Family Rafting Trips
Are you ready to take your family vacation to the next level? Experience the beauty and adventure of a family rafting trip with Confluences River Expeditions!
Come rafting with your kids! At Confluences we love when younger generations join us in our Salmon River rafting adventures. We truly believe that getting the entire family outside and into a raft makes for some of the most memorable family vacations ever. Not only are our guides incredible entertainers, but the river itself creates a wondrous environment for youngsters to explore. We aim to create unforgettable family rafting trips, keep reading to find out how you can make the most out of bringing your kids on a Confluences river trip!
Explore our Salmon River rafting option, the best kid-friendly, multi-day rafting trips for families with children as young as six or seven. Paddle together in a raft, or opt for a “duckie” (inflatable kayak). The warm water of the Salmon River means that you don’t have to worry about kids being cold, and the nonstop fun of the trip means you won’t hear “I’m bored!” at all during your adventure. You’ll have time to swim in the river in between the fun and splashy rapids, and play on the white sand beaches each evening while the guides prepare elaborate and kid friendly meals. Please see our Salmon River Rafting page for general information concerning itinerary, FAQs, and highlights you can expect on the Main Salmon.
As a special bonus, we offer a youth discount for guests 14 years old and younger, and group discounts for families that bring 7 or more guests on a trip! If you have a larger family gathering (24 guests), consider booking a charter trip!
Helpful Tips for Family Trips
We have a few tips for bringing kiddos out on multi-day rafting trips. If you follow these simple hints, we have no doubt you and your kids will have an incredible time during your big adventure!
- Use the packing list.
- When you book with Confluences you’ll be sent a packing list containing everything you’ll need to bring on your adventure. We recommend following it closely to avoid bringing too much extra gear. Kid tip: bring a few extra pairs of (cheap) sunglasses, for when the originals sink to the bottom of the river!
- Don’t worry about boredom.
- Seriously, even if you have kids whose main source of entertainment is screens or technology. During the trip they’ll make friends, be tired from the day’s adventures, and be entertained by our guides. Kid tip: bring a few camp games like a frisbee, cards, or a fishing pole.
- Let them explore.
- On a river trip, your guides are an incredible resource. Let your guides give tips and tricks for having fun in camp and while on the water. They’ll be sure to tell kiddos the best places to explore each day while also setting fair ground rules that keep everyone having fun. Kid tip: Bring a simple waterproof camera and have your kids create a photo journal of the trip!
- Make the pre- and post-trip logistics easy.
- We encourage families to plan their travel logistics far in advance. We also recommend allocating more time for transitions to and from the river. Confluences’s customer service team has years of experience making these logistics work for all types of groups. Give us a ring anytime and we’ll be happy to help you get moving in the right direction. Kid tip: plan on staying the night in McCall after your trip. Give your family that relaxing time to really soak in your amazing vacation before beginning the drive or flight home.
Are you an on-the-fence parent?
Here are a few things to put your mind at ease:
- Run by Parents: Confluences managers are parents themselves, just like you, and they understand your concerns. They have been taking their own children down the Salmon River since the kids were little and the whole family loves it! Yours will too. (Those managers also have decades of summer camp and outdoor education experience, specializing in making outdoor experiences fun and meaningful for youth!)
- Track Record: Confluences has a great track record of taking kids down the river with all our guests’ health and well being as our top priority. That’s especially true for kids, who we want to see become lifelong river enthusiasts. Yes, there are risks with an adventure vacation like whitewater rafting. But our team will work with you to manage those risks. That might mean encouraging your family to book a trip later in the summer when the water levels are more forgiving, ensuring kids are in larger rafts for certain sections of the river, and making sure we have the properly sized gear for your kids.
- Bathroom Breaks: We know that kids can need to use the bathroom at a moment’s notice. We’ll teach them how and where to go, and we keep one of our portable toilets accessible as we travel downstream to handle any mid-day emergencies.
- Food Specifically for Kids: Everyone eats well on our trip, but our team makes sure to pack kid-friendly snacks and meals to help the younger ones (and pickier eaters) have a great trip. Communicate with us about specific needs to!
- Keeping Clean: The Salmon River makes a great way to splash off after getting sandy from playing in the beach or sticky from eating an ice cream cone at Buckskin Bill’s (a fun stop on the trip). Our guides will help teach you and your kids how to take a “bucket shower” above the high water mark with biodegradable soap if needed.
- Options for Guests Who Can’t Paddle: Sometimes kids can get tired or bored of paddling. Our trips run with oar boats that allow kids (or other adults who can’t paddle) to ride as passengers. That let’s them have their hands free for water fights! For those who love to paddle but aren’t ready for their own craft, they can jump onto a paddle raft or in a two-person inflatable kayak.
