Although working behind the scenes, Jonna is an imperative member of the Rocky Mountain River Tours team. Without her, our food prep, purchasing, and cooking would be absolute mayhem.
During the summers, Jonna is the person that keeps the gears of Rocky turning behind the scenes. Coming from Port Angeles, Washington Jonna loves the outdoors and being active. In her free time, she loves to explore the mountains that are just outside her backdoor step. Along with this, Jonna is a pilates teacher. In fact, she offers an amplitude of different services which range from sport-specific training, personalized fitness plans, and virtual group classes. Make sure to visit her website and check out all of the exciting things she has to offer.
Along with this, Jonna is married to Thomas who is a Middle Fork guide for Rocky. During the summer, she and Thomas have limited time together but always have fun when they both have the opportunity to spend time in Stanley. Along with spending time with Thomas, Jonna has her sidekick Finny. Although small, Finny the dog has a big personality. He is constantly curious about what is going on in the Rocky warehouse, especially when the Middle and Main trips are rigging to go back out on the river.
Although Jonna enjoys spending her time in the outdoors and moving around, most of her time in Stanley is spent in the warehouse. Over the course of the season, Jonna prepares food for twenty-one multi-day trips. Each of these trips has twenty-four people on it which ultimately adds up to feeding five hundred four people over the course of the season. During our multiday trips, we feed guests three meals every day for five and a half days. This ultimately means that Jonna is prepping for eight thousand five hundred meals every summer!
Along with prepping for the insane amount of meals that the Main Salmon and Middle Fork trips require, Jonna also bakes all of the sweetbreads that the guides take out on their trips. This is a whole lot of baking due to the fact that each trip serves sweetbread for breakfast on the last day of the trip.
Even after all of this preparation and planning, Jonna still accommodates guests’ food allergies. She is very caring and conscious of making sure that everyone has delicious food that they can eat. She takes into account all sorts of different allergies along with making sure there is food for any vegan or vegetarian guests.
All of this cooking and prepping requires a whole lot of groceries. Throughout the summer, Jonna makes grocery trips to Boise where she picks up ample amounts of food to prepare for the upcoming trips. On these grocery runs, Jonna makes sure to buy enough La Croix, Modelo, and charcoal for the guides and guests to use while they are on the river. Even more important, she makes sure to pick up ALL of the ingredients that the delicious meals require.
Thank you Jonna for everything you do for Rocky! We would not be able to run smoothly without you!
What happens when guides and guests are no longer rafting for the day? Well, at the end of the day, once all the rafting is over, it is time to break out the games. As river guides, we have an ample amount of ways to keep guests entertained. However, we have discovered that there are three games that are a consistent group favorite.
Similar to washers, cornhole, chess, and horseshoes, this game involves aim and strategy. In order to begin, set up two rows of Kubb blocks approximately 20 feet apart. Once this is accomplished, place the king in the middle of the two rows. The objective of this game is to ultimately knock over all of your opponent’s Kubbs by throwing dowels across the playing field. Once you have knocked over all the kubbs, it is time to conquer the king and win the game. This is a group favorite due to the fact that it is something new for many people. However, once you get the hang of it, it is easy to dominate the opponent.
A classic but loved game to bring on the river. Strap down two cornhole boards to your raft and head to the nearest campsite! To layout the court, create a rectangular area that is 8-10 feet wide and a minimum of 40 feet long. Once this is established, layout the cornhole boards at both ends of the 40-foot area. Now that the court is set up, it is time to establish the thrower’s box. This is the area next to each cornhole board. The thrower’s box is a space in which you must stand while throwing the cornhole bags. If you exit this area, your throw does not count.
Now that you have the court set up, it is time to start playing. If playing doubles, you will have one teammate on each end of the court. One side of the court will throw their bags, and once this is done, the other side will collect the bags and take their turn throwing. In order to score this game, there are a couple of things to take into consideration. First, if the bag lands anywhere on top of the board, the bag is worth one point. However, if any bag is thrown through the hole, this is worth three points. Ultimately, you will play the game until one of the teams gets to 21 points to determine the winner.
Although this game has been given the name “beersbee” it can be played with any drink that comes in a can and is fun for the whole family. In order to play this game, all you need are two ski poles and a frisbee. To set up the playing area, place two ski poles in the ground approximately 36 feet apart and place a drink on top of each pole. Once this is done, one player from each team will go to either side of the playing field.
The rules are as follows:
Players must remain behind their poles at all times
Each player/team takes turns trying to knock the target off the pole on the opposite side
Once the target is hit, or the frisbee hits the pole, the opposing team has the opportunity to catch the frisbee. Or, if the target is knocked off, try to catch the drink that is flying through the air.
In order to win the game, you must win by two points. Commonly, this game is played to eleven or twenty-one. Now, you may be wondering how the scoring of this game works. If you hit the pole and the defending team does not catch the frisbee, the throwing team is awarded one point. Similarly, if the target is knocked down and is not caught by the defending team, you are awarded three points. If the pole is missed and the target is not displaced, there are no points given.
We love to play these games on the river, and can not wait to share them with you the next time you take a trip with Rocky!
Ever think you would get to eat an ice cream bar in the middle of a Main Salmon whitewater trip? Well, stopping at Buckskin Bill’s at The Salmon River’s Five Mile Bar will allow you to do just that!
Who Is Buckskin Bill?
Born in 1906, Buckskin Bill (or Sylvan Ambrose Hart) was raised in Oklahoma Territory. He received the name “Buckskin Bill” due to the tanned hides that he would use as clothing. In 1932 he made his way to Five Mile Bar and decided to make it his home. During this time, Buckskin became a true mountain person. He would spend his time fishing, hunting, raising crops, along with making his own clothing and wine. When Buckskin would make his rare return to civilization, he would primarily spend his money on books and tea.
Although living out in the wilderness was the best option for Buckskin, he was extremely versed with his education. Studying at Oklahoma University, Buckskin received a well-earned degree in engineering. Even more impressive, he also studied Latin, Greek, French, German, Russian, Swahili, Portuguese, Spanish, and Norwegian. Even though Buckskin seems like an outdoor man living off the grid, he obviously has a love for studying and learning new skills.
Although Buckskin lived a primitive and simple lifestyle, he was extremely protective of his land. During his time at Five Mile Bar, he was not threatened by much… except for the National Forrest Service. Throughout the time that Buckskin spent on the Main, the National Forrest Service decided to try and dub his land a Primitive Area. Therefore, this meant that no human habitation would be allowed.
As you could imagine, this caused an issue for Buckskin. In an act of defiance, he built a gun tower that looks over the water. Although it was never used in any act of violence, it still stands today for guests to climb up to and look around.
Present Day – Five Mile Bar
In the end, Buckskin Bill died a mountain man. He lived on the Five Mile Bar until 1980, the year that he passed away. Today, visitors can explore his home which contains all sorts of collected and handmade items. Along with the items that Buckskin made, visitors can also inspect the impressive assembly of different animal skulls and bones. Next time you float down the Main Salmon, make sure to stop by and cool off with an ice cream bar and check out all of the fun trinkets that are around Buckskin’s home.
Rafting down the Main Salmon and the Middle Fork of the Salmon is the perfect opportunity to get friends and family together. The fun and splashy waves throughout this trip contain the perfect amount of excitement for all age groups. Not to mention, these stretches also have an immense amount of Flora and Fauna for guests to look at as you make your way down the river.
Flora on the Salmon
While floating down the Salmon, you will notice that there are a large variety of trees that line the canyon walls. One common type of tree that you will see is the Ponderosa Pine Tree. This specific species of pine is the state tree of Montana. Along with this, these trees have developed extremely impressive ways to combat the fires that are common in this area. One way that they do this is by shedding their puzzle-like bark when flames reach towards their exterior. This prevents the heat of the fire from damaging their inner vital structures. Similarly, these trees also shed their lower branches as they mature in order to reduce the risk of going ablaze during a fire.
Another type of tree that you will encounter while on the Middle Fork is the Plains Cottonwood. This tree can get up to eighty feet tall and live for over one hundred years! These trees are very recognizable due to the fact that the smallest breeze can make its leaves shake. Not only is this tree wonderful to look at, but it is also important to many tribes due to its versatility in use. These plants were used by Native tribes as lean food sources and in treating gastric ailments. Both of which would come in handy during colder months when plants are less abundant in this region.
Straying away from trees, there are also plenty of wildflowers and plants that scatter the canyon along the Main and Middle Fork of the Salmon. However, one plant that is slightly random is the clumps of Perennial Peas that can be found at the Big Mallard Camp. This species of pea is not the eating type, since you would get poisoned if you were to consume it. In some areas this plant can be considered invasive since it is native to the Mediterranean, only coming to North America in the early 1700s. This plant is known to bloom its pink, lavender, and white blooms in summer and autumn.
Fauna on the Salmon
Throughout your multi-day whitewater rafting trip down the Salmon River, you will encounter a variety of animals. On the Middle Fork of the Salmon, you are likely to encounter a larger game selection which includes bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, mountain goats, black bears, and moose. This makes for an extremely interesting ride since you can constantly find yourself watching the trees for a glimpse of movement. These animals prefer the Middle Fork due to its more mild summer temperatures. However, you can still tent to find these animals along the shores of Main Salmon – especially black bears and bighorn sheep.
