Row in Paradise

General Description:

Idaho’s Middle Fork of the Salmon is a classic river, a bucket list expedition, a legendary whitewater adventure. It provides the setting for one of the greatest river trips in the world.

Our rowing schools are amazing, inspiring, transformative. They offer an uncommon opportunity to learn about expedition-style river trips while enjoying the simplicity of life on the river.

Put them together? Well, your life may never be the same.

Our Advanced Rowing School is the result of years of requests from graduates of our Idaho Rowing School for “something more” and years of us searching for a venue that would be at the “upper end of challenging but still below the lower end of crazy”. We think we found a solution with a late season Middle Fork Salmon trip.

About the Trip:

This course is designed for people who are already fairly proficient at rowing and who are looking for more difficult whitewater. We’re going to encounter complex Class IV- rapids on the first day, so it could be frustrating if you’re starting from scratch (it could be frustrating even if you’re starting from more than scratch); graduates of one (or more!) of our “original” Idaho Rowing Schools and private boaters with solid Class III skills should be fine.

The school will begin with a frame-of-mind-altering flight from Salmon, Idaho to the Indian Creek landing strip on the banks of the Middle Fork. Get on the plane in one world, disembark 45 minutes later in a different one; it is a magical transition.

At Indian Creek the Middle Fork is small, shallow, and crystal-clear; the boats appear to be floating on air. And they look big, almost too big, out of place; a feeling that will repeat itself over the next six days. Downstream are 75 miles of slow madness; impossible looking gravel bars (we’ll teach you), narrow slots (trust yourself), inconveniently placed rocks (we’ll show you some tricks), and long, swift, devilish puzzles with appropriate names like Jackass, Pointy Rock, Goalpost, Cliffside, and no-one’s-favorite: Devil’s Tooth. And also downstream are pictographs, swimming holes, waterfalls, cliffs, hikes, fish, beaches, and everyone’s favorite: hotsprings.

Each day will challenge your skills and reward your efforts. Guiding you along (and helping get you off any rocks) will be our knowledgeable, gracious, patient instructors. They’ll offer you all of their techniques, skills, secrets, wisdom, and humor and they’ll share their love of rowing and of the Middle Fork and of the wild with you. It is likely to break your heart to leave.


The day BEFORE your launch date: Pre-trip meeting at 8:00 pm at the Stagecoach Inn in Salmon.

Day 1: We will convene at the Stagecoach Inn in the morning and take a quick van ride to the airport in Salmon for a 45-minute flight to Indian Creek. There we’ll meet the rest of the instructors, go over school procedures and safety guidelines, and pack our gear on the rafts. We should head downriver around noon. The first day has some shallow rapids and plenty of places to refresh our basic skills and stretch our lapsed muscles. We will make camp in the evening, distribute camp chores, and have time for relaxation and education.

Days 2 – 5:  We will continue downriver, traveling about 10 – 15 miles per day. Each day will present new challenges, both in terms of whitewater and instructional topics. Rapids will include Marble Creek, Jackass, Tappan Falls and numerous other swift, rocky rapids that will keep you on your toes. Every day we’ll also spend some time on non-navigational skills such as rigging, safety, repair, self-rescue, interpretation, and swiftwater swimming. You’ll be tired every evening. The most difficult rapids come towards the end of the school when the gradient steepens and we pass through the legendary Impassable Canyon and run Redside, Weber, Cliffside, Hancock, and no one’s favorite: Devil’s Tooth. As the school progresses, students will take a more active role in the day-to-day logistics and decisions; instructors will still offer advice and encouragement and will present challenging scenarios but student leadership and personal decision-making will be emphasized.

Day 6:  An early morning prepares us for some of the Middle Fork’s biggest rapids as we finish the Impassible Canyon and float on to our take-out just downstream from the confluence with the Main Salmon. Here we’ll say goodbye to the river and load the truck and trailer for the drive back to The Stagecoach Inn in Salmon.

More information:

The full details (where to meet, what to bring, etc.) are here. If there are any questions we haven’t answered, e-mail us ( or give us a call (209-962-7873). We love to talk about our trips, so don’t be shy!

I got everything out of this school that I wanted. I learned how to read water, feel comfortable behind the oars, and use the river instead of fighting against it. Most important lesson though; believe in yourself! 

It was a life changing adventure. Thank you!

Erinna McCarthy