Difficulty II-III+(V)
Length 19.5 Miles
Flow Range 200 - 6000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 31 minutes ago 125 [CFS] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 07/10/2020 3:00 pm

River Description

The river is class II from the pack bridge at Poverty Flats Campground 1.5 miles down to the Teapot Hot Springs. Another mile or so below the hot springs is a short canyon where the river cannot be seen from the road. This can be class IV-V at very high water. 

The river returns to the road downstream of Reed Ranch and Camp Creek and is class II-III for about 11.5 miles to the Secesh confluence. This whole segment can be easily scouted from the road. The class III whitewater is at the top and bottom of this segment and those looking for class II can paddle from the Buckhorn Creek bridge down to the Krassel Work Center. 

This section is closed to paddling during April, May, August, and September in an effort to reduce disturbance of spawning salmon. Review the rules here.  Paddlers should also be aware of wood as trees in this segment can extend across the entire channel width.

Logistics: To reach the South Fork Salmon, turn east on Warm Lake Road (FR 579) in Cascade at Highway 55 mile 116.1. It's 24 miles up this road to the turn for the South Fork Road (FR 474) at Warm Lake Road mile 55.9 (on the way you will pass Trail Creek Hot Spring at Warm Lake Road 60.5, 0.1 mile up the hill west of the FR 409 junction). The South Fork Road (FR 474) parallels the river on river right and climbs high above the river along the Goat Creek section before descending down to river level at Poverty Flat Campground located at mile 13.6 on the South Fork Road. The entire road is paved.

The following points along the South Fork Road, ordered from upstream to downstream, can be used to access different segments of this reach:
13.6 Poverty Flat Campground
14.0 dispersed access sites
15.3 Tea Pot Hot Spring (steep trail to river), class IV/V rapids downstream where river is away from the road
16.5 Four Mile Trailhead (away from the river)
19.8 Reed Ranch airstrip (away from the river)
20.1 Camp Creek (away from the river)
20.9 bridge, class III roadside rapids downstream of this bridge
22.9 Buckhorn Creek Bridge, class II roadside rapids downstream of this bridge
24.5 Buckhorn Bar Campground
27.2 Krassel Work Center
28.7 Krassel USGS Gage, class III roadside rapids downstream of the gage
30.9 road end, turn left at the T-junction and continue 1 mile downstream to the Secesh confluence with the South Fork Salmon River and a good access point.

An alternative to coming in on the Warm Lake Road is to take the Lick Creek Road out of McCall which is a 35 mile route from McCall that drops into the Secesh river drainage and parallels the lower segment of the Secesh River. This route is unpaved and is likely to be snowed in early in the season.

Downstream of the Secesh River confluence the road is closed and this represents the start of the classic multi-day trip on the South Fork Salmon.

Rapid Descriptions


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Thomas O'Keefe
2 months ago

We ran from the Buckhorn Creek Bridge down to the Krassel Work Center and enjoyed roadside class II whitewater with the kids. It was a short run but fun. On a subsequent day, some in our group ran from the Buckhorn Creek Bridge down to the Secesh to enjoy the class III that comes at the end. We encountered one piece of wood that was nearly river wide and a couple more pieces that were in play and extended across a good portion of the channel.

Gage Descriptions

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Directions Description

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Tell Us Why You Love the South Fork Salmon River!

Evan Stafford

The South Fork of the Salmon River in central Idaho is under threat from a massive mining proposal. As many of you know, the South Fork is a magnificent river with an incredibly wide range of whitewater opportunities on numerous stretches, including the East Fork, all the way through a Wilderness multi-day run that takes you to the confluence with the Salmon River at Mackey Bar on the Main Salmon wilderness run. We're collecting stories and photos of the South Fork for use in ours and our partners campaign to raise awareness about the imminent threat that this classic whitewater river faces. 

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Idaho Proposes Registration Fee for Non-Motorized Boats

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Can You Taste Victory?

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FERC revokes Preliminary Permit for
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Kevin Colburn


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Thomas O'Keefe


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1214893 05/08/20 Kevin Colburn updated description
1214894 05/08/20 Kevin Colburn updated description
1190414 02/07/04 n/a n/a
1214900 05/08/20 Kevin Colburn updated description
1215476 07/10/20 Thomas O'Keefe updated description
1215478 07/10/20 Thomas O'Keefe updated description
1215479 07/10/20 Thomas O'Keefe updated description
1215477 07/10/20 Thomas O'Keefe updated stats
1215480 07/10/20 Thomas O'Keefe updated image position
1215481 07/10/20 Thomas O'Keefe updated image position
1215487 07/10/20 Thomas O'Keefe updated description
1215493 07/10/20 Thomas O'Keefe updated name
1215502 07/10/20 Thomas O'Keefe updated description