Selway River Idaho Raftings, Flows and Fishing

Idaho’s Selway River is exceptionally unique for rafting and paddling. The river has a difficult permit draw and access is extremely limited. If you want an exclusive experience that is far removed from civilization, this it the one. The river is accessed via an airstrip and launches are staggered in a way that makes for an almost exclusive experience. The scenery and camping alone are on another level and the class IV whitewater is technical and challenging.

Table of Contents

Selway River Flows

Selway River Rapids and Float Notes

The river is loaded with rapids along the 50-mile course between the Paradise Launch and takeout at Race Creek Campground. The first several miles are a nice warm up and the rapids kick off in succession with Slalom Slide, Gertie, Washer Woman and Cougar Bluff. All are rated at III and III+ to get started with some exciting runs.

11.5 – Goat Creek Rapid is a busy III/IV with narrow slots between truck sized boulders. It’s not so difficult for kayaks and small rafts but bigger boats require accuracy to navigate this rapid.

24 – Ham Rapid is a IV- with two big drops

27 – Moose Creek Hikes – The river gains serious volume with the confluence and it’s a good place to hike, camp and do some exploring on foot.

27.5 – Double Drop is a class III+ or IV- depending on flows.

28.5 – Ladle – Be prepared for this IV+ that has a variety of lines to run. It changes with the flows and is best scouted from river right.

29 – Little Niagara – It’s a class IV- that is followed by four class III’s in succession. Puzzle Creek, No Slouch, Miranda Jane, and lastly, Osprey make for a very active several miles. You can take a break after the last rapid through several miles of calmer waters.

38 – Wolf Creek Rapid – Scout the class IV before running. Big boulders funnel the river and you must choose the line wisely. High flows can offer a sneaker but typically you need to run the meat.

40.5 – Jim’s Creek Falls – Straightforward III+

47.9 – Takeout here. Selway Falls is the next rapid and is not runnable as a V+ drop.

Shuttle Services

It’s a long shuttle around the Bitterroot mountains and most companies charge a flat rate plus fuel costs. At roughly 250 miles long, it’s not the cheapest shuttle but it does help a ton with logistics when you don’t have to worry about figuring rides.

Selway Shuttles – Operating out of Darby. Give them a call or use their online registration. 406-821-3560

River Shuttles – 406-207-2021

Central Idaho River Shuttles – 208-507-1830

All River Shuttle – 1-800-785-7198

Lottery Permits

Selway River Permits are managed under the 4 Rivers Lottery. It’s one of the most difficult draw odds in the country. This is largely due to limited launches, a short season and a large number of entries. Put in for your permits and try getting on trips as a support boat or friend if you don’t draw.

River Specific Fishing Regulations

The fishing regulations are divided into three sections. From the mouth of the river to Selway Falls cable car, barbless hooks are required. From Memorial Day through November 30, 2 trout over 14 inches are allowed. No bait is allowed however. This is below the main rafting section.

The river is closed to all fishing from the Selway Falls Cable Car to the Selway Falls Bridge at Meadow Creek. Everything upstream from this point is catch and release only with barbless hooks and no bait.

When you start planning a Selway River rafting trip, pack your gear accordingly, book a shuttle and bring along a fishing rod for the abundant cutthroat trout in this river.

Newsletter Signup

About me

Chasing rivers, fish and game wherever the road takes me. Built this site to share interesting experiences and stories from the places I travel and people I meet. Read more

Selway River

The Selway River Trip is a premier mountain wilderness, whitewater, camping, and fly fishing trip that flows through beautiful forested canyons. It is easy to consider the Selway to be the ultimate rafting trip. River banks are lined with Grand Fir, Douglas Fir, Cedar, Ponderosa Pine, Hemlock… Rapids are challenging, the area is remote, and the scenery and water quality are outstanding.

Read Post  What season river rafting start in durango colorado

For 47 river miles from Paradise launch site to take-out at Race Creek the river descends over 1300 feet for an average gradient of 28 feet per mile. There are countless tributary creeks, and the Selway’s volume grows quickly. At Mile 26.5 Moose Creek joins the Selway. Rapids that follow the confluence with Moose Creek are renown as “Moose Juice”.

