In its first-ever Sunset Travel Awards, O.A.R.S. (http://www.oars.com/) was selected as one of 30 winners from a field of nearly 200 entrants who represent the West’s very best in lodging, dining, cultural tourism, outdoor adventure, environmental stewardship, and more. To find the best, Sunset drafted 12 travel experts from across the West to be part of their Travel Awards Advisory Board. “When you think of guided trips, you think of O.A.R.S.” noted one judge.
A full list of winners can be found online at www.sunset.com/travelawards.
O.A.R.S.’ Main Salmon “River of No Return” rafting trip is a six-day, all-inclusive adventure on a 92-mile, scenic stretch of Idaho’s Salmon River in the heart of the 2.3 million-acre Frank Church “River of No Return” Wilderness. Trips begin and end in McCall, ID, and include professional guide service, all expedition equipment, gourmet meals and a scenic flight at the start of the trip. The per person rate is from $1688 for adults and $1535 for youth.
From June through mid-September families with kids as young as 7 can tackle the Salmon’s Class III rapids. Winding through the second deepest canyon in the U.S. (surpassing even the Grand Canyon in depth), guests enjoy alpine scenery, huge sandy beaches, swimming, and abundant wildlife. Days on the river are broken up with hikes to Barth Hot Spring, ancient pictographs and historic sites such as the homestead of infamous Buckskin Bill. Evenings are storytelling, some of the best star gazing in the country, and friendly games of horseshoes, volleyball and bocce matches.
A recent O.A.R.S. guest described his experience on the Main Salmon this way: “There wasn’t much doubt the O.A.R.S. staff would be great, they’re famous for that. From day one, the whole trip was a blast. The scenery, the rapids, the side hikes, the food, it was all incredible. I’m a desert dweller so for me just spending a week in the greenery of the Frank Church Wilderness was a treat but with the steady pound of the Salmon’s rapids each day brought a new kind of fun and a new kind of challenge. The crew was great about encouraging people to try each of the different kinds of boats and to mix up who we paddled with. Maybe it’s the shared sense of fun and adventure that draws us all to the river in the first place but whatever it is, the kinship is real and the Salmon is calling.”
Seasoned river guides are also the hosts, setting up and breaking down camp, preparing and serving meals, answering questions, leading excursions, interpreting nature, inventing fun games and spinning tales around the campfire.
O.A.R.S. founder and President, George Wendt, had this to say about the award: “This award represents tremendous recognition for the stellar job that we have been doing and the excellent customer service that our guides and staff have been delivering. To come out on top in the world of adventure travel is a giant compliment!”
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