Salmon, Middle Fork, Idaho, US
|Usual Difficulty||III-IV (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||28 fpm|
|Max Gradient||40 fpm|
|MF SALMON RIVER AT MF LODGE NR YELLOW PINE ID|
|usgs-13309220||700 - 10000 cfs||III-IV||5d17h51m||630 cfs (too low)|
SEASON: As one of the few multi-day trips in the lower 48 with unregulated flows, it's always a challenge to plan your trip and decide what launch dates to request six months in advance. The road to the put-in is generally clear by early June. If it's not, kayakers can paddle in on Marsh Creek and rafts can fly in to a point further downstream. Weather for pre-season trips can be cold but you'll likely have your pick of hot springs as fewer people boat the river. During high snow pack years flows can be dangerously high in the early part of June--many trips have met with disaster in high water years. The greatest demand for permits is always towards the end of June. In low snow years you should still have plenty of water and in high snow years you'll be past the peak. Decent boating opportunities normally persist into July and by August the river is typically pretty low.
LOGISTICS: Trips start out at the Boundary Creek put-in (at the base of Dagger Falls). From Highway 21, take FR 579 about 10 miles, and then bear right on FR 568 which goes another 13 miles to the launch ramp. It's best to arrive the evening before your launch if you want to strategize for the best campsites. For kayak self support trips early in the season you may have to put in on Marsh Creek. In high snow pack years the road to Boundary Creek may not be accessible until early June. Rafts use the Indian Creek airstrip as an alternate access point particularly later in the season when flows are too low for the upper section. The shuttle is 210 miles and takes a full day. Groups often hire someone locally to run the shuttle for them. The take-out is the Cache Bar boat ramp on the mainstem of the Salmon River.
DESCRIPTION: Idaho's Middle Fork of the Salmon is considered by many to be one of the country's premier multi-day whitewater trips. With unregulated flows, remarkable wilderness scenery, numerous hot springs, a native fishery, and great whitewater it's no wonder that anyone who secures a permit in the annual lottery has no trouble finding people who want to go. Most plan for a week-long trip on this federally designated Wild and Scenic River with full raft support, but kayakers have paddled it as a long--and intense--day trip during peak snow melt in the highest water years.
From Dagger Falls the river starts right off with some great continuous whitewater action (at 40' per mile). At moderate flows this section provides some of the best rapids of the trip, but at higher flows it can be a little too much action for inexperienced paddlers. Several groups, especially those with less experienced raft crews, have gotten into serious trouble right away when attempting this section at high water. At low flows this section can be a real pain with rafts. While kayaks can make their way through the shallow boulder gardens, those with rafts should consider flying in to the Indian Creek access downstream when flows begin to drop down to 1200 cfs. Even kayaks may want to use this alternate access at flows below 700 cfs. Velvet Falls, Powerhouse, and Pistol Creek are good rapids that come early in the trip. Once you pass Indian Creek the river eases up (23' per mile from here to the take-out), but you still have good whitewater. The Tappan Rapids and Haystack are highlights of this section. Most of the best whitewater, and some incredible surfing at higher flows, comes near the end in the Impassable Canyon--so named for the fact that there is no land route. The rapids Redside, Weber, and Rubber are all found in this stretch.
The run ends with a four-mile paddle on the main Salmon.
All boaters must have a permit with heavy use season between May 28 and Sept 3rd assigned through the 4 Rivers Lottery System. Applications due January 31.
