Idaho Afloat Rafting FAQs

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about White Water Rafting Adventure Vacations with Idaho Afloat

Please call us at 800.700.2414 if you don’t see the answer to your question.

Q - Do you need experience to go on a river rafting trip, or can you take beginners?

A –  The wonderful thing about rafting is that you do not need any experience to join a rafting trip of a qualified outfitter who uses trained, professional guides, like Idaho Afloat. The level of difficulty of a river is based on the character of its whitewater rapids. Beginners can join any of our Idaho Afloat trips, with rapids ranging from Class I (gently moving water) through Class IV (turbulent whitewater requiring skillful maneuvering).

  • Our Idaho rivers are: the Main Salmon: Class I-III, the Snake River through Hells Canyon: Class III-IV and the Lower Salmon: Class I-III.  Our Montana rivers are: Clark Fork through the Alberton Gorge: Class II-IV and the Blackfoot: Class II-III.
  • Our trained guides will instruct you on how to paddle your raft, if you are in a paddle raft, or if you are in an oar-powered raft, you will simply enjoy the scenery while the guide does all the rowing.
Q - Do you have an age limit young or old?

A – Children ages 5 and older can enjoy our Lower and Main Salmon river trips.  Children ages 7 and up can join our Snake River trips (12 during high water). We do not have an upper age limit for any of our trips. We have found that general health and level of physical activity are the better indicators than age, of participants’ ability to enjoy our river trips.

Q - What kind of weather is typical on your trips?

A – The weather varies from river to river and during the rafting season (May through October). Please check the weather forecast for each river area (see also each river rafting page for town info to look up local weather) well before your trip and then again a week before. If there is unusual weather activity in the forecast we will let you know prior to trip departure. Rafting in Idaho is fun, rain or shine! Meanwhile, here are some general facts about weather across our river operations areas:

Hells Canyon is very warm & dry. Rain is not common in the summer, and it tends to get very hot during the afternoon.

Snake River - Weather

Average High Temperature Average Low Temperature Average Rainfall (inches)
May/June 76.5º 45.5º 1.28
July/August 90.5º 53.5º 0.45
September/Oct 72.5º 38.5º 100

The Lower Salmon has consistently wonderful weather during the summer season. The days are usually hot, and evenings are warm and dry for sleeping out under the stars.

Lower Salmon River - Weather

Average High Temperature Average Low Temperature Average Rainfall (inches)
May/June 85.5º 49º 2.06
July/August 90.5º 57.5º 1.00
September/Oct 73º 45º 1.10

The Main Salmon is higher in elevation so you’ll likely experience warm days followed by cooler evenings.

Main Salmon River - Weather

Average High Temperature Average Low Temperature Average Rainfall (inches)
May/June 69º 37º 1.65
July/August 82.5º 43.5º 0.92
September/Oct 65º 32º 0.81

Q - Can we charter a private trip? How many people do we need?

A – We are glad to offer private charter trips to groups of 12 or more people. A charter trip means that your group makes up all the trip’s participants, we do not sell that trip departure to any outside guests. Charter trips have a different deposit policy, please call us at 800.700.2414 or email us for detailed information.

Q - What’s a typical day on the river? (Please also visit What to Expect on the River)

A – Start off with a wake-up call from your guides. The guides like to watch the sun come up so if you’re an early bird there’s always a cup of coffee going in the kitchen. After breakfast you get ready for the day, packing up belongings while the guides take down camp. When all is loaded back on the rafts, we’ll depart. Depending of which river trip you choose, we average anywhere from 10 to 20 miles a day. During the day you will experience the beauty of the river, see wildlife, have a chance to fish, and likely play in the river (Again, depends on the river trip). You’ll enjoy lunch on the banks of the river.

We like to arrive at camp around 3pm – this gives you plenty of time to do some eddy swimming and relax with wonderful hors d’oeuvres and drinks. Dinner is usually about 7:00pm. That gives you about three hours to explore the area around camp, take a late afternoon hike, read a good book next to the water, play games on the beach, or learn the about the unique flora, fauna, and cultural history of the area from your guides. After dinner, it’s your time to enjoy the stars, your friends and family, and share stories around the campfire with guides and guests.

Q - What about bathrooms?

A – We follow “Leave No Trace” minimum impact camping and traveling etiquette on all river trips. “Pack It In and Carry It Out” will become your friendly mantra! The system we use is called the “River Bank” sealed toilet system. We set up the toilet in a separate, private area, complete with toilet paper and hand sanitizer. The guides will explain all the details specific to each river, before your trip is launched. This is actually required information to be provided to all guests, per the USFS. Hand washing systems are set up for your convenience. Please do not hesitate to call us (800.700.2414) directly if you have more questions or any concerns. Hundreds of thousands of participants enjoy overnight multi-day camping trips every year in the US, using these kinds of toilet facilities.

Q - What about Showers?

A – You’ll be thrilled to learn that we can provide you with a type of hot shower, mother Nature style – on our river trips! We use “Sun Showers” that are large black plastic water bags heat up water while out in the sun, making for warm and sometime hot indeed, water to bathe with. Hang the “Sun Shower” from a tree branch and enjoy a quick, refreshing shower. Only biodegradable shampoos and soaps are permitted in these pristine wilderness environments. We can help you with our personal favorites if you need some brand suggestions. Please call or email us.

Q - What advice do you have regarding batteries for camera equipment?

A – If you want to bring your portable video camera and/or digital camera, but are concerned about batteries running out, you have two options. Bring extra batteries, (at least 2 more than you think you’ll need) or bring a portable solar-powered battery recharger. They do exist and , we’re pleased to report – they do work!

Q - Will you provide water for daily drinking on the trip? How do we stay hydrated?