Similarly, there is an ample amount of fish in these waters. Some of which include: cutthroat trout, bull trout, rainbow trout, mountain whitefish, sockeye salmon, Chinook salmon, steelhead, smallmouth bass, sucker, and sturgeon. Make sure to come with your barbs clipped and your cast ready because these fish put up a fight.
On the Main Salmon, there is the opportunity to go on a variety of hikes that are based out of the campsites along the river. On these hikes, make sure to keep your eye out for smaller animals such as dragonflies, butterflies, snakes, and grouse. These animals are especially prominent in the month of June when the temperatures are starting to warm the air a bit. So, the next time that you take a trip with Rocky Mountain River Tours on the Main Salmon, or the Middle Fork, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for all the fun plants and animals that are out and about during your float.
As you float on the multi-day stretch of the main salmon, you will encounter many sandy beaches, fun pools, and historic sites. One of these sites is Campbell’s Ferry. This river oasis is an eighty-five-acre ranch that was claimed by William Campbell in 1898. Here, Campbell would provide for miners as they were making their way to the Thunder Mountain Gold Mine. Subsequently, this also resulted in Campbell building a ferry across the river in order to reach the mine.
As time went on, the Ferry and its property were passed down to Frances and Joe Zaunmiller. Here Frances and Joe took care of the land, along with preserving the beauty that is found in this Merciless Eden. In 1956, Frances fell ill with throat cancer and her treatment put the Zaunmillers into debt. Furthermore, this resulted in them selling Campbell’s Ferry to John and Mary Crowe in 1959. The Crowes ended up building a small cabin above the potato shed, where they would spend the spring and fall in order to fish and hunt in the backcountry. Even so, Frances and Joe were able to continue to reside in Campbell’s Ferry in the 1906 cabin.
Despite continuing to fight her throat cancer, Frances was able to pursue her writing column along with playing around in the backcountry. Ultimately, this led to her advocating for the airmail delivery system which would deliver to the Air Star Route delivery for Shepp Ranch, Mackey Bar, and Campbell’s Ferry starting on the eighteenth of February in 1958. This was a large accomplishment which in turn, brought many visitors to Campbell’s as travelers and neighbors waited for their commonly delayed mail.
Almost four years later, Joe Zaunmiller passed away in front of the fireplace at Campbell’s Ferry due to a fatal heart attack. Shortly after, Frances headed to town for two weeks where she took care of some personal affairs and got remarried to Vern Wisner. During their marriage, Vern gifted a tree to Frances which she planted outside the cabin and still thrives to this day. However, shortly after their marriage in 1963, Vern Wisner died in 1974, ultimately leaving Frances alone again at Campbell’s Ferry.
As the years went on, Frances continued to live at Campbell’s fairy with help from her neighbors. Along with this, she continued to write her newspaper column which reached far beyond Idaho and its borders. In December of 1985, Frances wrote her last column. Even though she hoped to be buried in the canyon she came to know and love, she was buried in Grangeville next to Vern and not too far from Joe.
Today, Campbell’s Ferry is a place for rafters to stop on their journey down the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. Its caretakers continue to keep the cabins and land in pristine condition. Walking up to this property from the river is unlike any other experience. The only way that you can fully appreciate it, is once you have seen it for yourself. Make sure to check out Doug Tim’s description of the property and its story to take a further dive into history.
Originating in the Netherlands in the 17th century, the Dutch were creating some of the finest cookware out of Copper and Brass. However, these pots and pans were quite expensive due to their materials. This being said, the English craftsman Abraham Darby, decided to create new cookware out of cheaper material. This material was Cast Iron, which allowed the cookware, such as the Dutch Oven, to be so durable it could even withstand sitting in an open flame (such as in a fire).
Since then, generations of recipes have been passed down to create delicious dishes that can be served anywhere from fancy restaurants to the Middle Fork of the Salmon.
Idaho Adventure Dutch Oven Meals
Although Dutch Oven pots tend to look like a Witch’s cauldron, potions and soup are not the only things that are on the menu when using this cookware. With this being such a versatile cooking option, cultures all around the world have their own version of this Cast Iron cookware. Due to so many cultures using these types of pots and pans, this also means that there is an ample amount of diverse recipes that are simple in structure but pack a punch of flavor.
This is one of the main reasons that Rocky Mountain River Tours loves our cast iron breakfasts and dinners. When on the river, it is difficult to cook for large amounts of people on commercial trips. However, using a Dutch Oven is the perfect solution. Using this method of cooking, we are able to use coals from a fire to evenly cook multiple pots of delicious food at once. This is much more efficient than trying to cook dinner for thirty over a fire pit.
All of Rocky’s Dutch Oven recipes on the Middle Fork and Salmon River can be found in the book The Outdoor Dutch Oven Cookbookby RMRT founder, Sheila Mills. This book has an incredibly vast amount of simple, yet delicious, outdoor recipes. Ranging anywhere from breakfast casseroles, to cake for dessert, our meal managers and guides have pulled inspiration from this book for years. Ultimately, our Dutch Oven meals are one of the primary reasons that RMRT is known not only for its incredible wilderness river trips, but also for the amazing food that is provided each and every day throughout your trip.
A simple yet delicious recipe…
Rocky’s Dutch Oven Thyme-Parmesan Focaccia
5 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups warm water (105º to 115º)
1 tablespoon salt
5 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus more for rolling out dough
1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for coating dough and pans
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
2 ounces parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup) coarse salt, and freshly ground black pepper
Beat together yeast, sugar, and water and let stand 5 minutes, or until foamy. In a bowl, mix salt and 5 cups flour. Set aside. Stir oil into the yeast mixture. Gradually add flour mixture to yeast mixture, beating with a heavy spoon or in a standing mixture with dough hook for about 2 minutes until soft and slightly sticky.
Transfer dough to a floured surface and knead in the thyme and enough remaining flour to form a soft but not sticky dough. Form dough into a ball and put in an oiled large bowl, turning to coat. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. For two 12″ Dutch ovens, roll out each half into a 12-inch circle and place in Durch oven to double in size, about 20 minutes. Or oil two 9″x13″ baking pans and divide dough in half and roll out to fit pans. Let rise in pans until doubled in size.
Sprinkle dough with Parmesan and salt and pepper. Make indentations, about 1/2 inch deep and 1 inch apart all over the dough. Bake for about 20 minutes. For a conventional oven, bake on the center rack at 450ºF for 12 minutes, until golden.
Remove the focaccia from Dutch ovens or pans and cool.
The Middle Fork of the Salmon is a special place for many people, past and present. Currently, this river is floated by raft outfitters in order to share the beauty of the landscape. Families, friends, and children of all ages take this once of a lifetime trip in order to raft through the fun and splashy waves along with class four rapids. However, this landscape has not always been seen as an adventurous vacation destination.
Tuka-Deka and Agai-Deka
Historically, this landscape has been occupied by the Tuka-Deka (BigHorn Sheep Eaters) and the Agai-Deka (Salmon Eaters). These groups are part of the Shoshone-Bannock tribe. Throughout their time in the canyon, they hunted, gathered, and made their mark on the land in various ways with their house depressions, artifacts, and pictographs. However, in 1879 they were forcibly removed during the Sheepeater war. This war was instigated on the false premise of murdering Chinese miners and stealing horses.
Almost a century later, in 1968, the Salmon river became one of the eight original rivers designated under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. This act was created to preserve rivers that contain outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values in order to allow future generations to experience their breathtaking landscapes. Due to this preservation, current travelers and adventure seekers are able to experience the river and its counterparts to their full extent.
Current Middle Fork Adventure Experience
During your Idaho adventure down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, you will be able to experience aspects of history that have been integrated into the landscape. One prominent aspect is the pictographs which are speckled throughout the canyon. These pictographs are said to be created by the BigHorn Sheep Eaters as a way to tell the tales of their hunts, travels, and history. Not only are these pictographs a look into the past, they also allow us to connect with the people who previously inhabited the land. When you come with Rocky Mountain River Tours, we love to share the history of the canyon. All we ask that you do is listen and respect the land, along with keeping your hands off the pictographs when visiting.
A safe and successful 2020 season indicates a RMRT’s Wilderness River Trips are a great travel option during a pandemic. Here is a quick real-time snapshot of our 2021 Middle Fork and Main Salmon trips as we kick off the 2021 ‘Booking Season’. Give us a call to reserve your Idaho adventure today!
Rocky guides Sami Zuch (Main Salmon), Thomas & Jonna Batey (Middle Fork) had the pleasure of escaping the civilized world into the earth’s deepest ditch, only to emerge into a pandemic with quarantines, travel bans and toilet paper hoarding.
Join Sami on her written journey down the Grand Canyon and her re-entry…to a new world.
