Get Out There
(page 5 of 6)
Enjoying the Whitewater State
Local Rafting and Kayaking Options
BY KATHLEEN KRISTENSON
Idaho has over 3,000 whitewater river miles, more than any other state in the lower 48! Luckily for those of us in Sun Valley, we don’t have to go very far to find some of the best whitewater rafting and kayaking on the planet. The Main Salmon River, the Payette River and the infamous multi-day, Middle Fork “River of No Return” are all relatively short drives from the splendors of Sun Valley.
On the north side of Galena summit, Highway 75 runs parallel to the Main Salmon River. This stretch offers easy access to half-day, full-day or multi-day trips. “The Main Salmon is a great introduction to multi-day trips, offering warm water, sandy beaches and riverside campsites,” said Guy Robins, a guide for Mackay Wilderness Trips. “It’s a great family trip, as it is safe for children ages five and up.” Mackay Wilderness River Trips, as well as White Otter Outdoor Adventures and Idaho River Journeys, offer trips on the Main Salmon.
West of Stanley, the Middle Fork of the Salmon River winds its way 100 miles north through the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. Trips average in length from five to eight days and they rank among the Top 10 river trips in the world! Remote as it is, the experience need not be rustic. Outfitters like Mackay Wilderness River Trips and Idaho River Journeys provide comfortable accommodations and delicious dining experiences. Far and Away Adventures even offers massages, flannel linens and carpeted tents!
Coveted private permits are also given out using a lottery system to minimize the impact on the environment. The crystal-clear water, stunning scenery, ample wildlife, hot springs and great fly fishing make everyone who gets to float the Middle Fork feel like a lottery winner.
The Payette River, near Boise, is a playground for rafters and kayakers of all ability levels. It attracts boaters from around the world including Ketchum resident Gerry Moffatt, a world-class kayaker originally from Scotland who was drawn to Idaho by the North Fork of the Payette. The North Fork has the most challenging Class V rapids in the lower 48 and because it’s dam-controlled, it runs all summer long. The Payette River Company and Cascade Raft Company offer trips on the Payette.
Rivers are nature’s highways. Some are scenic tours and some are wild rides. Still others are a combination of both. Rafting and kayaking are great ways to get out and enjoy all that Idaho’s waterways have to offer.
Pick your river and then pick your outfitter, or head out on your own. It’s all possible in the “Whitewater State.”