Floating the Middle Fork of the Salmon River

Updated June 14, 2018


Road maintenance equipment will move to the Boundary Creek Road starting June 14th. Grading should begin on Friday, June 15th and magnesium chloride should be applied Monday-Wednesday, depending on the weather. Maintenance of the Salmon River Road is scheduled for June 21-29. Use extreme caution when traveling these roads, expect delays, watch for heavy equipment and be alert for situations that affect the operators' safety and that of other drivers.

Log in First Bend Rapid; scout recommended.

Boundary Creek Guard Station is staffed 7 days a week, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. After lunch, employees are away from the office cleaning toilets at the campgrounds and transfer camp. They will return around 2:30 p.m. to begin checking boats and equipment, and will conduct the round robin at 3:30 p.m. The water system has been repaired, but is under a boil order until test results come back.

Indian Creek Guard Station is staffed 7 days a week, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Wild & Scenic Rivers Act 50th Anniversary Logo, transparent

The fish trap has been installed in Marsh Creek for the 2018 season. 

Permits are required year-round to be on the waters of the Middle Fork from Dagger Falls to the confluence.

Reserving a Permit for a Launch Date: For May 28-August 14 launch dates on the Middle Fork, there is a daily two-hour booking window, which opens at 8 a.m. Mountain Time. Reserve your launch date at Recreation.gov or call 1-877-444-6777. On the website, search for Middle Fork of the Salmon River then check availability. Available dates will be displayed with an "A" on the calendar grid; the first person to secure the reservation will obtain the launch date. Pre/post season launch cancellations are released randomly within 24 hours of submission (Aug. 15‐Sept. 15 launches are not reissued due to spawning salmon in the Middle Fork; these will have X's). For more information, see our press release.

For more about each of the Four Rivers (Selway, Middle Fork Salmon, Salmon and Snake), visit  the Whitewater Rafting Four Western Rivers page or the Four Rivers web page.


Snow on Fir Creek Summit, June 16, 2016

The road to Boundary Creek is still closed by snow.

When water levels are low, boaters should avoid floating or wading in 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.  Oarring or dragging a watercraft of any sort over a redd can damage it and kill the eggs and could be subject to penalties under the ESA.


All trip participants must watch the following video.

The Middle Fork of the Salmon River, home of the Shoshone-Bannock Tuka-Deka produced in 2016 by Charity Parks and featuring Diana Yupe.





 Wild & Scenic Rivers Act 50th Anniversary Logo, transparent Welcome to the remote and rugged mountains and rivers of central Idaho. Each year, approx. 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.   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-September 3). For more information about permit allocations, read the Permits and Reservations section.

All river lottery applications, reservations, cancellations and payments are processed through Recreation.gov. Lottery applications must be submitted online at www.recreation.gov and are accepted annually Dec. 1-Jan.31 (midnight Mountain 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 Salmon

* Check In, Boat Screening, River Camps and Permitting Procedures

Trip Requirements   - new - Must-Watch Video for all participants

Boundary Creek Ramp Etiquette             * River Camp List

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 & the Middle Fork     *  Middle Fork Salmon River Use

Chinook in the Middle Fork                  *  Preventing Illness Before It Starts

* Emergency Contact Information and Incident Reporting Form

* Sharing the River with Chinook Salmon – Avoiding Impacts While Floating


If you find a problem on the river pages, such as old information, broken links, or missing 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 for more information; to purchase your sticker(s), visit https://idpr.idaho.gov/Renewal/Default.aspx or call 1-800-247-6332 for more purchase options. Vendors.

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:

If you find a problem, such as old information, broken links, or missing pages, please email the url with a description of the issue to middlefork@fs.fed.us. Suggestions for content are also welcome.

Contact Information

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

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