Selway River Rafting
Small Trips, Big Whitewater, Bigger Wilderness
Selway River Rafting
$2,650 - $3,300 per person
Length: 48 miles/5 to 6 days
Price: $2,650 to 3,300 per person
includes tents/pads/sleeping bags
Season: June – July
Min. Age: 12 years
Activity: Class IV/IV+ Whitewater Rafting
Meeting Place: Missoula, Montana
Ending Place: Missoula, Montana
Selway River Rafting Details
Meet at 8:00 pm the evening before the trip in Missoula, Montana at the Doubletree Inn. During the pre-trip meeting, the guides will distribute dry bags for packing your gear, review trip and shuttle information, and answer last-minute questions. It is not necessary to stay at the Doubletree Inn.
At the time designated during pre-trip meeting a bus will transport the group from the Double Tree Inn two to three hours to the put-in at Paradise Guard Station. After a short safety and orientation briefing, you will launch on the river around noon. The Selway River starts off with fun class III rapids including Galloping Gertie and Holy Smokes that continue down to our first camp. After the rafts are unloaded everyone decides where they will set up for the evening and then it’s time for relaxing, appetizers, and then dinner.
While on the river expect to wake up to a call that coffee is ready. After breakfast everyone packs up their gear. The second day on the Selway takes rafters through scenic Goat Creek Rapid, challenging Ham Rapid and additional fun class III/IV rapids. Typically there is time for a short hike around a lunch stop. After the 10 to 12 miles of rafting, you arrive at the confluence with Moose Creek. Camp will be set-up here for two nights.
Day 3 – Layover Day
After breakfast, the crew will set up a lunch table so everyone can make themselves a bag lunch. The layover day is a pick your own adventure day. While those that want a challenging day will head out early on a big hike (like the Shissler Peak Fire Lookout) with one of the guides, most people will stay to fish Moose Creek, head up to explore the historic Moose Creek Ranger station and landing strip, or spend the day lounging and swimming in the river. This is many people’s favorite day of the trip. Rather than packing and unpacking, it is a day simply being in one of the most pristine wildernesses in the world.
*** On 6-day trips there will still be a layover it may be on Day 4 instead of Day 3 depending upon the conditions.
Day 4 – Moose Juice
After a day of relaxation comes the biggest whitewater of the trip. Just downstream Moose Creek increases the flow of the river by a third and below the canyon narrows creating the biggest rapids of the run. Double Drop, Wapoots, Ladle, Little Niagra, and No Slouch come in quick succession. The group will stop to scout Ladle the biggest of the drops. After the canyon opens up it time for a lunch stop. Later in the afternoon, Wolf Creek the second biggest rapid of the trip is one last test before camp.
*** On a 6 day trip Wolf Creek is many times run on the 5th day with camp being just upstream.
The last morning has some mellow rapids and beautiful scenery. Typically trips have lunch at the Race Creek take-out before the 4 hour drive back to Missoula.
All the group camping and river-related safety equipment is included along with plenty of fresh food and snacks starting with lunch on the first day through lunch on the last day. There will be plenty of water but 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).
On this trip sleeping bags, pads and tents are included. Groups within a booking will be expected to share tents with another in their group unless other arrangements are made. The tents are fairly spacious with vestibules and enough space to sleep a third person even though there will be a maximum of two people in a tent. Transportation from Missoula to the put-in point, and take-out point back to Missoula is included.
Guides appreciate gratuities for their efforts. Typically, tips are around 10% to 15% of the trip cost and can be given to the head guide to be evenly distributed among the crew. That being said, the choice to tip is yours and depends upon your feelings about the trip and tipping in general as well as your financial means.
What to Expect
Making the most of your Selway River Rafting trip
We find people have the most fun when they are flexible. Rafting trips are an adventure and the guides are continually adjusting the days plans to make the most of each day as it is presented. It can be nice to leave your watch behind.