Great time with Hughes River Exp…. Thanks again.”

G. Coker, Denver, CO

Rafting the Selway

There are plenty of calm stretches, however, the Selway is a whitewater trip. There are 38 named rapids including the well-known Galloping Gertie, Washer Woman, Cougar Bluff, Ping Pong Alley, Goat Creek, Bear Creek, Rodeo, Pettibone, Dog Creek, Magpie, Ham, Tony Point, Divide, Double Drop, Grizzly Saddle, Ladle, Little Niagara, Puzzle Creek, No Slouch, Miranda Jane, Osprey, Tango, Wolf Cr, Jims Creek, Cupboard Creek, and more. Difficulty ranges from Class II to Class IV+. Goat Creek, Ham, Double Drop, Ladle & Wolf Creek are highlights.

The trips are outfitted with self-bailing oar and paddle rafts.

Fly Fishing on the Selway River

Blue ribbon fly fishing for wild Westslope Cutthroat Trout. Catch and release regulations with single barbless hooks on both the Selway and tributaries. Check with the Hughes Office for details.

Limited Use

Your trip will encounter few if any other river runners. Selway River Management by the Bitterroot National Forest limits use to a single launch per day. There are only four outfitters permitted for the river. We are privileged to be one of the four. Group size is limited to 16 total people, including guides. Check with the Hughes Office for details.

Off the River

Camps are incredible. Many among the best in the West. A river trail and side trails offer hiking opportunities.

Wildlife includes elk, mule deer, black bear, cougar, otter, beaver, mink, osprey, eagles, and a variety of song birds.

Wild and Scenic Rivers and Wilderness

The Selway River is protected as one of the “original eight” National Wild and Scenic Rivers. On the Selway we float inside the vast Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness (1.3 million acres, 2,094 square miles). Special Use Permit by the West Fork Ranger District, Bitterroot National Forest. The Selway trip travels through the Bitterroot and Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests. Hughes River Expeditions, Inc. is one of only four outfitters permitted and licensed to outfit trips on the Selway River.

The Selway-Bitterroot and Frank Church Wilderness Areas are practically contiguous. Barely separated by a 95 mile rugged winding gravel road called the Magruder Corridor. The Frank Church totals 2.36 million acres (3,698 square miles). The Gospel Hump Wilderness includes 205,796 acres (322 square miles) and is adjacent to the Frank Church. Combining the Selway-Bitterroot, Frank Church, and Gospel Hump Wilderness areas creates a vast 3.87 million acre (6,114 square mile) wilderness complex. This is the largest intact piece of wild land in the United States outside of Alaska. Idaho’s Selway, Middle Fork of the Salmon, and Main Salmon – River of No Return flow through these wilderness lands. Hughes River Expeditions, Inc. is thrilled to outfit for the public on each of these spectacular Idaho rivers.

Hughes River Expeditions, Inc. is one of only two river companies to hold Special Use Permits to outfit rafting trips on both the Selway River and the Middle Fork Salmon. We are convinced they are the best wilderness rivers in the USA. We take this opportunity seriously.

River Trip Schedule and Rates

2023 Selway River Trip

DatesLengthAdult / Youth
June 18-22*5 Days$3,750Full
June 26-30*5 Days$3,750Full
July 14-19*6 Days$4,250Full
July 25-30*6 Days$4,250Full
Early August Fishing Trip**6 Days$4,750Inquire

2024 – Selway River Trip

DatesLengthAdult / Youth
June 18-22*5 Days$3,999Full
June 26-30^5 Days$3,999Full
July 14-19*6 Days$4,350Full
July 25-30*6 Days$4,350Full
Early August Fishing Trip~6 Days$4,900Full

2025 – Selway River Trip

DatesLengthAdult / Youth
June 18-22*5 Days$3,999Full
June 26-30^6 Days$4,500Full
July 14-19*6 Days$4,500Full
July 25-30*6 Days$4,500Full
Early August Fishing Trip~6 Days$5,100Full

2026 – Selway River Trip

DatesLengthAdult / Youth
June 18-22*5 Days$4,200Inquire
June 26-30^6 Days$4,600Inquire
July 14-19*6 Days$4,600Inquire
July 25-30*6 Days$4,600Inquire
Early August Fishing Trip~6 Days$5,500Inquire
Read Post  Life is better when you’re wet and wild!