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|0.7||Teepee Hole (RL)|
|1.6||Cable Hole (RL)|
|2.4||Gardell's Hole (RR)|
|5.5||Boy Scout Camp (RR)|
|6.5||Big Bend (RR)|
|6.9||Trail Flat (RL)|
|8.2||Elkhorn Bar (RR)|
|9.5||Boot Camp (RR)|
|13.8||Fire Island (RL)|
|14.9||Lake Creek (RR)|
|15.2||John's Camp (RR)|
|15.6||Oakie Point 156|
|15.9||Greyhound Creek (RR)|
|16.0||Dome Hole (RL)|
|18.2||Rapid River (RR)|
|19.0||Big Snag (RL)|
|19.2||Dolly Lake (RR)|
|20.9||Quick Stop (RR)|
|21.5||Pistol Creek (RL)|
|22.4||Pistol Creek Ranch (RL)|
|23.9||Airplane Camp (RL)|
|24.7||Guard Station (RL)|
|25.1||Pack Bridge Camp (RL)|
|26.2||Indian Creek (RL)|
|27.4||Pungo Creek (RL)|
|30.8||Little Soldier (RR)|
|31.6||Marble Creek (RL)|
|31.8||Marble Creek Camp 2 (RR)|
|32.6||Sunflower Flat (RR)|
|32.7||Lost Oak (RL)|
|33.3||Middle Fork Lodge||N/A|
|34.6||State Land (RR)|
|35.8||Little Creek (RR)|
|35.9||Hood Ranch (RL)|
|37.3||Upper Jackass Flat (RR)|
|37.6||Lower Jackass Flat (RR)|
|39.2||Cameron Creek (RL)|
|40.4||Cougar Creek Ranch (RR)|
|43.2||Pine Creek Flat (RR)|
|45.6||Culver Creek (RR)|
|46.2||Whitey Cox (RR)|
|46.3||Rock Island (RL)|
|46.6||Pebble Beach (RL)|
|47.3||White Creek (RR)|
|49.3||Big Loon (RR)|
|49.9||Cow Creek (RR)|
|51.8||Cave Camp (RR)|
|52.1||Hospital Bar (RL)|
|53.5||Cub Creek (RL)|
|56.4||Upper Grouse Creek (RR)|
|56.5||Lower Grouse Creek (RR)|
|56.6||Tappan Creek Cabin (RR)|
|57.0||Tappan Island Center|
|59.9||Camas Creek Camp (RR)||N/A|
|60.6||Johnny Walker (RL)|
|61.9||Broken Oar (RR)|
|62.2||Shark Fin Pictographs (RL)||N/A|
|64.3||Normandy Beach (RL)|
|64.5||Trail Camp (RR)|
|65.3||Sheep Creek (RL)|
|66.7||Flying B (RL)|
|66.8||Flying B Camp (RR)|
|67.7||Flying B Airport Camp (RR)|
|68.7||Bernard Camp (RL)|
|68.9||Short Creek (RR)|
|70.2||Cold Spring (RR)|
|70.7||Jack Creek Rapids||III|
|71.4||Little Pine (RL)|
|72.9||Wilson Creek (RR)|
|73.0||Grassy Flat (RL)|
|73.2||Grassy Flat Ii (RL)|
|74.4||Rattlesnake Cave (RR)||N/A|
|74.8||Survey Creek (RL)|
|74.9||Woolard Creek (RR)|
|75.7||Fly Camp (RR)||N/A|
|77.4||Fish Camp (RL)|
|77.6||Waterfall Crk Rapid||III|
|77.9||Big Creek (RR)|
|78.0||Last Chance Camp (RR)|
|78.7||Pine Bluff (RL)|
|78.9||Cutthroat Cove (RL)|
|79.2||Big Pine (RR)|
|79.6||Elk Bar (RL)|
|79.7||Love Bar (RL)|
|80.7||Veil Falls (RL)|
|84.5||Ship Island (RL)|
|85.0||Lightning Strike (RL)|
|86.2||Parrot Placer (RR)|
|87.9||Parrot Cabin (RL)|
|88.6||Cradle Creek (RR)|
|88.8||Tumble Creek (RR)|
|94.0||House Rock Rapid||N/A|
|94.9||Goat Creek (RR)|
|99.7||Cache Bar (RR)|
Boundary Creek Boat Launch. Mile 0. Permits and schedules are issued here. Credit for the lat/long coordinates and descriptions for this and the other rapids and features goes to Fred Williams and GPXchange.com. Contents used by permission. Thanks!
Marble Creek Rapids (Class III). Follow the center channel.
Middle Fork Lodge. Mile 33.3. Privately owned fishing lodge and retreat.
Tappan I Rapid (Class II). Stay in the center.
Tappan Falls Rapid (Class III). Mile 57.9. Best run is right near the bank. Scouting is recommended at lower flows.
Camas Creek Camp. Mile 59.9. This large camp is found just above the mouth of Camas Creek.
Petroglyphs in a cave above the river. Large boulders mark the river bank.
Jack Creek Rapids (Class III). Mile 70.7.This stretch extends nearly a half mile and at high water contains many fun big waves.
Rattlesnake Cave. Mile 74.4. Camping prohibited. Cave contains Indian petroglyphs.
Fly Camp. Mile 75.7. A small camp on a sandy beach identified by Kimmel Creek waterfall on the opposite bank.
Porcupine Rapids (Class III). Mile 81.0. A short straightforward rapid on a sharp right bend. Enter center and then work left.
Redside Rapids (Class III). Runs vary depending on flows.
Weber Rapids (Class III-IV). Run center or center left at most flows.
Upper Cliffside Rapids (Class III). Run inside on this right hand corner.
Rubber Rapids (Class III-IV). Mile 91.1. Stay in the center and follow the main current.
Hancock Rapids (Class III-IV). Mile 92.2. Large standing waves as the river rounds the corner below the creek entering on river right.
Devil's Tooth Rapid (Class III). Run to the right of center in this drop punctuated by large boulders.
House Rock Rapids (Class III). Harder at high flows when a hard left is required.
Confluence with the Main Salmon. Mile 96.3.