Big Creek (Tributary of Middle Fork Salmon River) - Big Creek Airstrip to Cache Bar, Middle Fork of Salmon

Big Creek (Tributary of Middle Fork Salmon River), Idaho, US


Big Creek Airstrip to Cache Bar, Middle Fork of Salmon

Usual Difficulty III-IV (for normal flows)
Length 54 Miles

Big Creek at the Bridge

Big Creek at the Bridge
Photo of Brian Lee by Anthony Smith taken 05/15/05

River Description

Big Creek is a beautiful creek that enters the Middle Fork Salmon just upstream of Impassable Canyon. The run is Class III+ or IV depending on water levels and wood. You can fly or even drive to put ins, or like most folks who run Big Creek, you can carry your boat up from the confluence and enjoy the final canyon section of the stream. You can run Big Creek if you have a Middle Fork Salmon permit, or can get a non-lottery permit for Big Creek so long as you don't camp on the Middle Fork. 

Lat / Longitude data are very approximate.
Run includes 20 miles on Middle Fork; Permit required

Permit Information

No permits are needed to float Big Creek itself, but permits to float Big Creek into the Middle Fork Salmon can be: Obtained in person at the McCall Ranger District in McCall, Idaho; OR You can print out the permit here, fill it in, sign it, and mail it to the McCall Ranger District, C/O Front Desk, 102 W. Lake St., McCall, ID 83638 or scan and email the signed form to The district will then mail you back your tag(s) with your permit number(s) that gets attached to your boat, allowing you to exit to either Cache Bar on the Main Salmon for those floating Big Creek; or Vinegar Creek or Carey Creek on the Main Salmon for those floating out of the SFSR. Please allow approximately 7 days for your permit request to be processed. If you have ANY questions, feel free to call the McCall Ranger District at (208)634-0400.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-09-06 18:56:46

Rapid Descriptions

icon of message No rapids entered. If you know names, and locations of the rapids please contact and advise the StreamTeam member for this run.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
June 30 2017 (567 days ago)
crosby (157081)
A rain-on-snow event in early 2014 created multiple avalanches that delivered hundreds of logs into
the channel in the upper reaches between Smith Creek and Beaver Creek. The past jams are visible in
Google Earth but were remobilized in early 2017, currently channel-spanning at the Beaver Creek
confluence. Though the wood poses a hazard in this reach at this time, the pulse of wood will
continue to mobilize downstream (potentially reforming jams or single spanners) in the next few
years. The good news is that portaging these sections is easily done using the riverside trail. Be
careful. Also, note that in the lower reaches of Big Creek downstream of Cabin Creek, just below
Rush Creek there is a large pontoon-based fish screw located in the center of the channel. There
are warning signs as you approach. --Ben Crosby
July 14 2008 (3840 days ago)
x (1)
Attempted this run in July of 2008. Didn't get to finish it, but hope to go back. Lovely little
canyon. We encountered 3 log portages above Beaver Creek, with little stopping room. There's a
great camp river left a 1/4 mile above Beaver Creek. Shortly below Beaver is a nice gorge section
with lots of linked up III-IV moves and some wood. This canyon is solid IV at medium flows. There's
a mandatory portage (right) around a log at the beginning of this section, and the gorge is worth a
scout from the trail on river left, at least to check for wood. Once below the portage at the top
of the short canyon, the series of drops was clean, though there's wood around if you are off line
or swimming. Below the gorge, there's lots of wood but we didn't find any portages between the
gorge and Monumental bar. --Brian Vogt
April 6 2008 (3939 days ago)
x (1)
Beautiful run. Lots of trees/strainers in the upper section. Great fishing and lots of wildlife. No
hot springs. Several cool rapids. Very enjoyable trip. We've done it 3 times over the last 10
years. Great Idaho wilderness experience for us PA boaters.

Associated News


  • Salmon ROD and Management Plan

    Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Plan includes management plan for Middle Fork Salmon and Salmon Wild and Scenic Rivers.