* 10 Guests/6 Guides
^11 Guests/5 Guides
~ 8 Guest/8 Guides (Fishing Trip)
Deposit: $750/person for 5 Day and 6 Day Trips

Depending on water levels and road conditions, flights may be required to reach the river. When required flight cost is $150/person payable to pilots at the time of your flight.

This institution is operated under Special Use Permit from the Bitterroot National Forest. This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Selway Group Size

The US Forest Service management plan for the Selway limits trips to 16 total people – including guides. Our normal group size for Selway trips numbers 10 clients and 6 guides or 11 clients and 5 guides. This guest to guide ratio helps HRE provide a variety of river craft that match up with river conditions on various flows.

During early August HRE outfits a special Fly Fishing Trip with 8 anglers and 8 guides. One angler per raft and guide. This early August trip is during the Selway “post season”, and the dates will vary somewhat year to year.

Selway River Trip Information Documents

This institution is operated under special use permit with the Bitterroot National Forest. This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Selway River

Questions about a trip?

Call 800-262-1882
We’re here to answer any and all of your questions or send us an email.

Selway River Map

Client Testimonials

I’m writing to let you know how much I enjoyed my Middle Fork trip last week. It was one of those rare experiences where the reality is better than the expectation… Your gear, food, arrangements, meals, and guides all combined to make it a tremendous wilderness experience… Aside from the natural beauty, the best part of the trip for me was the guide crew, their courtesy, their tremendous river skills, their cooking acumen, and their quiet leadership. Thanks for selecting and supporting suc… Read more

Just a quick note to let you know that we had a wonderful trip. The most important factor was the quality of your guides…We will see you again.

How do I begin to share my gratitude for such a lovely river experience on the Middle Fork of the Salmon. What an exquisite river. And what wonderful hosts you all were in really helping to make it so memorable. We appreciate all the effort you put in so that we had the time to soak up the beauty and quiet.

We are home again and still rocking a little bit from riding down the Middle Fork. It was a great trip made especially pleasant because all of your staff were first class. They gave us great confidence in the river and then took excellent care of us ashore. I gained four pounds. Summed up, our first river experience was wonderful. I’m only sorry we waited twenty five years from our first plan to ride “The River of No Return”.

I just wanted to thank you for the wonderful time we had floating the Middle Fork. The guides were terrific!

All hands had a great time…. The guides were amazing…. and they are friends for life. We can’t wait to re-schedule another trip! Thanks so much for making it one of the best Family Trips we’ve ever taken EVER.

Thanks for the great river trip. The people on the trip and the guides were wonderful and entertaining. Food was fantastic, and of course, the scenery and fishing were great. On a scale of 1-10 I give the trip a 15!… Hope to see you on the river next year… Run river run!

We had a fantastic time and will definitely be rafting with you again. The guides were great in every aspect and it made the trip that much more enjoyable. They exceeded our expectations and that was hard to do. The food was delicious and I never felt like I was missing out by being gluten-free… they even made cakes and brownies for me.

Seriously though, you have no idea how much we enjoyed the river trip. A day hasn’t gone by that we haven’t talked about it. Thank you so very much for everything you did! We appreciate all your efforts, muscle power, and cluinary expertise!…We hope to see you all again for another trip.

Middle Fork Salmon

Our Middle Fork of the Salmon rafting trip is a spectacular outdoor vacation! The Middle Fork is famous as America’s best river rafting trip. From the put-in at Boundary Creek (elevation 5,700 ft.) to … More Info

Main Salmon River

DSC 8356

Our Main Salmon River of No Return rafting trip is a spectacular outdoor vacation! The Main Salmon River is one of the best wilderness river stretches in North America. We float through dense forests,

Salmon River Canyons

Lower Salmon River Gorge – Idaho Roller coaster rapids, perfect swimming water, and wonderful canyonlands. The Salmon River drifts through quiet pools and surges into churning whitewater. Camping on … More Info

