The Wild River State
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Frequently Asked Questions
Your Middle Fork outfitter will be delighted to answer any questions you have about your trip. They provide detailed information on their offerings including comprehensive travel information and What to Bring lists. Here are 10 common questions outfitters receive.
1. What is the Middle Fork Outfitters Association?
We are a trade association composed of professional outfitters who provide public river trips on Idaho’s Middle Fork of the Salmon. All members hold a special use permit from the U.S. Forest Service authorizing them to conduct trips and they are all licensed by the State of Idaho.
2. When is the best time to go on the Middle Fork?
Whenever you go you will have a wonderful vacation. For thrill seekers, the highest water flows usually occur before mid-June. Fishing is best after flows recede and is outstanding all season. This is a wilderness river with no upstream dams and river levels are determined by precipitation, snow melt and other weather conditions. Every trip is different, even if you go at the same time as a previous visit. Your outfitter will be happy to make suggestions based on your particular interest.
3. What is the weather like?
Summer weather on the Middle Fork is usually warm during the day, and cool and comfortable at night. Daytime temperatures are typically in the 80s or 90s. Remember, this is a high elevation mountain river and dramatic changes in weather can occur at any time.
4. How long is a trip?
It varies by outfitter, but most full length Middle Fork trips are five or six days.
5. How many people go on a trip?
Trip capacity is a maximum of 30 including guides. Actual trip size varies depending on the type of trip an outfitter offers, time of year, bookings, and other factors. Typically, fishing outfitters will utilize a smaller group size trip to lower the guide-to-guest ratio while whitewater rafting outfitters have larger sized trips due to the use of inflatable kayaks and paddle rafts.
6. I want to take my dad and my kids. What are the age requirements?
The Middle Fork is a wonderful choice for multigenerational vacations. There is plenty to do for everyone and the whole family will enjoy their trip. Each outfitter has their own requirements but typically its 5 – 9 for young trip members. Seniors in their 80s have also floated the Middle Fork.
7. How many outfitters are there?
There are 27 licensed Middle Fork outfitters but only three or four can start per day. For a list of outfits that are members of this association, download our membership PDF. The PDF has their contact information.
8. With that number, isn’t the river crowded?
Absolutely not. The Forest Service limits that number of parties that launch each day and every party is assigned campsites for their own use. This keeps groups spread out and the river uncongested.
9. Being a river guide looks pretty neat. How do I get a job as a guide?
If you know someone currently employed as a Middle Fork guide, ask them for referrals and suggestions. Unlike most rivers, guides on the Middle Fork are licensed by the state and must meet training criteria. If you are interested in guiding, download the list of outfitters and contact each one to see if they have openings and what their requirements are.
10. I own my own gear. How do I get a private party permit to run the river?
Non-commercial permits to float the Middle Fork of the Salmon are allocated through a computerized lottery system. Private (non-commercial) floaters may apply for launch reservations by contacting the Salmon-Challis National Forest. Our Private Permit page has additional information including a directory of services private boaters will find helpful.