Floating the Salmon River

Updated May 26, 2020


As we work through an unpredictable and rapidly changing situation, health and safety is our priority.  We are committed to continuing support of our communities and fulfilling our mission as we work together to minimize the impacts and spread of COVID-19. 

The Salmon-Challis National Forest is currently issuing permits for the 2020 season to float the wild Salmon River. This decision aligns with Idaho Governor Brad Little's plan to re-open the state.

Permits will be issued virtually by e-mail for the remainder of the 2020 season. 

Permits may be issued if the trip leader can certify the group’s willingness and ability to meet and follow the health and safety guidelines for health, social distancing, cleaning, and travel as outlined by the State of Idaho and comply with any closure orders issued by the Forest. Before the permit is issued, the permit holder must sign an Addendum to the float permit, which documents their agreement to these orders. A Forest Service employee will contact the trip leader to review the terms and conditions of the permit, including the Addendum, and will also discuss what's expected during the appropriate stage of reopening. An outline of the Wilderness Ethics Talk for the Salmon will be provided to the trip leader, who will share this information with all trip participants.

Instructions regarding how to request a reserved float permit will be emailed to permit holders, along with the current status of Campgrounds, water systems, SCAT machines etc.; however, the permit issuing process, status of recreation sites etc. may evolve as the state transitions to stages three and four or if conditions change.  See below for current updates:

Self-sufficiency will be a critical component of trip planning. Restrooms at the launch site, Vinegar and Carey Creek may not be open and may be locked, campgrounds maybe closed, and water may not be available.

Due to possible campground closures, consider planning on arriving at the launch site on your launch date or camp in dispersed sites along the river road before you get to Corn Creek.

The SCAT machines at Riggins and at Newland Ranch are closed. Newland Ranch will have the hopper available, as well as a hose and water for rinsing porta-potties, and dumpsters for garbage.

Trip leaders are advised to bring everything possible (food and equipment) from home to minimize local interactions and to reduce supply impacts on small communities.

Local managers are continually monitoring and assessing the situation and will adapt as needed to changing conditions.


Please continue to visit this page for updates. Bighorn Sheep on the Salmon River


Enjoy your National Forest!

Know Before You Go!  Use of mothballs is a violation of 36CFR §261.9 (f) (Using any pesticide except for personal use as an insect repellent or as provided by special-use authorization for other minor uses). 

Please do not use mothballs to deter pests from your vehicles while parked at Corn Creek.  Corn Creek is seeing a increasing problem with visitors leaving moth balls spread out under their vehicles.  The thought is that the moth balls will deter marmots and mice from causing damage to their vehicles while they are unattended.  This use of mothballs harms visitors, employees, and wildlife.

Use or possession of Drones is not allowed within wilderness. To learn more, click here.

Salmon River Use for 2011-2017



Corn Creek boat ramp renovations completed October 2017

Ramp extensions



New Slab on upper ramp





Permits Required for the "wild" Salmon River

All boaters floating the wild section of the Salmon River are required to obtain a trip permit before launching at any time of the year. The section of river covered by this system extends from Corn Creek to Long Tom Bar. Boaters floating the South Fork of the Salmon River and exiting onto the wild section of the Salmon must obtain a tributary permit before floating. South Fork floaters will need to contact the McCall Ranger District at (208) 634-0600 for permit information.

Boating permits are required year-round. Outside the lottery season, the number of launches is unlimited, but a trip permit is required before launching. During the lottery season, a 21-day cancellation is required. Also during the lottery season, the size of the group determines the maximum length of stay.

The lottery period for the wild section of the main Salmon extends from June 20 through Sept. 7. During the lottery season, no more than eight float boat parties (commercial and non-commercial) are allowed to launch each day. Before June 20 and after Sept. 7, there are unlimited permits, but the computer lists 99; please note how many reservations have already been made before booking your pre/post season date. For details, information and instructions, visit  the Four Rivers web page.

Reserving a Permit for a Launch Date

All river lottery applications, reservations, cancellations and payments are handled by Recreation.gov. 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 beginning December 1; the deadline to apply is January 31, 11:59 p.m. For information about submitting an application, launch date calendars, demand and lottery statistics, visit the Four Rivers Lottery page first.


Reserve your launch date at Recreation.gov or by calling 1-877-444-6777.