Find Your Flow

Idaho and Colorado

Jul 1, 2004
Outside Magazine
whitewater rafting: Idaho

HOW LONG: Six days, 100 miles
WHEN TO GO: June to September

YOU COULD RUN the Middle Fork of the Salmon on a private permit, but then who would roast Cornish game hens and bake pineapple upside-down cake while you unwind in riverside hot springs? Gourmet and dirtbag blend seamlessly on North America's classic whitewater trip, where wild sagebrush desert combines with a four-to-one guide-to-client ratio and five-star alfresco accommodations on river-polished gravel bars. The first 20 miles feature long, roiling Class IV rapids and an insidious five-foot drop at Velvet Falls; after that it's sweet Class III and IV action in the clearest water north of the Caribbean. Keep your fly rod handy: Even beginners can catch (and release) cutthroat trout by the dozen. On the last day, after Impassable Canyon's ten drop-pool Class III–IV rapids, you'll have earned some hang time in the misty cavern behind 200-foot Veil Falls. »OUTFITTER: River Odysseys West ($1,775; 800-451-6034, »DIY: The Forest Service issues private permits by lottery in December and January ($6 application fee, $4 daily fee per person; 208-879-4101, Idaho River Sports, in Boise, can rent gear—$80 per day for a 16-foot self-bailing oar raft—and help arrange shuttles (800-936-4844,

HOW LONG: Four days, 44 miles
WHEN TO GO: May to September

JOHN WESLEY POWELL DESCRIBED the Gates of Lodore, on the Green River, as "a dark portal to a region of gloom" when he paddled through the 1,400-foot varnished-quartzite feature en route to the Grand Canyon in 1869. In truth, the sun shines 300 days a year on this astonishingly scenic four-day float through Dinosaur National Monument. Your daily adrenaline hit comes on Class III rapids like Disaster Falls and Hell's Half Mile—where the river tilts to 30 feet per mile. Stretch your legs on any of a dozen side hikes, including the five-mile round-trip up trout-rich Jones Hole Creek through a 1,200-foot-deep canyon to petroglyphs left by Fremont Indians. The rest of the time is pure chill: Pitch your tent on white sand and race western whiptail lizards down the shore. »OUTFITTER: OARS ($585; 800-346-6277, »DIY: The National Park Service issues 300 private permits via lottery each winter ($15 application fee, $185 for a multi-day permit; 970-374-2468, Salmon Air provides round-trip transportation from Salt Lake City for $153 (800-448-3413, River Runners' Transport rents 16-foot self-bailing oar rafts for $120 per day; they'll also provide food for the cost of groceries plus $20 per person (800-930-7238,