An Outfitted Trip
Of the 10,000 folks who float the Middle Fork each year, more than sixty percent travel with an outfitter. We met up with one of the West's most experienced guides, Jerry Hughes, owner of Hughes River Expeditions.
Jerry has been rafting rivers most of his life and has ties to the very beginnings of guided rafting in the West. He began his career working with the legendary Bus Hatch. Hatch led a group of adventurers down the Middle Fork in wooden boats back in 1936 and later started one of the first commercial river running ventures in the country.
Hughes, a native Idahoan, took his first Middle Fork trip as a teenager in 1963. He started his own company in 1976 and figures he's done almost 200 Middle Fork trips, including outfitted trips for the National Geographic Society, the Sierra Club, and the Nature Conservancy.
"I just adore it. I think about it every day," he says. "I dream about it. I've always loved back-country rivers, but the Middle Fork is very special. There is probably no other river in Utah, Oregon, or Idaho that combines as many neat characteristics that the Middle Fork does. There are no motorized uses on the water. The water is 95% of the time crystal clear. It's a blue ribbon trout fishery. It's got challenging boating and natural hot springs. It's just an unbelievable combination of great characteristics and things to enjoy."
To find a reputable outfitter, check with the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association.