip as an average, please don’t feel obligated. Also, when thinking about gratuities, please feel free to tip the staff at the lodges during your stay.

  • Q: How much is the deposit and when is the balance for my trip due?

    As on all OTT trips, this trip requires a 30% deposit. The remaining balance is due 30 days before the trip launches. Upon making your reservation you have the option to set up your credit card to automatically run the balance on the due date.

  • Q: What exactly do you mean by “backcountry flights”?

    If you are doing the upper half expect to fly out from Whitewater Ranch on a small six seater plane.

  • Q: What is included in the trip fees?

    Unlike many, we basically package everything together into one trip fee so you don’t have anything else added. From Boise to Boise all transportation, lodging, food and drink, is covered under one low all inclusive fee.

  • Q: What is the group rate?

    Any group of 10 or more gets 10% off.

  • Q: What is the typical guide to guest ratio?

    On the River we typically have one guide for every three guests on a trip

  • Q: Which half, upper or lower, has more whitewater?

    The upper half has more of the “Big” rapids so if you are really looking for whitewater the upper half is probably the better half.  The Lower half has a few of the best rapids, but the general nature of the lower half is a little more mellow.

  • Q: Can I switch boats during the trip?

    Yes, but with some limitation. If you start in an inflatable kayak and decide quickly that it’s not for you. We will get you out of the kayak. If you start in a raft and decide you want to kayak, we cannot always guarantee that ability. Based on what people tell us they want to do we pack a specific amount of equipment and bring an appropriate number of guides for a trip. Sometimes that does not leave much room to add kayakers mid-trip. People will often be willing to switch out throughout the trip, but if someone signs up to tackle the river in an inflatable kayak, we want to make sure they have chance to paddle the entire trip if they want.

  • Q: Does everything for the trip go down the river with the group?

    Everything for the trip will go down the river. When you pack a dry bag at the put-in, that will be all of your stuff for the duration of the trip. All food, drinks, and camping equipment will be transported on our rafts for the entirety of the trip.

  • Q: How many years have we been running the rivers?

    Orange Torpedo Trips was founded on the Rogue River in 1969 by rafting visionary, Jerry Bentley. Within just a few years OTT had spread to numerous rivers throughout the Northwest including the Klamath River, the Main Salmon River and Snake Rivers.

  • Q: What age is considered “Youth”?

    Youth is 17 and under.

  • Q: What is an Orange Torpedo?

    An Orange Torpedo is our custom-designed inflatable kayak. We have brought our 45 years of guided inflatable kayaking experience into our partnership with world renown raft builder SOTAR to introduce an industry leading high performance, beginner friendly inflatable kayak which we exclusively use.

  • Q: What is our average tour guide tenure?

    We are proud to have one of the highest head guide tenure’s in the industry. The majority of our multi-day trip guides are teachers in the off-season. This off river profession makes them naturally great guides with a desire to teach our customers about the rivers, but it also makes them stable year to year guides. The average tenure, with our company, of our head guides is 29 years.

  • Q: What is your cancellation policy?

    On single day trips your $10 per person deposit is refundable up to 72 hours before your trip. Cancellations within 72 hours of the scheduled trip launch will be subject to loss of their deposit.

    On all of our multi day rafting trips we do not offer refunds on deposits or balance payments. We strongly encourage all customers to purchase travel insurance through travel guard to help protect your travel investment against the things that come up in life. It’s a small additional price for the comfort to know that if something comes up (illness, work change, etc) you will have the ability to recover your significant travel investment. Get a Travel Guard Quote Here.

  • Q: What types of boats do you use?

    As on most of our trips we offer a variety of river craft to choose from. Orange Torpedo Trips is best known for inflatable kayaking with 80% of our customers choosing this as the way to go down the river, but on this trip we offer 3 types of river craft on this trip. Watch the video to learn more about our 3-boats.

  • Orange Torpedo

    Learn to paddle your own inflatable kayak (Torpedo). We have guides in Torpedo’s teaching you how to paddle and leading you through the rapids in a 4 to 1 ratio. If you happen to fall out the guides have you out of the river in seconds. 45+ years of doing it on the Rogue River and tens of thousands of satisfied returning customers prove that it is extremely fun.

    Paddle Raft

    A more traditional type of rafting, paddle rafts are a great way to go if you still want to do some work, but think the torpedo is just a little to much. Work with a team of your friends paddling the big boat through the rapids as the guide sits in the back to help navigate.

    Oared Raft

    Hop on an oared raft and ride in luxury. This is the relaxed way to travel. If taking in the scenery and letting the guide do the work is how you vacation then hop on board. This is how kids 4-11 years old will usually travel.

Main Salmon Into the Wild Trip Rates/Dates

2018 Into the Wild


  • Adult - $1899
  • Youth - $1499

Trip Start Dates:

  • June - 23-26, (Adults Only - Big Water Trip)
  • July - 1-4, 9-12, 17-20, 25-28*

*Note: Trips actually start the day before the day listed above and include a flight from Boise to Salmon, transportation from Salmon to the launch point at Corn Creek, and a night at the Salmon River Lodge at Corn Creek.  We start on the river on the dates listed above.

Youth rates apply to anyone 17 and under.

Main Salmon Into the Wild Trip Packing List

Everything going downriver will go into the supplied dry bag. The dry bag (18″x36″), is about the size of a medium duffle. This is where all of your personal items for the trip will go, including your sleeping bag, so pack conservatively. When sealed correctly, they will not leak. However, if sealed incorrectly, they may let water in. We strongly suggest that all items of significant value, such as expensive jewelry, be left at home. We will also supply a day bag to store items like cameras for easy access during the day.

Also, when packing please remember this note from Salmon Air: Note from Salmon Air: “We ask that each customer come with no more than one medium- or two small-sized bags that weigh no more than a total of 35 lbs. Large hard-sided luggage will not fit.”

What to pack

On the River

  • 2 or 3 swimsuits or shorts and top (cotton not recommended)
  • Sports sandals or hard-soled wetsuit booties
  • Synthetic paddling gloves
  • Wide rimmed hat or ball cap (ball cap fits well under helmet)
  • Polypro, synthetic or hydro-skin shirt (nice for mornings and chilly days)
  • Water Bottle (1 liter) with carabiner
  • Waterproof sunscreen
  • Sunglasses with strap (consider bringing two pairs)
  • OTT will supply wetsuits and splash-tops for chilly mornings

In Camp

  • 2 pair pants & shorts
  • 3 shirts
  • Fleece jacket or sweatshirt
  • Light rain jacket
  • Sleeping bag (synthetic material recommended - rated to 45F)
  • Sleeping pad
  • Small towel
  • Headlamp or flashlight
  • Beanie
  • Camera with extra film or memory cards and batteries
  • A good book
  • Personal hygiene items