Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Middle Fork of the Salmon | August 1-6, 2009

The August 1 – 6 Middle Fork trip had everything a memorable river trip should have: Exciting whitewater, good fishing, great food, and interesting weather. Five out of six days had warm sunny weather, and the water level at the top was 2.1 feet.

The group that started at Boundary Creek included the families of David, Andrea, Max, Daniel, and Dylan; Adrienne, Charles, and Abigail; and Paul, Mary, Grace, young Mary and young Paul, as well as old friends Bea, Lauren and Hank. Joining us at Thomas Creek on Day Three for the balance of the trip were Marie, Greg, Hilary, Amaya, Gabe and Ted.

The guides were Tom, Scooter, Matt, Erin, Skip, birthday girl Rachael, and Mike.

We had some wonderful camps along the way, each with a different highlight:

-       Sheepeater (great hot springs with too hot, too cold and just right pools)

-       State Land Right (where we tossed up a tarp to shield us from a pre-dinner squall)

-       Shelf (where we took a beautiful 1.5 mile* hike to the Loon Creek hot springs)

-       Driftwood (where a dramatic 2:00 am wind storm woke everybody up to see cloud racing by the full moon)

-       Parrott Placer (where the guides took the kids on a paddleboat rodeo ride and we held Pirate Night)

At this time of season, the Middle Fork is in prime condition for inflatable kayaks. At one point or another, almost all the guests gave the IKs (aka duckies) a spin, and there were exciting runs at Tappen, Jack Creek, Weber, House of Rocks and more. Paul, Hilary, Hank, Ted and Max will all return with stories to thrill their

 friends. In a calmer stretch, Charles and Abigail shared a ducky, and Abigail 

produced an impressively high number of “giggles per mile.”

General consensus on the meals gave

 high marks to the newly introduced Ahi Tuna with soy and ginger marinade. The apple spice cake with caramel sauce wowed the crowd, and the breakfast burritos and Waldorf Salad lunch had high “yum” factors.

Other memories of the trip include a visit to Joe Bump’s cabin (where we found the geocache), hikes to pictographs, an old ranch and to Veil Falls, and sightings of eagle, big horn, otter, osprey and chukar. A number of guests and guides enjoyed some good fly fishing, with the trout rising around almost every bend and at each camp.

On the last morning’s run out to the Main Salmon, thunderstorms chased us down the river, and after a hard rain, all were glad to see take-out, the bus, lunch, and dry clothes.

* Sorry to those of you who thought the hike was longer…Hank and Mike went to Google Earth after the trip and confirmed the one-way distance. 

Thanks for joining us on a great trip!

-Written by Mike O'Malley

Here are a few more excellent shots from the trip:

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Middle Fork of the Salmon | July 8 - 12, 2009

Our July 8th Middle Fork was a great week on the river with long time guests Rick and Amie and new friends Lee and Val. The fish were jumping, the weather was great and the water hovered around 3’.

We camped at Dolly Lake, Little Soldier, Johnny Walker, Driftwood, and Cliffside.

We caught and released lots of trout as we boated and saw Big Horn Sheep, eagles, and river otter along the way.

On Canyon Appreciation Day we stopped at Waterfall Creek, Veil Falls, and Earl Parrott’s cabin. On the same day we had a memorable rescue of another company’s loose inflatable kayak right below Tumblecreek.

On the last night we had a wine tasting and sampled several delicious varietals. A special guest stopped by our last night camp at Cliffside and entertained us all around the fire.

IRJ guides were Tom Tremain, Skip Volpert and Bob Volpert.

Thanks for joining us on the Middle Fork and we look forward to seeing you back on the river!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Middle Fork of the Salmon | June 3-6, 2009

Our first Middle Fork trip of the season launched on June 3rd with the water running at 6'. Tom Tremain, who is in his 28th season of river guiding led the trip. Andy Wilkin, who just graduated from University of Idaho last month was our other guide. Guests, Russ and Michelle were stoked to be on the river at this big water level and were tons of fun to be around. Company owners, Bob Volpert and Mary Papale wanted to get in on the high water excitement and went along on the trip.