Specific Gear for Kids: Due to the great weather of Central Idaho during the windows we recommend families book (late June, July and August), there is not a need for things like wetsuits. We have PFDs (lifejackets) made for youth. We also bring camp games on every trip, allowing for card games around the campfire, a quick round of bocce ball, and more! Plus, our guides will help kids find the perfect stick for roasting marshmallows for s’mores!
Your Muli-Day River Rafting Itinerary
Salmon River Map
Below, find the answers to frequently asked questions about Salmon River raft trips with Confluences River Expeditions. We hope this page will help you plan for your raft trip and help you know what to expect on Idaho’s Main Salmon. Our team is ready to answer any of your questions too!
Questions about Packing
We will provide you with two dry bags for the duration of the trip (one large bag for your clothing, the sleeping bag we provide, and the items you don’t need during the day and one small bag that you can access while on the water for things like cameras, snacks, sunscreen, or an extra layer). We recommend you use ziploc bags inside those bags to ensure items are waterproof.
Use soft duffels to pack your personal clothes in. Include several plastic bags to store wet items in your bag on the river. Black “contractor” bags are handy for this. Note that you will be allowed 1 checked bag weighing up to 35lbs on the backcountry flight.
Cotton does not keep you warm when wet! Do not plan to wear cotton on the river unless it is to keep you cool on a very hot day. Pack quick dry (non-cotton) shorts and shirts.
Sun hats, sunscreen and sunglasses are a must! Be sure to put your sunscreen in a ziplock so it doesn’t accidentally get on your other items.
Bug spray is recommended at a couple of camps on the river. Be sure to put your bug spray in a ziplock.
Questions about Food
We serve three delicious meals per day, plus an appetizer before dinner. We specialize in Dutch oven cooking and are proud of the signature dishes we serve. Fresh fruit and veggies are included in every meal. Here are some examples of meals: Breakfast of stuffed French toast with bacon, lunch of taco salad, fruit and cookies, followed by a dinner of grilled salmon with salad.
With advance notice, we can support most dietary preferences. Make sure to indicate your preferences during the registration process, and check in with your trip leader during the pre-trip orientation meeting. In extreme cases, we may ask you to bring supplementary snacks.
Fresh water is always available. Juice, coffee, hot tea and hot chocolate are served at breakfast. Lemonade is always available at camp. Craft beer and wine are served with dinner. Two complimentary canned beverages per person, per day are provided. If you like something special, please bring it. We always have ice for cocktails.
You are welcome to bring additional canned beverages, wine, liquor or canned beer. We can store them in the dry boxes and coolers on the boats.
Questions about Camping
The Main Salmon River is famous for its beautiful beaches. The entire group arrives to camp together and works as a team to unload the gear from the boats. After learning how to do so, guests set up their tents. A common eating area is set up near the kitchen, where guides will prepare all meals.
We provide one tent for every two people from the same group. If you are traveling solo, or prefer to pay to have your own tent, we will provide an individual tent. Make sure to select that option in the registration process.
We will provide comfortable camp chairs, camp games (such as bocce ball), and a fire pan for evening campfires. Many camps have great trees for hammocks, if you’d like to bring a Eno-style camp hammock.
Questions about Hygiene
We recommend that you bring baby wipes for quick cleanup jobs. Sponge baths are easy and make you feel like a million bucks! The guides will show you how to use a bucket of water above the high water mark to wash and shampoo. You can also bring your own solar shower. Bandanas make great washcloths!
Bring items that don’t require a lot of space and are quick to use, packing them in ziplocks. For swimsuits, a sports type two-piece works well and is convenient. Female guides often use a sports bra coupled with quick dry shorts. The guide crew can offer simple tips for disposal of feminine hygiene products. Having a few extra ziplock bags is a great idea. As the environment can dry out skin, we recommend that you make sure you bring moisturizing lotion.
As part of our wilderness ethic, we “Pack it in, pack it out!” We pack out all solid waste. Toilets are portable, heavy duty metal containers fitted with a toilet seat when set up at camp. Toilets are only used for solid waste. Guests urinate in the river or above the high water mark. Our guides will show you the best spots. Toilets are set up in a secluded and scenic spot away from eating and sleeping areas. You can enjoy a beautiful view! A custom hand wash system with soap is set up on the trail to the toilet area. A paddle is placed near the hand wash area as a signal. The paddle is taken to the toilet so that others know when the toilet is occupied. The paddle is returned to the hand wash area afterwards to signal the toilet is available for use.