Difficulty III-V
Length 12 Miles
Flow Range 300 - 1000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 1 hour ago 81.1 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 07/10/2020 5:39 pm

River Description

This run is more difficult at the top and gradually gets easier, making it suitable for a variety of skills and water levels. It starts out class V (IV at low levels) and ends as class III (II+ at low levels).

Approximately 3 miles downstream of the confluence of Johnson Creek with the East Fork South Fork Salmon, the action begins with two long class V rapids called Flight Simulator. The first is near the road (visible 3.2 miles downstream from Yellow Pine or 0.6 mile upstream from the Sheep Creek Trailhead) and starts out easy and gets harder. The second is far down in the canyon and is hard to see from the road. In fact it is just plain hard. The standard class IV put-in is just above Caton Creek at Sheep Creek Trailhead. The road is nearby for the rest of the run and roadside scouting is easy. The river is active and some of the drops can be IV+ with enough water in them. Four miles below Caton Creek, after six miles of class IV, Deadman Campground makes a good take-out, put-in, lunch spot. The next five miles to the take-out are gradually easier class III, but you may chose to portage once or twice. You can continue down the South Fork Salmon to the end of the road for another four miles of class II if you like.

Logistics: Set your navigation to Yellow Pine and determine what option is best to get there. You can come down Johnson Creek and approach the run from the upstream end. More commonly paddlers will come in on the Warm Lake Road and South Fork Salmon Road from Cascade (50 miles of paved roads) or the Lick Creek Road from McCall (35 mile dirt road) to approach the run from the downstream end. This option allows you to scout the entire run by driving the shuttle road on river right that offers a multitude of access points and easy road scouting.

To get to the take-out: From the South Fork Salmon Road (paved) go up the gravel road toward Yellow Pine less than a half mile, cross the bridge and park.

Intermediate put-ins: Deadman, Caton Creek, and SheepCreek Trailhead are marked by small wooden signs.

To get to the put-in: From MP 47 continue upstream three quarters of a mile past the ranch/development to a dirt side road and park up the road (away from the river). This road is two and one half miles below the intersection of Yellow Pine Ave and Stibnite Rd.

Be careful at high water: 


Rapid Descriptions

Flight Simulator

Class - 5.1 Mile - -12.1
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
Grant Amaral describes how this rapid got its name when scouting one morning with Tony Brennan as they kept looking to the sky for the jet plane they were hearing. They soon realized the sound was coming from the river. This rapid has a challenging line and some big holes that even skilled paddlers have trouble avoiding. Proceed with caution and bring a strong crew.

Sheep Creek Trailhead

Class - N/A Mile - -11.8
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
A standard put-in downstream of Flight Simulator

Caton Creek

Class - N/A Mile - -10
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
Another alternate put-in downstream of Flight Simulator.

Deadman Campground

Class - N/A Mile - -5.6
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
An intermediate put-in with convenient parking and river access for those who do not want to run the bigger drops upstream. This small campground has a couple of sites for those spending a couple days in the drainage.


default user thumbnail
4 years ago

Ugly, barely submerged log blocking usual Rt Center channel in ExLax rapid, 3 miles below Castel (?) Creek, below flight simulator. Will take you under the log. Hard to see log, pinned with about 15' extending out from pyramid rock in center of rapid. Left channel open as of 4/17/16.

Gage Descriptions

The flow on the Johnson Creek gauge is about half of the flow on this run.

Dave Garrity testifies:
800 cfs is a lot of fun. 500 - 600 is probably minimal. (Gauge times two.)

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

Date Flow Result Factor  
2008-07-04 Medium Fatality Other Read More
1999-05-31 High Fatality Other Read More



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Tell Us Why You Love the South Fork Salmon River!

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Idaho Proposes Registration Fee for Non-Motorized Boats

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Can You Taste Victory?

American Whitewater

FERC revokes Preliminary Permit for
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john almassy


Todd Hoffman


Bill Hunt


Thomas O'Keefe


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1190409 02/03/04 john almassy n/a
1199672 03/20/11 Todd Hoffman Removed outdated hazard info.
1202754 09/24/13 Bill Hunt
1215489 07/10/20 Bill Hunt updated image position
1215488 07/10/20 Bill Hunt updated image position
1215490 07/10/20 Thomas O'Keefe updated name
1215491 07/10/20 Thomas O'Keefe updated description
1215494 07/10/20 Thomas O'Keefe updated description
1215495 07/10/20 Thomas O'Keefe updated description
1215505 07/10/20 Thomas O'Keefe updated description