Bob, Andy, and Mary getting ready for a day on the water:

The Middle Fork was flowing at about 8 miles an hour so we had lots of time to relax in camp, eat great meals and go hiking. Our first night we spent at Dolly Lake and enjoyed a grilled chicken dinner with a spinach salad with pears and blue cheese in a balsamic dressing and Bob's famous rice cooked by Tom. The finishing touch was a dutch oven chocolate cake.

The following morning started off with a large pot of White Cloud's French Roast coffee then Tom's melt-in-your-mouth Artichoke Egg Strata dish affectionately called the "Colonel's D.O." Today was an exciting rapid day as we ran the butterfly-stirring Pistol Creek Rapid. The waves in Pistol were big and came at us from different directions and it was a "ride 'em cowboy run". We all made it through in fine form and then made a stop at Indian Creek to get our permit.

Tom at Indian Creek:

It was a fine surprise at Indian to be greeted by long time Middle Fork Ranger, Sheri Hughes. After a fun visit with Sheri and our camps picked for the next two nights of the trip we continued on our way to Shelf Camp. Shelf Camp is an awesome place to relax and to eat well. Andrew grilled inch and a half boneless pork chops with a lime chipotle marinade. On the side we had garlic mashed Idaho taters and another of Tom's D.O. creations, Zucchini Bake. We topped off dinner with a thin slice of the very rich Caramel Pecan cake. After this feast we decided to hike up to Loon Creek hot springs and take an hour soak. The walk to Loon was just what we needed after dinner and was complimented with Andy's riddles as we strolled along. After a warm hot spring bath we all slept well and late with the guides waking us up with steaming cups of coffee.

Camped at Last Chance just below Big Creek:

We zoomed along on our third day running the Tappan's including the new and exciting Cove Creek Rapid. Haystack was huge and tons of fun. We made a stop at Rattlesnake Cave to check out the pictographs and gather firewood for camp. Tom was so excited to be camping at Last Chance. It was his first time staying there and what a terrific camp. From there you can hike to Waterfall Creek which looked like Niagara Falls. We also walked the bridge near Big Creek and then hiked a ways up Big Creek.

Waterfall Creek was pumping!:

All of this exercise was rewarded by another amazing dinner. We started with smoked trout, then moved on to perfectly grilled steaks with sides of pancetta and spinach pasta and Caesar Salad. Throughout the meal we sipped fine wines, including a Fraser Cab that is made in very small batches by Bill Fraser out of Boise. Dinner was finished with slices of moist carrot cake.

Getting ready to load up on the boats:

Rafting on the Middle ends with a bang especially at this 6' water level. The following day all the way to the Cache Bar take-out we ran giant wave train after giant wave train. The troughs were deep and we hit them all straight and missed the giant boat-flipping holes that dot the Impassable Canyon. With hugs all around on the ramp we toasted the river and a fun four days of boating.

For more photos of this trip, visit our Facebook Page.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Middle Fork Salmon Snowpack

Snowpack in the Middle Fork of the Salmon River drainage is now over 100% of normal. This is going to be a great year for rafting in Idaho. With a snowpack of over 100%, our June trips will pack a bunch of great whitewater, July will warm up considerably for the perfect mix of water and warmth, and August will have the excellent mix of superb fly fishing, whitewater, and weather.

Our August 1st trip still has space and is normally a first-to-fill date. If you want to join this fabulous trip, give us a call today: 1-888-997-8399.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Middle Fork Salmon High Water Contest

The annual Middle Fork of the Salmon High Water Contest will be coming to a close on April 15th at 11:59 PM. If you get a kick out of predicting flows and want a chance at winning some cool river gear, now is the time to enter the contest.

To do so, visit the Middle Fork Salmon website and click on "High Water Contest". Next, fill out the form and hit submit. Good luck!

