Selway River Trip Details
Where and when to meet:
We will meet you at 8:00 pm the evening before the trip begins at the Doubletree Inn in Missoula, Montana (100 Madison St, 406/728-3100). The Doubletree is along the Clark Fork river and has courtesy airport van service. At the pre-trip meeting we will give you your waterproof bags, go over equipment and packing information and answer any last-minute questions.
How to get there:
The trip will begin and end at the Doubletree Inn in Missoula.
Driving: The Doubletree is in downtown Missoula just across the Madison Street Bridge from the University of Montana. You may leave your vehicle at the Doubletree during the trip.
Flying: Alaska/Horizon, United and Delta have service into Missoula. Try to arrange your arrival flights to make the 8:00 pm pre-trip meeting and we recommend making your departure flight for the day AFTER your trip concludes. Arrival time back in Missoula is usually around 5:00 pm, but could be later; flying out in the morning will give you added peace of mind at the end of the trip.
What we provide:
- Transportation from the Doubletree to the river and back
- All meals from lunch on the first day through lunch on the last day
- All taxes and government access fees
- Camping equipment (see Equipment List for details)
- Waterproof bags, lifejackets, and other specialized equipment for the trip
- Friendly, entertaining and professional guide service
What you are responsible for:
- Meals and lodging before and after your trip
- Personal clothing and other miscellaneous items (see equipment list)
- Soda, wine, alcoholic beverages (see below)
- Guides gratuities (see below)
Day 1: We will meet at the Doubletree early in the morning and be transported to the launch site at Paradise Guard Station, (2-3 hours). After a thorough safety briefing, we will launch and run a handful of great rapids including Galloping Gertie, Washer Woman, and Cougar Bluff before arriving at our first night’s camp.
Day 2: A full day carries us 10-12 miles downriver through major rapids at Goat Creek, Pettibone, and Ham before arriving at the beautiful campsite opposite Moose Creek. We will stop during the day for a picnic lunch and maybe to explore a side stream.
Day 3: The third day of the trip is usually a “layover day” which is spent off the river enjoying the Selway’s many other attractions. You can take a strenuous hike to a fire lookout, hike along the river to scout the following day’s rapids, stroll up scenic Moose Creek, fish, relax in camp, or any combination of these.
Day 4: Between Moose Creek and Jims Creek, the Selway earns its reputation as one of the premier whitewater rivers in the world. We will run over 14 major rapids, including Double Drop, Ladle, Little Niagra and Wolf Creek, during this intense, 12 mile day.
Day 5: On the last day of the trip we will float a shorter stretch to our take-out at Race Creek, just above Selway Falls. After lunch at take-out, we will be transported back to the Doubletree in Missoula (3 hours).
Oar-paddle combination rafts are 14 or 16 feet long and are configured so that four or six paddlers can assist a guide who rows the raft using oars. The precision of an oar raft and the power of a paddle raft makes this the ideal rig for the Selway.
Due to the difficulty of the Selway, and the need to carry all of our gear into the canyon, we can only offer one oar-paddle raft per trip at appropriate water levels. If more trip members wish to paddle than there are spaces available, trip members will rotate so that everyone gets a chance to participate.
Meals and drinks: The meals we serve are well-balanced and consist of quality foods with fresh meats, fruits, and vegetables. Guides double as camp chefs and the menu includes a wide variety of dishes. Lunches consist of hand-foods and are served picnic-style at riverside stops. Dinners and breakfasts are prepared by our guides and often include tasty Dutch Oven baked treats. If you have special dietary requirements or are celebrating a special event during the trip, please let us know in advance. If you would like soda, beer, wine, or liquor with your dinner, please bring your own, (beer and soda in cans; wine in boxes or bags; hard liquor in glass bottles).
Camping: Camping will be at beautiful riverside beaches or flat benches along the river with spectacular views of the canyon. Our guides will set up a central area with chairs, a snack and beverage area, and a complete kitchen. You will pick out a spot nearby to pitch your tent or lay out your sleeping bag (our guides are happy to help). Camp activities vary from hiking and exploring the area, to relaxing along the river with a good book, to playing “Koob” or other river games. If you enjoy helping out in camp, you are welcome to pitch in as much as you want. A portable toilet will be set up away from camp. “The Groover”, a sturdy metal or plastic box with a comfortable toilet seat and minimal odor, and a hand-wash station will be set up in an isolated (and usually beautiful) location; going to the bathroom in the wilderness is surprisingly pleasant.
Weather: The weather in the mountains of Idaho is difficult to predict; we have encountered heatwaves in June and hailstorms in July, so please read the equipment list and come prepared for a variety of conditions. Summer high temperatures usually range between 75 and 90 degrees, cooling off to the 40’s and 50’s at night. June trips can be 10 degrees cooler. Rain, usually in the form of thundershowers, can be expected at any time and good rain protection is essential. The water temperature is a chilly 45 to 55 degrees.
Fishing: Fishing for cutthroat and rainbow trout is excellent in the Selway and in its tributaries. The fishing is usually best in July, after the high water period. A lightweight fly or spinning outfit works best, and all rods should be protected in a sturdy case. Effective flies include Caddis, Grasshoppers and Irresistables, and spinners such as Mepps and Panther Martins work well. Bring a small assortment. The Selway is a catch and release river so only single, barbless hooks are permitted, and fish caught in the river and tributaries must be released back into the river. To fish, you must have a valid Idaho fishing license, which can be purchased in advance at www.fishandgame.idaho.gov. For more fishing information, see the Selway River Fly-fishing Supplement.
Local Attractions: Within a day’s drive of Missoula are Glacier, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton National Parks, and Sun Valley resort, as well as the Gallitin, Madison and Yellowstone rivers and some of the best fly-fishing in the United States.
Suggested Reading: We will have a communal library on the trip with lots of reference material and maps. For pre-trip reading, Idaho Loners (Conley) has some great stories about Idaho’s odd hermits, including the tale of William Moreland, the Ridgerunner of the Selway. Lewis and Clark passed through this part of Idaho, so Undaunted Courage (Ambrose) is fun to read before or during the trip.
Travel Insurance: Because life is full of surprises, we suggest you consider purchasing supplemental travel insurance for your trip. Trip cancellation, evacuation, baggage loss and other coverages are available for between 8% and 15% of your trip cost. You can get more information through ASI Travel Insurance Services (please select American River Touring Association from the drop down menu).
Gratuities: We want you to feel like a guest in our home. But if you feel that your guides did an outstanding job, a post-trip gratuity is a flattering way to let them know. Tips should be based on your satisfaction, your financial means and your attitude about tipping. Tips typically range anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of the trip cost, (with the occasional recommended book or coveted hat thrown in). It is customary within ARTA to give the tip to the Lead Guide who will distribute it equally amongst all of the staff. And thank you very much.
A pdf of these trip details (along with more information about what to expect on your trip) can be found and downloaded here.
Our Selway trips are operated under a Special Use Permit on the Bitterroot and Nez Perce Clearwater National Forests and we are an equal opportunity service provider and employer.