2024 Middle Fork Menu

2024 Middle Fork Menu

Check out this years food menu for our 6-day trips on the Middle Fork of the Salmon! Guaranteed to make your mouth water!

Guide Spotlight – Kevin Hawkins – 20+ Years on the Helfrich Crew

Guide Spotlight – Kevin Hawkins – 20+ Years on the Helfrich Crew

For this month’s guide spotlight we’re excited to share some history and an update from one of our most familiar (maybe favorite) and long time guides, Kevin Hawkins. 

Kevin began his guiding career joining us on the Middle Fork of the Salmon as a 19 year old “swamper” during the summer of 2004.  What started as one trip, turned into a summer job, then a year round career and now 20 years later, his own thriving fishing guide service running trips in both SW Montana and Oregon.

He’ll tell the story “After Kelsey and I graduated from Oregon State in 2007 I can remember penciling out a guiding business plan with my parents, adding up expenses, then figuring how many days I would need to work each year to make ends meet.”  “It was kind of simple like that.”  From then on Kevin has pushed not only himself, but also the other guides that he works with to deliver the very best days possible for our guests on the river.

Starting by riding along on the sweep boat, doing all the camp chores, then learning to run rafts and drift boats, Kevin really went “full circle” in our company.  In addition to leading the majority of our Rogue River trips for several years, he has now trained many of our other current guides. He gives credit to the people he learned from saying “I was fortunate to have been mentored, and taught by some of the very best and most successful guides in this industry.” As our Rogue River trip leader, Kevin not only is the guests’ go-to guy for whatever they need, he is also the leader for our team of guides.  He brings years of professional experience, a positive attitude, and a love for great times to every trip he’s on.

 Now for the good stuff!  After four years of dating, Kevin and Brittney just said their I do’s at a wedding on Flathead Lake this month. They live in Corvallis, Montana with Brittney’s two daughters, Abbie and Jaynie, as well as 3 dogs and a handful of horses.  Kevin stays busy running his day-trip fishing business on the Bitterroot River.  Brittney is a dental hygienist and also runs her own rodeo/barrel racing production company. Together they love sharing all of their favorite ways to enjoy the outside world with the two girls. Bikes, horses, boats, swimming, and skiing, “We love where we live and can’t imagine a better place to raise these girls.”  Kevin happily says, ”Our calendar is really full with all kinds of good things.”

As summer goes on and the Bitterroot River gets too warm to fish, Kevin will take his salmon fishing boat to Astoria, OR to guide the Buoy 10 – Lower Columbia River salmon fishery for the month of August. This year will make his 10th consecutive August there where he’s earned an excellent reputation for running one of the best boats on the river. In September, he takes a little time off to spend with his family before he returns to the Rogue River to work our multi-day lodge steelhead fishing season.

If you’d like to congratulate Kevin on his marriage, inquire about a fishing trip, or just catch up with him, he’ll be with us on most of the Rogue trips this fall or you can send him a note at fishingkevin@gmail.com He also has a website at www.khfishing.com where you can check out the great trips he offers.

River Recipes – Fresh Spinach Salad with Homemade Dressing

River Recipes – Fresh Spinach Salad with Homemade Dressing

Sharing a Special Helfrich Family Tradition:

If you have ever been on a multi-day Helfrich trip, you have most likely enjoyed the family recipe for our famous spinach salad. While the ingredients themselves are wonderful, the true trick to making it great is the dressing.  A long time Helfrich Family recipe, we are now sharing it with you!

Let us know if you make it and how it turned out! 

Early Helfrich Family History — Establishing Home on the McKenzie River

Early Helfrich Family History — Establishing Home on the McKenzie River

By Dave Helfrich & His Mom Marjorie Helfrich

My grand-folks, Byron Benjamin and Ruth Helfrich were married over in Prineville and lived there for several years. There they had three children. My Dad, Prince, was one of the three, and he started this whole business of outfitting and guiding.

My great Granddad, John Helfrich, was born in Germany. His wife, Martha was born in Kansas, and they had six kids. Benjamin was the youngest and his mother, Martha died when he was one-year old. This left great granddad John and the oldest kid of the six, Katy, to raise the kids. In the late 1800s John filed a homestead claim near Prineville, where each of his kids filed homestead claims a bit later. That was where Granddad Benjamin met and married my grandmother, Ruth Gladys Wright Helfrich.

They relocated to the McKenzie in 1914 after a short time in Northern California. Their place on the McKenzie was called Hafway because it was half way between Eugene and the summit of the Cascades. Their ranch was located on the flat where the old Mom’s Pies and J & J Cabins sit now. 

One of the first things Ben did was build the Hafway store. Then he built some cabins on the river so overnight guests could stay there. They’d come up there in their wagon and team. Ben had a big barn out there, a big stable. He took care of the guests’ horses, and the cabins were for the people to stay in. I’ve got some of the old brochures on the cabins (See Below), and they show about $3 a day per couple. Each cabin had a double bed. So my grandfolks provided a good place to stay, a place to stable horses, and a little grocery store to sell food. Guests either brought their own, or bought food. They probably sold quite a bit to people traveling through

The store was something that my grandmother ran. She had fresh vegetables in the store from her own garden. She’d go out and pick some fresh vegetables every day and bring them in for anybody that stopped in there, wanting to buy vegetables. She was trying to make a buck, maybe a dime at a time. I don’t know if my grandmother did any cooking for anybody or not.

Granddad did everything he could to make a living. He raised hay in the field, and cut the hay, storing it in the barn so he had some feed for peoples’ stock when they spent the night.

