IWC Frank Church Wilderness Backcountry Fly In – Idaho
2-Person Private Guest Tents
Rainbow Trout, Westslope Cutthroat Trout, Whitefish
June – August
Adventurous Anglers, Weekend Warriors, Couples, Small Groups
Rafting and Camping Equipment Provided
Fishing Gear NOT Provided
Situated in the heart of the Frank Church Wilderness, lies the renowned “River of No Return” in central Idaho, nestled within the second largest gorge in the lower 48 states.
Considered the ultimate gem of rafting adventures, you and your loved ones have the extraordinary opportunity to embark on a vacation of a lifetime. Prepare for an unforgettable experience as you take a remote backcountry flight into the rugged and untouched wilderness, where you’ll land and set sail on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. For three exhilarating days, indulge in thrilling adventures, camping escapades, and fishing expeditions. This remarkable trip encompasses all the best that Idaho has to offer: pristine nature in the Frank Church Wilderness, scenic backcountry flights, thrilling whitewater, superb fishing, invigorating hikes, cozy camping, delectable backcountry cuisine, soothing hot springs, intriguing history, sunlit days, enchanting campfires, star-studded nights, an escape from technology, abundant wildlife, and so much more. Whether you seek a romantic getaway or an extraordinary experience for yourself or a small group, this trip guarantees unforgettable memories and then some.
Over the course of three days, you’ll witness awe-inspiring changes in geology and scenery while journeying on modern self-bailing rafts and optional inflatable kayaks for solo exploration. Accompanied by highly trained and qualified guides, you can rest assured with excellent equipment and stable rafts that keep you dry and elevated. The trip is divided into two seasons, mid-season and late-season, each offering unique water experiences. This highly sought-after adventure is suitable for all skill levels and welcomes anglers and outdoor enthusiasts of all ages, starting from four years old. Past clients have praised this mountain escapade as “exceptionally fantastic.” Prepare for the journey of a lifetime, tailored to create everlasting memories.
Your week of adventure commences the evening prior, as you gather in the picturesque alpine town of Stanley, Idaho. Revel in the scenic beauty of the Sawtooth Mountains and savor the simplicity of the pre-launch evening, while also gathering any last-minute supplies or snacks. Spend the night in a local lodge (lodging not included in rates but arranged upon booking), and the following morning, head to the local airport where a chartered Cessna plane awaits to transport you to the Frank Church Wilderness. Upon landing, you’ll be greeted by the river’s edge, joining the rest of the group who have already been journeying the river for two days. Over the next three days, lose yourself in the dense forest, enjoying the absence of external distractions. If you desire a larger group experience, a six-day rafting trip, or more intense whitewater at the beginning of the season (starting in June), consider our Middle Fork of the Salmon rafting trip.
This is a sanctuary to escape society and embrace untamed freedom, supported by an enthusiastic crew who will guide you through your river expedition, elevating your experience to unparalleled heights. With a tireless commitment to service, kindness, and attention to detail, the highly professional crew lives by the motto, “If I wouldn’t trust them with my family, I won’t entrust them with yours.” Each guide possesses extensive knowledge of the landscapes and will lead you to exciting hikes, secret hot springs, historical sites like the former home of the Sheepeater Indians, and showcase their remarkable backcountry cooking skills and customer service. Adopting a “go with the flow” philosophy, the crew encourages you to relish every moment on the river, granting you the freedom to fish, swim, and embrace the river’s offerings, with minimal restrictions, except in specific circumstances such as navigating rapids.
Anticipate countless highlights, including but not limited to, jumping off rocks, hearty laughter, forging new friendships, and encounters with abundant wildlife, such as Shiras Moose, Rocky Mountain Elk, Mule Deer, Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, majestic Bald Eagles, Osprey, and Idaho’s beloved state bird, the Mountain Bluebird.
Be warned, bidding farewell to this untamed wilderness vacation will be the most challenging part!
There’s truly nothing quite like waking up alongside the river, breathing in the refreshing mountain air of the Frank Church Wilderness! Every evening, you’ll arrive at a new beach, greeted by fresh scenery and abundant wildlife. Despite the ruggedness of the experience, you’ll be well taken care of, provided with comfortable and private tents, spacious sleeping arrangements, and luxurious bedding, with ample room for all your belongings. Our seasoned guides will handle all the setup, allowing you to unwind and fully embrace river life.