June weather is typically in the high 70’s°F during the day and around 50°F at night with occasional precipitation. In July, daytime temperatures are in the high 80’s°F, dipping down to 55°F at night with less chance for rain.
Boats & Group Size
There are two types of boats on the Selway. Oar rafts are 18 feet long, carry all the overnight gear and up to 4 guests. They are rowed by a guide using oars attached to a metal frame. Paddle rafts are 14 feet long and carry between 4 and 6 paddlers who actively paddle through the rapids and down the river. Everyone has a paddle and follows the commands of the paddle guide. At high water the paddle raft will have a rear mounted oar frame to provide extra control for the guide.
Rafting Camp Life
Whether you’re an experienced camper or it’s your first time under the stars, river camping is an enjoyable and relaxing camping experience. While not required many people enjoy helping set up and break down camp. A clean, private camp toilet is set up first thing upon arrival at camp and it is the last thing to be dismantled the next morning.
There will be plenty of healthy tasty food on the trip. A full breakfast with cowboy coffee gets the day going. A riverside picnic sets the scene for lunch. Dinners can be anything from a steak, grilled filet of salmon, or a Mexican feast and may be followed by a hot, Dutch oven dessert. There are plenty of snacks and water available throughout the day. Alcoholic beverages are not included, but you are welcome to bring your own. When signing up for the trip you will have an opportunity to share any special dietary requirements.
Packing for your river trip
You will be provided with a suggested packing list specific for Selway River rafting trips after registering. The key equipment is good river footwear and clothing that protects you from the rain and the sun. While rain rarely falls in the summer, proper rain gear will make it a much more joyful experience if it does. Here are some rain gear, footwear, and other clothing options we recommend.
Fishing on the Selway River is outstanding and usually gets better after the water levels drop in July. Poles should be protected in sturdy cases, and only a small amount of tackle is needed. Dry flies and small spinners with single barbless hooks work well. Those wishing to fish can purchase an Idaho License on-line through Idaho Fish and Game.
Getting There and Away
It is helpful to find a flight that arrives in time to make the 8:00 pm pre-trip meeting. At the end of the trip, groups usually arrive in Missoula around 5:00 pm but it could be later. We recommend scheduling your flight home to leave the morning AFTER the trip gets off the water.
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Checking off the bucket list
It was in the late 1970’s, while living in Angels Camp and working on the Stanislaus River when a fellow OARS guide, and good friend, Adam Wilson, returned from Idaho’s spring highwater. Beaming about the crystal clear water, unsullied wilderness, and of course the heart pounding rapids of the isolated Selway River, Adam was ready to head right back to this (for us) newly discovered paradise.
I wanted to go the following spring, however little did I know that it would be 40 years before I had my chance.
It was worth the wait!!
With scores of rivers on four continents under my belt, I can definitely place the Selway among the top five.
With only one trip a day starting from the put-in, it is rare to see other people on the River.
We share the River with the bald eagles soaring above, the black bears roaming the forest, and one time we had to slow down midstream to allow mother moose and calf crossing the river. Mother moose striding across the strong four foot deep current with ease!
Of course the crew was of the highest caliber, and ran an exemplary trip.
What else could I do? Like Adam had said back in the 70’s I wanted to head back…and I did, I now have two incredible Selway rafting trips under my belt.
What an amazing trip! For me the most beautiful, most isolated and most peaceful river experience so far. Clear water, spectacular trails, SUPER FUN rapids. We didn’t realize, until our guides told us, just how few trips launch each year – so we felt very lucky to have the opportunity to be there. And we loved our guides! We’d definitely do this one again.
Selway river trip
Mahalo Mahalo Rivers and Oceans for an unbelievable trip down the Selway river. This was an adventure of a lifetime with pristine wilderness, fabulous food, stunning campsites and exciting whitewater. Absolutely 5 stars+++ . The guides were outstanding both in whitewater skills and personality. sending Aloha from Hawaii
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