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“BYO Adventure!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Idaho River Journeys

Idaho River Journeys
Box 1415, Salmon, ID 83467
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Ranked #1 of 7 Attractions in Salmon
Type: Tours, Adventure
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Owner description: For over 35 years we have specialized in running the best multi-day rafting trips in the West. On every trip, we strive to exceed our reputation for superior customer service, careful attention to detail, and a crew of exceptional guides. The reputation we hold so dear matches the high reputations of the three rivers we run. We only run designated "Wild and Scenic" rivers which means that no matter which trip you choose, whether it's the Middle Fork of the Salmon, Main Salmon or Rogue River, it is guaranteed that you will be floating down one of the most spectacular rivers in the world.
Chicago, IL, United States
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“BYO Adventure!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 16, 2013

For a 23-year-old I've had a fair share of outdoor adventures, but floating the Middle Fork was an incredible and unique experience. Though it was my first river rafting trip, it was soon apparent after talking with returning guests, experienced rafters, fishing guides, and our own guides, that this river with this outfitter is the cream of the crock. I found this easy to accept as truth. The Middle Fork of the Salmon runs strait through the second largest wildness area in the continental US (after death valley) and is endlessly scenic. Were there nothing else to do (very much not the case) I would have had an amazing week just enjoying the mountains, pines, and waterfalls. And the stars. Like you wouldn't believe. I slept outside more than in the tent!

Over the course of the week I tried to take in the experience in many ways. I had a great day floating, nice and easy, on an oar boat with my brother and mother while a guide navigated the roaring rapids with ease. I spent most of my time in paddle boats (usually 6 guests and 1 guide), which is a considerably more involved way get down the river. The paddlers all work together to ride through the white water, and in the calmer areas, exchange stories, jokes, riddles, etc. On my more adventurous days I would hop into an inflatable kayak for a wild ride. This is how one gets up close and personal to the raw power of the river. It takes some guts, guidance, and a rush of adrenaline to make it through some of the monster rapids. Or you do your best and still get thrown into the torrents and froth. All part of the adventure! There really is something for everyone.

Also for everyone: the food. Ahhhh the food. I would have been thrilled with trail mix and PB&J's. So, of course, I didn't mind Ahi tuna steak, gourmet salad, carrot cake, etc. Absolutely delicious. Every meal. I would also like to note that although I cannot eat dairy, every meal, despite my protests, there was a fantastic non-dairy option for me. Same went for the pescetarians, and, I imagine, any dietary needs. The guides were happy to accommodate, and were all very good cooks.

Which brings me to the guides. The GUIDES! Ahhhh the guides. If it's possible to pick one thing, the guides were my favorite part of the trip. They are all such kind, interesting, down to earth, intelligent, and talented people. I know it was only six days, and that we were just one trip of one summer, but they really are like friends, or family. I know many of the guests shared this opinion. They always helped make the time on the river fun, and I especially loved sitting around camp in the evening sharing a beer, playing cards, or guitar, or just telling stories. They work incredibly hard from sun up (or before) to sun down (or after), and are, nonetheless, always of a pleasant disposition.

Should I ever get the chance, I would ride the Middle Fork again with IRJ in an instant. Incredible, incredible experience.

Visited July 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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108 reviews from our community

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English first
Stoughton, Wisconsin
5 reviews 5 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“Returned to the River of No Return”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 11, 2013

I just returned from my third time on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho and have to recommed this trip to everyone! Idaho River Journeys (IRJ) is the best outfitter on the river for those who love adventure, exquisite beauty, great food, accomodations and meeting new friends.

Time on the river alone is worth the trip. It is 100 miles of unspoiled wilderness. It is one of the most beautiful places on this earth. We witnessed nature at its best, with stunning, warm and sunny weather every day. Bring your sunscreen!

Bob and Mary, who own IRJ, are warm and wecoming, and treat everyone like family. They hire the best guides in the business. Every one of them is a gem!! They greeted me with hugs and questions about my family, and were genuinely excited that I was back. I was thrilled to be able to introduce my two sons (26 & 23) to my "river family"!

