Whether you’re visiting from out of state or you’re a native Idahoan looking for new activities to add to your summer bucket list, Riggins is jam-packed with fun, adventurous things to do. From camping along the Salmon River, to drift boat fishing, to day hikes through the mountains, this scenic region of Idaho has no shortage of adventure and opportunities to make lifelong memories. Take it from us—as locals, we know all the top attractions in Riggins no matter what type of trip you’re looking to plan, or how much outdoor experience you have. We hope that one (or more) of these 8 fun things to do in Riggins end up being the highlight of your itinerary!

Why Visit Riggins, Idaho?

Nestled in a canyon where the Salmon and Little Salmon rivers meet, Riggins is a small town located in the west central region of Idaho just over 3 hours north of Boise. Known for its abundance of breathtaking mountain landscapes and stunning scenery, it’s a haven for outdoor lovers, offering endless adventure-filled activities such as rafting, kayaking, fishing, camping, hunting, hiking, and wildlife watching. People typically travel to Riggins to explore the Seven Devils Mountains and Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, both of which are just a few miles from the town, as well as the rugged Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness

Quick fun fact—Riggins is actually the northwestern most town in the Mountain time zone, with Pacific time beginning just north of Riggins across the Salmon.

If you’re looking for the best activities all across Idaho rather than just in Riggins, head over to our blog post featuring 5 Can’t-Miss Outdoor Summer Activities In Idaho.

When is the Best Time to Visit Riggins?

The best time of year to visit Riggins depends on where you’re looking to go and what kinds of activities you’d like to do; for example, if you want to see wildflowers blooming at Hells Canyon, then spring will be the best time for you to visit and explore the area. 

If you’re wanting to spend quite a bit of time on the Salmon River, basking in the sun, drinking cold beers, and taking dips in the water, summer will be your best bet for those warmer temperatures. 

For free-flowing, high waters and thrilling white water rafting adventure, early June is typically best thanks to the recent snowmelt, while later summer is better if you’d prefer a calmer, more relaxing float down the river. 

If you’re interested in steelhead fishing, we’ve got two steelhead seasons in Riggins: spring, which is usually from around mid-February through the end of April, and fall, which is typically from October to November.

We’d recommend figuring out what kind of activities you’re most interested in doing during your time in Riggins, then planning your trip around the best season for those!

The 8 Best Things to Do in Riggins, Idaho

Feeling intrigued by all that Riggins has to offer yet? Just you wait—we’re about to give you all the details on the absolute best things to do in Riggins during your time in the area, and we can almost guarantee they’ll make for an unforgettable trip. 

1. Explore the Salmon River

Our personal favorite way to explore the scenic Salmon River is via jet boat, which is one of the only ways you can really traverse deep into the Frank Church Wilderness and experience all the beauty that the river has to offer. Originally a place where native tribes (the Nez Perce and Shoshone-Bannock) would go fishing, gathering, and hunting, the Salmon River is steeped in history as a key piece in the journey to make Idaho what it is today. The river begins in the Sawtooth and Lemhi valleys of Idaho, winding through central Idaho for over 400 miles and cutting through the rugged Frank Church Wilderness. Jet boat tours are an unbeatable way to learn more about the area and really take advantage of the scenery, whether you want to book a private tour or share a boat with other groups who will likely turn into new friends!

The Salmon River is also the premier river in Idaho for steelhead fishing, so booking a fishing tour is a must. Like we mentioned earlier, spring steelhead season is from February-March and fall steelhead season is from October-November, so make sure to plan your trip during the appropriate season. You can absolutely go steelhead fishing on your own, but we’d recommend booking a tour through a company like ours that will provide you with all the gear you’ll need, including rods, bait, and tackle. We’ll also be able to aid you in the process of purchasing an Idaho fishing license and steelhead fishing permit. If you’d rather go salmon fishing, you can do so in the fall.

Taking a boat to Barth Hot Springs is another great way to explore the scenic mountain wilderness that surrounds the Salmon River, especially if you want a bit more of a relaxing addition to your itinerary. Located high above the Salmon and deep into the Frank Church Wilderness, this remote, mineral-rich hot spring is the perfect place to soak, rest, and take in the incredible scenery around you.