Read Post  How to Read a River: The Basics

Selway River Trip

The Selway River Trip is a premier mountain wilderness, whitewater, camping, and fly fishing trip that flows through beautiful forested canyons. It is easy to consider the Selway to be the ultimate

© 2022 Hughes River Expeditions
800-262-1882 • email us • 6400 Caras Lane • PO Box 218 Lolo, MT 59847-0218
Hughes River Expeditions, Inc. is operated under special use permits through the Bureau of Land a Management & United States Forest Service.
This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Selway & Clearwater Rivers

We offer rafting and floating trips on the Selway and Clearwater Rivers. Our friendly, professional river guides will teach you about the Nez Perce Tribe, the original inhabitants of this majestic land. The Selway River and Clearwater River provided rich fishing waters, and you can still see salmon jumping at Selway Falls early in the summer. On these trips, you’ll have the choice of riding in a raft or paddling your own sit-on-top or inflatable kayak.

Rafting the Selway

Lower Selway Float

  • Dates: Weekdays – June 1 – June 30*
  • Rates: $115 (Adults) | $105 (Youth)
  • Recommended Minimum Age: 5.
  • Whitewater: Class l-II rapids
  • Meet: near Syringa, ID (exact location TBD)
  • Time: 9:00 a.m. PDT
  • Duration: Full Day
  • Lunch Included: Yes

*Please note we require a minimum of 6 guests to run a trip. If you have less than 6 in your party, you can still reserve a spot and we will work to place you with another group in order to confirm your trip.

*Dates subject to change due to water levels.

Clearwater River Rafting

Clearwater River Float

  • Dates: Not available in 2022
  • Rates: $105 (adults) | $98 (youth)
  • Recommended Minimum Age: 5.
  • Whitewater: Class l-II rapids
  • Meet: near Syringa, ID (exact location TBD)
  • Time: 9:00 a.m. PDT
  • Duration: Full Day
  • Lunch Included: Yes

*Please note we require a minimum of 6 guests to run a trip. If you have less than 6 in your party, you can still reserve space and we will work to place you with another group in order to confirm your trip.

*Dates subject to change due to water levels.

Selway River

The Selway River is protected by the U.S. Congress under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and is one of Idaho’s most pristine rivers. This piece of Idaho is unique because it includes a temperate rainforest. Some of the plants found here are also found on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, but nowhere else. Our Lower Selway rafting trips float you through a scenic masterpiece.

Just one launch per day is permitted, and a Selway rafting trip carries you through a thick forest of cedar, fir and larch. The Selway’s banks are overgrown with emerald ferns, spongy mosses, huckleberries and mountain spray. You’ll likely see osprey, bald eagles and waterfowl as you paddle, and if you’re lucky, you might even spot a playful river otter.

“The Selway, which meets the Lochsa near the hamlet of Lowell, is a different character. Where the Lochsa is stirred and frenzied, the Selway is more meditative, deeper, moving at a much gentler pace for the most part. It is another one of the places here that reminds me of Alaska, mainly because of the wildlife. While hiking and fishing the Selway, I’ve seen moose, elk, black bears, every manner of raptor, and have come upon tracks of cougars, the most elusive of Rocky Mountain inhabitants.”
– New York Times, “The Last Wilderness” July 1, 2007

Clearwater River

The Clearwater is formed by the joining of the Lochsa and the Selway. It is another of the original, eight rivers protected by the congressional, Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and offers a similar set of scenery to the Selway. While slightly more mild and relaxing, the water is just as clear and the riverbanks just as lush. The surrounding forest carpets the mountains in rich green, and you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported worlds away as you float down through a natural paradise.

ROW is proud to be an Equal Opportunity recreation service provider under permit from the U.S. Forest Service. We operate under special use permit from the Clearwater National Forest. All our operations and facilities are operated on a non-discriminatory basis. ROW is bonded and fully licensed by the states of Idaho, Washington and Oregon. We are members of: America Outdoors, Idaho Outfitters and Guides Assn., Montana Outfitters and Guides Assn., National Association of Interpretation; Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation and many other effective organizations.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *