Family, Summer

Guide to White Water Rafting Near Sun Valley

Rafting on any of the numerous sections of rivers surrounding the Sun Valley area can be the experience of a lifetime. Taking in the beauty of Idaho from the swirling waters of its beautiful rivers is truly a unique experience to our area. While for many, a white water rafting trip is synonymous with a multi-day trip, complete with nights around the campfire and food fresh from the Dutch-oven, there are plenty of half- and full-day rafting opportunities in the Sun Valley area.

Taking a break from rafting to take a dip in the Salmon River.

Half- and Full-Day Trips

White Cloud Rafting Adventures

Offering half- and full-day trips on various sections of the Main Salmon River, White Cloud Rafting Adventures offers trips for a span of abilities in both kayak and rafts. Their most popular covers Class II and III rapids in raft or kayak and lasts four hours and departs at 10am, noon, and 2pm from north of Sun Valley at the Elk Creek launch site, making this truly just a short day trip for those in the Sun Valley area. Take in scenery and learn about local wildlife and be back in time for dinner.

Taking a break from rafting to take a dip in the Salmon River.
photo: White Cloud Rafting

The scenic trip is a calmer pace with one of the company’s friendly guides maneuvering you down an easy stretch of the Salmon on an oar boat while you admire the scenery of the Sawtooths. The trip departs at 11am and 1:30pm and lasts about 3-4 hours. 

The High Adventure trip is for the adrenaline junkies with this trip encountering Class II, III, and IV rapids over the course of a 3-4 hour wild ride. This trip is only available during high water conditions as the surge of whitewater producing the rapids comes from spring runoff from the Sawtooth Mountains. Those over the age of 12 will be negotiated by seasoned guides through class IV rapids, Shotgun Falls (IV) downstream from the launch site, two miles of whitewater, and the historic Sunbeam Dam (IV) run. End the ride with “Piece of Cake” and the Warm Springs Gorge leading to the class II and III rapids that make up the middle section of the river. Stop at their private river camp for a break and a bite and end on a leisurely stretch of river with a swimming hole to boot. This trip departs at 10am, noon, and 2pm and lasts 3-4 hours.

The River Company

Specializing in rafting trips on the Salmon River, the Stanley-based River Company received a 2019 Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor. A short one-hour drive from Sun Valley, rafting on the Salmon in Stanley offers fresh air and pristine canyon water on one of their rafting options. Rafting options include family trips with lunch which lasts 5-6 hours, June-September and begin at 10:30 daily. The Straight Shot trip is great for those on a tight schedule as the trip only lasts 3-4 hours, May-Sept and begins at 1:30 daily. Scenic Floats are great for little ones or seniors as these floats only cover Class I rapids as opposed to Class II and III that might be encountered in other trips. Floats last 1-2 hours, May-Sept and are available for all ages and custom trip times. Float Fishing Trips are available for exploring the best trout habitat on the river, May-Sept and have customized times and the Class IV Adventure trip is for those seeking more of an adrenaline rush on these tougher grade rapids. These being at 1pm daily, May-June.

Rafting near Sun valley, Idaho on the Salmon River
photo: The River Company

Sawtooth Adventure Company

Sawtooth Adventure Company specializes in whitewater rafting trips for the entire family on the Salmon River. SAC has a variety of half-day and full day trip offerings on the Main Salmon and multi-day trips Middle Fork of the Salmon.

One of SAC’s unique offerings is their Twilight Dinner Trips offering top-shelf experience on the Salmon River reserved for private groups. Twilight trips Dutch Oven entrees, creative salads, grilled meats, beer, wine, live music and s’mores.

For a complete line-up of their offerings, be sure to check out Sawtooth Adventure Company site.

Full Day & Lunch River Trips

Full day rafting and kayaking trips that cover Class II and III rapids are also available from White Cloud with these trips lasting 6-7 hours and departing at 10am (rafting) or 10am, noon, or 2pm for those kayaking. These trips depart from the Elk Creek launch site and wind through thrilling rapids before reaching the company’s private riverside camp where before your arrival their cooks have prepared appetizers and cold beverages. While they cook lunch, you can enjoy the beach or play bocce and horseshoes and then enjoy a freshly-prepared lunch before going to Torrey’s Hole for swimming and back to the launch.

Rafting near Sun valley, Idaho on the Salmon River
photo: The River Company

White Otter Outdoor Adventures

Located in Stanley right at the put-in to the river, White Otter Outdoor Adventures specializes in rafting trips on the Sunbeam Stretch of the Upper Salmon. Half-day trips can be done on paddle rafts, oar boats, or inflatable kayak and are at 9:30am and 2pm daily May through October (or at a custom launch time for a slightly higher price). Soak in the scenery of the river canyon and still have time to explore the Stanley Basin or get back to Sun Valley. A Fresh-baked snack is always included but lunch or dinner can also be added to this trip. Enjoy coffee and fresh-baked muffins before the launch as well!

For a full day experience, one can pick the exclusive day trip with White Otter that is your day, your way. Pick your launch time, get picked up at your door in the Wood River Valley or Sawtooth Valley, stop somewhere for coffee on the way—it’s your day. Choose your food, when you return, and get driven right back to your door. These trips are offered between May 15 and August 27 Thursdays through Sundays only and serve a maximum of 13 guests. Floating options include paddle rafts, oar boats, or inflatable kayak.

For more scenic floats on the Salmon (ideal for children or those looking for a quieter ride), try White Otter’s 2-4 hour scenic float trips, launching at 9:30am, 2pm, and 5pm daily May through October.

Rafting near Sun valley, Idaho on the Salmon River
photo: The River Company

And, of course, there’s always trips for thrill seekers. During early summer between April and mid-June, White Otter offers an Upper Main Salmon summer class full of Class IV rapids like “Shotgun” and “The Dam” along with exciting Class III rapids. This trip is for those 14 years and older and trip availability and launch times are subject to change depending on current water flows. Oar boats or paddle rafts are the options for this trip and lunch or dinner can be added as well. For later in the season (May through June), a Thrill Seekers Trip of Class IV rapids launches daily at 10am.

Multi-Day Trips

Photo: Matt Liedecker

Idaho is home to some of the most premier multi-day stretches in the country. The crown jewel is the Middle Fork of the Salmon River and is the ultimate wilderness experience. Flowing over 100 miles through the largest wilderness area in the lower 48 states.

Based out of Sun Valley Far and Away Adventures offers multi-day trips down the Middle Fork of the Salmon with an emphasis on luxury. Also in the early season they run 5-day trips on the Owyhee and 4-day trips on the Bruneau Canyon.

Idaho River Journeys is a family-run business based in Salmon, Idaho and was named by Nat Geo as “One of America’s Top Adventure Travel Companies.”

Idaho River Guides offers multi day adventure trips on the Salmon in Riggins, the Snake in Hells Canyon, the main Salmon as well as Salmon River “canyons”, and the Owyhee River.

There are slew of other multi-day guides based in the Stanley area as well!

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