April 4, 2020
It was August 2019 when I was asked to go on the famous multi-day river trip down the Colorado River on the Grand Canyon. Tim Cron, owner of the Stanley Baking Company and Sawtooth Hotel, in Stanley, Idaho puts in for a permit every year, and this is the second time he was lucky enough to receive one. People can wait years and still may never get a permit, so it’s not every day you get invited to go on this trip. Some say it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. It was my first time to be invited and it was a no brainer that I would be committed no matter what.
Fast forward to March 8th, 2020. The time to start making moves to Flagstaff, Arizona had come up quickly. I had the Grand Canyon on my mind and hadn’t given much thought to how this new virus might impact my plans. To get to the Grand Canyon, I had to fly from Mexico City (where I was living for the winter) to Las Vegas where I would stay the night on the strip with a friend who lives there. All was completely normal at this point – as normal as can be in Sin City. The next morning, I took a Greyhound bus from Vegas to Flagstaff. While I waited in line to board the bus, the news was on and they were talking about a few cases in Nevada and precautions one might take – they spoke of not touching your face and washing your hands often. Honestly, I hadn’t been watching much news from the US when I was in Mexico, so I didn’t know too much other than people were still treating the coronavirus like the flu. Six hours later, I arrived in Flagstaff, ready to meet up with our group of twelve. Some people I had known before, some were new faces. That evening, we all met for dinner at a local brewery that was packed full of people. We were all pumped for the river and everything the next three weeks had in store for us. March 10th: The time had come to get all of our gear and head to Lee’s Ferry where we would launch for our 21 day voyage the following day. We said our “see you laters” to all our family and friends via texts and calls, not knowing the next time we talked to them they would be warning us of the new world to which we would return. First, we met up with Professional River Outfitters (PRO) who we rented everything except our personal gear from. They packed us boats, frames, straps, groovers (toilets), boxes, coolers full of food, and everything we needed. These would be the people who would eventually pick us up 225 miles downstream on March 31st at our takeout, Diamond Creek. It was a long afternoon of driving, rigging boats, and a forest service informative meeting. Everything went smooth, and well, normal. No warnings of coronavirus from the forest service; just a normal rig, inspection, and meeting. Once we were all ready, our group had dinner at the only place nearby, Marble Canyon Lodge. Little did we all know, this would be our last time eating out for a long time.
Finally, March 11th: the day we got to start our great adventure! It was a rainy morning at Lee’s Ferry, but soon the weather would clear up and the sun would greet us on the Grand Canyon. Never could we have imagined, 20 days later without service, we would return to a world defined by isolation, fear, and uncertainty. The first few days were full of exploring new territory, getting to know one another, sharing laughs and whiskey, running bigger rapids then I had ever seen, and having a grand ole time – we were completely unaware the country was declaring a state of emergency throughout all of this.
Day eight on the river (March 18th) comes around and this is the day we will stop at Phantom Ranch. This is the point where people can hike from the top rim of the Grand Canyon down to the bottom. Visitors can stop at the ranch for water, snacks, and camping. We stopped here to fill up our water jugs and mail postcards. Upon pulling up to the beach, we received our first startling news. A group of fellow rafters warned us that Diamond Creek was closed because of coronavirus and we could only take out at Pearce Ferry which is another 54 miles downstream. This would add either a few days to our trip or cause us to move down the river at a faster pace then planned without layover days. In my mind, I am only worried about my flight I had the day after we took off the river to visit a friend in Austin, Texas. I didn’t want to be on the river longer because I would miss my flight! This was well before I knew my flight would be cancelled anyways.
Some of the group continues up the path to the main lodge to mail postcards to loved ones. We had been warned just to mail them and go; not to get stuck in the vortex of the outside world news from workers or visitors. We got sucked in. We overheard a camper talking to the clerk about how the virus was spreading all over the country at a much faster rate. He told her international borders were closed and restaurants were in the process of shutting down. Our jaws dropped at the news. “We’ve been gone for eight days!” We shared the news with the rest of our group and it brought our level of “stoke” down a few notches. Tim, our trip leader, then used the satellite phone we had for emergencies to call PRO to ask about our takeout. Apparently, the day we launched was the last day one could still take out at Diamond Creek. Everyone after us now had to change their takeout to Pearce Ferry. This news gave our group a little bit of relief. We still were concerned, however, about the other newly received information.
Days go by, and as a group, we try to put this news in the back of our minds. To enjoy the magic of the river and be present. It works, but of course, we are all worried about our loved ones. Tim lets us use his limited texts on his inreach (a device you connect to your phone to text with) to send a message to check in with our families. Everyone is okay and tells us to “stay on the river; things are crazy out here.” A day later, we met up with another group of rafters who we’d previously been intermingling with. We found out they had a new member in their group who had hiked down at Phantom Ranch to join them for the rest of their trip. He was spreading word that schools were closed (not sure how many) and it seemed that more public events were being cancelled. This brought fear and the unknown to the forefront of our minds and conversations again. We essentially made up stories of what could possibly be happening in the outside world. In our minds, the tidbits that we were hearing were probably being exaggerated and the possibilities we were making up as a group could not be real – that when we would step into the world in two weeks, things couldn’t possibly be as bad as our imaginations were making it out to be. Isolated from the outside world, we continued our journey down the river and enjoyed the community we were forming.
The section of the Colorado River where commercial and private rafters recreate is controlled by Glen Canyon Dam. This provides hydroelectric power to most of the southwest states. The afternoon is when the water levels rise due to the release of water from the dam, because this is when electricity usage is at its height of the day. One late afternoon, when our boats were still beached and the water level was not rising, a member of our group joked that it was probably because of coronavirus; blaming everything on that. Then we thought about it and realized that it was probably true – if businesses were shutting down, we thought, less electricity and water were being used. This started more discussions and theories about what could be happening in the outside world.
As our trip went on, the twelve of us were enjoying life, creating memories, going on long hikes, singing songs around the campfire, making the famous oatmeal pancakes from the Stanley Baking Co., running big rapids, and soaking in everything the river was offering us. It was hard not to live in the moment and it was easy to put off the unknown of the outside world. Alas, after three unforgettable weeks, March 31st slowly crept up and none of us were looking forward to it. We didn’t know how our travel plans to get home would be affected, if we would have jobs this coming summer; as most of us work in the tourist industry (i.e. river guides, restaurant owners, small business owners), how our government would be affected, our families, and our daily lives. Everything was so unknown and it was an unsettling feeling.
Eventually, we said goodbye to the river, but still denied the fact we had to leave. Originally, PRO planned to pick us up in one four-row van, but due to government regulations of being six feet apart (which we were still unaware of), they brought two vans and took the front row out of each to keep the driver a safe distance from us. We, of course, have been hugging and sharing each other’s germs over the past three weeks and none of us had any symptoms. Throughout the unpacking process, we gave PRO back some dried goods none of us wanted to take. The response we got made my stomach drop. “No, you guys are gonna want to take that, shelves in grocery stores are empty. You’ll need it soon.” This made me extremely anxious to get back into service in just another hour. The drive back into service seemed like five hours. PRO warned us not to go into the convenience store on our first stop back to Flagstaff, or at the very least, to not touch anything or go close to anyone. The world was different now.
I was nervous to make my first call to my mom, but I did the second we got into service. She told me not to fly to Austin and we talked about what options I had. To offer some context, my family lives in Ohio. I’m in Arizona with no car and I can’t fly to Mexico because the border is only open for business travel. I can’t fly to Detroit for my dad to pick me up because that’s a hotspot and he is considered high risk. I’m warned not to stay at the only open hotel in Flagstaff and I’m just learning about the severity of this situation: that perfectly healthy people are catching this virus, not to get within six feet of another human, not to touch anything, there’s a stay at home order, that only essential travel is allowed, people are losing their jobs, and everything we heard on the river is true. It was overwhelming, sad, and quite simply, scary. I had the option to drive back with members of the group to Idaho or Washington, or to rent a car and drive to my sister’s house in Kansas (Kansas was a much closer drive than Ohio – and I couldn’t risk getting my parents sick). This was a difficult time to decide. I had to say my goodbyes to people I had just formed close relationships with, organize my personal gear, find out if there even is a car rental company that’s open in Flagstaff, all while being warned that where I decided to go is where I will be for the next possible few months. Emotions overwhelmed me and I couldn’t help but cry as I tightly hugged every person of our group, wished them luck, and to stay safe. It felt like we just entered the apocalypse.
Soon, I had a reservation for a car rental. I was going to Kansas. It was a weird feeling standing six feet away from the man at the counter renting me the car. I felt rude and apologized, but I guess he was used to it by now. At the first gas station I stopped at a few hours into my drive, I noticed that all the doors were propped open so no one had to touch anything, workers were wearing masks and gloves, and souvenir item shelves were pushed aside and blocked off. It was all so strange and new to me. After filling up gas multiple times but never touching the pump with my hands, and sleeping only for a few hours pulled off at a rest stop, I made it to my sister’s house in Kansas who graciously took me in during this crisis. As I learned more and more about what our country and world had been going through during the three weeks I was in isolation on the river, I felt so many emotions. In my mind, our group’s timing couldn’t have been more perfect. We were the last launch date that could take out at our original planned location, Diamond Creek, and a week after we put on, they closed the river to all groups. Also, we got to start out our new quarantine life in the best place possible; at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, surrounded by history, nature, and really cool people.