A typical day on the river unfolds as follows: Start your day by savoring a hot cup of coffee, tea, or hot cocoa while the guides prepare a riverside breakfast. As they dismantle the tents, gather your equipment, and prepare the boats, you can relax and soak in the tranquil surroundings. Once everything is ready, you’ll embark on the water, where you can enjoy leisurely activities like fishing, swimming, and more, with periodic breaks for lunch at scenic beaches. The “Sweep Boat” will be ahead of you, transporting all your gear and camping supplies, so when you arrive at the next campsite in the evening, your tents and belongings will already be set up for you. If you prefer, you have the option to ride the sweep boat and arrive at camp a few hours ahead, relishing some additional alone time. Upon arrival, you’ll have ample leisure time to change, unwind, enjoy drinks, and more, while the guides prepare a delectable dinner. Dietary restrictions and allergies are taken into consideration, and you can observe as the guides skillfully cook healthy and delicious meals over an open fire. Our dining setup includes tables, chairs, real plates, silverware, and cups, with a well-equipped portable kitchen, including Dutch ovens. Each night, amidst the arid climate, you’ll gather around a bonfire after dinner, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere.
Bathing facilities are available both in camp and in the river itself, which surprisingly offers a hygienic environment with minimal insects.
Some examples of food that you can look forward to include:
- Eggs benedict
- Hash browns
- Biscuits & Gravy
- Fresh Fruit
- Deli Style Sandwiches
- Pasta Salad
- Cheese Boards
- Grilled Salmon
- Prime Rib
- Fried Chicken
- Shrimp Cocktails
- Veggie Stir Fry
- Strawberry Shortcake
- Blueberry Cheesecake
- Carrot Cake
- Banana Bread
- & So Much More!
The fishing experience on the Middle Fork of the Salmon is truly legendary. Throughout your journey, you’ll be presented with numerous opportunities to fish for a variety of species native to Idaho, including Westslope Cutthroat Trout, Rainbow Trout, Whitefish, and even rarer catches such as Steelhead Trout, Salmon, and Bull Trout. Most fish you encounter will range in length from 4 to 18 inches. The optimal fishing season on the River of No Return spans from July to early August, following the “Big Water Blowout” and preceding the peak water temperatures of the year.
Both fly fishing and spin casting equipment are suitable for this adventure, and a comprehensive gear list will be provided upon booking. It’s important to note that all fishing activities on the Middle Fork strictly adhere to catch and release principles. You must utilize artificial flies or lures with a single barbless hook during your fishing endeavors. In the case of lures with treble hooks, it is necessary to remove two of the hooks and flatten the barb on the remaining hook. If you choose to fish with flies, only flattening the barb is required.
Mid Season (Late June – July)
This is prime time for fishing; The water is calm, the levels have dropped, rapid stretches are more defined, with plenty of action still. There are generally a lot of families on the water at this time and is very busy, so spaces book fast!
Late Season (End of July – August)
The end of the season starts to taper down, but is phenomenal for fishing! There are less people towards the end of the season, and the water is calm and warm for drifting and swimming. If water levels get too low, you’ll need to fly into a remote landing strip, where you’ll access a safe part of the river to adventure on.
About The Fish
These beautiful fish, scientifically known as Oncorhynchus mykiss, thrive in the crystal-clear waters and abundant natural surroundings of this picturesque river. With its cool temperatures and ample food sources, the Middle Fork provides an ideal habitat for rainbow trout to grow and flourish. Their feisty nature and impressive fighting abilities make them a thrilling catch, challenging even the most experienced anglers. Whether you’re a seasoned fisherman or a nature enthusiast, the Middle Fork of the Salmon River offers an unforgettable experience to catch rainbow trout.
