Marsh Creek - State Highway 21 to Middle Fork Salmon

Marsh Creek, Idaho, US


State Highway 21 to Middle Fork Salmon

Usual Difficulty III+ (for normal flows)
Length 16 Miles

Marsh Creek Gorges

Marsh Creek Gorges
Photo of Megs by Kevin Colburn taken 05/15/07 @ a good level

River Description

Marsh Creek is the standard paddling route into the Middle Fork Salmon in May before the road to Boundary Creek opens, but it is so much more. Marsh Creek is an excellent all round Class III+ whitewater run that offers a full day on the water and some great informal campsites. Starting in a scenic high meadow outside of Stanley, Idaho, Marsh Creek meanders its way to a gap the mountain range. It picks up flow quickly and grows in size. 

Once you reach the mountain range Marsh Creek flows under a low bridge and picks up speed as it carves an open canyon through the high elevation rock, talus, and forest. Often in early season avalanche chutes packed with snow and dismembered trees descend to the creek creating large snow and ice banks in some bends. Great scenery abounds and the Creek continues to grow in size.

Expect a swift Class II/III cruise with the occasional Class III/IV sequence thrown in. Eddys are rare on Marsh Creek when you want them the most, and especially at higher flows. There are no drops on Marsh Creek, just wave trains and boulder rapids, so paddlers often take playboats on the run. There is even some good play at a couple spots.   

While pretty typical creek paddling for kayakers, rafters can get into trouble on Marsh Creek given the likelihood of strainers and the challenges with stopping a fully loaded raft. There have been fatalities from this scenario. Smart groups will check ahead with the Forest Service for a strainer report, and have skilled kayakers far out in front of the rafts to alert and help stop rafters in the case of a strainer. 

No permit is required for paddling or camping on Marsh Creek, even after it merges with Bear Valley Creek midway down the run and becomes the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. The end of the "Marsh Creek" run is just upstream of the Dagger Falls and the Boundary Creek launch. Take out at the trail on river left when you see the signs / bridge / canyon walls announcing Dagger Falls, which is a Class V drop that marks the beginning of the permitted portion of the Middle Fork Salmon River. As a standalone run after the Boundary Creek Road opens for your takeout, or as your entry to the Middle Fork Salmon, its a great run.   

Lat / Longitude data are very approximate.

Note: Natl Atlas lists part of the Marsh Creek section of this as Middle Fork Salmon

Permit Information

No Permit Needed

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-03-07 14:19:51

Rapid Descriptions

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