Interested in floating the Middle Fork Salmon during high water? Join Idaho River Journeys on our June 3rd, four day blast down the river. The water is guaranteed to be higher (and faster), and an adrenaline-pumping ride!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

River Rafting Vacations - The Real All-Inclusive Family Trip

Here's a recent press release about our rafting trips. For the actual release, please visit it here: River Rafting Vacations

Boise City, ID - Those all-inclusive trips touted by cruise lines and beach resorts can sound too good to be true, and they often are. When the extra-fees for popular “not-included” activities are added to the bill, the tab for the family vacation can easily double or triple. Few all-inclusive vacations actually are, but a river rafting vacation is one that fulfills the promise.

Once a family boards the rafts, there are no add-ons or surprise charges. Today’s outfitters provide services rivaling high-end resorts. Guides pride themselves on serving Dutch Oven cuisine, teaching kayaking or fly fishing skills to guests, leading hikes, doing naturalist interpretations, sharing history and, of course, expertly navigating rapids. With a typical guest-to-guide ratio of only four-to-one, it’s like having a private instructor guiding you with each activity.

“The idea that a rafting trip is just about whitewater isn’t true anymore,” says Bob Volpert, owner of Idaho & Oregon River Journeys, an outfitter on Idaho’s Middle Fork of the Salmon and the Rogue River in Oregon. “People come for the rapids and scenery but it’s the complete experience that brings families back.”

Outfitters report that the market for their trips has changed in recent years. River rafting vacations have become popular with multi-generational family groups looking to vacation together and experience a variety of activities. Dave Mills, owner of Rocky Mountain River Tours, says that “Middle Fork of the Salmon trips have plenty of opportunities for kids to get their adrenaline pumping.” For those eager to simply relax, Mills adds, “Oar boats rowed by a guide provide a comfortable, safe ride for those who would rather take in the scenery or fly fish.”

Jerry Hughes runs Hughes River Expeditions and outfits on the Snake River, Salmon and Middle Fork in Idaho. He thinks that the ease of planning, the adventure, and the opportunity for families to spend time together without distractions attributes to the popularity of river rafting vacations. “Sitting around a campfire with your kids is an experience we once took for granted,” Hughes notes. “But in today’s techie world, it’s something wonderfully rejuvenating.”

The outfitters mentioned offer three to six-day river rafting trips on the most famous rivers in Idaho and Oregon. Prices vary but are generally $200 to $400 a day, per-person. Included are meals, river equipment, local shuttles, tents, sleeping bags, camp chairs, and just about everything else you might need, except personal items. Also included are the activities that make a rafting vacation more than just whitewater: hiking, fly fishing, interpretation and those ever-so-elusive family campfire moments.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Middle Fork of the Salmon FOOD

On all of our river trips, we tend to eat pretty darn well. Our specialty is using the Dutch Oven, which is essentially an outdoor oven. We fill it up with tasty food and dump hot coals on it. Once the food is done, it is simply delicious. One of August trips was recently featured on StarChefs.com. I got a photo CD in the mail yesterday and browsed through some of the photos. The photos made me really hungry, and also wish that I was on the Middle Fork of the Salmon, America's premier wilderness river.

Here are some of the shots from StarChefs.com:

Monday, March 2, 2009

Counting Down the Days

Are you counting down the days until summer? We certainly are. Native Americans along the Middle Fork of the Salmon and Main Salmon Rivers often kept track of events in a tally fashion. The pictures here show some typical pictographs one may find along the banks of either river.

On our Middle Fork of the Salmon and Main Salmon rafting vacations, we take pride in making our trips much more than just rafting trips: we offer hiking, fly fishing, and many other activities like historical and interpretive stops along the way. Time spent on the river is like no other.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Grand Canyon Rafting Trip Report

Sean joined Idaho River Journeys on a Main Salmon rafting trip in June of 2008 in which he brought his own boat. Later that year, he participated in a private Grand Canyon trip. Here's his trip report:

IRJ Friends,

Had a great trip on the GC. I admit that I fretted a lot about bringing a smallish boat down there but as you all told me in advance things ended up working out fine. My brother ended up not going so we had 4 boats with 7 ppl. I rowed my 14' Hyside, my friend John rowed his 16' cat, a couple from Boise brought their Aire 156R and the TL brought an ancient 15' Riken with his 12 yr old son.

