Floating the Middle Fork of the Salmon River

Updated Oct. 13, 2015


ATTENTION:  There is a river wide log just above Velvet Falls.  Boaters MUST portage around this log. 

The Boundary Creek office is closed for the season. Indian Creek will close down October 12th.

Boaters launching from Boundary Creek must stop at Indian Creek Guard Station to pick up their permit before Oct. 12th. Camps are first-come, first-served; however, Little Soldier Camp is closed due to Chinook salmon redds in front of the camp.

If launching downstream of Indian Creek, or arriving after the morning of Oct. 12th, boaters must contact the office AT LEAST 3 work days before the launch date to obtain their float permit. 

Middle Fork near Murph's Hole looking upstream Sept. 2015

Chinook salmon have built numerous redds in the river and its tributaries. Boaters are asked to watch for Chinook Salmon redds this fall and in the spring. Maps are posted at Boundary Creek and Indian Creek, and are available for the mainstem of the Middle Fork as well as above Boundary Creek and in Marsh CreekBoaters should avoid floating the tributaries, including Marsh Creek, to avoid dragging through or stepping on redds. Section 9(a)(1) of the ESA prohibits taking of endangered species without a permit or exemption.  Any action that harasses, wounds, or kills an individual of a listed species or harms a species by altering habitat in a way that significantly impairs its essential behavioral patterns is a taking (50 CFR 222.102).   Civil penalties can be up to $25,000 per violation, and criminal penalties can include fines up to $50,000 and/or a year in prison per violation.  Oaring or dragging a watercraft of any sort over a redd can damage/kill the eggs and could be subject to penalties under the ESA. To see a picture of a redd at Ramshorn, click here.

 The Waterfall and Stoddard fires have moved away from the river canyon and are being managed as part of the Middle Fork Complex. Watch for rolling logs and rocks as you float through the fire area, and be alert for new hazards in and along the river. Fire information and maps can be found at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4485/ .  

A new interpretive sign was installed at Indian Creek this summer; enjoy!  New Interpretive Sign at Indian Creek July 2015

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

Aug. 22: A Ponderosa pine tree fell into the river about 50 yards above the Little Creek Bridge on River Right. It is in the main channel, but boats have been able to get around it.

May 31: There were some very large trees that came down at Hospital Bar and have changed the middle landing. Use caution as you approach.   May 11th: Boaters reported a submerged log in the right side of the drop in the last Tappan rapid.  The Idaho Fish & Game fish trap is centered in Marsh Creek.  

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


Running Pistol Creek Rapid June 23, 2015 

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.   Upper Middle Fork June 2015 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

Trip Requirements                                     Chinook in the Middle Fork

Description of Launch Sites                      River & Wilderness Ethics

Required Equipment Details & Tips          Equipment Restrictions

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      Preventing Illness Before It Starts  

New River Camps!                                  Boater Info (RiverTracks)

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