Floating the Middle Fork of the Salmon River

Updated April 15, 2014

MIDDLE FORK BOATERS:

Boaters wanting a permit before the launch sites open will need to contact the District Office at least 3 work days prior to the launch date to obtain a float trip permit before launching. Please have all your trip information entered into Rec.gov, plus have a list of preferred camps before you call 208-879-4101 (M-F, 8-4:30).

 NEW: The Indian Creek Airstrip will be closed for several days in mid-May for grading and maintenance work. Employees plan to close and work on the airstrip May 12-16; however, weather and other variables may affect the timing. Indian Creek airstrip 

 

Spring boaters: There were numerous redds found in Marsh Creek last fall. Look for flagging along the banks near the Chinook salmon redd located between Boy Scout and Big Bend camps.  There are cameras monitoring boat activity and passage near identified redds. To see the redd locations, take a look at these maps to avoid impacts to them.

 2013 Middle Fork Redd Map * 2013 Marsh Creek Redds.

Marsh Creek Boaters: The Idaho Fish & Game's fish trap should be in place again on or about March 18, 2014. Fish & Game will position the trap near the middle of the channel until flows begin to rise (or the first boaters are scheduled to pass). At that point, F&G plans to move the trap downstream and towards river left to avoid the high flows, debris, and boaters. As flows recede and the last boaters are past, F&G will move it back toward mid-channel and position it for maximum efficiency (i.e., in the thalweg and up near the static line). The static line will flagged and should be about the same height as last year.

Boundary Creek Boat Ramp: The bottom boards have been retracted for the winter.

 

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. Photo: Sweep Boat in Cove Creek 2008. Sweep boat in Cove Creek 2008

 

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!                                  2013 Chinook Redds (mainstem)

 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