Though myself and the rest of our group wishes we could continue to isolate ourselves from this new, uncertain, reality, we continue to hold on to the memories we made on the river over those 21 days. I hope that during these difficult times that wherever you are, you find the same sense of community and love I was so fortunate to experience on the river. It’s a strange time – stay healthy, safe, and at home.
A massive 6.5 Earthquake struck “Shake Creek” in the upper reaches of the Middle Fork on March 31st. The irony is especially fitting considering today is April 1, 2020.
Initial reports from Stanley are positive with little, if any property damage. The quake occurred along an un-mapped, vertical fault in the Salmon/Challis National Forest. The tremors were reported 350 miles south in Salt Lake City as a low steady vibration.
Avalanches and Rock fall are a real possibility within in the Middle Fork corridor. We are watching the river level gauges closely. Currently show no obvious signs of blockages. The possibility of new, or changed rapids this year is kind of an exciting silver lining in the current chaos. Stay tuned here for more info as we get it.
Want to work and play in Stanley, Idaho? Are you adventurous and mechanically inclined?
RMRT is seeking applicants for a seasonally full time driver. The job requires driving a large truck with a big trailer along rivers, over mtn passes, across tight bridges and through the middle of nowhere. Spend a summer in amazing Stanley, Idaho and explore the Middle Fork, Main Salmon and the Sawtooth mountains. You will work as part of a team with our Middle Fork and Main Salmon river crews.
Seasonal Full Time May 20-Sept 25. Pay rate starts $2500 per month, increase available with proven experience.
The RMRT Full Time Multi Day Driver responsibility include the following.
Drive the Rocky Gear Truck, Trail and Crews
Fully support Rocky’s Multi-day trips ground transportation
Maintain vehicles and trailers
Welcome guests at Cache Bar. Prepare lunch, offer stellar customer service
CDL drivers license (Rocky will sponsor Idaho CDL license training)
Comfortable driving large vehicles (manual transmission) with a trailer. Experience backing trailers.
Great customer service and hospitality skills.
Adventuresome and self sufficient. You will often be driving alone through the Idaho wilderness.
The primary purpose of our Redd Alert volunteer program is to make focused contact with boaters to promote redd avoidance awareness and hand out our Redd Alert boat stickers. This volunteer program is supported by the USFS. MFOA provides a $30/day stipend to cover expenses. Middle Fork Outfitters will provide camping equipment and necessary logistical support for our volunteers.
Our 2018 volunteer program was instrumental with increasing compliance rate, avoiding redds, to 86% in 2018 from 58% in 2017 (no volunteers). The volunteers work closely and supplement the pre-trip message of the USFS river interpreters (checkers) to boaters. MFOA will provide an orientation training for all volunteers. Anyone interested in becoming a Redd Alert should contact Grant Simonds, (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org) 208.867.2138
We had a cancellation overnight opening up 9 seats on RMRT’s super popular June 22-27 Middle Fork of the Salmon Trip.
June 22nd fabulous trip! You get the same itinerary and world-class experience as our “peak season” trips at a discounted rate of $2095 /$1895 per person. This trip will travel the complete 104 miles of the famous Middle Fork of the Salmon.
Call 208.345.2400 or email email@example.com to take advantage of this great opportunity!
Wow…stunning Spring days in Stanley, Idaho this past week. The phones have been BUSY with folks inquiring about availability on both our Middle Fork and River of No Return Trips. I commonly get the same question….When is the best time to float the Middle Fork?
This answer has been changing in recent years due to warmer spring weather, resulting in an earlier peak flow and warmer weather in June. While June trips used to be considered “early season” it has quickly become a great option for our clients chasing the World-Class whitewater found on the Middle Fork during June flows.
RMRT’s June 13-17 is an exceptional value at $1495 for a 5-day all inclusive trip on the Middle Fork of the Salmon.
Spring has sprung in Idaho and the Middle Fork and Main Salmon rivers have seen their first spike of the spring season. The summer rafting and fishing forecast is looking phenomenal and Rocky has a limited number of seats on both the Middle Fork of the Salmon and the Salmon River of No Return. The last remaining seats of summer will vaporize as spring catches hold across the country and our return clients pick up the remaining seats chasing the opportunity to escape, unplug and rejuvenate in the largest Wilderness in the lower 48.
Middle Fork Snowpack & Trip Availability
The 2019 middle fork snowpack is looking fabulous and the snow just keeps piling up in the upper elevations. Upper elevation snowpack is the key to a long whitewater season and excellent fly fishing season The Middle Fork will host world class whitewater in June & July and phenomenal fishing conditions in trips and the August and September.
2019 Middle Fork Available Dates
June 13-17 $1495 June 22-27 $2095/$1895 August 10-15 $2295/$1795 RMRT’s Annual Teen Trip August 18-33 2195/$1795 Rocky’s Fly Fish and Raft Adventure
Fall fly fishing dates 8/26, 9/3, 9/10, 9/18 are all full. We are booking 2020 fishing trips now.
Salmon River of No Return- the Ultimate Family Adventure
A big snowpack does not just offer great June and July whitewater, but it reaps rewards all summer long. The River of No Return’s vast sandy beaches are legendary. The larger the runoff, the bigger the beaches. 2019 beach camping is going to be ridiculous! Think volleyball, slip and slides, capture the flag and plenty of space to escape it all.
2019 River of No Return Trip Availability
July 5-10 $1795/$1000 July 21-26 $1995/$1000- Annual Kids Trip July 29-Aug 3 $1995/$1000 Aug 6-11 $1995/$1000
Rocky Mountain River Tours Annual Family Trip is perfectly timed to give your teen and young adult a PURE DIGITAL DETOX before heading back to school.
Adults $2295 Exclusive Student Rate $1795
Our Annual Teen & Young Adult Trip is catered to families with kids in their upper teens and twenties. This trip is always a blast! Rocky’s August 10-15th Middle Fork of the Salmon attracts active, multi-generational families from all over the world. Parents get to socialize, relax, and watch their young adults put the phone away, challenge their comfort zones and make lifelong friends.
Each spring RMRT sets out for its annual Guide Training Trip. The goal is to dust off winter’s cobwebs on a high water Middle Fork- Main Salmon Combo. This year the water levels were perfect for a 4 day assault of 185 miles of Idaho’s best whitewater.
Due to an insane amount of snow on Banner Summit we stuffed raft gear into airplanes and took the scenic route to the river. From the air we followed a super swollen Raft River as it joined a much larger Middle Fork. The color of the Middle Fork had an Alaskan like green-grey tone as it freight-trained down river. From the air Lake Creek rapid looked clean and fun, Pistol looked super swirly. It started raining as the last plane departed. We were greeted with a full eddy of logs and driftwood at the bottom of the boat ramp. Thursday night ranger Dave gave us a gage reading of 8.2. A solid rain continued through the night. Temps dropped.
May 26 River level: 7.6 and dropping Weather: Cold and Wet, Snow up high Miles: 48 miles
We woke to dropping river levels and a low snowline. The surrounding peaks were dusted white. After playing a Hercules sized game of pick up stix with lodgepole and Pondy’s in the IC eddy we launched boats and departed downstream. Stiff breeze and cold temps. Dropping levels. Majority of water was coming off the top. Loon Creek and Camas Creek were running high and brown. Big Creek did not have as much water as we expected. Below Big Creek the tribs were running clear. Rapids that stood out…. Ski Jump, Jackass, Cub Creek waves were building and swirly, Tappan Canyon was a washed out blur. The 5 miles from Haystack to Grassy Flat was the most fun of the trip. Continuous huge waves and hole dodging. Super fun. The weather broke as we arrived at camp. Dry Suits were torn off and the sun at Grassy felt like July. Great hike up the ridge behind camp. Ridiculous wild flowers and electric green views in all directions.
May 27 River Level: Approximately 7.1 and evening out Weather: Brilliant Blue Bird skies Miles 67 ( PR for most of us)
The lower Canyon was action packed. Weber felt like the largest rapid on the Middle Fork. The waves in Hancock were the biggest so far. Lower Cliffside was the most difficult move to keep inside left. Rubber was starting to wash out. Clam Rock was a pour over. It took us less than 1.5 hours to float 24 miles to the confluence. Movin. Cramer was washed out. Kitchen Sink Rapid between Cache and Corn had some huge waves. Arrived at Corn Creek around noon ate lunch, swapped off at the oars between the MF crew and the MS crew, picked up a permit and headed down the Main. Approximately 18,000 at Corn Creek, 70,000 at Whitebird. The first waves in Killum were larger than any on the Middle Fork. Spent the afternoon staying on the inside and managing huge, inconsistent waves, massive boil lines and chaotic haystacks. The waves in Hancock stood out in size and stature. Aside from an abbreviated soak at the hotsprings we arrived at Magpie Creek Camp around 5:30 PM. 67 miles in a day. A personal record for many of us. That evening we tried our new recipe for our Bristol Bay wild Sockeye Salmon.
