Frequently Asked Questions

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WHY CHOOSE THE RIVER COMPANY?

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1 - EXCELLENT GUIDES:

Our guides are the best at what they do.

ENTERTAINMENT: Our guides tell great stories, provide interesting information, and know lots of ways to have fun on the river. We are an entertainment company; our guides are the stars of the show.

SAFETY: Our professional guides are mature, well trained, and well prepared for any emergency.

LEADERSHIP: Experienced guides quickly win respect and trust from strangers of all ages.

RELIABILITY: The River Company guides return year after year because they love their work.

2 - SUPERIOR FOOD:

Guests get hungry on the river. Every year The River Company serves thousands of full-course meals (not just snacks) at our riverside picnic area Every day we serve a unique and inventive menu featuring fresh seasonal ingredients, with something for everyone -- including vegetarians and hard-to-please children. "I love to make people happy with my cooking. I think that a great meal makes any activity better and paired with the atmosphere of our riverside camp & a hearty appetite from rafting, our lunch trips can't be beat." That's the way Cindy, chef for The River Company, describes her role as head chef. "The menu changes daily so it helps that I enjoy being creative. I'm inspired by foods from around the world & strive to put a lot of flavor into each dish. I take pride in using the freshest ingredients & from making most everything from scratch." Many guests have told us that their meal with The River Company was the best food they ate during their Idaho vacation. Others have said they took one of our trips just for the food. (See comments below.)

 

3 - FIRST-CLASS REPUTATION:

"Kudos to you for running such a class operation. We want to make it an annual trip." -- Karen King
"Thank you for taking the time to send me your salsa recipe. I can't wait to come rafting again with you!" -- Liz McCutcheon
"Erika still talks about the rafting trip last summer. You made quite an impression on this four-year-old. Every once in awhile she still brings up her guide Jeremy. Thank you for a fun trip." -- The Seehafers
"I know we will be back. Thanks again." -- Thayer Corker
"Thank you for making my wife's birthday so memorable. We started as a small group three years ago and are now up to 30 of our family and friends." -- John Moran
"Lunch was wonderful. The Salmon River Salsa was a special treat. I have never tasted better lemon bars. -- Mary Moses
"Thanks for taking care of every one of our 160 guests. The Meeting Network has great confidence in recommending The River Company to any group, large or small." -- Pat Moloney
"Do you sell recipes? My kids are medically limited to a vegan diet, so I am always curious when I taste something so delicious." -- Margaret Kitterman
"We had a very enjoyable time on the river with Ryan. He is an excellent guide." -- Chris Conlon
"The food was so good. I would love the recipe for the squash pasta dish." -- Karen King
"We sure had a great time on the Salmon River with you all last Friday!" -- Betsy Adler
”Sean was the best guide! Our boat had the most fun!” -- Doug, Tiralisa, Madalyn, Dave, Marie, Sam & Ray

4 - OTHER FACTORS: RECORD OF SERVICE:

The River Company has provided safe, high-quality rafting trips since 1981. Every year we serve more guests than any other outfitter on our section of river.

FAMILY TRIPS:

We specialize in safe, family-style whitewater fun suitable for all ages.

EQUIPMENT:

The River Company uses modern "self-bailing" rafts. Life jackets, ponchos, wetsuits and other equipment are all top quality.

GUEST FACILITIES:

Our headquarters is a spacious building with plenty of supervised parking for guests and a world-class view of the Sawtooth Mountains.

BEER & WINE:

We maintain a beer and wine license for extra enjoyment with meals.

BUS DRIVER:

The River Company employs a full-time professional bus driver for the safety and convenience of guests.

SAFETY CONCERNS/JUST FOR MOMS

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Are whitewater trips safe for children?

Yes. We welcome children as young as four. Children taking their first whitewater trip should ride in an “oar raft” with a guide doing all the maneuvering. Adults will be free to supervise the children and reassure them. This provides a safe introduction to rafting. (See photo of oar raft in Photo Gallery.)

Are the trips safe for seniors?

Yes. Hundreds of seniors take our trips every year, many of them traveling with bus tour companies. Seniors often prefer to ride in an “oar raft” with a guide doing all the maneuvering. (See photo of oar raft in Photo Gallery.)

Are the trips safe for beginners?

Yes. About 75 percent of our guests have never rafted before.

Are the trips challenging enough for adults and teenagers?

Yes. They will enjoy the “paddle raft.” Everyone works together as a team to maneuver the raft down the river. Often there are water fights and raft races. Some people swim or jump off rocks. The trip can also be educational as our guides know local history, geology, birds, flowers, salmon, gold mining and other lore. These trips are well-rounded entertainment for all ages. (See photo of paddle raft in Photo Gallery.)

What are the most challenging trips you offer?

