Sharing Gratitude This Holiday Season: Top FIVE Things Hells Canyon Raft is Thankful For

Whitewater rafting is an exhilarating adventure that brings people closer to nature’s power and raw beauty. Our family has been fortunate to immerse ourselves in the world of whitewater rafting for more than three decades. The impact of this privilege is not lost on us, and as the holiday approaches we want to share five of the things this Hells Canyon Raft whitewater life has made us especially grateful for:

#1 – The River Environment

Hells Canyon Raft would not be what it is without the two extraordinary rivers where we guide our trips. Nestled in the heart of Idaho, the Lower Salmon River is a hidden gem for whitewater enthusiasts, offering a remarkable blend of exhilarating rapids, pristine wilderness, and a rich cultural history. The Snake River flows through Hells Canyon, the deepest river gorge in North America, providing a unique and awe-inspiring setting for those seeking both adventure and natural splendor.

The Snake River is  renowned for the stunning beauty that surrounds it. The canyon walls, carved by millennia of geological forces, tower above the river, adding a sense of grandeur to the rafting experience.

The Snake River area is teeming with wildlife. Rafters may spot bald eagles soaring overhead, bighorn sheep scaling the rocky cliffs, and otters playing along the riverbanks.  Not to mention some of the best fishing in the Northwest.

Also renowned for its diverse range of rapids, the Lower Salmon River is an ideal destination for novice and experienced rafters alike. The river’s Class III and IV rapids provide an exciting challenge, creating an adventure that combines the rush of whitewater with the serenity of the surrounding landscapes.

One of the distinctive features that sets the Lower Salmon River apart is its rich cultural and historical significance. As rafters navigate the river, they encounter remnants of ancient civilizations, including petroglyphs and artifacts left behind by Native American tribes.

The Lower Salmon boasts a pristine and untouched wilderness that adds to its allure. Rafters are treated to expansive canyon views, surrounded by rugged landscapes and abundant wildlife. The river winds through a diverse array of ecosystems, providing a visual feast for nature enthusiasts. With its warm water temperatures, inviting sandy beaches, and the absence of dams along its course, the Lower Salmon River ensures a true escape into the wild, allowing rafters to experience the untouched beauty of Idaho’s backcountry.

The combination of adrenaline-pumping rapids, stunning scenery, and abundant wildlife puts the Lower Salmon and Snake Rivers at the top of our gratitude list!

#2 – Our Team

Guides are the heart and soul of any whitewater rafting experience. Their expertise not only ensures the safety of our guests but their vibrant personalities set the tone for a fun and memorable adventure. Hells Canyon Raft is thankful for the guides who navigate our rivers with skill and confidence, providing a thrilling yet safe journey. Our experienced and knowledgeable guides possess an in-depth understanding of river dynamics, weather conditions, and safety protocols, which instills a sense of confidence in our guests. They are also incredibly talented at serving incredible canyon cuisine out of a mobile riverside camp kitchen, just one of the ways we add a touch of luxury to your remote adventure.

#3 – Technological Advances

While the heart and soul of any raft trip is the natural environment, we are also grateful for the technological advancements that have made our gear SO much better than it used to be! Advances like UV-resistant PVC, reinforced seams and composite oars have made rafts more durable and, therefore, safer. As much as cellular service has expanded over the years, the remote canyons we travel remain out-of-reach for cell phones. Thankfully, satellite phone technology keeps our team in contact with the world outside the canyon in case of an emergency.

Less glamorous technology – like that in our eco-safe toilet systems (also known as ‘the groovers”) — help us keep the river environment pristine. In recent years, advances in environmentally safe personal hygiene products make it easier to practice self-care on an extended trip. Many advances over the past 30 years have allowed us to boost safety, comfort and peace of mind for…

#4 – Our Guests

Yep, you knew this one was coming. Without our guests there would be no Hells Canyon Raft. No matter how long we’ve been at this, we are *still* moved by the cycle of gratitude that flows between our team and those who choose a multi-day whitewater adventure. Seeing the way the river transforms people, washes away stress, and helps guests re-connect with their families – or parts of themselves they’d forgotten – is forever gratifying. But that’s not the only way our guests feed our souls. The gratitude and thankfulness you show us with your emails, positive reviews and sincere recommendations to friends leaves our cups overflowing. This year, your votes propelled Hells Canyon Raft to earn honors as one of USA Today’s 10 Best Whitewater Rafting Tours in the United States. We are beyond thankful for that support we will be forever grateful to ALL the guests who allow us to share of our love for these special places.

#5 – Each Other

Hells Canyon Raft is not only a family-owned business, but it’s truly a labor of love for our family. We (Kurt and Heidi) purchased the outfitting business from Kurt’s parents in 1996 and have centered our lives around it ever since. Our two daughters have helped prep our trips for as long as we can remember. This summer, our oldest daughter stepped up big time, taking the helm of a gear boat and sponging up knowledge from our guides. She learned a ton on every trip she went on, including our first ever trip guided entirely by female guides!

The impact that this river life has had on our family is immeasurable and the teamwork it takes to keep the good vibes flowing has taught us all irreplaceable lessons about dedication, hard work, patience, understanding and how to face adversity with grace and composure. We wish every family had such a wonderful way to bond and learn life lessons together, and such wonderful memories to share.

Sharing love and gratitude this holiday season,

The Hells Canyon Raft Family (The Armacost’s: Kurt, Heidi, Ensi & Violet)


  1. Tom Slagle

    Been thinking about a Salmon/Hell’s Canyon trip for a long time. What’s the best time? Mid to late August? Please send me a brochure.

  2. steve huffman

    One of the best trips ever.
    Also thankful
    Since my trip with you I’ve done a river a year
    See you again soon

    • Hells Canyon Raft

      That’s amazing Steve! Thank you. We are looking forward to seeing you again. Happy Thanksgiving!


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