Idaho River Trip 2020

Willy Porter’s 2020 Salmon River Adventure

Hey Friends!

I’m excited to announce my trip to the raft the Main Stem of the Salmon River in Idaho Aug 30th – September 4th, 2020! I hosted my first trip this past summer and it was absolutely wonderful. The river and the surrounding landscapes represent some of the most pristine natural environmental treasures in the lower 48 states of the US. This trip will be a chance to unplug from schedules and cell phones while enjoying the magic of the river, sharing songs around the fire and building new friendships.

When: Sunday, Aug 30 – Friday, Sept 4th, 2020

Where: We assemble in Salmon, Idaho, the evening of August 29th and embark on the Main Stem of the Salmon River the next morning.

Who: A small group (22) of friends and fans will join me

What: A rafting / camping / hiking / music-sharing adventure we will never forget

Cost: $2199/person

What’s Included:

  • ground transportation by bus from Salmon to the river Day 1.
  • ground transportation by bus from the take-out at Carey Creek to McCall on Day 6.
  • meals from lunch Day 1 to breakfast Day 6.
  • expert leadership with seasoned professional river guides who are Wilderness First Aid and Swiftwater – Rescue certified.
  • all camping equipment including 4-man tents for 1 or 2 people, large rectangular 20F sleeping bag, 2” sleeping pad and camp pillow.
  • 3 dry bags: one for camp clothing, one for sleeping kit (pillow & sleeping bag) and one small dry bag for items to have access to during the day like sunscreen, rain gear, camera etc.
  • all commissary equipment for meals and camp.
  • all rafting equipment (life jackets, helmets, paddles etc.)
  • all water craft including oar boats, paddle raft, inflatable kayaks and inflatable stand up paddle board (when river levels permit).
  • MFRE mug to use and take home after trip.

What’s Not Included:

  • Round-trip travel to Idaho. Arrive Salmon, ID, depart McCall, ID.
  • Stagecoach Inn in Salmon for the night before the trip ($100)
  • optional: if driving to Salmon, car shuttle from Stagecoach Inn to McCall (~$300/car plus $50 gas)
  • optional: if flying in and out of Boise, flights from Boise to Salmon ($220/person) or McCall to Boise ($200/person)
  • optional: travel insurance
  • optional: tipping to guides (10-15%+ of trip cost) depending on level of satisfaction.

Tour Partner: Our partner for this tour is Middle Fork River Expeditions (MFRE), in business for over 60 years.

Reservations: Once you’ve decided to join us we’ll need to know your name(s) and email address. Email: MFRE will then send out an invoice for an upfront $500/person deposit to secure your slot. The balance will be due on May 1, 2020.

About the Main Stem of the Salmon River

The Main Stem of the Salmon River is the longest undammed river in the U.S., and also boasts the second deepest canyon. The Main Stem of the Salmon River offers free-flowing Class III whitewater that’s great for any age and experience level, big sandy beaches perfect for camping and playing, beautiful mountain scenery, abundant wildlife, and a natural hot spring are all hallmarks of the Main Stem of the Salmon River.  The river is the perfect trip for families, as the water is warmer and the sand bars are huge for camping and playing games. 

Idaho’s Main Stem of the Salmon River accesses the most pristine and untouched terrain in the US, slicing through the 2.3 million acre Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area, the largest roadless area in the country. The Main Salmon River is famous for its large sandy beaches for camping, warm water for swimming, great trout fishing, fun and easy whitewater, and the best hot spring in the Pacific Northwest. No river displays all these characteristics quite like the Main Salmon River. It also boasts a canyon that is deeper than the Grand Canyon. The river has recently become famous as the best stand up paddleboard (SUP) river trip in the world for its warm water (75+F in August) and fun and safe wave-train rapids.

Often called the River of No Return, the Main Stem of the Salmon River is chock full of historic miner’s cabins, homesteads, and Shoshone Sheepeater and Nez Pierce Indian pictographs and pit houses. The early river runners called the Salmon River the “River of No Return” because the wooden scows run in the early 20th century were scrapped at the end of their journey and used to build many of the cabins you see in the canyon. But the truth be told the Salmon is, in fact, a river you’ll want to return to time and time again, and not want to return home at the end of your adventure.


Please arrive in Salmon, Idaho the night before the trip begins. Salmon is a 5-hour drive (1-hour flight) from Boise and a 2-hour drive from Missoula. We have a pre-trip orientation at the Stagecoach Inn (208-756-2919) at 8:30pm the evening before the trip begins. We will get acquainted, answer questions, and have a short orientation to show you how to pack the waterproof gear bags we provide for your personal gear. Pack for tomorrow’s early morning departure for the Main Salmon River! You will meet the Trip Leader tonight and the rest of the guides in the morning at the Main Salmon River.

Lodging at the Stagecoach Inn is arranged on your own.


We meet at 7:30am at the Stagecoach Inn for a 2-hour bus ride to the Corn Creek, the put-in for the Main Salmon River. We will stop after 45 minutes to get last-minute items (fishing licenses, beer, sunscreen etc.) at the North Fork Store. Upon launching our rafts at Corn Creek we journey into the pristine heart of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area. We will encounter Killum, Gun Barrel and Alder rapids today, which are all fun class III wave trains. This river calls to adventure seekers, who can choose between the paddle raft, inflatable kayaks or stand-up paddleboards. Or you can ride comfortably on an oar raft in our luxurious “Queen of Sheeba Couch” and take in the scenery. The fishing is excellent for novice and experienced anglers alike. The warm air and water temperatures encourage frequent refreshing dips in the river and we often find guests in calm sections floating next to the rafts. Evenings find us enjoying delicious dutch oven delights, relaxing by the campfire, playing horseshoes, listening to the guides sing and play guitar and watching for shooting stars.

DAYS 2 ~ 5

Each day brings new discoveries: exciting rapids like Black Creek, Bailey, 5 Mile, Split Rock, Big Mallard, Elkhorn and Growler rapids, historical sites such as Buckskin Bill’s homestead and Jim Moore’s place (maybe you’ll find the fortune he buried in the hillside!), and the much anticipated Barth Hot Springs. Visit Barth Hot Springs, known as the best hot spring in the Pacific Northwest.

We may stop and visit with several families that live along the river year-round and they will share their stories of living “off the grid” in the wilderness and take us on a tour of their homesteads. Visit with Sue and Greg Metz at Yellow Pine homestead, Doug and Phyllis Tims at Campbells Ferry homestead and Five Mile Bar, the home of the river’s most famous resident “Buckskin Bill”. There are abundant hiking options up many of the side drainages. Hike up Indian Creek to visit very rare 2,000-year-old Yew trees, also called the immortal tree, which the Plains Native Americans used to make longbows from the wood. Hikes up Chamberlain or Bargamin Creeks give you another perspective of the river or hike up to Rabbit Point for amazing views.


We float for 5-10 miles this morning and run challenging rapids like Chittam and Vinegar Creek and arrive at the take-out at Carey Creek around 10am. We provide transportation (2 hours) from Carey Creek to McCall, Idaho, arriving by 2-3pm for flights or an overnight stay.

What’s Special About the Trip

  • Days on end through unspoiled wilderness
  • Visit the rejuvenating Barth Hot Springs
  • The soul-healing that happens on the water, away from the hectic world of schedules and cell phones
  • Nights under the stars, far from light pollution
  • Excellent meals prepared by the staff
  • Leadership of seasoned guides lets us relax and go with the flow
  • Music in the evenings and now-and-again along the way
  • Fellowship—somehow the river attracts good people and kindred spirits