Last Updated as of: November 10, 2021
Each of these spectacular river canyons in Idaho offers wonderful wilderness and whitewater rafting experiences. Nevertheless, there are differences between them. The Middle Fork is what we call a “continual gradient” river.The Main Salmon is referred to as a “drop and pool” river. There are more rapids listed on the Middle Fork, but the “Big Six” found on the Main Salmon are some of the best whitewater rapids anywhere
WHICH IS THE BEST RIVER FOR ME?
Family with children ages 5 and older – The Main Salmon
Families with children ages 9 and older – The Main Salmon, The Middle Fork
Adults – The Main Salmon, The Middle Fork
“Diehard” Whitewater Enthusiasts – The Middle Fork in early June
Seniors – The Main Salmon or The Middle Fork mid-June through September
Fishers – The Middle Fork mid-July through September
There are three things to consider when deciding when to take a Middle Fork or Salmon River rafting trip in Idaho:
- Water classification – in Idaho we use the following classification system CLASS V – very difficult – long rapids with wild turbulence requiring complex maneuvering
CLASS IV – difficult – long rapids with powerful, irregular waves requiring precise maneuvering
CLASS III – medium – numerous waves that are high requiring expertise in maneuvering
CLASS II – easy – small waves with some maneuvering required
CLASS I – very easy The Main Salmon and The Middle Fork are not “dam-controlled” rivers. This means that the water is at a higher classification during the early season than later in the summer. The Middle Fork is a CLASS V to IV in June, a CLASS IV in July and a CLASS III with some IVs in August. The Main Salmon is a CLASS IV in June, a CLASS III in July and a CLASS III with some IIs in August.
- Idaho’s weather – June has unpredictable weather. We get rain along with the sunshine in June. Temperatures range from 55 to 80 with nighttime temps dipping into the 30’s. July and August are summertime. Mostly hot and dry with an occasional thunderstorm. Temperatures range from 75 to 95 with nighttime temps in the 55 to 65 range.
- Fishing – if you are coming to enjoy the fishing then mid-July through September is the best.
HOW MANY RAFTS ARE ON A TRIP?
We run four types of boats per standard trip. Below are listed descriptions of the boats we run:
Sweep Boat – this is the supply boat. No guests ride on this craft.
3 Oar Boats – usually there will be from 3 to 4 guests on each oar boat.
2 Paddle Boats – the paddle boats carry 6 to 8 guests
6 Inflatable Kayaks – there is one guest in each kayak
TOYS,TOYS, TOYS – the Main Salmon offers additional toys for our guests to play with on the water – SUP’s (Stand up paddle Boards) and the Blueberry (9 foot paddle or oar boat for the guests to run on their own!) As you can see, there are plenty of seats for the 24 guests. Remember, you can change from one craft to another anytime the float party is stopped – lunch, breaks for hikes, etc.
WHAT ARE THE REST ROOM FACILITIES?
Sanitary wilderness restroom and shower facilities – At the primitive sites offered on both rivers, we provide our own custom designed “wilderness restroom and hot water shower” with privacy shelter. Our many years of guiding on these rivers has led us to this design, providing our guests with the maximum degree of comfort and privacy, while still preserving some of the most pristine wilderness found in the lower 48 states.
HOW DO WE GET TO THE RIVER?
Our office is in Boise, Idaho. Guests coming to Idaho via commercial airlines will want to fly into Boise.
Guests can take advantage of the Pre-Trip Lodging and Round Trip Air Charter Package. For guests driving to Idaho, they can come to Boise and do the lodging/air charter package or drive to either Stanley or Salmon for their trip. Some trips may still require a one way flight to or from the river.
A diet that’s good and good for you – You won’t believe you are hundreds of miles from civilization when you sit down to one of the original Mackay menu favorites! Careful planning and attention to detail has allowed us a wide latitude on our menu selections, all of which are unanimous favorites. You’ll find our camp cuisine contains a healthy balance of fresh meats, fish and poultry, as well as fresh fruits, vegetables and grains. In addition, each evening meal is preceded by scrumptious hors d’oeuvres, capped off with a freshly-baked warm pastry for dessert. Fine wines accompany these gourmet delights. We offer a flexible menu that varies to reflect our guests’ preferences and dietary requirements.
The kitchen of kings – Our wilderness kitchen has been custom-designed for the preparation of gourmet meals that rival their city counterparts. All Mackay guides take special pride in food preparation. We have found the dutch oven to be ideal for outdoor cooking and have perfected its use. We also supply dining tables and chairs to make your meal an unforgettable and comfortable dining experience.