Main Salmon – Trail Lovers Trip

Main Salmon – Trail Lovers Trip Trip Summary


Escape to the lower 48 state’s largest wilderness and by the power of your feet and the flow of the river,explore this wild place in the same way humans have for millennium. Human habitation in the Main Salmon River canyon dates back over 8500 years, with evidence of Nez Peace and Northern Shoshone tribes manifest throughout its length.  Lewis and Clark, who came here in 1805 in their search for a northwest passage were ultimately deterred by its rugged nature, but while Lewis and Clark passed on the canyon, numerous homesteaders, miners, explores, trappers and fugitives were not be so readily dissuaded.  The indelible record of both the ancestral native inhabitants and subsequent settlers is revisited in as much as any other form by following along the myriad trails running throughout the canyon’s length, vestiges of a time when travel by foot was the safest and often most expedient way to access its remote interior and when our interaction with the world around us often came one step at a time.

Today you can experience this rich history and beautiful canyon firsthand.  On our hiking and trail-running oriented itinerary, which enables you to hike these same trails used by native inhabitants and stalwart settlers since time immemorial.  Some of the trails are well maintained to this day; some less so. Others still continue to be used by those spare ‘modern pioneers’ who call the canyon home, choosing a life deep within America’s largest and, in many ways, most remote wilderness area.

During our six-day excursion into the canyon, you will have the opportunity to follow trails far up and over ridges, high above the canyon, trekking to remote homesteads and journeying up side streams, taking in the totality of the place more fully than is generally possible on a standard river trip. This is all especially enjoyable in the beautiful fall conditions, which is why we run these trail oriented trips at that time of the year. Extended sections of the trail parallel the river, and it is in these sections that you can really put some trail-miles under your belt. However, there are some sections of the canyon that are without parallel, or nearby-adjacent trails, and so require riding on the raft, which in itself provides a great opportunity to see the canyon from another, water-level perspective.

Each night you will stay in a new riverside camp set up by your experienced guides. Once at camp, you’ll have three-course dinners enjoyed against the scenic backdrop of your camp to nourish and strengthen your body. The relaxing ambiance of the campfire in the dusk light of the canyon against the soothing murmurations of the river will restore your mind and spirit for each next day.

So, if you, like those intrepid explorers of old, feel the call of the wild and would like to truly explore America’s largest wilderness area, then this is your trip!  Sign up today for a fall adventure on the “River of No Return.”

Note 1: These are great trips for couples where one is a big hiker or runner and one just wants to ride the raft.

Note 2: Due to the time of year and general nature of these trips, we offer them as adult-only adventures.

Main Salmon – Trail Lovers Trip Trip Itinerary


We meet you at the Stagecoach Inn in Salmon Idaho.  You can either drive Salmon or fly into Boise and catch a shuttle flight to Salmon.  If flying into Salmon please arrange your flight with GEM Air.  They can fly you from Boise to Salmon and then at the conclusion of the trip when you are returned to Salmon you can arrange for a flight back to Boise.  You will also need to arrange for your hotel room at the Stagecoach Inn.  Please tell both vendors you are traveling with Orange Torpedo Trips.

Gem Air – 208-756-7382

Stagecoach Inn – 208-756-2919

Trip Logistics Overview

Typical Trip Itinerary

Day Zero:

Catch flight out of Boise, Idaho for Salmon, Idaho.  Stay at the Stagecoach Inn in Salmon, Idaho.  Meet for an evening orientation at 5:00pm.

Day One:

Meet in the lobby at 7:30am Mountain Time with your bag(s) and hop on the bus that will take us to the river.  A two-hour drive will have us at the put-in.  There you will have the option to start out on the trail at the outset and hike/run the first 3.4-miles down to Horse Creek or else ride the raft.

At Horse Creek, the group has a few options to choose from.  If the group wants to climb for some vistas we can head up horse creek towards dead horse point or we can continue down river towards the nights camp.

