Difficulty II-III
Length 6 Miles
Gauge N/A
Flow Range
Reach Info Last Updated 06/29/2020 8:46 pm

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. The Relish takeout is before the last rapid, and may be a good choice at higher water, like above 10,000cfs. 

Getting there:

From Exit 141 on I84, go into the town of Bliss. The Stinker station, or Ziggy's gas 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 20 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. This may be easier said than done; hiking on river left may be possible. Be courteous of private land.

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. Above 10,000 cfs you may want to consider a center-right or right line, unless looking for class 4.  Rig to flip for this rapid. 
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. Right may be easier at spring flows, like 11,000. 
0.75 rapid
1.2 Bliss wave, eddy on left, there is a right sneak channel at summer levels.  At 11,000 there can be a large menacing whirlpool toward the end of the rapid on the right; because of this whirlpool, down the middle is a better line than trying to sneak right in the main channel. 
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).
4.4 Another waterfall on the right. Look for eagles on the high cliffs on the left.
5.4 Little Crystal
5.5 Bridge rapid
5.6 bridge
5.7 takeout boat ramp, which is paved. Note that there is also a reservoir 4 miles downstream, with access via rt 30. 
The best gauge is Idaho Power (Snake R below Lower Salmon Falls near Hagerman) for the current level, plus the Malad. Note that this gauge only updates once a day, at midnight, and may not show the current level accurately if it is rising rapidly. The USGS gauges might be useful as well. 
There is a USGS gauge 20 miles downstream, at King Hill; this runs higher, as there is more spring water inflow. 

Rapid Descriptions

Malad confluence putin

Class - N/A Mile - 1.4
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

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

warmup rapid

Class - N/A Mile - 1.5
Rapid Thumbnail Missing


Class - N/A Mile - 1.7
Rapid Thumbnail Missing


Class - III Mile - 1.9
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

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


Class - N/A Mile - 2
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Bliss wave

Class - III Mile - 2.5
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

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

Frank Lloyd Wright rapid

Class - N/A Mile - 2.8
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Near a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. 


Class - N/A Mile - 3
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Relish takeout

Class - N/A Mile - 5.2
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

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

Landslide / Little Crystal

Class - N/A Mile - 6.8
Rapid Thumbnail Missing


No Gage

Gage Descriptions

See Idaho Power (Snake R below Lower Salmon Falls near Hagerman) for the current level.

Note also that the Malad (Big Wood) comes in just below the putin, adding a little cfs. Click here for the Malad level.
here is also a USGS gauge downstream at King Hill ID

I've never seen this too low to run, and I've run it with 30,000 running thru Milner Dam.

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  
2018-06-22 n/a Fatality One Boat Trip Read More



article main photo

Idaho Proposes Registration Fee for Non-Motorized Boats

John Gangemi

<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Idaho is proposing a $13 registration fee for non-motorized boats greater than 7 feet in length. Under this registration fee proposal all kayaks and rafts on Idaho waters would be required to have a registration sticker fixed to the bow of each boat greater than 7 feet in length. Stickers would not be transferable between boats. Out of state boaters would be required to comply as well.

article main photo

Can You Taste Victory?

American Whitewater

FERC revokes Preliminary Permit for
hydropower project on Boundary Creek in
Northern Idaho.

Matt Muir


Thomas O'Keefe


Bill Hunt


Rick Widmer


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1200918 01/04/12 Matt Muir Added info to Flow description.
1198931 12/04/10 Thomas O'Keefe copy edits
1208392 10/23/17 Bill Hunt Added milage for a few rapids, and in description. Put Landslide after Sturn.
1198398 10/14/10 Thomas O'Keefe pho
1190426 08/13/05 Rick Widmer n/a
1198944 12/04/10 Thomas O'Keefe title change
1198947 12/04/10 Thomas O'Keefe abstract edit
1208393 10/23/17 Bill Hunt better milages
1198989 12/04/10 Thomas O'Keefe abstract edit
1200917 01/03/12 Matt Muir Added link to Id Power gage; changed class to II-III.
1215040 05/26/20 Bill Hunt updated description
1212889 06/12/19 Bill Hunt updated description
1215042 05/26/20 Bill Hunt updated description
1215041 05/26/20 Bill Hunt updated description
1215131 06/01/20 Bill Hunt updated description
1215218 06/10/20 Bill Hunt updated description
1208394 10/23/17 Bill Hunt updated map
1215274 06/12/20 Bill Hunt updated description
1215333 06/22/20 Bill Hunt updated description
1215376 06/29/20 Bill Hunt updated image position
1215334 06/22/20 Bill Hunt updated description
1206884 09/29/17 Bill Hunt added Bliss wave to map
1208395 10/23/17 Bill Hunt added warmup rapid
1212888 06/12/19 Bill Hunt updated description