Early-season trips feature fast, cold water and Class 4 rapids -- the biggest rapids on this stretch of river. (See photos of Early Season "High Water" Trips.) Mid-season trips in a “one-person inflatable kayak” offer the challenge of navigating the river in your own small craft. (See photo of inflatable kayak in Photo Gallery.) Both of these trips are reserved for people fourteen and older. Guests are outfitted in wetsuits, booties, helmets, fleece jackets and paddling jackets.

Do people ever fall out of the rafts?

Yes. About one percent of our guests take an involuntary “swim.”

What should I do if I fall out?

Before you start the trip your guide will explain what to do if you fall out. First, stay calm. Your Coast Guard-approved life jacket is designed to hold your head out of water even if you are unconscious. You will probably float right next to the raft, and your guide can quickly haul you back in. Usually on a hot day an unexpected “swim” is just part of the fun.

But what if I can’t swim or don’t want to swim?

You should request an “oar raft” with other guests who want a gentle ride. Sit near the guide so they can steady you if necessary. Hold onto the raft for support. And keep your weight balanced toward the inside of the raft so that if you fall you will land in the raft, not the river. (See photo of oar raft in Photo Gallery.)

Do people ever get hurt?

Since 1990, there have been three minor injuries among 65,000 guests.

Will rafting make my medical condition worse?

You and your doctor must decide whether a whitewater trip is safe for you. We have hosted guests who were pregnant, diabetic, blind, asthmatic, paralyzed, and recovering from heart attacks, broken bones and sprains. If you have specific questions, please call.

PERSONAL COMFORT

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What’s for lunch?

The menu changes daily, but a typical meal might feature a main dish with chicken, and several vegetarian side-dishes including homemade salsa and chips, a green salad, freshly baked bread, and a homemade dessert. Our chef prepares all meals from fresh, healthy ingredients. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and fresh fruit are always available for kids. Drinks include water, lemonade, iced tea, hot chocolate, coffee and tea. Beverages like beer, wine, sodas and juices can be purchased before the trip. Organizers of Group Trips may request customized menus for their guests.

What should I wear?

In May and June bring plenty of clothing and decide at the last minute what you’ll need. In July and August we recommend a bathing suit or shorts, t-shirt, shoes or sandals that fasten securely, cap, sun screen, sunglasses, and straps for prescription glasses. Please don’t wear long cotton pants or cotton socks on the river. They stay wet, making you cold and reducing your enjoyment of the trip. If you would like bring extra clothes for after the trip, however during the Summer months most of our guests find they dry off quickly. The River Company provides splash tops and other gear when necessary.

What if I need more clothing during the trip?

Our guides carry emergency clothing on the rafts. In addition, if your trip includes a meal you can leave extra clothing on our bus and get it when you arrive at our picnic site.

What does The River Company provide?

If you can show up in a swim suit we can provide the rest. We offer wetsuits, splash tops, fleece, and booties if you are concerned about getting cold. Our guides carry emergency clothing on the rafts. In addition, if your trip includes a meal you can leave extra clothing on our bus and get it when you arrive at our picnic site.

Where can I go to the bathroom?

There are several restrooms available: at our headquarters, the launch site, the picnic site, and the end of the trip. Groups traveling by chartered bus should use facilities on the bus to avoid overcrowding public restrooms.

Should I bring my camera?

A waterproof camera is best, especially if it has a rubber band on it that can be attached to your life jacket. Any other camera can be wrapped in a Ziploc bag and stowed in the guide’s dry bag, at your risk. We also have a staff photographer shooting photographs of your trip. We have photo CD's for sale at the end of your trip.

Trip Details

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Where do the trips begin?

All regularly scheduled trips begin at The River Company headquarters in Stanley*. From there you will be bused fifteen minutes to the launch site on the Salmon River. Stanley is located about an hour from Sun Valley, Ketchum or Challis, and about three hours from Boise.

  • Phone number: (208) 788-5775.
*(Some privately scheduled Group Trips begin at the launch site on the Salmon River when guests arrive by chartered bus.)

Where do the trips end?

All regularly scheduled trips return to our rafting headquarters in Stanley.*

*(Some privately scheduled Group Trips end at the boat ramp on the Salmon River.)

How much do the trips cost?

For trip prices, schedule of trips, and other information please go to Full Day whitewater trip with lunch , Half Day whitewater trip, Group Trips & Prices, Scenic float trips, Early Season High Water Trips, or Float-Fishing Trips.

How long are the trips?

Early-season trips are about 14 miles; mid-summer trips about 9 miles; and late-season trips about 7 miles. Normally you should allow 5 to 6 hours for a trip with a meal, and 3.5 to 4.5 hours for a trip without a meal. These times are measured from the time you leave The River Company headquarters until you return. The length of trips is determined by the level of water in the river and other factors.

Where should I park my car?

Your car will be safe at our headquarters while you are on the river.

Does anyone take photos during the trip?

A photographer shoots your raft at the first rapid, "Piece of Cake". When you return to our headquarters you may view your images and purchase a photo CD.

The Rafts

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What types of rafts do you use?