First flip was in Granite when the 156R got corkscrewed over about halfway down. We re-flipped within 15 mins and they were back in business with no loss of gear and not much got wet either. I ended up getting an extremely wild ride in Granite with my boat more or less completely full of water when I hit something big. I think it was the same feature that flipped the Aire but who knows for sure. We had planned on running Hermit that same afternoon but the flippers wanted a little time to rebuild their confidence so we camped right there at the Hermit camp.

I scouted Hermit the night before and decided to sneak it left but after watching my pal take it right down the gut I changed my mind and did the same. The 5th wave surged right as I hit it and I glided right up on top and my boat stalled for an instant perched high on the wave before zooming down the back. Prob best ride of the trip.

I ran the right shore sneak at Crystal after watching an 18 footer flip in the hole near the right side. I also saw an 18 footer flip in Hermit and 2 other 18s lose passengers in Hance and Hermit. Another 18 hit the island right below the first part of Crystal and they took 3 hrs to get it going again.

Rest of the trip was pretty uneventful till Lava. I did hit a few big holes but all with good momentum and other than a scary stall in a big hole in some obscure GC class 6 rapid called Specter my boat was never in danger. John and I scouted Lava and decided the most fun run would be just right of Ledge Hole. The entry looked a little bit tight but going just right of the big hole appeared to set you up for a fun but do-able ride right through the heart of the rapid. We both ran it just as planned at got an exciting wet ride and waited for the TL and the Boise couple to run it. The TL appeared to go a little more right (away from Ledge) than we did and got sideways and flipped early on. John and I waited till the swimmers got near and recovered the kid and boat and the next boat down picked up the TL from shore and he had dislocated his shoulder somehow but reduced it pretty quickly.

The 12 yr old kid Teal rowed most of the rest of the trip (we ran their boat down the bigger rapids for them) which was uneventful till that new "Pierce Ferry Riffle" rapid around mile 280. We did not scout it and were surprised at the decibel level coming from the river as we approached. The rapid was a tricky one with a big rock in the middle and not much time to make the left/right decision at the top. Right was a steep chute with uncertain consequences so we all went left. John went too far left and hit a big hole and then got caught in a big toilet-bowl looking recirculating feature that was repeatedly jamming his boat up against the rocks on river left. The Aire and I both pulled back hard and our boats bounced off the big lateral steering us clear of the carnage. I looked back to see Teal hitting that same lateral a bit sideways and the Riken flipped again. Dad and boat came out of the rapid pretty quickly and were recovered and Teal had to put some effort into his swim to get out of the slack water behind the mid-river boulder. We picked him up and re-flipped the Riken and were at South Cove early in the afternoon.

It was a great trip and I know my rowing and river reading are far better now than before.

Thanks again for the encouragement and for the advice and tips up on the Main Salmon. The Main did turn out to be a pretty good introduction to large river dynamics and gave me some good experience and confidence going down to the GC.

Please forward this along to the guides (Beth, Brian, Matt, Phil) along with my thanks for the great trip they ran in June.



If you are a private boater who would like to row your own boat on one of our commercial launches, please give us a ring at 1-888-997-8399.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Where's THAT at?

We've got a photo contest on Facebook right now. Check out the album "Where's THAT at?" and try to guess the correct answer. Don't be afraid to guess twice!

To view the album, visit the Idaho & Oregon River Journeys Photo Page.

Are you on Facebook? Make sure you become a fan of IORJ!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Middle Fork Salmon featured on StarChefs.com

In August of 2008, we ran a special three-day Middle Fork of the Salmon trip from the Flying B to Cache Bar. The trip featured stellar dutch oven cooking and the beautiful surroundings of "Impassable Canyon".

Joining us on the trip was Antoinette Bruno, CEO of StarChefs.com. We were recently featured on their homepage and the article and photo gallery (with some great shots of our tasty meals) was archived as well. It is available for viewing here:

"Get out of the kitchen - and into the Wild on StarChefs.com"

Monday, January 19, 2009

Family Rafting Trips

People ask us all the time: "is this trip suitable for my child?" There are a lot of factors that turn ordinary rafting experiences into perfect family rafting trips. The first thing to understand is that there are a huge variety in river trips in regard to difficulty, season, length, and outfitters.

