Again, we work hard for these reviews, so please excuse us while we gloat! Thank you for coming back trip after trip. We love seeing our customers enjoy their hard-earned vacation time. Thank you, Jeff!
BEST OUTFITTERS EVER!!! The Snake and Salmon River trips with HELLS CANYON RAFT are some of the most memorable experiences that we’ve ever had on any of our river trips. It’s not solely the river: it’s also the company! We’ve been on various multi-day raft trips with several companies, and HELLS CANYON RAFT is hands-down the best. After going on the 5-day Snake River trip two years ago, we came back this year to do the 4-day Salmon River. We briefly thought about other trips, but we were so impressed with HCR that we decided to do the Salmon solely because of Kurt, Heidi, and how they run the company. We were so impressed that we plan to do the HCR’s Salmon trip again next year. In sum, yes, your comfortable tents and sleeping pads are already put up for you when you arrive at camp; the guides prepare amazing meals throughout the trip; and all are amazingly capable on tricky rapids that require knowledge of the currents. I’ve been impressed before with guides for other companies, but HCR’s guides are by far the BEST. From the beginning of the process on their website to the end of the trip at the take out, we were 100% satisfied.
The Snake vs the Salmon: you’ll see plenty of wildlife on both trips–including big horn sheep, eagles, and more—and you’ll have the same guides and excellent equipment on either trip but there are a few differences that you might want to consider. The 5-day trip on the Snake starts out right out of the gate with a few class-4 rapids. It’s big water and the deep canyon makes you feel small. I always found myself looking up more so than at the river. There are quite a few opportunities to get off the raft and hike to historic sites of interest, but you can still enjoy yourself staying behind fishing or just soaking it all in. The campsites are convenient and memorable. This is a remote area and you sense it all the time. The 4-day trip on the Salmon is a different ride (and perhaps our favorite of all the rivers we’ve done). The myriad of class 2 and 3 rapids at times seem like a non-stop water roller coaster. Although there a few class 4 rapids, there’s plenty of time to leisurely swim. The river makes its way through spectacular scenery, including the many canyons that seem to have their own personality. The campsites are all on white-sand beaches since the Salmon is not dammed. There are fewer day hikes, I feel, on the Salmon than the Snake, but there’s always something to do. Of the 15 to 20 people on our trip, there were several younger kids, and I think the Salmon might be the better of the two trips if you have young ones. Finally, I found the smallmouth fishing to be better on the Salmon but that might not always be the case. I caught 16 or 17 smallmouth, each weighing 1 to 2+ lbs.
There are many more glowing things I could say about HCR, but suffice to say we did a lot of research beforehand and considered other rafting trips in Idaho, Utah, and Arizona, but I’m so glad we chose HCR. I recommend them (and either trip on the Snake or Salmon) enthusiastically.
We followed up with Jeff after he left his review to ask a couple more questions:
Q1: What stood out to you most about your experience at HCR?
There are so many things—from the seamless coordination of the guides to the luxury of having your tent and campsite already set up for you upon your arrival each afternoon—but the long term memory has to be the unique solitary beauty of the river cutting through the canyons.
Q2: What was your favorite meal of the trip?
Again, it’s hard to limit it to just one, but eating salmon on the Salmon is hard to beat.
Q3: What was your highlight of the trip?
The luxury of sitting back and being exposed to the one-of-a-kind natural beauty of the Salmon, the exhilaration of the rapids, catching all those small mouth, and then sharing it all with new good friends at the end of the day.
Q4: Knowing what you do now after rafting with HCR, what expert tip would you pass along to someone thinking of booking with HCR?
HCR’s packing list is right on target. There’s no need to overpack. Bring a very limited amount of comfortable, quick dry clothes for the camp and then you’ll likely wear the same swimwear each day. (Just bring some clothespins to dry your bathing suit and quick dry camp towel.) You’ll carry your gear from the raft to your tent in their dry bag so pack lightly. Finally, I brought some of our local craft beer to share with our new friends and it made for some fun conversations at night.