Our Night One camp will, according to plan, will be at Lantz Bar which is right around 11 trail miles. Here there is evidence of this once-flourishing homestead still remains, with the opportunity to explore the orchard and old cabin if your legs are up for it.  If you’re not in the mood for more exertion, you can always retreat to your tent and cot within to rest your tired legs and recoup awhile before diving into appetizers and dinner.

Day Two:

Wake up to fresh coffee and a hot cooked breakfast, with delicious, nourishing options to give the pep and nourishment you need to tackle more trail. After breakfast, the group has the option to explore the hiking options spurring out from Lantz Bar, which, while interesting, are all reasonably steep.  As such, the group may also decide to forgo the trails around Lantz in favor of other, less  strenuous downriver. In this case, we’ll all load in the rafts for a couple fun rapids before the next stop.

There are several options for shorter hikes (as well as one of the larger rapids of the trip) in the ~9-miles between Lantz Bar and our next key stop of the trip: Barth Hot Spring, where we’ll take some time to soak in the warm and soothing, mineral rich waters.  This ‘goldilocks warm’ pool offers an incredible view of Black Canyon, itself an impressive and geologically significant point of interest, as well as a great opportunity to attend to any tired muscles.

Day Three:

Today the trail that parallels the river begins and so is the best day for those motivated to blaze some trail miles.  The trail begins to parallel the river at Rattlesnake Creek.  From here on, one could travel the rest of the trip by trail if desired.  Depending on where the group camps, you can put about 7-miles of incredibly scenic trail under your boots on the this day. There is also a beautiful offshoot hike up Bargamin Creek for anyone who wants to add on a few more miles to their day.

Day Four:

Our fourth day affords a delightful, 10-mile hike on the trail as well as a several steep, optional side hikes. As we approach the deepest point in the canyon, we will pass multiple historic homesteads and one functional “packer” suspension bridge—all of which worth stopping to explore.

Day Five:

Assuming the group has camped near Rhett Creek, it will be about 6-miles to our final camp.  Along this section, we will pass several additional homestead sites and will have a number of opportunities to hit ridges high above the river, with full views of the canyon.  Finally, just above camp, we’ll have the treat of visiting ‘Buckskin Bill’s’, now a backcountry museum and store, erstwhile home of one of the last homesteaders and true ‘Mountain Men’ in the canyon.

Day Six:

About one-mile of trail will bring the group to the dirt airstrip at Wilson Bar, where a plane will be your ticket out of the canyon and back to the world outside the outside world.  Your flight out of the canyon will return you to Salmon Idaho.  From here you will be transported to your car or if you are returning to Boise you should have arranged to catch a flight that same day.

Travel Information for the Main Salmon – Trail Lovers Trip

Where to Meet Orange Torpedo Trips

We meet at the Stagecoach Inn in Salmon Idaho.  We meet at 5:00 pm the day BEFORE the trip starts.

The following morning this is where the bus will pick us up for the trip.  Cars can be stored here.  Also, the Stagecoach will pick up clients at the Salmon Airport for those who fly in with Gem Air.

Stagecoach Inn – 208-756-2919

Stagecoach Inn



Please stay at the Stagecoach Inn in Salmon Idaho.

Stagecoach Inn – 208-756-2919

Stagecoach Inn


There are camping options in the are for anyone wanting to take that option although we do advise staying at the Stagecoach the night before the trip as we will meet early in the morning on the day the trip begins.

Flying In

If flying in to join us for the trip you have a few different options.

  1. Preferred – Fly into Boise Idaho.  Arrange for a shuttle flight from Boise to Salmon via Gem Air.  They are the local charter service we highly recommend.  They will fly you from Boise to Salmon.  You can then arrange a return flight from Salmon to Boise with them for the conclusion of the trip.  Contact Gem Air – (208) 756-7382.
  2. Fly into Missoula MT.  In Missoula you can rent a car and drive to Salmon.  This is an incredibly scenic three hour drive.
  3. Fly into Salt Lake City, rent a car and drive to Salmon Idaho.  This is about five and a half hours.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q: Can we choose to ride the raft instead of hike?