As snow piles high in the Sawtooth mountain range, it is easy to see why the Middle Fork and Main Salmon have such huge fluctuations in flow (which is generally measured in CFS: Cubic Feet per Second). In the late spring, when temperatures rise and snow begins to melt, the Middle Fork and Main Salmon typically reach their high points for the year. They tend to spike quickly and fall to reasonable levels within a week, sometimes within days. Soon after, our Middle Fork and Main Salmon seasons begin.

Our first trip of the year is generally June 3rd, and features the highest water of the season. Generally speaking, from here on out the flow will continue to decrease. What this means for families is that the further you go into the summer, the rapids become less intense. This does not mean they are any less fun or difficult: sometimes they become a technical maze of boulders and you'll have fun weaving your way through. But, the intensity level does drop out, making these trips more suitable for youngsters.

Weather also plays a part in your decision to bring your children rafting. In our early June trips and late August trips, temperatures tend to be a lot lower (particularly at night and in the mornings) than on our July and early August trips. Water temperature also is significantly cooler during our "shoulder-season" trips.

When it comes to outfitters for your family rafting trip, make sure you choose one with a history and reputation for family rafting trips. Some outfitters solely run fishing trips, others don't allow their guides to mingle with customers, and some run adult-only trips.

At Idaho & Oregon River Journeys, our business was built with family in mind. Our guides are wonderful role models for your children and they will enjoy spending time with them. We are an energetic bunch, always ready to explore, hike, tell stories, and simply enjoy the river passing by. We are safety conscious and love sharing our world with our customers.

If you have questions regarding your family rafting trip, please give us a call at 1-888-997-8399.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Best Adventure Travel Outfitter on Earth

We are pleased to announce that National Geographic Adventure has selected Idaho River Journeys to be distinguished as one of the best adventure travel outfitters on earth. The excitement of receiving this prestigious award won't wear off quickly, but we are already looking forward to capturing the award for a second time in 2010. To read the full review of Idaho & Oregon River Journeys in National Geographic, click here.

Our amazing guides are the ones who make the trips we run so incredible. They are the life and blood of our business and without them we would be any ordinary outfitter. Idaho River Journeys has always been dedicated to bringing our customers the VERY BEST in adventure travel, and we are overwhelmingly delighted to have been recognized at such a high level.

Our customers who took the online survey provided by National Geographic - thank you so much for your participation! We are looking forward to serving all of you in 2009 with big smiles, big rapids, and lifelong memories.

We're headed around the bend;
Can't wait to boat with you again!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Making our trips more affordable...

Our staff recently attended a meeting of outfitters from across the country. It was hosted by America Outdoors, a national association of outfitters offering a wide variety of outdoor vacations.

Jack Rich, a Montana outfitter offering ranch vacations, said something that caught my attention. “What we offer is just what America needs right now. Rejuvenation with friends and family in beautiful, authentic, wild places.”

At Idaho River Journeys we know that taking a family vacation this year might be a tough choice but we think our trips offer things that no other vacation can provide. There is no question that taking a family to Idaho for a week on the Middle Fork can be expensive but we want to help make it as affordable as possible.

Towards that goal, we’ve asked our staff to forego pay increases and we have kept our prices the same, or lower, than last year. We are not cutting quality and will not modify the way we run trips. What we will do is make as many administrative changes as we can to keep prices low while maintaining our very high customer service standards. For example, if you go with us we’re going to ask that you make your final payment by check instead of credit card. This saves us 4% and will help us absorb our reduction in prices.

We will also help you with shuttle and lodging arrangements in Idaho. Rather than fly from Boise to Stanley or Salmon, we are looking at alternative, more reasonable shuttle plans. We will continue to supply just about everything you need for your trip and will help with travel planning and make your trip as hassle-free as possible.

And lastly, if your party wants to go with us but even with our price adjustments, find the cost daunting, call us. We will do whatever is necessary to make it possible for you to join us.

Come boating with us. You’ll be taking a vacation that will create family memories that you will cherish forever.