There are a few options for a Lower Salmon trip which typically lasts 4 to 5 days. This
trip is a great summer outing with fun pool-drop rapids through beautiful canyon scenery and
wonderful river beach camping. Rattlesnakes are very abundant along this river and one needs to be
The Hammer Creek Launch Site is located at river mile 52.5. The next 10 miles are often
run as a day trip ending with the 2.5 Green Canyon. This canyon includes a few class III drops: Wright
Way Drop, Demon's Drop, and ending with Pine Creek Rapid.
Pine Creek Launch is located immediately below Pine Creek Rapid (river mile 42.5). This
access is a take-out for the shorter day run and the put-in for the multi-day trip that continues down
to the Snake River.
From this access a road continues for a few miles along the river as you pass through
agricultural land. The scenery is beautiful though and the 15 miles down to Snow Canyon contains
several class II pool-drop rapids and nice sandy beaches.
The last big camp is at White House Beach before you enter Snow Hole Canyon (starting
at river mile 27.5). Snow Hole Canyon is 10 miles long and contains the most challenging rapids on the
trip. The major rapids include Bodacious Bounce (class III), Half and Half (class III), Snow Hole (class IV),
and China Rapids (class III). Experienced boaters will be able to boat-scout these rapids but getting out
for a look from shore is always possible. There are also a number of class II rapids in this section and
plenty of fun playspots.
Shortly after China Rapids the canyon opens up with great beach camp sites. There is
some private land and a few cabins in this 12.5 mile section. You will also begin to encounter jet boat
traffic during the summer season. There are several fun class II rapids and one class III at Eagle Creek
(river mile 13.5).
The river constricts again at river mile 5 with the start of Blue Canyon. This is a beautiful
narrow canyon and a good place to see sheep. This section alternates between big bouncy rapids and
short sections of calm water that allow one to gaze up at the vertical canyon walls that tower overhead.
One rapid to be aware of is Slide Rapids (river mile 3.9). Here a massive rock slide from river left has
further constricted the already narrow river. At lower flows there is not much of a feature at this site but
as flows increase to 10,000 cfs and above this becomes the most dangerous hazard on the run. As
water backs up at the narrow constriction, a huge standing wave forms that is a guaranteed raft flipper.
Portaging this drop with a raft is all but impossible.
The last major rapid on the Salmon is Eye of the Needle (river mile 0.5), a class III rapid
with a fun bouncy wave train.
Soon the Salmon comes to an end as it pours out into the Snake River. It's another 20
miles on the Snake to the confluence with the Grande Ronde and Heller Bar river access which is just
past this on river left. The section on the Snake has some beautiful canyon scenery, fun class II rapids,
and good beach campsites. The downside is significant jet boat traffic. On summer weekends you will
likely have jet boats in sight the throughout the day although use tends to taper off in the evenings and
Logistics: Unlike other nearby multiday trips, there is no lottery for permits to run this
section of the Salmon. Permits are available on a self issue basis at launch sites. It's a good idea to
bring along a copy of the BLM river guide to the Lower Salmon. It provides lots of useful information on
individual rapids and camping areas.
One of the best Non-permit stretches of the Salmon. Excellent scenery, awesome riverside beach camping, remote. We put in at White Bird and took out at Eagle Creek. It you are dropping a car off it is a LONG commute 2-3 hour round trip. Eagle Creek take out has a primitive, one lane road and can be tough with a 2wd or a large trailer.
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Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
Skirting the big hole in China
Eye of the Needle
Entrance to Lower Canyon
Scenic Hills between Canyons
End of Canyon
Snow Hole Rapid from below
Snow Hole Rapid
Half and Half
Heading Towards the Canyon
Dowstream of Pine Creek
Pine Creek Launch
Lower Salmon River
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
One of the highlights of any Idaho river trip is the spectacular wildlife that paddlers glimpse on their way down the river. An AW member recently shared with AW that the US Forest Service is currently considering the fate of one species of wildlife, bighorn sheep, in the infamous class III/IV Hells Canyon of the Snake. Learn more about the issue, and send in some comments by March, 3rd.
<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Idaho is proposing a $13 registration fee for non-motorized boats greater than 7 feet in length. Under this registration fee proposal all kayaks and rafts on Idaho waters would be required to have a registration sticker fixed to the bow of each boat greater than 7 feet in length. Stickers would not be transferable between boats. Out of state boaters would be required to comply as well.
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