Salmon Raft is an equal opportunity recreation service provider and employer, operating under special recreation permits issued by the United States Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, both on the Wild and Scenic Snake River, Hells Canyon National Recreation Area (HCNRA) in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, and on the Lower Salmon River. Salmon Raft is fully licensed and bonded by the Idaho Outfitters & Guides Licensing Board and Oregon Marine Board.
The importance of practicing sustainability in the rafting industry stretches further than just using the term “green” as a marketing tool. Ecologically conscious business practices are the root of Salmon Raft’s operations, both on and off the water.
Owner Chris’ background in Outdoor Adventure Leadership guides the company in helping to conserve resources and preserve the natural beauty of the Salmon River.
Our commitment to sustainability is accomplished in many ways; here are a few of them:
- We leave our campsites in a better condition than we found them – Salmon Raft is a Leave No Trace partner
- We support the local economy by using locally baked bread and other goods
- Biodegradable cleaning agents are used
- Recycling and reducing waste is our priority – the majority of our kitchenware is washed and reused instead of using disposable dishes
- Carpooling and filling the company buses reduces the number of vehicles that drive to the river
Both the Salmon River Canyon and Hells Canyon through the Snake River corridor hold some of North America’s richest history.
One of the most special parts of a multi-day river trip is the recognition of the deep history that Idaho’s two deepest river gorges hold. You will float through landscapes that have been inhabited for more than 15,000 years! It’s impossible to give an adequate and thorough history in just a few paragraphs. As such, we invite you to learn more by engaging in our Recommended Reading list (found below).
We operate on the land of the Niimíipuu (Nez Perce). We acknowledge and respect the rich history and people that were here long before us.
The Salmon River is the longest undammed river in the Lower 48 and is all contained within the state of Idaho. It flows freely, beginning as just a trickle in the Sawtooth Mountains. The river gains volume as tributaries feed into it through the Frank Church Wilderness area, weaving its way west through Idaho, taking a northward bend in the town of Riggins, and then paralleling the Seven Devils Mountains and Lower Hells Canyon. The Salmon converges with the Snake River – the confluence is the meeting of North America’s two deepest river gorges (yes – even deeper than the Grand Canyon!), a truly impressive sight.
The Lower Salmon is very geologically diverse and complex. On our four and five-day Lower Salmon Canyons trips, you’ll notice the stunning and seemingly out-of-place white sand beaches that contrast with dark basalt cliffs, many of them formed as columns. Up river, closer to the headwaters of the Salmon, Idaho’s Batholith continuously erodes and is flushed downstream during the Salmon’s peak flows. Beaches are refreshed and different each year. The Salmon River exposes deeply buried metamorphic and granite rocks of an ancient subduction zone (a compression of oceanic and continental tectonic plates). The gorgeous white sand beaches are what many guests find to be one of the most memorable parts of their trip – who knew that you could find such barefoot quality beauties in Idaho?
A 2009-2018 archeological dig at Cooper’s Ferry (near Pine Bar) uncovered projectile points and blades that support the hypothesis that initial human migration into the Americas occurred via a Pacific coastal route. These artifacts connect early movements from Japan, far earlier than a previously hypothesized inland ice-free corridor through North America and Canada. On our five-day experiences, guests have the opportunity to visit ancient pictograph sites, which serve as a reminder of those who made their home on the river long before us.
There is evidence of the canyon’s rich history throughout your trip. You’ll see stone houses used by Chinese miners, fruit trees planted above the high water mark (remaining from homesteaders), and changes in landscape mile by mile. We look forward to sharing our knowledge with you, as your experience will be felt more deeply while learning about our area.
Hells Canyon is a Designated Wild and Scenic River, with an impressive depth of nearly 8,000′. Hells Canyon National Recreation Area is located in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest and Hells Canyon National Forest and Recreation Area, and follows the border of eastern Oregon, a small part of southeastern Washington, and western Idaho. The peaks of Idaho’s Seven Devils Mountains dwarf the river as we float through on three to five-day wilderness river experiences.
While Hells Canyon contains thick forests and mountain peaks, down on the river we experience a more desert environment. The harsh climate of the canyon reminds us of the grit that the Nez Perce – and later homesteaders – required to carve a life on the Snake River. We see early evidence of these peoples on our trips in the way of pictographs and petroglyphs. There are also numerous homesteads that have now turned into mini-museums, where we invite our guests to imagine what it took to live, grow a family, harvest crops, and survive on the Snake River.
In the early 1800s, the first successful expeditions into Hells Canyon were documented – the canyon’s inaccessibility turned many explorers away. Mining for gold in the latter part of the 1800s proved not profitable, and efforts turned to rock mining. We see evidence of these along the river, most notably at the mouth of the Imnaha River (five-day Hells Canyon trips).
We invite you to dive deeper into your trip and learn more about the history, landscape, and stories of the people that have inhabited Idaho’s canyons for thousands of years. Here are some of our picks:
- River of No Return by Cort Conley & John Carrey
- River Tales of Idaho by Darcy Williamson
- Idaho Loners: Hermits, Solitaries, and Individualists by Cort Conley
- Snake River of Hells Canyon by John Carrey, Cort Conley, Ace Barton
- Myths of Idaho Indians
- Chief Joseph & the Flight of the Nez Perce
- National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Rocky Mountain States
- Roadside Geology of Idaho
- Topographic Recreational Map of Idaho