Floating the Middle Fork of the Salmon River

Updated May 22, 2015


Boundary Creek and Indian Creek are open seven days a week, 7:00-5:30. Water is on at both sites, but Indian Creek's needs to be treated at this time.

The SCAT Machine is having issues and needs to be pumped on a regular basis. Help us reduce the cost of pumping the system by only running your toilets through the least amount of times possible (hopefully just once). Extra cycles add more water into the system that must then be pumped out and hauled off by truck. Adding a little water before you leave camp on your last morning should help loosen the contents.

BOATER REPORTS: Conditions are constantly changing; these reports are typically received after the river trip is completed.

Log between Jump Off and Goat Creek Rapids May 12th

May 12th: River patrol took this picture (above) of the logs between Jump Off and Goat Creek rapids. There was a slot to the right they were able to take their rafts through on the 12th (water level was 3.81 feet that morning). Scout this spot due to changing conditions and fluctuating water levels.

May 11th: Boaters reported a submerged log in the right side of the drop in the last Tappan rapid.

Logs May 10th May 10th photo courtesy of private boater Scott; taken from upstream.These logs were covering about 3/4 of the river between Jump Off Rapid and Goat Creek Rapid. Scout for current runs.

May 6 Marsh Creek run - The river patrol reported 6 strainers above the Bear Valley confluence, emphasizing they require precise rafting skills as they are technically difficult to maneuver around. An email received May 3rd reported a root with appendages partially obscuring the passage maybe 3/4 the way down.  An April 18th launch group said there is a tree across the bottom of Dodge Creek Rapid that's very difficult to avoid and suggested a scout from the big flat above. The first boaters who launched April 15th reported a partial avalanche that is tight for rafts; they believe it's about 3 miles above Bear Valley Creek. The Idaho Fish & Game fish trap has been installed in Marsh Creek. 


Avoid Chinook Salmon redds. There were 9 redds identified in the mainstem of the river in 2014; 8 between Boundary and Indian Creek; 1 near Big Creek. Review these maps , to avoid grounding or trampling these redds. To see a picture of the redd at Ramshorn, click here.

If launching downstream of Indian Creek,  boaters must contact the office AT LEAST 3 work days before the launch date to arrange to receive a float permit.

Search for 2015 cancellations and pre/post season launch dates at www.recreation.gov or call 1-877-444-6777 to check availability. 

 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 float6 2010 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

 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        Middle Fork Salmon River Use

2013 Gastroenteritis Outbreak Report       Chinook in the Middle Fork

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