2. See the Seven Devils Mountains via Windy Saddle

The Seven Devils Mountains are without a doubt one of the main attractions in the Riggins area, offering endless opportunities to explore and experience the vast wilderness of Idaho’s mountains. There are so many different ways to see the Seven Devils Mountains depending on what sort of adventure you’re looking for, but one of our favorites is via Windy Saddle. This is the main entrance point into Hells Canyon from Idaho, and is also where you’ll find the Heaven’s Gate Lookout, the start of a trail system that goes into the Seven Devils Mountains. From July to October you can drive all the way to the nearly 8,500-foot lookout, where you’ll find an old fire lookout, as well as panoramic views of four different states—Oregon, Idaho, Washington, and Montana. Turn left at Windy Saddle and you’ll also run into Seven Devils Campground, which has multiple developed campsites among the trees.

3. Go for a day hike

The Riggins area has quite a variety of hiking trails to choose from, so we’ve narrowed down three of our favorite day hikes near Riggins to help you find the perfect route for your trip!

Rapid River Trail

Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
Length: 7.5 mi
Elevation gain: 2,200 ft
Route type: Out & back

Rapid River Trail is an incredibly scenic trail nestled within the steep walls of Hells Canyon, starting from the Rapid River Fish Hatchery in the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest. With easy access to Riggins just a few miles away, this is a great hike if you’re up for a trail with quite a few ups and downs and challenging climbs—it’s worth it for the lush wildflowers, gorgeous mountain scenery, towering trees, slot canyons, and tons of geological wonders.

Manning Bridge Trail

This one’s a bit less well-known, given that it doesn’t even have a listing on AllTrails, so it’s a fantastic option if you’d like a fairly secluded trek. The trail leaves from Manning Bridge, located at mile 13 on Salmon River Road, and winds 2 miles up the river to a beach. Parking is very limited at Manning Bridge, so carpooling is recommended! Depending on how long of a hike you’re looking for, as well as the weather and what the terrain is like, you can explore the trail between Manning Bridge and Robbins Creek for as long as you’d like.

Wind River Trail

There are quite a few hiking opportunities on the trail that runs along the Wind River, off the Salmon River, including multiple routes starting from the Wind River Pack Bridge. If you’re looking for a moderate to challenging day hike, the 4-mile route to Vinegar Creek is a great option; for a longer, multi-day backpacking trip, opt to head toward Shepp Ranch Beach.

4. Elope on the Salmon River

Alright, we know that this one is a little different than the rest of the items on this list, but we felt like we had to mention it—since we do, you know, offer Salmon River elopements here at Whitewater Expeditions. If you’re taking a trip to Idaho to get married, and you’re looking for an experience that matches your free-spirited, outdoor-loving energy, a Salmon River elopement might just be the right fit for you. They’re an amazing, one-of-a-kind, and nature-inspired alternative to the traditional wedding day, where you’ll trade the often stressful, overwhelming experience of a wedding for a relaxed day that feels much more authentic to you

Not only do we help you plan your elopement from start to finish, we also provide photography, officiant services, and jet boat transportation—three in one! Exploring the Salmon River on your wedding day is such a unique experience that not many people get to have; you’ll get to see all sorts of remote, secluded scenery, have fun boating through the wilderness, and have the opportunity to tie the knot & celebrate your marriage amidst unbeatable landscapes. Learn more about Salmon River elopements here!

5. Go rafting for the day

Riggins is a killer destination in Idaho for white water rafting—this section of the Salmon is actually called the “whitewater capital of Idaho.” So if you’re looking for a more thrilling way to experience the waters of the Salmon River, definitely check out one of the three rafting companies we recommend below.

Mountain River Outfitters offers fun-filled day trips down the Salmon River, which include 20 miles of rafting, swimming, time on the beach, and learning about the history of the river itself. They’ll provide you with a delicious riverside meal to make sure you’ve got plenty of energy to continue the adventure, rafting along some of the most popular stretches of the Salmon through rapids such as Ruby, Lake Creek, and Ladder. This is a great option for all experience levels, whether it’s just you and a couple of friends or you and your little ones.

