Floating the Middle Fork of the Salmon River

Updated Sept. 5, 2014


Both launch sites (Boundary Creek and Indian Creek) are staffed and open daily 7 am to 5:30 pm. Both have water available. If launching below Indian Creek, contact the office AT LEAST 3 work days before your launch date to arrange to receive your permit and camp assignments. Boundary Creek will close on Sept. 17th. Indian Creek's office hours will change on Sept. 21st to 8 am to 4:30 pm daily. Water will remain on until freezing temperatures threaten the systems.

Avoid Chinook Salmon redds. Fisheries biologists are marking redds with flagging along the bank closest to the redd. Watch for RED flagging; this will be placed approx. 100 feet above the redd; green flagging will be placed approx. 100 feet below the redd. Boaters are asked to move to the opposite side of the channel, as far as safely possible, and to float quietly through until past the green flagging. The launch sites will have maps at the top of the boat ramps to give boaters the general location of any known redds. To see a picture of a redd and the flagging protocol for 2014, click here.

During the chinook salmon spawning season (8/15-9/15), a 12-boat limit is in place for each group. 

  Tree rootwad at Shelf Camp, Aug. 2014 August storms delivered a lot of wind and rain to the area, with significant wind events blowing rafts out of the water and into the camps. The big tree at Shelf Camp fell (above photo), as did other green trees at various camps. Visit the Forest's home page for more fire information and the latest news releases.

Bears have gotten into some boaters' trash at Little Pine and Driftwood camps. Other bears have been spotted along the river corridor, so boaters are encouraged to secure their food and trash at all times.

Marsh Creek: A river-wide log about 3 miles downstream from the highway put-in was reported on 6/17 by a private boater, who described it as being between the foot bridge and the confluence with Bear Valley Creek. The Idaho Fish & Game's fish trap is in place again in Marsh Creek for the 2014 season.


Welcome to the remote and rugged mountains and rivers of central Idaho. Each year, 10,000 people float the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Located in the heart of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, the Middle Fork is administered under a permit system to protect it from excessive human impacts. Part of that protection asks you, the user, to learn and practice Leave No Trace principles.   Middle Fork Salmon River August 2013 Depending on water flow levels, the Middle Fork provides a relatively moderate to fast-paced whitewater floating experience, requiring moderate to high skill levels. In 1968, the Middle Fork was one of the original eight rivers designated in the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System. It is classified as a Wild River and consists of a half-mile wide corridor running from its origin at the confluence of Marsh and Bear Valley creeks to its confluence with the main Salmon River.

Permits Required

A permit is required year-round to be on the waters of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. The permitted stretch begins at Dagger Falls and ends at its confluence with the Salmon. Only seven permits a day are allowed. Only one permit per person per year is allowed during the lottery control season (May 28-Sept 3). For more information about permit allocations, read the Permits and Reservations section.

Reserving a Permit for a Launch Date

The National Recreation Reservation Service is processing all river lottery applications, reservations, cancellations and payments. To look for available dates, visit their website at www.recreation.gov or call 1-877-444-6777.

Lottery applications must be submitted online at www.recreation.gov and are accepted annually Dec. 1-Jan.31 (midnight Eastern time). For information about submitting an application, launch date calendars, demand and lottery statistics, visit the Four Rivers Lottery page first.


 Boater Information Topics for the Middle Fork

 Check In, Boat Screening, River Camps and Permitting Procedures

 Sharing the River with Chinook Salmon – Avoiding Impacts While Floating

 2014 Flagging Protocol for Chinook Salmon Redds in the Middle Fork

 New River Camps!                                 Boater Info (RiverTracks)

 Trip Requirements                                   Preventing Illness Before It Starts  

 Required Equipment Details & Tips          Equipment Restrictions

Description of Launch Sites                      River & Wilderness Ethics

Recreation Fee Guidelines                        River Safety & Gear

 Cancellations and No-Shows                   General Information

Rapids and River Levels                          Storms, Debris  & Fire Effects

Invasive Species and the Middle Fork        MF River Use Summaries

2013 Gastroenteritis Outbreak Report                 

Look to the Right --> 

Quick Links will contain information broken into topics about the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.
Additional Information will typically contain links to other websites, such as the river gauge.
Helpful Information will contain PDF documents, such as map or season pass order forms, and brochures.

Help Protect the River Systems from Aquatic Invasive Species: clicking on the link under the picture will take you to information about helping prevent the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) to our beloved river systems.

Archaeological Sites will connect you with information about how to Preserve Our Past. 

Noxious Weeds: clicking on the link under the picture will take you to information about helping prevent the spread of Noxious Weeds. 

 Our website was converted to a new format in 2012, so we continue to look for old information, broken links, or missing pages. If you find a problem on the river pages, please email us at middlefork@fs.fed.us. Suggestions for content are also welcome.

 Invasive Species Fund Stickers required

Idaho State Boating Law requires that all vessels display the Invasive Species Fund sticker to legally launch and operate on Idaho waters. Inflatable, non-motorized vessels less than 10 feet long are exempt. Go to www.invasivespecies.idaho.gov or call 1-800-247-6332 for more information and purchase options.

Maps and Season Passes

Maps and Season Passes need to be purchased ahead of time; these items are not sold at the launch sites. You can order maps online from the National Forest Store at http://nationalforeststore.com/ or use the order form links to the right.

Shuttle and Flight Services, Equipment Rentals, and other business information is available from the local Chambers of Commerce:

Contact Information

Middle Fork Ranger District
HC 63 Box 1669
311 N. US 93 Highway
Challis, ID  83226-9304
(208) 879-4101 Fax: (208) 879-4198
Email: middlefork@fs.fed.us

Monday - Friday 8:00 - 4:30
Closed Weekends and Holidays