Floating the Main Salmon River Equipment Requirements

  1. Confirmation Email
  2. Government Issued Photo Identification of Group Leader*
  3. Porta Potty
  4. Metal Fire Pan (min. 144 sq.in. w/3-inch sides)
  5. Ash Container (prefer metal)
  6. Mesh Strainer (fine enough to filter coffee grounds)
  7. Shovel
  8. Bucket

*Individuals using a Season Pass and/or Senior or Access Pass (formerly Golden Age or Golden Access passports) will need to present them with a photo ID.

To launch on the Wild and Scenic Main Salmon River, the following equipment is required.  These items will be checked by launch site personnel prior to the issuing of a boat permit.

Fire Pan and Ash Containers

All boating parties on the Wild Section of the Main Salmon River are REQUIRED to carry fire pans and a sealable metal or a heavy-duty plastic container for ashes. Bottle or liquid gas stoves may be used but MUST BE ACCOMPANIED BY A FIRE PAN. This way all floaters will be prepared to have a campfire in case it is needed.

Clipart of a fire in a fire pit.A fire pan can be any metal container with 3-inch sides or more, and large enough to prevent your fire and ashes from spilling onto the ground. Unmodified garbage can lids are unacceptable. It is a good idea to use some type of grill with legs to set cooking utensils on. Barbecue grills make good cooking surfaces.

Driftwood is often plentiful; please gather only what you will use while in the camp and avoid creating large piles of driftwood. You are only allowed to use dead wood that is on the ground for your fires; do not strip branches from trees. Chainsaws are prohibited in the Frank Church -River of No Return Wilderness.

It is recommend that you carry a supply of charcoal for your fire pan, just in case the camps have been cleaned of wood or fire restrictions go into effect. During periods of extreme wildfire danger, open fires may be restricted to charcoal only in your fire pans, or complete closure to open fires. Prior to launching, please check to see if fire restrictions have been put into place.

For an ash container, you must have a metal or hard-plastic container with a sealable lid, such as an ammo-can, a five-gallon paint can or a heavy-duty plastic bucket. Plastic bags are not permitted.

Recommendations for using your fire pan:

  1. Before the fire is built, elevate pan off the ground three to four inches by using small rocks; this will prevent the scorching of vegetation or leaving a hot spot in the sand for someone to step on.
  2. Place a 1/2 inch layer of sand or dirt on the bottom of the pan. This prevents pan burnout and lengthens the life of your fire pan.
  3. Use small wood for your morning fire. Let your fire burn down as completely as possible.
  4. Scoop ashes into ash container, pour and stir a small amount of water into ashes to dampen. This procedure will cool down any hot ashes that are left. Pouring water into fire pan causes the pan to warp.
  5. When you rebuild your fire, place the dampened ashes into your fire pan in place of the sand or dirt. Repeating this procedure every day continually burns the old ashes to a fine powder.
  6. Do not burn plastics or metal; these are likely to produce toxic fumes.

Human Waste Carry-out Equipment

All boating parties on the Wild Section of the Main Salmon River are REQUIRED to carry a porta-potty with sufficient capacity to carry out all human and pet feces for their group.

One simple way of transporting solid waste is to use airtight ammo boxes. Commercial units are widely available and may be a good investment if you plan to run a lot of rivers. Compact dry toilet systems (waste alleviation and gelling) are not SCAT machine compatible and will only be acceptable for the Human Waste Carry-out Requirements on the Main and Middle Fork Salmon Rivers if they meet EPA Group II waste standards and their waste bags can be disposed of in landfills. These systems must be accompanied by a waterproof hard-shell container to hold the used waste bags. It is recommended that the gel bag system only be used for emergency day use.  Large amounts of human waste belong in a treatment system, not he landfill.

Your equipment will generally include:

  • Commercial porta-potty or ammo cans (the big ones commonly 18”x8”x14”). Sand and paint the inside of your potty for ease in emptying and washing. Coat with a non-stick spray or cooking oil before use. The number of people and the length of the trip determine the number of cans or tanks (a person generates approximately 1 lb. of waste per day). It usually takes one large ammo can to hold 70 to 80 person-days of waste, so for an 8-day, 10-person trip, you would only need one ammo can for waste and one for equipment.
  • Toilet seat and toilet paper
  • Deodorant chemical that is compatible with the SCAT machine
  • Hand-washing bucket, soap, and a garbage container (sack) for feminine hygiene items, wipes and other items that do NOT go into the porta-potty (because they will plug up the SCAT machine).
  • Straps to secure the toilet to the SCAT machine for cleaning (usually two 3-foot straps for ammo cans, longer ones for bucket and some commercial types)

Urine should go in the river, or on the wet sand at the river’s edge. If a "pee bucket" is used, dump that into the current. Helpful hint: On the morning of your take-out, add water to your porta-potty. This helps loosen materials and makes the unit easier to clean at the SCAT machine.

The SCAT machines are located at the Chevron Station in Riggins and at Newland Ranch, one mile down river from the North Fork Ranger Station. This machine dumps and sanitizes 20mm ammo cans, 5-gallon buckets, and high tech toilets, operating somewhat like a giant dishwasher. Operation of the machine is free, but you will need to supply the straps. An RV dump station port is also available for porta-potties that are not compatible with the SCAT machine. Do not put anything in your potty that might clog the screen or the grinders! Sand, ashes, toilet or hand wipes, sticks, kitty litter and other foreign matter will plug the machine and create costly repairs and down time.

Place all garbage in the dumpsters. An aluminum recycling station is available for your convenience. Proceeds go to the Ronald McDonald House of Idaho. Your cooperation is appreciated. 

Strainer, shovel and bucket

Clipart of a shovel.All boating parties on the Wild Section of the Main Salmon River are REQUIRED to carry a mesh container capable of straining coffee grounds and food particles from liquids; and a shovel and bucket for campClipart of a bucket. sanitation and emergency firefighting situations. Use your strainer to filter out all food particles from your dishwater and cans. Use the buckets to catch the liquid wastes from your meals and your dishwater, and then toss the water over a broad area above the high water mark. Use any soap products well above the high water mark, even biodegradable soap. Liquids (leftover pop, coffee, etc.) should be diluted and put into the current; grease should be burned or packed out. Folding shovels are acceptable.