When you think about a multi-day rafting trip in Idaho, you probably think about floating downstream, rafting through fun rapids, soaking in the sunshine, and camping out on beautiful sandy beaches. While a 6-day trip on the Main Salmon River is all those things, it’s also an opportunity to visit some of the coolest recreational and historical sites in the west!
I love guiding on the Main Salmon, because it’s just such an amazing river trip. Guests love it. However, the human history within the canyon, and our opportunity to interact with people who call the canyon home, is one my favorite parts of the trip. It’s a unique aspect of a Main Salmon trip that you just don’t get on other rivers. – Todd Collins, Main Salmon Guide
These are some of our favorite stops on the Main Salmon River multi-day rafting trip in Idaho.
Devil’s Toe Pictographs – Mile 13.2
The pictographs just downstream of Lower Devil’s Teeth Camp transport you into another time and make us think of those who traveled the rugged river canyons before us. These pictographs are attributed to the Northern Shoshone, who led Lewis and Clark through the Salmon River Canyon, or “Agaimpaa,” which translates directly to “Big-Fish-Water.”
Hot Springs – Mile 22.4
This hot spring is perched above the Salmon River, so you can enjoy the views while soaking with friends and family! This relaxing spot is a favorite stop on all of our Main Salmon River trips! Ask any of the guides on our trips about these hot springs, and they will make impassioned arguments about why these are the best wilderness hot springs you can find on a multi-day river trip.
Yellow Pine Bar – Mile 36.0
Once a one-room schoolhouse, Yellow Pine Bar is now a private ranch with an abundant garden. We love saying hello to caretakers Sue and Greg, two of the few year-round residents of the River of No Return Wilderness. Their hospitality is amazing, and they are often available to take our groups on a tour of the property. From the spectacular garden, to the solar system, to Greg’s custom knife making set-up, they are open to giving us all a glimpse into what it takes to live off the land year-round in this rugged wilderness. Todd, Ethan, and Austin also have some pretty entertaining stories about the evening they stopped during a particularly cold April kayak trip to say “hello”, and ended up celebrating Sue’s birthday.
Jim Moore Place – Mile 43.0
On the National Register of Historic Places, Jim Moore Place is a glimpse into the life of a late 1800’s settler. Jim Moore established a mining claim and settled in the area in the 1890’s, where he built his home by hand. After his death, the Forest Service voided the mining claim to bring the property under government ownership. Usually when this happened, the structures on the land were burnt to the ground, but the Forest Service kept Jim Moore’s Place intact (probably by accident). We now have the opportunity to visit this stop on the Main Salmon River during our multi-day rafting trips! Legend has it that Jim Moore’s gold is still buried under a land slide behind the structures.
Buckskin Bill’s Cabin – Mile 52.5
Sylvan Ambrose Hart, better known as “Buckskin Bill,” settled on his remote homestead during the Great Depression. This college-educated craftsman built his life from scratch, from the cabin he lived in to the firearms he hunted with. This famous homesteader truly lived off the land. A museum of his possessions now stands on Fivemile Bar. We love stopping for an ice cream at the museum “store” and learning about this mountain man’s life. Of the many interesting sites at this stop, a favorite is the gun tower (in the photo below) that Buckskin Bill built to help defend his land from the Forest Service. You can climb up into the tower and take some great photos out of the windows.
From historical sites, to relaxing hot springs, to bountiful gardens, we love visiting our favorite stops on the Main Salmon River. Sharing the history and beauty of the wilderness with guests is a highlight of our 6-day rafting and kayaking trips! Learn more about multi-day rafting on Idaho’s Salmon River and join us for the adventure of a lifetime!
Author Sharon Saltoon is a kayak instructor and Communications Manager at Wet Planet. She loves being a part of the incredible team at Wet Planet and sharing her love of whitewater on and off the river! Read more by Sharon here.
Whitis, Duwain, and Barabra Vinson. Guide to the Middle Fork and Main Salmon Rivers, Idaho. Third ed., RiverMaps, LLC, 2019.