Age 11 in the late 1950’s, Jerry Hughes watched a TV program about rafting the Middle Fork of the Salmon. The announcer stated, “Don Smith knows every rock in the river”, and the images showed Don rafting whitewater in the Idaho Primitive Area. Jerry turned to his mom, Virginia, and big sister, Bertie, and announced, “I’m going to do that.” Bertie told him that he was a little jerk and could never do anything like that. Of course, a sibling fight broke out. Virginia put down the quarrel. But, Jerry was going to remember that TV program.
In 1963, Jerry floated the Middle Fork, followed by the Main Salmon in 1964 with the Boy Scouts. And, the summer of 1965, before his senior year in high school, Jerry worked for the Boy Scout program helping run 9 Middle Fork trips that summer. During that summer on the river, he met several guides, but most importantly, he met Don and Ted Hatch. By the summer of 1967, Jerry was working for Hatch River Expeditions on the rivers of Idaho, Utah, and Arizona. Bus Hatch invented river running, and Jerry was on board when their business expanded in 1967 after Hatch took the Kennedy family on the Middle Fork in 1966. Jerry worked for Hatch 7 years – 1967-73, and loved every bit of it. (see History on this website)
When the Hughes family goes on vacation it’s a river trip. Jerry has a “true to the bone” love affair with rafting through remote canyons. At age 66, Jerry has spent almost 12% of his life, about 7.8 years, boating and camped out on backcountry rivers throughout the West. He never saw a backcountry river he didn’t like, but Idaho and Eastern Oregon rivers are his favorites. After outfitting on a variety of rivers through 40 years, Hughes River Expeditions focuses on his favorites: Snake River through Hells Canyon, Middle Fork of the Salmon, Salmon River Canyons (aka Lower Salmon) and Eastern Oregon’s Wallowa and Grande Ronde.
We love river running! This isn’t just a business, it’s our way of life. Join us “on the river”.
What we think makes HUGHES RIVER EXPEDITIONS special.
– Safety First on all Hughes trips. We know how important safety is to you and your family, and it is even more important to us. We sponsor Advanced Wilderness First Aid and Advanced River Rescue training trips on a regular basis for the Hughes Crew, and we pay guides extra for this advanced training.
– Expert, experienced guides who come back year after year. Check out Hughes Guides. These people are great boatmen, excellent fishing guides, fabulous cooks, and just plain fun to spend time with. You will love the Hughes Crew.
– Top notch River Equipment. Absolutely the best river gear in the business. Jerry Hughes is a “toy store” guy. And, the toys that he loves are river craft , river kitchens, tents, deluxe sleeping pads, deluxe sleeping bags, …. You will love our “river library” of books, pamphlets, maps, and articles about the area.
– Food. We know you don’t go on the river “just” for food, and, we don’t provide just food, we provide FOOD! Fabulous meals featuring fresh meats, fresh fruits & vegetables, Dutch oven baking. On big trips we have seven Dutch ovens stacked five feet high full of fresh hot breads, main course, side dishes, and deserts. Always plenty on a Hughes trip! We don’t cut corners on anything, but especially on food. We have a great floating restaurant. But, it’s hard to find… we move about 15 river miles each day. Check out Our River Menu.
– Fishing gear and instruction provided. Experienced fishermen usually prefer to bring their own, but we have plenty. We’ll help a kid catch that “first fish”.
– The river craft: State of the art self-bailing oar rafts, paddle rafts, and inflatable kayaks. Our rafts are custom ordered to our specifications from Northwest River Supplies, Demaree Inflatable Boats, EuroCraft, and other quality manufacturers. Custom designed 22 foot gear rafts carry the duffel, camp gear and extra ice chests. When you arrive in camp, the gear boatman has the tents pitched, the river kitchen organized, your duffel is moved into the camp, dining tables & chairs set, and you can conveniently move in for the evening. Hughes originated gear boat service on the Snake and Salmon Canyon, and were among the first outfitters to use large sweep controlled gear rafts on the Middle Fork.
– Copying is a great compliment and we appreciate it! And, many Idaho and Eastern Oregon outfitters have copied the Hughes program – gear boats, menu, etc. However, we are confident that the “original” is still best!
– “Off the river” is often where a great trip begins: The Hughes Crew knows the best hikes, secret places, abandoned cabins, Native American sites (pictographs, house pits, rock shelters), the best fishing holes, and the best hike to a huge view. Off the river is an incredibly important part of a river trip, and we do a great job with it.
– Sanitation: Chlorinated hand wash stations in the kitchen, by the river toilet. Hughes Crew do the dishes with a thorough 4 bucket system. Squeaky clean river kitchens with Hughes. Plus unlimited potable water.
– Who’s running the operation? Jerry Hughes and Carole Finley oversee the preparation for every trip. Hughes River Expeditions is a small, owner-operator, family business. Daughter Ashley (29) helps in season, and son Colin (24) works year round. Ash and Colin grew up on the rivers!
– MANY OUTFITTERS ADD IN A 3% USE FEE on your billing, and it can count up. That 3% fee is “included” in Hughes pricing, and that amount of money will usually pay for the motel room the night before your trip or more.
– References. Go to About Hughes. 5 trips with National Geographic, 5 trips with The Nature Conservancy, multiple Snake River trips with Sir Edmund Hillary. Edsel Ford, Frank Wells, Peter Ueberroth, Charles Knight, Woody Johnson, Jon Lovelace, Bob Kirby, and many more. The incredible Idaho Public TV Crew for Outdoor Idaho have done shows with Hughes on both the Middle Fork and Snake.
– Rather go with Hughes, but another outfitter has a screaming deal? Check with us. If you have questions, please call or email. First, if the deal “screams too loud” something is probably wrong. We will do our best to accommodate your personal needs and interests. When possible, we will match pricing from other outfitters. We value your business, and hope you will book with Hughes River Expeditions, Inc. Don’t hesitate to send us an email or give a call.