The self-proclaimed whitewater capital specializes in riverfront relaxation.
Located about 150 miles north of Boise, Riggins rightly bills itself as “Idaho’s Whitewater Capital.” The town of 410 overlooks the confluence of the Little Salmon River and the Salmon, the longest free-flowing river in the lower 48 states; to the west lie Hells Canyon and the Snake River. (866) 221-3901, rigginsidaho.com. Area code is 208 except as noted.
- One of several outfitters in Riggins, Exodus Wilderness Adventures offers jet boat trips, kayak paddling and safety instruction, and rafting on Class III rapids from May through September. Steelhead fishing tours start in October. (800) 992-3484, riverescape.com.
- Got elk? Mountain View Elk Ranch does, in the form of jerky, pepperoni, smoked links, and fresh sausage with a mild taste. Buffalo products, too. 628-3901, mountainviewelk.com.
- On the self-guided Salmon River Heritage Walking Tour, you’ll learn why Riggins was once called Gouge Eye. Hint: It likely involved a saloon fight between 1860s gold prospectors. (866) 221-3901, rigginsidaho.com/history.php.
- The simple and friendly Bert and Kate’s Cattlemen’s takes its promise of home-style cooking seriously. Herbs and tomatoes grown in a garden out back appear in sandwiches, entrées, salsas, and cooked-from-scratch soups. House-made potato chips are highly addictive. 628-3195.
- Whether you’re in the market for a deer antler lamp with a rawhide accent shade ($105), a carved soaring eagle ($270), or a trio of salmon sculpted from Northwest soapstone ($5,800), you’ll find it at Unique Antler Design Wildlife Gallery. The shop also features jewelry, including bear claw necklaces ($65). 628-4063, uniqueantlerdesign.com.
- Through mid-September, holding ponds teem with adult chinook salmon at the Rapid River Fish Hatchery, located in a pretty canyon seven miles from town. You can picnic in a grassy day-use area, then hike a moderately strenuous trail that takes you along the banks of the Rapid River, Idaho’s fastest and cleanest watercourse. 628-3277, fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/fish/hatcheries.
Photography by Frank Mignerey
This article was first published in September 2010. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.