The rafters got stuck by the Wild River shuttles on the main and middle fork.

BOISE, Idaho – Idaho offers some of the best multi-day rafting expeditions in the country, such as Hells Canyon, the Selway, Main Salmon and the Middle Fork. But many people had trouble working with a specific shuttle company, and it got so bad that the Forest Service stepped in to warn the rafters.

The Main Fork and Middle Fork meander through the Frank Church Wilderness, but logistics for private boaters can be difficult, so most groups choose to pay for a shuttle service to take their vehicles from set-up to the exit while they are on the river.

Vivian Chan has just embarked on a six-day journey along the Middle Fork as she rowed her own raft alone for the first time on this stretch among a group of experienced rafters.

“It’s considered the holy grail of Idaho Whitewater and people come from all over the world to experience the Middle Fork section of the Salmon River,” Vivian said.

Viviane Chan

The shuttle to the Main Salmon runs from Corn Creek near the town of Salmon to Carey Creek above Riggins, the journey takes ten hours and the shuttle to the Middle Fork takes six hours, when Vivian’s group arrived to take away at the Cache Bar. their vehicles were not there.

“After about five or six hours the ramp was empty and we were still sitting there with no vehicles,” Vivian said. “So we were on a satellite phone texting and reaching other family members to contact Tammy at Wild River Shuttles.”

Takeouts in these remote areas don’t have cell service, and Vivian’s group wasn’t the only one blocked by Wild River Shuttles.

(Disclaimer: there is another company in Arizona called Wild River Shuttle, they are not affiliated with the company in Idaho.)

My brother’s group had the same on Middle Fork, I spoke with another group on the phone who had to camp an extra night at Cache Bar with minimal food, I spoke with rafters on the salmon main when I visited Riggins this week their vehicle was not at Carey Creek and several others have shared similar stories on boating forums like Mountain Buzz.

“Eleven of us were at the ramp with six boats,” Vivian said. “She brought back several trucks with trailers that were vehicles from other clients she contracted with and said I’d get you out of here.”

Vivian’s group with little choice drove this other group’s vehicles into the town of Salmon so they could determine their next move, but Vivian found the documents inside one of the trucks and drove away. called the owner whose truck was supposed to be at main take-out the day before.

“She and her husband were stranded at Carey Creek in Riggins,” Vivian said. “Dave Young of Rubicon Outfitters rescued them, brought his truck and trailer and pulled them out of Carey Creek, gave them a place to stay so they were just waiting for their vehicle at Riggins.”

Rubicon Outfitters, other shuttle services and commercial guide services deserve a lot of credit for helping stranded rafters, people we spoke to also praised locals in surrounding towns who went out of their way to help, which also includes local law enforcement.

“People have really come together in the boating community and in small rural towns,” Vivian said. “The locals are there to help, so that’s really the silver lining to it all.”

Once Vivian’s group arrived in Salmon, they tried to work with Wild River Shuttles, but it didn’t go so well and her group ended up calling the police.

“Things kind of got a little heated, there was a lot of confusion and a lot of people had differing opinions,” Vivian said. “So they called the police and when she (Tammy) heard the police she left.”

We contacted Wild River Shuttles by calling both numbers on their website but no one answered if they were driving which makes sense as the trip has many places with no service but we were unable to leave . message as the inbox was full and we emailed them as well.

The forest service has sent emails to rafters who have permits to float the river in the coming days and weeks warning them not to use this company there are several other options for shuttle services and even a Jet boat option on Hells Canyon of the Snake River.

Vivian’s group ended up having to run their own shuttle for three hours back and forth to pick up their vehicles that were still at a standstill before they could resume their journey back to Boise.

Police let the group store their boats and gear in the police impound lot, according to Vivian’s law enforcement, and then took over the task of trying to get rafters for their vehicles.

“Our situation turned out to be better than others,” Vivian said. “We’re not bitter, we just don’t want this to happen to other people and we’re worried about those who are on the river right now.”

As for my brother’s group, Wild River Shuttles refunded their money which cost $350, but their group members lost the accommodation they had paid for and two others missed their flight home.

They also had an interesting story with a member of their group being able to track a newer van with his cell phone, he was able to get in with the police and stop his own vehicle, there was the shuttle driver, a baby and a dog in the van.

There were plenty of other stories with people claiming over 1,000 extra miles had been put on their car, some people’s vehicles and trailers had been damaged, and others had simply canceled their trip.

As for Vivian Chan, she founded a group called Whitewater River Chicks to help get more women involved in rafting, on August 13-14 they will be hosting a clinic at Kelly’s Whitewater Park in Cascade where they will perform water safety techniques brisk as swimming rapids, rope rescues and they’ll practice flipping rafts.

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