May 28 Gage: holding steady, approximately 17,000 at Shoup and 62,000 at Whitebird Weather: Perfection. Crazy Green. HOT in the lower Canyon. Miles: 39
Started the morning out with Bailey Rapid. Huge, fun wave train. The Sapp Creek through Little Stinker series was action packed. Split Rock requiring a solid move to avoid. Magnetic. Big Mallard was completely washed out and Elephant Rock in Elkhorn was an enormous breaking wave hole that looked clean and runnable…until it built and broke, easily swallowing an 18 foot boat. We floated by in awe. We scouted Whiplash. It was at a relatively friendly Class IV level. A few folks took the left side of the tongue, while others took the high and dry sneak line on far river left. We stopped at Buckskin’s, said hello to Heinz, chatted with a group from Alaska. Only people we saw on Memorial Day weekend. The South Fork was running clear. The float from the South Fork to Lower Bull Camp was absolutely beautiful, and having current through the Salmon Lakes made it fast and fun.
May 29 Gage; Water came up over night. Approximately 69,000 at Whitebird Weather: Perfect, warm morning
Floated the 9 miles from camp to Chittam rapid in no time. Lots of big waves and boils. Dried Meat Waves were huge. Scouted Chittam, Arguably the biggest rapid on our trip. The easy sneak was washed out requiring a hard pull to break some huge boil lines on the right side of the tongue. Everyone had clean lines. We passed Carey Creek Boat Ramp around 10:30 and continued downstream. The boil lines and eddy fences from Carey Creek to Spring Bar were impressive and humbling. Keeping down river momentum was a constant struggle in the big, swirly water. We had some great boat flip “training” and arrived at Spring Bar on time at 1 pm.
The drive back to Stanley included a stop at KB’s for a burrito in McCall and a rapid, by rapid description of the North Fork by Max as we drove past. A quick stop at Boundary Creek road to recon the road quickly turned into a snowball fight and we arrived in Stanley around 8 PM for de-rig. All in all it was a great trip. Essential for the Middle Fork crew to see the river at high flows before safely introducing guests to the fun next week.
Idaho is known for its World-Class Whitewater… June earns that reputation.
Like a kid on Christmas morning. The excitement and anticipation is all consuming. The Salmon River Drainage is currently sitting at approximately 140% of average snowpack. The best snowpack central Idaho has seen in decades. This is fabulous news for the upcoming season on the Middle Fork and River of No Return
What is June like on the Middle Fork?
A common question these days. The Middle Fork is known for legendary whitewater, and June is responsible for that reputation. High water on the Middle Fork is an awesome experience. Fun, fast and continuous whitewater combined with mind-bending wild flowers, electric green foliage, and the canyon’s waterfalls (side canyons) in full glory. But this time of year also demands respect, a different perspective than our July & August raft trips. Rocky runs June trips like a team expedition. Safety is always first. We will watch river access, water levels and weather closely making decisions based current conditions. Like any expedition, as the trip approaches we will updates guests on equipment and logistic details.
4-Day Trip $1195/$995 18+
5-Day Trip $1895/$1695 13+
June 22-27only 2 remaining seats- CALL NOW
6-Day Trip $2095/$1895 13+
June on the Main Salmon River of No Return
The sweet-spot. Perfect water levels collide with summer temps earlier on the RONR than the higher elevation Middle Fork. If you ask the guides when is the best time on the RONR, they will unanimously agree…late June.
The RONR starts at 3,000 ft in elevation , ending at 2,000 ft providing warmer air temps and water temps . The Salmon River canyon is huge , accommodating the runoff like it was built for it. June trips offer huge, fast and fun rolling waves…think 85 mile long roller coaster. The river is running fast, allowing us to fully explore the River of No Return’s rich history. Learn about Lewis & Clark, homesteads, hermits, Indians, all while immersing yourself in the Gold Rush era history of the canyon.
5 Day $1795/$1295 8+
June 27-July 1
5 Day $1795/$1295 8+
Price includes one way flight McCall > Salmon
Summer is on the horizon and trips are filling fast!
Happy New Year to our river family! This time of year we are watching the snow pile up in eager anticipation for the whitewater ahead. Nothing is better for the Salmon River country than copious amounts of snow and so far old man winter is delivering (knock-on-wood)!
The natives love it. All our river guides over at Sawtooth Mountain Guides are getting to slay, fresh un-tracked Sawtooth silk all winter long. While our drought stricken forest are getting free refills and the Cutthroat are giddy in anticipation of all that clean, cold summer water.
We have officially embarked into the “Booking season”. The first 3 months of the year are busy with daily phone and emails asking about trip availability and “Why Rocky?” Due to the limited number of seats on each of our trips, and the limited number of trips, this time of year is equally as busy as the summer rafting season.
Middle Fork of the Salmon & River of No Return
Current availability on our Middle Fork of the Salmon and River of No Return trips is great. While some of our Peak Season Dates are full, others have great availability. If the current snowpack is any indication 2017 is going to be a phenomenal rafting season.
5 Easy Steps to booking the ultimate adventure vacation…..
Summer of 2008. We were new to the multi-day rafting biz and looking for a niche to fill trips. The original ‘Kids Trip’ on the River of No Return was originally created when Maya (Rocky’s heir apparent) turned 6 years old. As a father, outfitter and owner, Jared wanted to create a family adventure that would draw fellow adventurous families to the river. The concept took hold and 10 years later Rocky’s family adventures are some of the most popular, and definitely the most fun trips of the summer.
2017 will celebrate the 10th annual Kids Trip on the River of No Return and 5th Annual Teens Trip on the Middle Fork. These trips are awesome, full of adventurous families from all over the world. What used to consist of families from Cali, Oregon and Washington, have recently been outnumbered 2:1 by families traveling from the East Coast and abroad.
In 2013 we added the Middle Fork’s Teen Trip to our trip offerings. While all Rocky trips are family friendly, our signature family trips offer a unique program. We bring along extra toys, extra staff and all the ingredients to make these trips the ultimate family adventure. Guests experience Inflatable kayaks, Stand Up Paddle Boards, glow-in-the dark bocce ball, intense baggo tournaments, River Olympics and loads of opportunity to make new friends. All of this is in addition to Rocky’s legendary hospitality, creative river cuisine, signature glamp-ing (diva-approved camping) and the most impressive Wilderness in the US!
Join Rocky on our ‘Annual Labor Day Trip’. Early September is a special time of year on the Middle Fork. Fall colors are starting to show, the fishing is amazing and you might not see one other person the entire week. This 5 day trip is perfect for guests with mixed pursuits. The serious fly fisherman will have the opportunity to fish all day, every day. While everyone enjoys fun rapids, hotsprings, hikes, amazing Dutch oven food and exploring the largest road-less wilderness in the US. Guests also get to experience a gorgeous flight from Stanley Idaho directly to the Middle Fork
Adults $2050 Students & Seniors $1550
Includes Fly Fishing boats and professional fishing guides.
Space is limited. Call Jared 208.345.2400 to explore options.
I always claim our guides are the best in the business, though some might say I have a biased opinion. This last week I have received a copious amount of great customer feedback. This particular email I had too share. The irony…this person did not go on a Rocky Mountain River Tours Trip, but felt she felt the need to send me a quick note…..
“I just got home from a private trip on the Main. I have done this river privately 7 times but always have trouble describing the experience to friends who can’t even image a trek like this. I have several friends here in Fort Collins, CO that I will be referring to your company, as I know they would love this experience, but do not have the gear or know-how to do a private trip. Your guides on the river are a full cut above the rest. When we crossed paths with your groups, the guides were always happy to offer help (even offering to help me at the put-in fill water and carry it to our raft), polite, courteous, and knowledgeable. It seems they not only have river training, but are well-versed in hospitality practices, even beyond their groups. Your company is without a doubt the best on the river. Great work!”
Book Rocky’s July 13-18 River of No Return Family Adventure and receive 30% off!
The 1st day of Spring at Rocky Mountain River Tours is a huge deal! Spring means our river family is starting to get back together. The guides check in and update us on their winter adventures, check in on trip dates and get an update on their favorite guests. We order new equipment, choose guide uniforms and watch the Sawtooths snowpack like Wall street watches the S&P.
We start ordering our specialized menu items including wild Alaskan Salmon, grass fed Idaho beef, small batch handmade hot sauces and our famous signature roast coffee. Things start to happen, and happen fast as our first trip, the Annual Guide Trip quickly approaches.
To celebrate two of our favorite things, Springtime and Families, we are offering for the first time an opportunity for families to experience this amazing adventure on the River of No Return at a fraction of the retail price*.
This is a 2-day sale. Discount only available for reservations made March 19 & 20.
If you have joined Rocky Mountain River Tours recently you have tasted what we strongly believe is the best chocolate chip cookie on the planet!
Jared’s sister, is the magician behind these divine morsels and takes her chocolate chip creations super- serious. A few years back Nicole, a former real estate maestro, chose to step away from a very successful career in real estate development to stay at home with her special needs daughter.