A – We bring lots of water during every trip and will encourage you to drink regularly so you stay well-hydrated in our hot & arid Idaho climate. You can bring your own personal water bottle, or use a coffee mug for water during the trip. We’ll fill it with ice-cold water whenever you need it. Water is carried on every boat and always accessible.

Q - What do you provide? (Please also visit “What to Expect on the River" for a detailed packing list.)

A – We provide the following river rafting equipment:

  • Paddle if you’re on a paddle boat, PFD (life jacket), paddling splash jacket, wetsuit jackets, and pants will be provided in cooler weather or upon request, and helmet for those riding inflatable kayaks.
  • We provide all the camping equipment; tents, sleeping bag, camp pillow, and sleeping pads.
  • Your camp will be set by the time you pull up to camp every day. Our professional guides will set camp including your tent. Our meals are prepared in our complete “camp kitchen”, and you will dine at tables with tablecloths, chairs, plates and silverware. “Cush and camping” never went together so well as on an Idaho Afloat trip!
Q - What time and where do I meet for my trip? Where is the nearest airport?

A – Main Salmon Meeting Place and Time: Salmon Air in Salmon ID @ 12:30

  • Nearest Airport(s): Boise
  • Shuttle Services: Salmon Air (800-448-3413) offers air shuttles from Boise. We provide your shuttle to the put-in.
  • If driving, we can pick you in North Fork on our way to the put in. You can arrange your vehicles to be shuttled to the take out by River Shuttles (800-831-8942).
  • Trip Put-in: Corn Creek
  • Trip Take-out: Carrey Creek

A – Lower Salmon Meeting Place and Time: Idaho Afloat Shop in Grangeville, ID @ 8am.

  • Pre-trip safety talk will be at the Super 8 (208-983-1002) in Grangeville the night before.
  • Nearest Airport(s): Lewiston-Nez Perce County Reginal Airport, Lewiston, ID
  • Shuttle Services: Rent a car in Lewiston and drive 73 miles to Grangeville.
  • Hertz (800-654-3131) or Budget (800-527-0700)
  • All-Ways Transportation, Inc (877-437-5237) offers shuttle service from Lewiston to Grangeville as well.
  • Trip Put-in: Hammer Creek
  • Trip Take-out: 1-Day take-out is Pinebar, Multi-day take-out is Heller Bar

A – Snake River Meeting Place and Time: Frontier Motel in Cambridge, ID @ 7pm the night before the launch for safety meeting…leave @ 7am.

  • Nearest Airport(s): Boise
  • Shuttle Services: Rent a Car in Boise (Avis (call us for a discount code!), Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, etc.)
  • Diamond Express (800-250-5815) or Yellow Cab (208-345-5555) also offer shuttle services between Boise and Cambridge.
  • Trip Put-in: Hells Canyon Dam
  • Trip Take-out: 3-Day take-out is Pittsberg Landing, 5-Day take-out is Heller Bar
Q - Are all your trips camping only?

A – Yes and no!

  • Our standard river trips on the Main Salmon, Lower Salmon and Snake River are all camping trips.
  • The Main Salmon trip also enjoys one night at a lodge (the first night of the trip). On this trip, we stay at a local lodge the night before the launch date. They will provide dinner that night and a wonderful breakfast. The lodge can hold 24 people. This night is included in the price.
  • We also offer a custom Main Salmon river trip that all lodge-based with no camping. This is available by custom private trip only.
Q - What about medical issues or concerns?

A – Our river trips offer exciting rapids, opportunities for hiking in rugged country and, if you are on a paddle boat, the chance to paddle down the river.  As such, our guests generally engage in moderate physical activity during the trip.

Guests should check with their doctor prior to the trip to ensure they can engage in this sort of activity.   In the event a guest has a medical condition, such as allergies, asthma, angina, etc., each guest is responsible for bringing and administering their own medication.  As with any outdoor adventure accidents can occur.  Each of our trips include a guide trained in basic first aid and we carry a well equipped first aid kit on all trips.  We carry a satellite phone on each trip which generally (service may not always be available) allows us to contact emergency personnel while on the river.

As you might expect, conditions in the wilderness are unpredictable.  Weather can change without notice and water levels can raise or lower during the trip.  Further, rapids and hiking terrain can be unpredictable.  Incidents and accidents can and do occur, which can result in serious injury.  Moreover, while Idaho Afloat has never had a fatal injury on a river trip, some fatal accidents have occurred on these rivers.   As such, we are required to have each guest sign a waiver and acknowledgement of the risks associated with this type of adventure.   A copy of the waiver and acknowledgement can be reviewed by calling or emailing us.

Q - Do I need to be a strong swimmer to come on your trips? What if one or more in my group doesn’t know how to swim?

A – You do not need to be a strong swimmer, or even to know how to swim to enjoy a river trip with Idaho Afloat. All participants are required to wear a Coast Guard-approved PFD, or Personal Flotation Device (back in the old days we called ‘em life jackets). These high buoyancy jackets are designed to keep your head above water should you find yourself in the water.

  • Now, that said, if you do not know how to swim and you are afraid of water – river rafting is probably not going to be your cup of tea.
  • If, however, you don’t know how to swim, but you enjoy the outdoors and adventure, and are ok with the thought of floating in the water, perhaps through a rapid with your life jacket (guests sometimes fall out of the boat during a rapid or, a raft may overturn), choose a less intense whitewater river (Main Salmon or Lower Salmon) for your first experience.
  • Small children (ages 5-7) typically aren’t good swimmers yet and they absolutely love our trips. We have child-sized PFDs and look after our smallest guests with great zest and joy. Please note, all participants (or their parents/guardians) must sign the trip waiver before departing on an Idaho Afloat trip. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to call us directly at 800.700.2414. We’re here to help!