Adventure July 9, 2023

Idaho’s Whitewater Thrill Ride

Five rafting trips to take this summer


White water rafting trips are among the most coveted experiences for those visiting or living in the Sun Valley area. Whether departing out of Stanley or Riggins, going for a half-day or multiple days, doing it in luxury or bare bones, there’s a trip for everyone.

While there are many raft trip outfitters in the area—too many to fit here—we’ve picked five of our favorites who offer a variety of trips to meet your needs this summer.

For Fishing

The Outfitter: White Cloud Rafting Adventures
The River: Salmon
Trip Name: Guided Fly-Fishing Trip
Cost: $495 per person
Distance from Sun Valley: 1 hour to Stanley
Why You’ll Love It: Even the hardiest fisherman or fisherwoman could use a guide to find the best fishing spots. With White Cloud, you’ll get all-day guidance to little-known fishing spots on the upper Salmon River to catch rainbow, bull and cutthroat trout. White Cloud even guarantees you’ll catch fish—or your money back. Enjoy provided snacks, beverages and a feast-style lunch.

The Details: This trip is for all ages and all experience levels. Meet time is typically 8:30 a.m., though that can change based on morning temps. A full-day fishing trip generally is 6–7 hours on the water. Enjoy fishing from White Cloud’s specially equipped rafts with casting platforms on the front and back.

For Glamping & Lux

The Outfitter: Far & Away Adventures
The River: Salmon
Trip Name: Middle Fork of the Salmon River
Cost: $3,799/person
Distance from Sun Valley: Trips begin and end in Sun Valley
Why You’ll Love It: You’ll forget you’re even on the river with Far & Away’s luxury “American safaris,” where guides set up and break down five-star camps that include oversized tents and cots (complete with flannel bedding, carpets, nightstands and lanterns), hot showers and gourmet meals. Then, as you flow the 100 miles of the Middle Fork, you’ll experience dozens of thrilling rapids, deep turquoise pools full of native cutthroat trout, and towering granite cliffs of Impassible Canyon.

The Details: Far & Away encourages customers to call to craft their experience unique to their needs and interests. Middle Fork trips are six days and five nights. Per Forest Service regulations, each launch is limited to 22 guests and eight guides. Middle Fork season runs May 1–October 1. Trips begin and end in Sun Valley, including transport to and from the river.

For Day Trips to the North

The Outfitter: White Otter Outdoor Adventures
The River: Salmon
Trip Name: Half-Day Rafting Trip
Cost: $85/adult, $75/child (ages 4–12)
Distance from Sun Valley: 1.5 hours to Sunbeam (just past Stanley)
Why You’ll Love It: White Otter’s most popular experience, the half-day rafting trip, is perfect for those in Sun Valley wanting to get out for a day trip. This mellow excursion is ideal for families with children. You’ll get a fresh-baked snack while on the river—Sunbeam Café’s famous Starr Bars, which are so good, you’ll thank your lucky stars they sell them at the café, where you can also enjoy an organic, locally sourced meal post-trip.

The Details: The only company at the put-in, White Otter, is in Sunbeam Village, steps away from the water. The trip lasts about three hours from start to finish, depending on river conditions. Trips launch daily at 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. June through August and can be done on a paddle raft, oar boat or inflatable kayak (boat choice made on reservation).

For Multi-Day & Overnight

The Outfitter: Wilderness River Outfitters
The River: Salmon River
Trip Name: Middle Fork of the Salmon
Cost: $2,150–$2,950 (depending on when in the season the trip is)
Distance from Sun Valley: 1 hour (to Stanley for June and July trips), 3.5 hours to Salmon (for August trips)
Why You’ll Love It: Soaking in natural hot springs, hiking to gorgeous vistas and waterfalls, learning about pioneers and rich Native American history, spotting local wildlife, and cutthroat trout fishing are just a few of the activities you’ll enjoy on this trip. At night, settle around a roaring campfire to enjoy delicious Dutch oven dinners.

The Details: Depending on when you book your trip, you’ll either begin in Stanley and end in Salmon or begin and end in Salmon. You’ll spend six days descending 3,000 feet of elevation through 100 miles of Class III & IV rapids. Each day you’ll have oar boats, paddle boats, or inflatable kayaks available to choose your excitement level on any given day.

For Advanced River Rats

The Outfitter: Mountain River Outfitters
The River: Snake River
Trip Name: 3- or 5-day Hells Canyon Rafting
Cost: 3-day: Adults $1,095, Youth (7-14) $895; 5-day: Adults $1,795, Youth (7-14) $1,350
Distance From Sun Valley: 5.25 hours to Riggins
Why You’ll Love It: Combine adventure and pampering with Mountain River Outfitters’ Hells Canyon trip, where you’ll experience the thrill of several Class-IV rapids while also getting to hike, fish for smallmouth bass and sturgeon, and enjoy gourmet dining while exploring the deepest canyon in North America.

The Details: Trips start in Riggins, with MRO transporting to and from the river. All camping gear, including high-quality, roomy tents and thick, comfortable sleeping pads, is provided, as are customizable delicious meals. Guests will also receive a complimentary MRO duffel and trip mug as a souvenir at the end of the adventure. Trips depart May through September.

This article appears in the Summer 2023 Issue of Sun Valley Magazine.