Now days Nicole & Aspen spend countless hours each Spring & Summer creating more than 4000 of these amazing cookies. Each and every cookie is made with love, joy and some carry-over tenacity from the real estate world.
Rocky’s Hydration Cookies*
1 cube (1/2 c) unsalted butter
1/2 c butter-flavored crisco
2/3 c sugar
1 c brown sugar (minus 2 TBS for high altitude)
1 TBS Vanilla
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 c All purpose flour (plus 1 TBS cool water for high altitude)
1 cup oatmeal (old fashioned NOT quick)
1 1/2 to 2 cups (12-16 oz pkg) chocolate chips (I use Nestle semi sweet)
Cream butter, BF crisco & sugars. Add eggs & vanilla & Mix…keep mix on low while adding salt & baking soda. Add flour (& 1 TBS water if high alt) & mix. Add old fashioned oatmeal & mix. Slowly fold in chocolate chips.
Bake at 380 degrees 10-13:30 mins depending on cookie size or till lightly golden brown on top. Makes approx 3 dozen small cookies or 20 large cookies.
*warning these cookies are so rich and tasty, they force you to hydrate. Perfect for the river world!
In the river business we watch the weather & snowpack like baby-boomers obsess over the Dow and S&P. Luckily for us, we have our own in-house snow specialist. Chris Lundy, owner of Sawtooth Mountain Guides by winter, Rocky Middle Fork guide by summer. Chris spends his winter ski guiding on the same snow that feeds the Middle Fork.
“Despite warm temperatures and a lack of snow during the past month, the snowpack at higher elevations is still hanging in there. Thanks to substantial snowfall back in December and January, many mountain weather stations are still reporting near-average snow water equivalent. Not to say we couldn’t use more snow, but we’re in much better shape than many people realize.”
Rocky Mountain River Tours has a rich tradition of gourmet food, going back nearly 40 years. Sheila Mills, founder of Rocky Mountain River Tours and Dutch Oven Cookbook author, built an amazing culinary foundation. Rocky’s style and systems continued to be refined year after year and evolve to match our clientele. Our menus are full of fresh salads, creative entrees and amazing desserts that cover a large portion of today’s specialty diets. Gluten Free, Vegan and more specific dietary preferences are accommodated for a small fee.
Check out Rocky’s New Video Gallery. You will find a series of video-shorts that illustrate the different experiences you will find on our Idaho River Trips
Fly Fishing on the Middle Fork in August and September is a surreal experience. It has all the ingredients…Gin-clear water, native trout and we use large, easy-to-see dry flys and Hoppers. The combination is a phenomenal fishing experience for both the seasoned angler and the never-ever.
Westslope cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki lewisi) is a beautiful native fish, known for its bright colors and dark spots. The Middle Fork Westy is not the largest brother in the trout family (10-18 inches)., but what they lack in size, they make up for in vigor.
Our guests dream of the Middle Fork’s rapids, rafting and whitewater. What they learn…the rafting is a small piece of a much bigger experience. Time off the river exploring history, relaxing in our comfortable camps, playing games, eating great food, enjoying good conversation and making new friends is the true story.
No other river trip in America can offer the quantity and quality of natural hotsprings found along the shores of Idaho’s Middle Fork of the Salmon River. While the River of No Return prefers quality over quantity, and boast arguably the best hot spring in the West.
This video Rocky Food is part of a video series illustrating the magic found on a Wilderness River Trip.
“I am a Foodie. In my eyes, every vacation must have yummy wine and interesting food. I heard all the hype prior to our trip from our friends, but I was a skeptic. The quality of the ingredients, the flavors, the freshness. It is hard to accomplish all of this in one’s home. The fact that they create these meals for 30 people, in the wilderness, in Dutch Ovens is mind boggling”
-Kris C. Seattle Washington. 2014 Middle Fork Guest
Join Nick Como, NY native and author of EatPlayRamble.com, as he recaps his Middle Fork Experience
“Putting on a neoprene wetsuit at 7 AM to step out in a 40 degree Stanley, Idaho morning can only mean one thing: Adventure! This is the coldest we’ll be all week, we are assured by Jared, head honcho at Rocky Mountain River Tours. The snow blanketing the Sawtooth range peaks, as well as several hillsides our bus zooms by on the way to Boundary Creek, leads to me to believe otherwise. This may be more camping than glamping (glamorous camping) after all.
Over the next six days, we’ll drop over 3,000 feet in elevation. Wetsuits give way to shorts and T-shirts as the river cuts its way to meet with the Main Salmon 100 miles away. We begin at 6,000 feet in an alpine forest of Lodgepole and Douglas Fir on a river that resembles more of a steam. Narrow, but fast-flowing with rapids in succession, I could tell right from the start our guides were on their A-game to navigate this stretch.
A few short hours and a few dozen rapids later, several of us are stipping our Scuba Steve outfits off on a sandy beach to swim in the crystal clear water of the Middle Fork of the Salmon on the trip’s first lunch break. I never needed the wetsuit again, just sunblock and some shades to “battle” the elements. The Middle Fork is relaxing yet wild, scenic, magical and remote. It is like no other place.
The 100 miles and six days would feature hot springs, bottles of wine paired with cheese and smoked salmon for happy hour, short walks and demanding hikes to
incredible views, impassable canyons and food. Lots of delicious food. Sleekly packed rubber rafts, when unloaded reveal a full kitchen, comfy tents with luxurious sleeping pads and pillows, full sized camp chairs and enough food to feed an army. Far from roughing it in the largest wilderness area in the lower 48. I don’t always camp, but when I do, I prefer to glamp.”
The 2014 summer on the Salmon River of No Return (RoNR) aka…Main Salmon, aka…the best family vacation on the planet… is looking great! This trip is perfect for families with little or no camp and rafting experience. The RoNR’s massive sand beaches make for very comfortable camping and ample room to get your play on. Horseshoes, bago, bocce ball, and Koob are some of the evening activities. The history found on the RoNR is world We bring along SUP’s tandem Inflatable kayaks, and our PaddleCat to make sure everyone in the family gets their adventure fix. Rocky’s River of No Return trips kick off with an overnight experience at the Salmon River Lodge . A beautiful riverside property deep in the Frank Church Wilderness. The first evening of the trip our guests and crew will celebrate the upcoming week over an Idaho-style feast. Guests and guides will wake up to a home-style breakfast before pushing off downstream into the largest roadless wilderness in the US.
2014 River of No Return Availability
June 27- July 1: Sold Out! July 4-9: 4 open seats July 12-17: 6 open seats July 20-25: Sold Out! July 28-Aug 2: 9 open seats August 5-10: Sold Out!
Adults $1895 Kids(5-18) $1050
Ground transportation from Salmon to the Salmon River Lodge
Salmon River Lodge-1 night lodging, dinner & breakfast
All camp equipment and river gear
Amazing food, ample beverage, regional beer and local wine
Ground Transportation from river take-out to McCall Idaho
Idaho rafting is like all other world class vacation destinations. Savvy travelers seek out the shoulder season to receive the ‘Prime Season’ service at ‘Low Season ‘ rates. The Middle Fork is no different.
Act fast! We have limited availability on the following 2014 Shoulder Season Trips
In addition to a better price, Rocky’s shoulder season trips have their own unique draw. Our June trips are all about the Middle Fork’s World Class Whitewater. While our August trips offer amazing fly fishing. In fact Rocky’s August, shoulder season trips sell out quickly because of the world -renowned dry fly fishing found on the Middle Fork in August
New for 2014! In an effort to make Rocky trips even better and due to popular request, Rocky now offers luxury motor coach service from North Fork back to Stanley. This offers an air conditioned, comfortable, 3 hour ride back to Stanley versus a long, hot, bumpy ride in a school bus. What a perfect ending to a perfect trip!
#1- Check your Schedule– We get it…Summers are busy. Keep in mind the larger your group, the earlier you should reserve. You can compare your party’s schedule to our Trip Calendar. 2015 groups are already booking. Our trips sell outevery summer and the July trips fill first.
fyi….The calendar on rafttrips.com maintains our real-time availability for those who prefer to book online.
#2- Give Jared a call (208)345-2400 or send a note– We need to know your preferred date, number of people in your party and their ages. We will recommend a trip, discuss available dates, answer questions and make suggestions. We are happy to HOLD your seats for 7 days while we work through deposit and trip details.
#3- Everything you need to know- Following our initial conversation we will send a follow up email recapping our conversation and include Rocky’s Guest Information Packet. It is loaded with a bunch of great info to help understand the itinerary and level of service you can expect on a Rocky trip. We will also include a link to pay your deposit with an Amex, MC or Visa.
#4 Book & Confirm Travel: Rocky’s guest guru, Krista is here to help with all your travel specifics. She has a wealth of information about Stanley lodging, ground transportation, trip insurance, gear requirements, how the bathroom works and what’s for dinner. For those flying from far, far away. Krista will also help with arrival/departure details to make sure you are in the right place, at the right time.
Rocky loves trip insurance! So much…we will pay 50% of your premium (avg premium $120 per person)
#5 Book the Trip of a Lifetime: As soon as you are comfortable (or within 7 days) with your trip selection, travel details and all your questions have been answered. Send us an email, give us a call or click on the link to reserve. We will keep in touch with trip updates and be available for questions at any time.