The guides work very hard to help everyone have a wonderful time. The camping is first class. The tents are set up for you at every camp site, there are comfortable chairs to rest on, sleeping pads for a good night's rest, and the cooler is never empty. The guides spend time getting to know people and facilitate camp games, hikes, and fishing lessons.

The food is to die for. Mary's recipes are amazing!! They will specialize the food for any diet or allergy. My son is allergic to dairy and they always had something tasty for him to eat. All of the food is made from scratch and most recipes are cooked in a Dutch Oven...egg bake, corn bread, lasagna, pork roast, chocolate cake, apple crumble...something new and amazing every day! Every one of the guides is a great cook! We also had Ahi Tuna and beef steak cooked to perfection over the fire. I especially loved the "cowboy coffee"!

Not only do the guides work hard from dawn to dark, they are always laughing and friendly. They are very knowledgeable about the river and start every day with a talk about the area and the amazing people who lived there or passed through. They are eager to share this wilderness that they truly love with all their guests. They know places on the river to see Indian dwellings and artwork, waterfalls and great hiking. Each campsite offers something unique.

If you want the trip of a lifetime this is the outfitter for you! I've now had three of the best weeks of my life on the best river in the world with some of my favorite people! Thank you Bob, Mary, Jo, Rachael, Scooter, Skip, Anya, Erin and Nate for another incredible week.

This trip would be appropriate for families with teens and older kids, friends, couples or solo travelers.

Visited July 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Phoenix, Arizona, United States
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Super fun river trip with the family!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 10, 2013

Last week I had the time of my life on the Middle Fork with Idaho River Journeys so I felt compelled to write this review. I'm 25 and run a small non-profit in Phoenix, where I enjoy getting out and exploring the outdoors. My mom has been talking about this river for the last four years - she's been twice before with IRJ. I've seen the pictures and heard the stories but it still didn't prepare me for how much I enjoyed this trip. For me, getting away on 100 miles of wild river sounded like a lot of fun. But being able to do it with my family and all the cool folks you meet made it even better. The IRJ guides are excellent stewards of the land and take a serious interest in you and what activities you want to do; whether it's rafting, kayaking, hiking, playing guitar, or simply relaxing with a beverage. They are also very knowledgeable about the wildlife and history of the Middle Fork and make sure to point out a lot of interesting spots along the way. Not to mention they also cook some seriously delicious meals. I mean, how often do you get to eat gourmet lasagna made in a dutch oven? Or filet minion while sitting in a national forest? These guys and gals have it figured out... and they even put up your tents! The last day was probably my favorite in terms of the whitewater. I spent the whole morning in a "ducky" - a small inflatable kayak - doing some serious rapids (only got flipped once!) and while that definitely got my heart racing, some of the less adventurous guests were able to easily get by on boats steered by our guides. Overall, I highly recommend getting out on the river with IRJ. They are a hard-working, fun, and family-oriented bunch that will show you a great time.

Visited July 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Madison, Wisconsin
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Great for Any Group”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 26, 2013

I went on the first trip down the Middle Fork this year. It was a family trip for us (26 - me, 23 - sister, and both of my 50-something parents), but the rest of our group included individual travelers. I think we all had a great time. The guides were knowledgeable, personable, and always in control of the situation on the water. There were participation levels for everyone - my mom could ride along in the oar boat, my dad and sister could paddle with a group in the paddle boat, and I could use the inflatable kayak for a closer look at the water (and rapids). I would recommend IRJ every time someone expressed interest in a whitewater rafting trip. This outfitter is the one to choose, and the Middle Fork of the Salmon River through the Frank Church Wilderness is the place to go.