Westslope Cutthroat Trout
The Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho is not only home to rainbow trout, but also boasts a population of Westslope cutthroat trout, adding to the Frank Church Wilderness’ allure for anglers and conservationists alike. The Westslope cutthroat trout, scientifically known as Oncorhynchus clarkii lewisi, is a native species to the region and is highly prized for its beauty and sporting qualities. This subspecies of cutthroat trout displays distinctive characteristics, including a vibrant red slash mark beneath the lower jaw and delicate speckles that adorn its olive-green body. The Middle Fork provides an optimal environment for these trout, with its pristine waters, cool temperatures, and abundant food sources. Anglers who venture to the Middle Fork are treated to the opportunity to engage with this iconic fish, known for its willingness to rise to the fly and put up a spirited fight. The presence of Westslope cutthroat trout on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River adds to the ecological richness and angling diversity of this remarkable waterway.
To embark on this remarkable adventure, your journey will commence with a flight into Boise, Idaho (1), with direct flights available from most domestic airline companies. Upon arriving in Boise, you’ll have two options: either board a small plane bound for Stanley or rent a car and enjoy a scenic 3-hour drive to your destination. Once you reach Stanley (2), a charming alpine village, you’ll spend the evening there, immersing yourself in its tranquil atmosphere. The following morning, you’ll head to the airport and board a private backcountry flight aboard a Cessna plane, soaring into the Frank Church Wilderness (3). You’ll land amongst the river, where you’ll meet up with your knowledgeable guides and commence your fishing expedition.
After your incredible trip comes to a close, you’ll have the choice of returning directly to Boise or venturing to McCall, a vibrant mountain resort town located two hours north of Boise. In McCall, you can gradually transition back into society while indulging in the plethora of amazing attractions that Idaho has to offer. Take this opportunity to further enrich your experience before bidding farewell and embarking on your journey back home.
(1) Boise Airport (BOI)
(2) Stanley, Idaho
(3) Middle Fork of the Salmon River
The transportation of gear will be efficiently managed by the “Sweep Boat,” also known as the cargo boat. Prior to launching, you will receive dry bags to pack your belongings, ensuring their protection throughout the rafting expedition on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. To ensure a successful trip, there are specific items for which you will be responsible. In the event that you are unable to acquire any necessary items beforehand, fret not, as Stanley boasts a selection of well-stocked stores that offer reasonably priced gear, catering to almost every need you may have for your adventure.
Here’s a general list of items you can expect to bring with you, but a comprehensive gear list will be provided upon booking:
- Personal Gear & toiletries
- Warm and waterproof layers
- 3wt or 5wt rod and reel
- Assorted flies
- Extra line (minimum 4lb)
- Leaders (minimum 4lb 5X)
- Fishing license (can be purchased online or in Stanley)
- Needle nose pliers
- Hard case for your rod and reel
- River shoes
- Hiking and/or tennis shoes for camp
- Bathing suits
- Personal medications
- Alcoholic beverages: you buy it, they’ll haul it (no glass)
- 3 days of guided fishing
- Professional guides with years of experience
- Dutch oven backcountry cooking
- Standard condiments
- All of the camp chores, set up/tear down, cooking, dishwashing, and raft navigating (you can relax and be catered to)
- 1 Large dry-bag for your personal gear
- 1 Small dry container for camera & other small items
- Sleeping bag with a 40°- 80° rating, and a good quality sleeping pad.
- Life jacket
- Oar rafts, paddle raft, 1-man inflatable kayaks (Depending upon water level & group size)
- Chairs, tables, tents
- Kitchen equipment and utensils
- Water purification system
- Plenty of non-alcoholic beverages (pop, juice, etc.)
- Wine & Margaritas
- Daycare/Night care (if you’re bringing the kids)
- Fishing advice
- Whitewater advice
- History lessons
DOES NOT INCLUDE
- Alcoholic beverages (if you buy it, they’ll haul it)
- Gratuity for guides
- Scenic Backcountry Flight Via Private Sesna Plane
- Travel to/from Boise, Stanley, or McCall
- Fishing license
- Forest Service Fee
- Fishing Gear
2023: $1,560 / person + cost of flights to/from river
2024: $1,560 / person + cost of flights to/from river
Please contact us for accurate flight quotes to / from the river.
If you’re interested in talking to a consultant or booking this adventure, please complete this form.