So what’s stopping you? Isn’t it time you unplug and reconnect with your family & friends on an Idaho Wilderness River?
Thank you to all our loyal river trip customers over the years. We spent most of the summer in Salmon transferring our knowledge and experience to Jared and his crew. Jared and Roni’s first year was a big success and reservations are looking great for 2014.
Our world travels remind us of why the Rocky Middle Fork trips are special, personalized by enthusiastic, knowledgeable river guides who are also terrific Dutch oven cooks. We think there is nothing like this experience in the world. Please make plans to experience Idaho’s Middle Fork Canyon and tell all of your best friends to join the Rocky Guides too. We hope to cross paths with each of you in the future. Please keep in touch.
First, let me apologize for my lack of posts. The combo effect of wrapping up the river season and having a new baby has been a whirlwind. Roni, Maya and I welcomed little Jonathan Tyler (aka….JT) to the party on September 4th . These last few months have been filled with lots of love, sleepless nights & chasing the new normal. As the dust settles and we find our groove we are having a blast. Maya digs being a big sis, Mom is in love, and Dad is thankful for it all.
It has been 12 years since diapers, 2 AM feedings and tummy time. I’ll be honest Parenthood, the 2nd time, intimidated me. Oddly, the similarities between a new baby and a new business motivated me on both paths. In the beginning it was about creating a solid bond and finding a groove. Accepting that things are changing and time is in hyper speed. In a strange way I gained a clear perspective of what is important & what’s not. The constant change forced me to ‘not sweat the small stuff’ and good things happened. Next thing I know, I am looking in the rear-view mirror and amazed by my progress and stoked about the future. We have a happy, thriving, inspiring little boy…and can hardly wait to see what the future holds. I daydream of sharing the wilderness with him. Watching as his love for wild places, family and adventure influences who he is, and what’s important.
Rocky Mountain River Tours is stoked to offer America’s Premier Rafting Vacation. Imagine 6-days and 185 miles of the best whitewater and alpine scenery in the world. This trip includes 1-night at a riverside lodge and scenic flight back to Stanley.
Attention: Tell us you heard about the Middle/Main Epic via this email and save $150 per person
Rocky’s most popular family adventure. Rocky caters this trip to families with children aged 6-18, resulting in the ultimate family adventure. We adjust menus, bring extra beach games, lots of sunscreen and break out all the toys for the trip. Book Now…this trip sells out quickly!
Loyal clients have demanded that we start a family rafting tradition on the Middle Fork. This Early August trip is catered to multi-generational families (age 10+) offering perfect water levels for paddle rafting, inflatable kayaking, fishing and shenanigans. We keep the kids busy, allowing parents and grandparents ample time for relaxing, socializing, fly fishing and enjoying the largest wilderness in the United States. Reserve now!
Join Rocky and experience the fastest growing watersport in the world, Stand Up Paddle Boarding. The fun, safe, rolling rapids of the Wild & Scenic Salmon has been identified as the #1 SUP river in America. Great for beginners and advanced paddlers. Not all participants need to SUP, rafts and IK’s available.
As you know Sawtooth Adventure Company and Rocky Mountain River Tours joined forces in 2013 to offer the best wilderness river trips available. This past July Rocky Mountain River Tours inherited SAC’s most popular trip, The Annual Kids Trip on the Wild & Scenic Main Salmon. This trip is catered to families with kids between 5-18 years old. We pull out all the stops and celebrate the kids! We bring along a photographer, all the river toys , the best beach games, adapt the menu and invite our most kid-fun guides. All of this not only insures your kids have the time of their lives, but also guarantees an unforgettable week for the parents.
2014 8th Annual Kids Trip July 20-25, 2014
Adults $1895 Children (5-18) $1050
Trip includes 1st night lodging at a riverside guest ranch, food, beverage, river equipment, camp gear and ground transportation. Seriously… all you need is your toothbrush, personal clothing and sense of adventure.
This trip has a maximum size of 23 guests and sells out quickly! Call Jared to reserve the ultimate family adventure!
This September Salmon River Anglers and Rocky Mountain River Tours are combining forces to offer the best fly fishing experience available in the United States.
World Class Guides & Award Winning Food on our Fall Fly Fishing Trip
Join Rocky Mtn River Tours & Salmon River Anglers on an all-inclusive fly fishing trip on Idaho’s premier blue ribbon trout stream. 12 anglers, 6 guides and a week on the Middle Fork of the Salmon with nothing to do but fish…pinch me now.
$2695 includes round trip charter air service from Boise, food, beer, wine and local flies. Only 5 seats remain…call now!
Imagine…Gin-clear freestone river, zero angler pressure, optimum dry fly conditions and native cutthroat trout all to yourself as you explore the largest wilderness in the US.
Rocky Mountain River Tours maintains an enviable reputation on the Middle Fork of the Salmon. A common question from potential guests…“why choose Rocky?” Its true, all of the outfits on the Middle fork benefit from the amazing beauty of the Frank Church, the pristine waters of the Middle Fork and the magic that occurs from spending 6 days away from civilization with a small group of new friends. In the end its simple, three factors are at play.
Guides, Gear & Food
Middle Fork guides belong to an upper echelon in the guiding community. They have been tested by the high waters of Spring, the technical boating of August and all the variables that pop up while leading 24 experienced guests through the largest Wilderness in the US. The one thing that sets the Rocky crew apart from the competition is tenure. The current crew of Rocky guides has been working together for 10 seasons. They are well oiled machine when it comes to camp duties and on the on-water program. But the most distinguishing factor is their chemistry, like characters in a movie. Each with unique strengths & personalities that combine to result in the best crew on the Middle Fork.
Rocky pulls out all the stops when it comes to gear. New sleeping bags and pillows are purchased annually while large river mattresses, spacious new Mountain Hardware tents and comfortable chairs are the norm. Rocky provides a sanitary and private bathroom system with running water hand wash, solar showers and purified water.
Excuse us while we brag. Rocky offers the best food on the river, period. This is not a new thing, its a tradition. Sheila Mills, Rocky founder is the genius behind the menu design while Rachel B. is the culinary artists that puts all the pieces together. The result is the most divers, fresh and healthy menu on the river. Sheila has made a career at designing dutch oven entrees and amazing deserts. She has published three Dutch-Oven cookbooks and continues to push the limits of what can be created in a riverside kitchen. The Rocky menu is so diverse and impressive that it has its own fan club. In an effort to keep the groupies happy we will be posting our 2013 recipe’s over the next few weeks.
SMOKED TROUT APPETIZER
1 pkg.(1#) SMOKED TROUT, arranged on parsley
2 boxes Breton crackers
2 boxes Blue Diamond crackers (gluten free)
1 container Smokehouse Almonds
1 wedge English Cotswold cheese
1 bag Red Grapes (displayed around or next to the cheese)
BLEU CHEESE & PECAN SALAD
1 bag Mixed Baby Greens
1 zip (3 cups) Toasted pecans, in Ziploc
1 container Bleu cheese, crumbled
2 bottles Earth & Vine Honey Pear Vinaigrette
5 Green Apples, chopped at the last minute & tossed in.
(toss salad with dressing & serve immediately)
Arrange pasta sheets in bottom of 3 DO’s.
Spread each sheet with pesto.
Break up sausage thinly & evenly on pesto.
Put on layer of tomato slices.
Spread with yogurt.
Sprinkle with Jack cheese & Parmesan
Put on another sheet of sfoglia.
Repeat all of above.
Top with sheet of pasta covered with sliced tomatoes and small amount of Parmesan.
Bake till golden & bubbly.
1 ziplock Dry ingredients, mix well
3 Pkg. Yeast
3 cups Warm water
½ cup Olive oil
1 zip Parmesan, grated
Mix well. Turn out onto floured surface and knead dough until soft and sticky about 5 minutes. Divide in half and roll out & punch into rounds the size of DO bottom. Let rise about 20 minutes and sprinkle with Parmesan, salt and pepper. With lightly oiled fingertips make indentations, about ½ inch deep and 1 inch apart all over dough. Bake with the lid covered with hot coals for about 20 minutes until golden.
1 ½ Caramel Fudge Pecan Tortes-slice into 30 wedges
As the new owner of Rocky Mtn River Tours my first summer has been an education, a baptism by fire if you will. I have learned an amazing amount about operating on the Middle Fork from Dave & Sheila’s 35+years of experience. But the true education is coming from the guides. Dave & Sheila, like a broken record, touted why the Rocky Crew is the best on the Middle Fork. I knew they would be good, but I had no idea how good. This 6 person crew has been working together for years. It is obvious in their chemistry and orchestrated ability to get the job done in style. They do an amazing job, but the one thing that constantly exceeds my expectations is their connection with our loyal clients and new guests. We have a number guests that return year after year solely to spend a week in the wilderness with their river friends. The Rocky crew’s genuine connection and personal friendships with our guests is truly impressive and something as the new owner I am very humbled by and thankful for. Thank you!