In 1987 my mother, Marjorie Helfrich, wrote a brief history of our family’s relocation into McKenzie country:

The Helfrich family, parents of Prince Helfrich, were early day settlers on the McKenzie River. Ben and Ruth Helfrich migrated from California in the early 1900s, after homesteading a large ranch near Prineville, Oregon.

About 1914 they bought 160 acres of land in the McKenzie Valley from a family named Rust. The sale consisted of some timber, large meadows, and a mile of riverfront, all for $5,000. The house that was included was well built and has a river rock fireplace that dominated the living room. Heat for the house was furnished by this fireplace and a huge black cook stove in the kitchen. Refrigeration was in the form of a “cooling house” built around a cold spring in the backyard.

Travelers coming up river overnighted their teams in the big Helfrich stable and were given food and lodging before they continued their journey to Eastern Oregon. This was a day’s journey by wagon from Eugene, and was about halfway to the summit of the Cascades.

Later on Ben built cabins on the river bank, and the guests he took on fishing trips were the beginning of the Helfrich family fishing and guiding business.

Ben Helfrich had one of the first cars on the River, a 1914 Ford. Once a month he traveled to Eugene with a list of food items and necessities for his neighbors. Occasionally he took passengers as well.

The Nimrod school where the children learned their A-B-C’s was a mile down river. It had one room and eight children attending. The teacher stayed with local families. The school was the gathering place for social events such as dances and potlucks.

The closest neighbors for the Helfrich family were Wakefields to the east and the Charley Neal family two miles downriver. The country was still wild and sparsely settled and in winters of heavy snow one could find wolf tracks in the trails which followed the river.

In the fall of the year parties of Warm Spring Indians from Eastern Oregon came over the mountains to fish for salmon and gather huckleberries. They put their nets and traps in what is now Hendricks Park area. The air would be pungent for weeks with the smell of drying and decaying fish.

The family dogs announced the yearly arrival of the tribes. Several dog fights broke out and everyone rushed out to see the visitors. The Indians drove wagons with light beds, and usually had a horse or two tied on behind. Some of the men rode ponies. Several mangy, ill-tempered dogs trotted along, sometimes beneath the wagons to find shade on hot, fall days. The Warm Springs were a poor tribe, and always looked needy.

The Indians camped under the apple trees and the annual trading and exchange of news began. Homesteaders traded deer skins and other pelts for moccasins and gloves. The skins were picked up in the fall and the finished products were delivered the next.

Squaws and children picked up apples and Ruth Helfrich shared her garden, fruit and health remedies with them. On the way over the mountains the Indians had also picked up obsidian for their knives and arrowheads.

The men of the family exchanged hunting stories with the visitors. A great deal of sign language was used. The homesteaders also liked to know what the tribes thought the coming winter would be like. This was based on natural signs, the heaviness of animal coats, the early migration or hibernation of other animals.

In later years the Helfrich family added a small store to their accommodations for guests, and called their place “Hafway.” The years passed and more people came to the McKenzie for fishing and vacations. Around 1936 Hafway was sold and a new era of owners and development began.”

5 Reasons Why “Non-Campers” Love Helfrich Camping Trips

5 Reasons Why “Non-Campers” Love Helfrich Camping Trips

“As outfitters, we encounter a lot of potential river guests who want to experience these amazing wild places but are worried about spending a week camping in the wilderness.  The best is when these people bite the bullet and decide to go anyways.  Without fail, by the end of the the trip you hear reactions like “Wow, turns out I do like camping! This kind of camping at least!”  Our goal as your outfitter is to make your wilderness experience as comfortable and enjoyable as we can.  With the accommodations, equipment and meals we provide, we have all of the pieces in place to meet and exceed your expectations.”

– Kelsey Helfrich, Owner/Outfitter

Frequently Asked Questions About Middle Fork Camping


  • Sleeping Gear: Most guests prefer to bring their own sleeping bag and pillow, but we also offer rental sleeping bags with pillows for a small cleaning fee.
  • Sleeping Outside: Our guides often sleep outside; we encourage you to pull your cot out and do the same!  The stars are AMAZING! 
  • Personal Tents: Generally, we bunk two people per tent, but private arrangements can be made for solo travelers or odd-numbered groups for an additional fee.  Our tents are also large enough to accommodate 3 or 4 guests for families that prefer to sleep in the same tent together. 
  • Accommodations for Tall Guests:  We offer extra long and wide cots for our larger stature guests by request. 

Our Food:

  • Special Diets: We can accommodate most dietary needs. We suggest reviewing our menu beforehand and bringing any specific substitute items you may need.
  • Picky Eaters: Each of our meals have multiple options for guests to choose from and our guides are great about accommodating requests.

The Shower:

  • Soap in the River: To help protect and maintain our pristine ecosystem, soap is not permitted in the river, sidestreams, hot springs or anywhere near the water.  Our shower offers guests the opportunity to stay clean and fresh without negatively impacting the river.
  • How Much Water: Water for the shower is hauled by hand in buckets up from the river, heated on the fire and mixed to the right temperature for you.  We ask that you try to conserve the amount of water you use by turning the shower on and off as needed. 

The Bar and Drinks:

  • What to Bring: We supply a variety of beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, but you’re welcome to bring additional preferred drinks. Cans are preferred over bottles for easier disposal.
  • Beverage Service: We offer our guests a beverage service (for a fee) where we will purchase and pack your extra beverages for your trip so that they are ready and waiting for you when you arrive.  

More Frequently Asked Questions: Click Here

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