Rafting trip navigates Idaho's Salmon River


EL CERRITO, Calif. -- Adventure specialist Mountain Travel Sobek added a five-night rafting trip of the Middle Fork branch of Idaho's Salmon River to its domestic product offerings.

The Middle Fork runs through central Idaho's 2.2 million-acre River of No Return Wilderness Area -- said to be the largest wilderness area in the U.S., outside of Alaska.

The river provides more than 100 stretches of rapids over 100 miles.

The rapids range in intensity from Class II to Class IV, according to James Ellsworth, Mountain Travel Sobek's director of river operations.

On the first day of the trip, clients will depart from Stanley, Idaho, and be driven to the launch point at Boundary Creek.

Clients can choose to raft down the river in oar boats paddled by guides; in paddle boats that they work themselves or in one-man inflatable kayaks.

The inflatable kayaks are typically only used during the low-water season -- July and August -- when the rapids are slower, Ellsworth said.

However, he said this year the river is running low in general, so kayaks will most likely be available for use on any departure.

For safety purposes, sweep boats -- large barge-like boats -- ride ahead of and behind the participants' watercrafts.

The lead sweep boat carries all the camp equipment and, as it reaches the campsite first, MTS guides have the area set up by the time the rest of the group arrives.

For the next four days, clients, in addition to whitewater rafting, can choose from optional hiking excursions through canyons and to see historical homesteads and cave paintings by American Indians.

Catch-and-release fishing is an option for clients who bring their own gear.

On two nights, camp sites are planned near natural hot springs, which are suitable for swimming.

On the last day of the trip, after lunch, clients are driven to Salmon, Idaho, for the return trip home.

Ellsworth said the rafting program is ideal for small groups, including families or for corporate retreats.

"This is a trip for anyone from 9 to 80 years of age who has an adventurous spirit," he added.

The Middle Fork of the Salmon River rafting trip has departures set for July 1,

9, 17 and 25 and Aug. 2, 10 and 18.

The company will be announcing additional departure dates for September.

The land-only rate for most departures starts at $1,690 per person, plus tax. The rate for the Aug. 10 and 18 departures start at $1,590, plus tax. There is a 10% discount for children ages 15 and younger.

The minimum age for participants is 9; for high-water trips, clients must be at least 12 years old.

The rate covers services of the guides, all meals (prepared by MTS staff members who serve as chefs as well as guides), rafting and camping equipment, ground transfers, entrance permits and fees, and medical and evacuation insurance.

For clients who want to have a vehicle shuttled from Stanley to Salmon, there is an $85 fee.

The Middle Fork of the Salmon River package is commissionable at 10%.

Trips are available for six to 24 people.

All departures are guaranteed.

For additional details, contact Mountain Travel Sobek at (800) MTSOBEK; fax (510) 525-7710.

The e-mail address is [email protected] and the Web site address is www.mtsobek.com.

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