We use “paddle rafts” and “oar rafts.” In a paddle raft, the guests and the guide work together to maneuver down the river. In an oar raft the guide does all the maneuvering with two long oars. Most guests prefer paddle rafts in order to be part of the action. But seniors and young children often go in oar rafts because they provide a gentler ride. Another option is the “inflatable kayak” where you do all the maneuvering while following a guided raft. (See photos of rafts in Photo Gallery.)

How many people go in a raft?

Usually there are six or seven guests plus a guide in each raft.

Are the rafts “self-bailing”?

Yes. Self-bailing rafts have holes in the bottom that allow water to drain out. They also have thick inflated floors that hold your feet above the river and insulate you from the cold water. By comparison, old-fashioned rafts have tightly sealed floors that trap water inside the raft. Guests must sit with their feet in cold water. Modern self-bailing rafts keep you drier and more comfortable than old-fashioned rafts. They are also safer, because the thick floor acts as a buffer against rocks in the river, preventing foot injuries, and because water can’t swamp the raft, causing it to lose control.

Do you have kayaks?

Yes. “One-person inflatable kayaks” are available after mid-July for guests fourteen and older in good physical condition. Kayakers are dressed in wetsuits, booties, helmets, fleece jackets and paddling jackets. Guides accompany small groups of kayakers, who go on the same trips as the rafts. Kayaking is the most challenging way of going down the river. Our section of river provides beginners with an excellent introduction to this sport. (See photo of inflatable kayak in Photo Gallery.)

The River

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What river do you run?

All trips are run on the Salmon River near Stanley and Sun Valley, Idaho.

How big are the rapids?

The rapids are moderate: Class 1, 2 and 3 on a scale of 1 to 6. Class 3 rapids are suitable for guests four and older when accompanied by a professional guide. (Some early-season trips include optional Class 4 rapids suitable for guests fourteen and older. See Photos: Early Season "High Water" Trips.)

How deep is the river?

The depth varies, from riffles a foot deep to rapids 8 feet deep and pools 20 feet deep. In June the average official depth of the river is normally about 10 feet. In September it’s 2 or 3 feet. We have rafted the river when it is as high as 11½ feet, and as low as 1½ feet.

How cold is the water?

The temperature ranges from about 40 degrees (F) in May to 60 degrees in August. On a hot summer day you probably won’t mind the cooling spray. But if you prefer to stay dry, wear one of our full-length ponchos.

What direction does the river go?

The Salmon River flows north to Stanley, then east to Challis.

Why does the river flow north?

The Salmon River can’t flow directly west to the Pacific Ocean because the mountains of Idaho are rising rapidly due to geologic upthrust. So the river makes a long detour north along earthquake faults until it can finally merge with the Snake and Columbia rivers and reach the ocean.

How long is the river?

At 425 miles long, the Salmon River is the longest river in the United States without any dams, and the longest river contained within a single state.

Why is the Salmon River called “the river of no return”?

Early boaters could only drift down the river. They couldn’t return by water because the river was too swift. Outboard motors didn’t help because rocks in the river destroyed the propellers. The invention of jet boats solved this problem. A jet boat is propelled by a jet of pressurized water pushing the boat upriver. There is no propeller to get broken. (There are no jet boats on our section of river.)

Endangered Species

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Are there any endangered species in the river?

Yes. Chinook salmon were listed as endangered in 1992.

Does rafting pose a threat to salmon?

There is no scientific evidence that rafting affects salmon either negatively or positively. But to be safe we avoid salmon when they are spawning.

Bonus Questions

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What is the largest Recreation Area in the United States?

The Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA) located just north of Sun Valley, Idaho, is the largest recreation area in the United States. Covering 756,000 acres, it is slightly larger than the state of Rhode Island and contains six mountain ranges, 42 peaks of over 10,000 feet elevation, and more than 300 alpine lakes. Fishing, hiking, horseback riding and whitewater rafting are just a few of the summer activities available. The River Company operates exclusively in the SNRA.

How many National Scenic Byways meet in Stanley, Idaho?

All of the highways coming into Stanley are National Scenic Byways:

  • Sawtooth Scenic Byway (from Sun Valley)
  • Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway (from Boise)
  • Salmon River Scenic Byway (from Challis)

There are only 100 National Scenic Byways in the United States. These two-lane highways were chosen by the U.S. Forest Service to highlight especially beautiful areas of public land that are visible from a car. With 3 out of 100 National Scenic Byways meeting in Stanley, this intersection marks one of the most beautiful places in America. The River Company is located less than a mile away.

How much of Idaho is Federal land?

Sixty-seven percent of Idaho is Federal land. Much of this land is reserved for recreation by the public. Idaho contains the largest Recreation Area in the United States (see above) and also the largest Wilderness Area: the Frank Church--River Of No Return Wilderness. If you enjoy vacationing in Idaho, please ask Congress to maintain funding for public lands like these. Help protect the lands you use.