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“When is the best time to raft the Salmon River?”

We often get asked this question and have spent considerable time wondering when really is the best time to raft the Salmon River. While this is a difficult question to answer because our love for the Middle Fork extends throughout the year, we decided to break the question down by season, so that you can choose the best trip for YOU!

Find Your Perfect Rafting Trip

Temperature Range River Flow Level Days of Precipitation Ideal for
Early Season 46 – 77 degrees High 10 Experienced rafters seeking big waves and lots of adventure
Main Season 52 – 88 degrees Medium 5 Family and friends who want warm weather and fun rapids
Late Season 50 – 85 degrees Low 6 Outdoor lovers hoping to find serenity and peace in the canyon


Early Season Rafting Trips


  • Dates: June 5th and June 14th

  • Timeline: 5 or 6 days

  • Price: from $3250

  • Unique Features: big waves, exhilarating whitewater, abundant flora and fauna, refreshing atmosphere

  • Best for: thrill-seekers and those looking for off-river activities

Verdant green hillsides in the spring on the Middle Fork of the Salmon

For some, the idea of rafting the Salmon River involves adrenaline, big whitewater, and lots of thrills. As the summer solstice nears and the days seem never-ending in Idaho, a magical transformation is taking place on the Salmon River. With summer knocking at the door, the warming temperatures begin to melt the winter snow pack, causing the river canyon to fill to the brim with water. This rising water makes for world class whitewater rafting conditions. If you are excited about epic whitewater combined with the verdant hillsides, wildflower blooms, and mild temperatures, then one of our Early Season Rafting Trips would be the best time to raft the Salmon River. 

Rafting the Middle Fork of Salmon River in the springtime is a once in a lifetime adventure. As the snow melts off the high peaks, up to 7000ft above the river in the Impassable Canyon, waterfalls free fall into the river canyon. We are prepared for any weather on our multi-day rafting trips on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in June and we will make sure you know what to bring rafting in Idaho. New vegetation and geologic activity of the long winter and spring has reclaimed and renewed the active canyon, on and off the river. Idaho spring whitewater rafting trips have an expeditionary feel, with new discoveries for our guests and guides alike. Springtime is often our guides favorite time to raft the Salmon River, as we all love the excitement of high water and the reinvigoration of a canyon reawakening. 

There are fewer people on the river during our June rafting trips than during the peak season in July & August, and the rapids deserve their most significant appreciation at this time of the year. While there are rapids all year on the Middle Fork due to its steep nature (descending 3000ft over 100 miles), the rapids climax during the runoff in June. The class IV rapids are named for their high water wave trains and crashing waves. This is the most thrilling and best time to raft the Middle Fork Salmon River in a paddle boat.

The high water also means the river is flowing fastest in June, and in addition to having 15 hours of sunlight, this provides extra time for off-river activities. There are endless things to see and do in the Middle Fork canyon, including scenic hikes, lounging in hot springs, checking out historic and heritage sights, as well as simply relaxing and harmonizing with the pristine nature of Idaho’s wilderness. You will have more time in the spring to enjoy all that the Middle Fork canyon has to offer.

Spring rafting on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.

Main Season Rafting Trips

  • Dates: June 23rd, July 1st, July 9th, July 17th, July 25th, August 2nd

  • Timeline: 6 days

  • Price: $3750

  • Unique Features: ideal river flows, warm weather, refreshing swimming temps, fun and splashy whitewater, a great time for anybody

  • Best for: families and groups, first-time rafters

enjoying each other's company on the middle fork

There is a reason that our trips throughout the middle of the summer fill up with our most eager river runners. The best time to raft the Salmon River for many people is when the spring runoff has receded and the river is coasting at perfect flows, the days are long and warm and the canyon is alive with activity. As summer reaches its peak and the days seem to never end, you’ll find the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in its prime. The days are long with early sunrises and late sunsets, but you’ll still find yourself wishing for more time, as you realize just how much there is to do and see along the river.

Our Main Season Rafting Trips are best for people who might not be seeking the high flows and big whitewater, but are still interested in an excellent rafting adventure. Calm stretches interspersed with smaller rapids lie between the famed whitewater, giving less seasoned river-runners a chance to paddle, swim, or just kick back and enjoy the scenery. The rapids themselves will be splashy and exciting, with rolling wave trains and thrilling drops. There are always periods of calm throughout the day as well, when you can jump in and swim about, or just breathe deep and take in the sights.

The river does tend to be a little busier during this time period, as most everyone knows that midsummer offers some of the best rafting on the Salmon River, but the magic of the Middle Fork will still transport you to another world. As we wind our way through 2.3 million acres of wilderness time will fade away, and an all too rare feeling of being completely unplugged will fill your soul. We will makes stops throughout the day for delicious lunches, hiking opportunities, or to learn more about the natural and cultural history of the Middle Fork.

It can be warm this time of year, but the river is always there welcoming you to jump in and take a refreshing swim!

Sunflower Hot Springs Idaho

Late Season Rafting Trips


  • Dates: August 10th and August 18th

  • Timeline: 6 days

  • Price: $3250

  • Unique Features: mellow but technical whitewater, enjoyable swimming, tranquil atmosphere, ample opportunites to explore the canyon, solitude

  • Best for: nature-lovers and peaceful explorers

happy rafters on a late season middle fork salmon rafting trip

As we reach mid-August, the river slows and becomes unbelievably clear, swirling through the canyon in hues of blue and green. It’s hard to decide which view is more enticing – the staggering cliffsides or the otherworldly depths of the river. If you are looking for a more relaxed-paced whitewater rafting trip, then our Late Season Rafting Trip might be your best time to raft the Salmon River.

Even though the river is low, the rapids are still wonderfully exciting and technical. You’ll be amazed by the puzzles the river sets up for our guides to weave their way through. You’ll slip between massive boulders shaped by thousands of years of Middle Fork flows, and slide over steep drops with nice splashes. This is a great time of year for anyone who wants their Middle Fork Salmon River rafting trip to be invigorating and stimulating, but without the big waves and cool water of our spring season. In fact, you might find yourself out of the boat and in the water more often than not, and totally by choice! The waters of the Middle Fork usually warm to a comfortable and refreshing temperature at this time, perfect for floating on your back and relaxing through calm stretches of river or for swimming and playing in the eddys at camp.

The days grow shorter and offer us a glimpse of the beauty of autumn on the Middle Fork. You’ll still find warm days with ample sunshine, and cool nights with endless layers of stars spinning overhead. For stargazers, this is the best time to raft the Salmon River, because in mid-August, we are able to witness one of the best meteor showers of the year, the Perseids, under one of the darkest skies in the country. 

Because of the relaxed pace of our Late Season Rafting Trips, we offer ample opportunities for exploring other amazing aspects of the river, such as taking regular hikes along the 75-mile riverside trail that winds along the Middle Fork. Hikes of varying distances allow the discovery of hidden gems like cool springs, majestic waterfalls, scenic overlooks, and impressive forests of Ponderosa pines. Mid to late August and September are wonderful because there tends to be fewer and fewer river users as the summer goes on, leaving us feeling even more secluded in the largest contigous wilderness area in the lower 48. This is the best time to raft the Salmon River if you are seeking solitude.

a beautiful view of the underwater canyon on the Middle Fork


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