Snake - G) Lower Salmon Falls Dam to Bliss Reservoir

Snake, Idaho, US


G) Lower Salmon Falls Dam to Bliss Reservoir (Hagerman to Bliss (Wiley))

Usual Difficulty II-III (for normal flows)
Length 6 Miles
Avg. Gradient 16 fpm


Photo by Olin Gardner taken 10/14/10

River Description


A fun class II/III afternoon run. At least it was until the landslide. Now it is mellowing back out, but you still have to be careful of the last rapid.

Getting there:

From Exit 141 on I84, go into the town of Bliss. The Stinker station is a good place for last minute gas, food and flush toilets. They have a grocery store, gas station and hot food all in one place. Look for River Road on the left, just past the Y-Del resturant, across from the post office and fire station. This will take you down into the canyon. Look for the bridge a little downstream of the road. Just before you get to the bottom of the grade is a road on the right that heads towards the bridge, turn right onto it. About 200 yards before the bridge is a right turn into the parking lot of the takeout. Thanks to Idaho Power for providing this facility. You should scout the last rapid before you return to the putin.

From the takeout, head back towards the main road. Turn right at the stop sign, traveling upstream on River Road. This is several miles of twisty, narrow two-lane paved road with a 35 MPH speed limit. Turn right at the stop sign, onto US Highway 30. You turn on to the highway right before the Malad river bridge. Much of the fun on this trip starts right at the Snake - Malad confluence. Watch for the Rock Lodge about 1.9 miles, on the left, it is more visible than the small sign on the right for the Lower Salmon Dam, which is where you want to go. About 0.3 miles from the highway is the entrance to the power plant area. Turn right every chance you get to the putin which is just below the spillway.

To get back to the takeout, Turn left at each stop sign to get back to the highway. Turn left onto US 30, go about 1.9 miles to the Malad river crossing, then turn left onto River Road, right after the bridge. Just before River Road starts climbing out of the canyon is a left turn to the Bliss bridge and the takeout parking lot.

If you are starting in Hagerman, the turn into the putin is 0.9 miles from the city limit heading west on US 30.

S turn

This is just a little drop in a double turn in the river that actually looks more like a Z. I mention it because I frequently run it three times in an 18 foot cataraft. If you start in the center and work left you can catch an eddy on the left that takes you most of the way back up to the top. Then you can hit it again, this time crossing over to the right bank as fast as you can. If you hit the eddy here you can paddle up slack water almost half way to the top of the rapid and run it one more time.

Landslide / Little Crystal.

The biggest rapid on the river is just above the Bliss bridge. It is worth the hike to scout it. This rapid was formed in a 1993 landslide, which you can still see traces of on river right. (your left as you walk upstream) The landslide has raised the water level several feet, and moved the river over 100 yards towards you as you walk. The official name is Little Crystal, because a few years ago when it was named it looked like Crystal on the Colorado. It has changed considerably since the landslide. Now it is just a fun wave train, as long as you work your way right at the end. If you are too far left you will be forced into the canyon wall and flip.
Mileages if putting in at the Malad confluence with the Snake:
0.0 Putin
0.1 warmup rapid
0.4 Pillar
0.6 Swim, a fun read and run rapid with good left and right lines
0.75 rapid
1.2 Bliss wave, eddy on left, there is a right sneak channel at summer levels. 
1.3 huge eddy on left, where even a large group can take a break
1.4 Frank Lloyd Wright rapid
1.7 rapid
2.4 nice spring-fed waterfalls entering on right
2.7 wave and eddy turns above an island
3.8 Relish takeout (dirt/gravel ramp is not as clean as the other takeout).
5.4 Little Crystal
5.5 final rapids
5.6 bridge
5.7 takeout boat ramp, which is paved

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2017-10-23 22:52:36


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
1.4Malad confluence putinN/APutin Access
1.5warmup rapidN/A
2.5Bliss waveIIIPlayspot
2.8Frank Lloyd Wright rapidN/A
5.2Relish takeoutN/ATakeout
6.8Landslide / Little CrystalN/A

Rapid Descriptions

Malad confluence putin (Class N/A, Mile 1.4)

A popular putin is at the Malad-Snake confluence. 
Vault toilet and a gravel boat ramp; no camping though.

Swim (Class III, Mile 1.9)

A more complex rapid with fun lines on left as well as right.

Bliss wave (Class III, Mile 2.5)

aka Chris's hole. Sneak right or hit it!

Frank Lloyd Wright rapid (Class N/A, Mile 2.8)

Near a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. 

Relish takeout (Class N/A, Mile 5.2)

From the Malad putin to here is 3.6 miles and is a popular run. 

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