    You can hike, run or raft as much as you want.  In the first two days the majority of the hiking is perpendicular to the rivers direction of travel so all will ride the rafts for the down canyon miles.  But when we stop on those hikes you are free to relax by the river instead of going on a journey.  When we reach the trail which parallels the river you can choose to hike/run or raft as much as you want.

  • Q: Can we hike/run the entire trip?

    This trip does require some time on the raft.  The area around the Black Canyon is so rugged, steep and formidable no realistic trail options exist.  So in this section one must ride the raft.  In the first 30+ miles we travel down river most of the down canyon miles will come on the raft.  However, each day includes plenty of incredibly hikes or runs on trails which diverge from the river.  Days 3, 4, 5, 6 can almost be entirely on the trail.

  • Q: Can we kayak on this trip

    As these are trail oriented trips and we plan our guides around that orientation we do not have an inflatable kayaking option on these fall trips.

  • Q: This trip is in October, will it be cold?

    October can be an incredible time to be in the canyon.  Great weather, beautiful scenery, and abundant wildlife.  However evenings and mornings will always be a bit brisk and the risk of a rainy day or two is probably a little higher than earlier in the year.

  • Q: Where does this trip start and end?

    This trip meets at the Stagecoach Inn in Salmon Idaho.  The trip concludes back in Salmon Idaho when the charter flight out of the canyon returns to Salmon.  A shuttle will be arranged to transport you back to the Stagecoach.

    Everyone should arrange to stay the night before the trip at the Stagecoach Inn and those flying in for the trip should schedule a flight from Boise to Salmon before, and from Salmon to Boise, after the trip with Gem Air.

  • Q: What is the deposit for the Main Salmon Trail Lovers Trip?

    We require a 30% deposit on all trips.

Main Salmon – Trail Lovers Trip Trip Rates/Dates



  • Adult - $1699

Trip Start Dates:

  • September - 3-8
  • September - 16-21
  • September - 29-Oct 4
  • October - 11-16

Main Salmon – Trail Lovers Trip Trip Packing List

In packing for this trip you need to pack for three different activities. You must pack for your time on the trail, time on the river and time in camp.  Fall trips can vary significantly in weather so plan accordingly.  Trips in October can be incredible, with beautiful weather for hiking, running or rafting.  However, it will be chilly in the evenings/mornings and periods of more challenging weather do come in as we get later into the season.  So please plan accordingly.  Call with any questions.

For your evenings we will supply you with a tent, cot and sleeping pad.

What to pack

On the trail - Hiking

  • Hiking boots/shoes
  • non-cotton Socks 6+pair
  • shorts (non-cotton)
  • pants (non-cotton)
  • Shirts - some or all long sleeve (non-cotton)
  • light rain pants
  • light rain jacket
  • light hiking jacket or warmer shirt
  • backpack with hydration system
  • trekking poles (optional - some people value)
  • hat
  • sunglasses
  • Technu soap or something similar (In case needed for poison ivy)

On the trail - runners

  • running shoes
  • non-cotton Socks 6+pair
  • Running shorts
  • Running tights
  • Shirts 6+
  • Light running jacket (In case running in rain)
  • Warmer shirts (in case cold out)
  • hat
  • Running pack (whatever you use but be able to carry water and a couple snacks)
  • sunglasses
  • Technu soap or similar (In case of poison ivy)

On the river

  • Swim attire (Something that can get wet)
  • sandals (ideally with a heal strap - something you could swim in)
  • insulated water shoes (if on a colder trip)
  • fleece jacket (can be worn under provided splash jacket)
  • sunscreen

In camp

  • Pants
  • Boots or shoes (Something besides what you are wearing on the trail)
  • warm socks
  • rain jacket
  • Warm jacket (Down or synthetic)
  • gloves
  • beanie (warm hat)
  • warm shirt
  • Long underwear (synthetic layer of clothing)
  • sleeping bag (30 degree rating - Talk to us if you need one)
  • small packable pillow
  • Headlamp
  • personal medical/hygiene items
  • book/kindle/device