Orange Torpedo Trips is another great tour company that leads rafting trips on the Salmon, offering unique river experiences with a variety of river crafts to choose from. They’ve got inflatable kayaks that are great for adrenaline junkies and thrill-seekers, but they also have a more traditional paddle raft better fit for a larger group experience. In May and early June, they even have a “high water half-day trip,” where you’ll experience the mileage of a full day trip in half the time due to the high waters—great for those wanting the most exciting adventure possible.

The third and final Riggins whitewater rafting company we’d recommend booking with is Adventure Idaho, who offers a variety of rafting trips to accommodate all experience levels. They advertise the really cool time zone aspect of the Salmon River, where you’ll leave from one time zone and end in another! Choose between a full day or a half day trip, both of which include options to have a calm, mellow float down the river or a thrilling ride through the rapids. 

6. Go drift boat fishing

Drift boat fishing is an excellent way to enjoy the landscapes surrounding the Salmon as you relax in a drift boat, taking you on a smooth ride down the Salmon as you wait to get a bite on your line. Unlike motorized boats, drift boats are design to simply drift down the river with the current, allowing you to control the speed and propel the boat forward as you’d like. Salmon River Drifters is an amazing company to work with if you’d like to disconnect and enjoy some time out on the water, as all their boats feature propane heaters, rod holders, and soft padded seats to ensure you’re comfortable the entire time. They have a great all-day drift boat steelhead fishing charter that we would absolutely recommend checking out if you’re craving a full day of fun!

7. Take a drive up Main Salmon River Road

If you’re not quite looking for a full, guided day trip but you still want to experience the magic of the Salmon, take a drive up Main Salmon River Road. This road headends 27 miles upriver and ends at the Vinegar Creek Boat Ramp (which is where Whitewater operates out of), with tons of beaches to stop and play at as well as many boat ramps, campgrounds, and trailheads. We actually live along the Main Salmon River Road at a place called Shearer’s Ferry (also known as the Howard Ranch), so we know it well and are more than happy to provide further recommendations for your time on the Salmon when you tour with us.

8. Go camping on the Main Salmon River Road

Last but not least, camping on the Main Salmon River Road is a must-do during your time in Riggins. You’ll find a large amount of dispersed campsites along the river, some including beaches, and most with great access to trails as well as spots to enter the water. A couple of our favorite places to stay along the Salmon include the RV Landing at Carlson Ranch (located at mile 10 on the river road), Spring Bar Campground (a forest service campground at mile 11.4), and the Elk Horn Beaches camping area at mile 16. We also own a glamping Airbnb called the Salmon River Dome, which has space for 2 guests and all sorts of amazing features & cozy amenities including a seating area overlooking the river, a wood stove, and an outdoor fire pit! 

One big thing we want to point out is how important it is to Leave No Trace at these campsites (and all campsites, for that matter). In order to keep this stretch of road clean, and maintain all of the beautiful locations it has to offer for future visitors, it’s crucial that you pack it in & pack it out. This means that whatever you bring with you to your campsite, you take with you when you leave—including both human and dog waste. The forest service instructs all visitors to pee in the river and not on the beaches, which helps the beaches not to smell, so please take that to heart and follow what they say. 

On that same note, it’s important to know that vehicles can’t be driven on the beaches along the Salmon (per the BLM), and a fire pan is required for open fires. Before you venture into any wilderness areas, we highly recommend reading up on the 7 Leave No Trace principles and getting familiar with the many ways you can minimize your impact next time you head outdoors.

So, are you ready to plan your trip to Riggins and get all your activities planned? We can’t wait to have you in the area; we’d absolutely love to take you on a scenic jet boat tour of the Salmon, guide you on an unforgettable steelhead fishing charter, and/or help you plan your Salmon River elopement. Learn more about Whitewater Expeditions and all we have to offer here, and we’ll see you in Riggins!

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