Visited June 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bob V, Owner at Idaho River Journeys, responded to this review, July 2, 2013
We enjoyed your company on the river. Spending 5 days running rapids, hiking, soaking in hot springs, relaxing at pristine camps, and eating great food is greatly enhanced when we have fun and interesting guests like you and the rest of your family. You paddled great in the kayak and charged through some challenging whitewater just like a pro! Thank you for taking the time to give your 26 year old perspective on what a wilderness river trip is all about. These trips are fun for all ages and we all take a little bit of the river home with us. Thanks for boating with us and we look forward to welcoming you back again!
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Madison, Wisconsin, USA
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 20, 2013

Before you read my review, you might want to sit back, relax and get your favorite beverage!

We are a family of 4 from Madison, WI. My husband and I (both in our 50’s) wanted to try to pull together a "family" vacation while our daughters (ages 23 & 26) were still game to hang out with the parents for a week. While my vacation idea was something like Hawaii, a Caribbean resort or European destination, my family wanted action, adventure and a “do-something” vacation. So I was reluctantly coerced into a white-water rafting trip. And I must admit that I dreaded it until the moment I got into the raft on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River 6/3/13 with our crew from Idaho River Journeys.

Well I’m home now, all cleaned up after 5 days without a shower and I must say that I wouldn’t trade this trip for any other!

I’m a reader, researcher and planner. So about a year ago, after we agreed upon a whitewater rafting trip, it was my task to find the river and the outfitter.

The River
In researching U.S. rivers, with our goal being maximum adventure, the list was easily narrowed to the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho, on the first trip of the year when the water would be big and fast from the winter snow melt. The Middle Fork trip is about 104 miles through the Frank Church wilderness area, one of only eight areas still designated as "wild and scenic" by the U.S. Forest Service. No roads and no people. The mountain and river scenery was continually stunning and the river action non-stop - approximately 100 rapids (mostly class III and IV) over the 104 miles of river. Never a dull moment!

The Outfitter
Next up – select an outfitter. After some online research I narrowed my list to three outfitters. I called each outfitter with my list of questions (haha, those poor folks!) and subsequently made my decision to go with Idaho River Journeys. You certainly learn a lot thru a conversation – both the tangibles of specific information, as well as the intangibles on what a company and its people are all about. After the phone conversations, Idaho River Journeys was a no-brainer. These are the people you want to be your guides.

IRJ is family-owned, with many years in the business. Their attention to detail, knowledge, experience, care for their guests and true love for rafting the Middle Fork adds up to a fabulous guest experience.

Our IRJ guides - Scooter, Skip and Nate were simply the best river guides on Planet Earth!

* Extremely skilled - we were always in highly competent, safe hands

* Incredibly knowledgeable – with great stories about area history, nature and just plain old stories!

* Terrific cooks – from having early morning coffee ready when we emerged from our tents, to horsdoeuvres before dinner, to wine tasting, to excellent & creative meals (where each one was better than the previous!)

* A lot of fun – with camp games, laughs and general conversation

* Great people overall – the love they have for guiding on the Middle Fork is so apparent. This is clearly not just a job for Scooter, Skip and Nate - it is their passion. Their continual enthusiasm for every rapid, every turn in the river and every scenic vista simply added to our excitement and overall experience.

If you’ve read this far I hope I’ve provided some insight from the perspective of one who truly did not want to go on this trip. Whether you go with family, a group of friends, one friend or even solo -- I hope you GO! This was a spectacular trip from every aspect (beauty, adventure, rest, relaxation and fun). A Middle Fork trip with Idaho River Journeys belongs on your vacation list!

Visited June 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bob V, Owner at Idaho River Journeys, responded to this review, June 28, 2013
Thank you for letting others know how you went about researching and deciding on which river and what outfitter was a good fit for your family. These are great tips and information for other people who are reading up on rivers and outfitters and trying to decide where to go and with whom. We could tell from your questions leading up to the trip that you are a careful planner and an experienced traveler. We enjoyed the pre trip phone calls and the opportunity to get to know you a bit before your Idaho arrival. Our guides have a passion for their vocation and the river and enjoy sharing this special place with our guests. The perspective that you wrote from "reluctant but now happy boater" will certainly help others who are debating about taking a wilderness vacation. Thank you for joining us on Idaho's Middle Fork of the Salmon and we look forward to another trip with you and your family in the future.
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