Salmon, S. Fork - 3 - East Fork of South Fork to Salmon River

Salmon, S. Fork, Idaho, US


3 - East Fork of South Fork to Salmon River

Usual Difficulty IV-V (for normal flows)
Length 33 Miles

Fourth of July weekend 2014

Fourth of July weekend 2014
Photo taken 07/04/14 @ 0 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-13310700 1.00 - 4.20 ft IV-V 00h16m 1.78 ft (running)

River Description

The South Fork of the Salmon is a great multi-day river trip in central Idaho.  The put in is at the confluence of the South Fork and the Secesh River.  The trip can be combined with runs on the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon, or on the Secesh.  The last 20 miles of the trip are on the Wilderness section of the Main Salmon River.  You must get a permit to run this river from the Krassel Ranger District of the USFS, but they are free and easy to get (there is no lottery).
(this would be the shuttle going to the takeout at Vinegar Creek:''/45.4587141,-115.9044132/@45.0933011,-116.8526685,8z/data=!4m7!4m6!1m3!2m2!1d-115.7396364!2d44.930362!1m0!3e0 ) 

The river changes dramatically with flow.  At base flows it is an enjoyable Class III+ paddling trip with a few rapids that may be considered Class IV.  Fall Creek Rapid, near the end of the run is a standout rapid harder than all the rest at low flows.  During spring snowmelt the South Fork dishes out some of the biggest water around and is a committing Class V expedition.  Expect huge waves and holes, many of which are unavoidable, stacked throughout the run.  Medium flows provide an experience somewhere in the middle.  Rafting descents of the South Fork are challenging and relatively rare.  It is largely the domain of self-support kayakers.   

The scenery is spectacular.  While much of the river flows through a roadless area, there are several ranches and small developments scattered along the river corridor as well as one significant road crossing.  Camping is great but sparse. 

Permit Information

Obtained in person at the McCall Ranger District in McCall, Idaho; OR You can print out the permit at the link below, fill it in, sign it, and mail it to the McCall Ranger District, C/O Front Desk, 102 W. Lake St., McCall, ID 83638 or scan and email the signed form to Permit: The district will then mail you back your tag(s) with your permit number(s) that gets attached to your boat, allowing you to exit to either Cache Bar on the Main Salmon for those floating Big Creek; or Vinegar Creek or Carey Creek on the Main Salmon for those floating out of the SFSR. Please allow approximately 7 days for your permit request to be processed. If you have ANY questions, feel free to call the McCall Ranger District at (208)634-0400. that permits can be picked up at the McCall Forest Service Office

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-08-06 19:48:37


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Rapid Descriptions

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