Sawtooth Adventure Company hosted Grandpa Berney on our 2010 Annual Kids Trip. He had such a great experience he has become one of our guest bloggers. Check out what Grandpa Berney is thinking for 2013…
“The Sawtooth Adventure Company and Rocky Mountain River Tours merger sounds great. I haven’t been down the Middle Fork with Rocky, but have a friend that boasts their guides, food, wine and overall experience as A+ . My wife and I are thinking an August trip with a few of our grandchildren would be the perfect choice. We went down the Main Salmon with two of our grandchildren (9 and 11) on SAC’s kids trip in 2010. That was the year I was crowned Grandpa of the Year.
Last fall we spent five days at Disneyland with our grandchildren. It was a great experience, but it didn’t compare to our experience on the river. The grandkids were always busy riding in a raft with kids their age, inflatable kayaking with me, stand-up paddle boarding beside the raft, or kayaking with the guides. At camp they played beach games, built sand-castles for their tiny pet fish and learned a number of card games from the guides. I think it had something to do with guides specifically assigned to entertain the kids (Kid Gurus). The amazing part to me was that the I could have an adult conversation on the raft, enjoy a quiet drink at camp, or take in the wilderness experience, but still had an amazing bonding experience with the kids. No crowds, no screaming kids, no discussion about where to eat, no looking for a parking spot, and no long lines. We saw bears, bald eagles and mountain sheep on nearly a daily basis. One evening, two large male mountain sheep hung around camp so long, I thought they were going to join us for dinner.
I am thinking about the Middle Fork in August. I get all of the above, plus a Blue Ribbon trout fishery. Think about it, I get credit for showing the grandkids a wonderful time, while I relax and catch some trout. Hopefully their parents don’t read this… I might lose my title as Grandpa of the Year.”
“After fishing all day in a 12 ft raft to rising Cutthroats, we ate a gourmet meal of salmon and garlic potatoes. We then made the 1 mile trek to soak ourselves in a perfectly heated natural hot pot with an equally warm waterfall acting as a shower up Loon Creek. The rest of the night consisted of a little Texas Hold Em and good conversation. As I retired to bed, I realized that we were witnessing a perfectly formed utopia where white water rafting met fantastic fishing; an outdoor paradise they call the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.”
The Middle Fork of the Salmon River flows 106 miles through some of the wildest country left in the lower 48 states, directly through the heart of Idaho’s 2.4 million acre Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. Consequently there are no roads into the area; access is either gained by a hike, a horse ride, flight in by bush plane or by floating all or part of its 106 miles. However the effort exerted will be well worth it as the Middle Fork of the Salmon River is one of the premier fly fishing rivers in the Continental U.S. for native Cutthroat and Rainbow Trout. In order to float this wild & scenic river, one either has to obtain a permit via the Idaho 4 River lottery system or go as a member of a commercially guided trip with any of many licensed outfitters. The Middle Fork Outfitters Association web page is a great reference tool to find an outfitter. Many of the outfitters offer fishing specific trips.
For those that wish to drive directly to the river, the Boundary Creek boat launch area and campground are approximately 50 miles from the town of Stanley. To get there from Stanley take SR 21 Northwest 20 miles to Bear Valley Rd (between mile post 109 and 110) then 26 miles on dirt road until you reach Boundary Creek. From Boundary Creek you can fish either up or down stream. (Dagger Falls is located just upstream. There is also another campground located at Dagger Falls.)
Fly Fishing on the Middle Fork is best from early July through September. (During an average water year, there will simply be too much water to fish effectively before mid July.) I prefer to float the river at water levels between 2 and 2.5 feet. These levels are typically found in late July/early August. Fish will range in size from 10-21 inches with the average fish being in the 12 to 15 inch range. If you float the river, the fish will get bigger as the river increases its flow beneath Big Creek (Big Creek itself is a fantastic fishery). Assuming that the fish cooperate a little, it is not uncommon for the skilled angler to frequently catch more than 50 trout in a day. On this river, even a less than ideal cast can bring a vigorous rise and the crystal clear water allows the angler to watch the underwater action. The fish are willing to take flies on top of water whether there is a hatch on or not. Consequently, the Middle Fork Salmon River is an excellent place to introduce the young or novice angler to the sport of fly fishing.
Spring is in the air and the Rocky Crew is busy organizing gear, stocking food, and getting ready for our first trip of the season. As summer approaches, the frequency of calls and emails increase as the last minute travel planners are scouring the web for the ultimate family adventure. Here is a quick update for our potential guests and all our friends and past customers that continue to recommend our small group river trips through Idaho’s Wilderness.
Middle Fork of the Salmon
Thanks to our loyal guests, great guides and amazing food, our trips consistently sell out year after year. Due to Rocky’s reputation for great guides and amazing trips, our Middle Fork trips are sold out through July 30th. Act quickly… Rocky’s Peak Season Middle Fork Trip on August 2-7th only has a few seats remaining.
The combination of Sawtooth Adventure Company’s reputation for offering the best family adventure available mixed with Rocky’s tradition of great guides and amazing food has our Wild & Scenic Salmon trips in high demand. This trip is perfect for families looking to escape and reconnect with their family & friends as they retrace Lewis & Clark’s footsteps on Idaho’s famous Wild & Scenic Salmon River of No Return.
It is an exciting time in the Rocky home office as the Idaho Rafting season is quickly approaching. The phone is ringing with excited guests as they plan and prepare for their magical journey down Idaho’s Middle Fork of the Salmon.
As I talk with guests about our world-class rafting trips and I find myself constantly being poised against our desert counterpart, the majestic Grand Canyon. This comes as no surprise as It is common knowledge that the Middle Fork of the Salmon and the Grand Canyon are America’s (and the world’s) “must-do” river trips. Both have world-renowned whitewater, amazing scenery and great history…but in our humble opinion, it’s not even a contest.
The obvious reason…the Middle Fork is untouched by mankind. In a world where mankind’s fingerprints have touched nearly everything, it is refreshing to find a place that is the same today as when the Shoshone and Sheepeater Indians called it there home. This fact seems especially poignant with the timing of Earth Day and America’s one day reminder to take their shoes off, walk barefoot in the grass, take a deep breath of fresh air, listen to the birds, and appreciate our natural world. On the Middle Fork, Earth Day is every day. This amazing free-flowing river runs the same course as it did when the dinosaurs roamed. You won’t find National Parks, dams and man-made floods. The Middle Fork has very few endangered species ad even fewer invasive species. What you will find is towering Yellow Pines, cascading crystal clear creeks, native West-Slope cutthroat, returning spawning Salmon and hardly the fingerprint of man. Simply put….like no other place on earth.
Lovers (and future lovers) of the Middle Fork owe this ageless gift to the former US senator from Idaho, Frank Forrester Church III. Senator Church was extremely influential securing protection for the unparalleled wilds of central Idaho. Frank Church lead the charge for the Wilderness Act of 1968, The Wild & Scenic River Act, and the Frank Church –River of No Return Wilderness. The result of these three historic pieces of legislature created the majestic Middle Fork of the Salmon. Nowhere else can one find a designated Wild & Scenic River that slices through the largest protected Wilderness Area in the lower 48.
The Middle Fork remains one of the last places in the United States where young generations can visit and experience wilderness in its pure form. It is no surprise Rocky Mountain River Tours has such a large number of returning clients each summer. Once you experience the magic of the Middle Fork you will swear to return, and share it with your closest family and friends. As a steward of the Frank Church Wilderness and and partner with the US Forest Service, Rocky Mountain River Tours is committed to continuing the legacy of the amazing Frank Church Wilderness and the wild Middle Fork of the Salmon for future generations to visit and enjoy.
Our 2013 trips are filling fast. Give us a call to reserve your week in the wilderness and to learn more about our world-class Idaho river trips.
Jared, Roni & Maya Hopkinson founded Sawtooth Adventure Company in 2001. SAC’s safety record, great guides and excellent service has set the standard for 1-day family raft trips on the Upper Salmon River and Wild & Scenic Main Salmon. Jared & Roni met at the University of Utah while pursuing a degree in Commercial Recreation Management & Marketing. Jared has recently returned to the U teaching Electronic Marketing & Management in the Outdoor Industry while obtaining a graduate degree in Adventure & Outdoor Planning. Jared’s heart is in Idaho and served as the President of the Stanley Chamber of Commerce from 06’ to 12’ . See more about Jared’s experience on LinkedIn
Jared, Roni & Maya are proud to announce the receipt of TripAdvisor.com’s 2012 Certificate of Excellence for their family rafting trips with Sawtooth Adventure Company, the highest service award available by the web’s leading travel resource. Jared and Roni will bring their experience offering the nation’s best family rafting adventures to maintain and build on Rocky’s tradition and exceptional service on the magical Middle Fork.
Good things seem to all happen at once. In addition to Jared & Roni’s expansion to the Middle Fork they are excited to expand their family with the arrival of a jr Middle Fork guide this August. Ironically, Maya was born the same year Sawtooth Adventure Company was founded and has been the motivating factor behind creating the Ultimate Family Adventure ever since. Wonder what the next jr guide will bring?