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Middle Fork Of The Salmon (4 Rivers)

Welcome to the remote and rugged mountains and rivers of Central Idaho, where over 10,000 people float the Middle Fork of the Salmon River each year. The Middle Fork is a 104-miles of crystal-clear water that flows through the heart of the Frank Church–River of No Return Wilderness and is one of the original eight rivers in the nation designated as Wild and Scenic on October 2, 1968.В

The Middle Fork originates 20 miles northwest of Stanley, ID, at the intersection of Bear Valley and Marsh Creeks, and is known world-wide for extraordinary whitewater float trips. A multitude of class III and IV rapids offer boating excitement and challenge as part of a non-motorized floating experience with many technical runs. These multi-day float trips offer a wide sampling of scenic beauty along the banks, including alpine forests, high mountain deserts and a sheer, rock-walled canyon—the third deepest in North America!В

Beyond rafting, the area offers natural hot springs, prime fly fishing (catch-and-release only), scenic wilderness hikes with glimpses of prehistoric paintings and abandoned settler cabins, dazzling night skies, and geologic evidence of the river’s continuing efforts to carve its way through the Idaho Batholith.В

The Middle Fork employs a permit system to protect the river and wilderness resources from excessive human impacts. As part of that protection plan, we ask you to learn and practice “Leave No Trace” ethics. Because of the remote location, man’s presence in the area was somewhat limited, leaving it in the condition we see today. In fact, there are a small number of trails, landing strips, private ranches and Forest Service stations that serve as evidence of man’s intrusion. If you choose to hike from one of the river campsites, you may even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of how past inhabitants lived!

Notifications and Alerts

    • The Indian Creek and Boundary Creek/Dagger Falls water systems have been shut down and winterized so there is no water at either launch site or campground. Bathrooms are no longer being maintained.
    • The bottom boards of the Boundary Creek boat ramp have been removed to prevent damage during high water next spring. If you use them, please return to their storage location before launching.
    • The SCAT machine at Newland Ranch has been closed and winterized for the season.
  • Notice: Eligible 2020 reservation holders were given the option to defer their permit launch date to 2021 if their travel and/or trip plans were impacted due to concerns regarding COVID-19. Due to these deferments (rollovers), a reduced number of launches will be available for allocation through the 2021 lottery; some dates do not have any launches available. Calendar slots identifying the number of non-commercial (PVT) launches are available on the Four Rivers Lottery web page. Please review the number of available launches before submitting your application.

    We thank you for your understanding at this time, and for your continued interest in floating the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.

    Permit & Season Information

    This permit authorizes the permit holder to float the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.В

    A permit is requiredВ year-round to be on the waters of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, and only seven permits a day are allowed. During the lottery control season (May 28-Sept 3), only one permit per person is allowed. The permitted stretch begins at Dagger Falls and ends at the river’s confluence with the Salmon. Your launch date is the first day that your boats should hit any section of the river.В

    Big Creek floaters must obtain a Tributary Permit from the Krassel Ranger District but they are not required to obtain a Middle Fork of the Salmon launch reservation and permit if they will go all the way out in one day (no overnight stays). Because chinook salmon spawn in Big Creek, tributary permits are only allowed from June 1 through July 31. Contact the Krassel District to obtain a tributary permit.

    Need to Know

    When applying for or reserving a launch date on this river, I certify that:В

    • I understand that this is only a reservation and that I must obtain a signed hard-copy permit before launching;
    • I understand that this launch date is not transferable and will cancel if unable to use;В
    • I will become the responsible person for this group and will provide a complete passenger list;В
    • I must be present and accompany the group at all times while on the river;В
    • I am/will be at least 18 years old by the launch date;В
    • I am not currently being penalized for a no-show or late cancellation on this river;В
    • I will only submit one application for this river’s lottery;В
    • I understand that my reservation or lottery award may be revoked if I have submitted duplicate applications or am being penalized;
    • I understand that I am limited to one permit during the lottery control season and may only hold one launch reservation during this season;В
    • I recognize that this reservation/application is for a private (non-commercial) float permit unless authorized as a commercial operator on this river.В В

    Group size determines trip length during the Lottery Control Season (May 28-September3):В

    • Non-Commercial Trips:В В
      • Group Size (21-24) – Maximum Trip Length: 6 Days (5 nights)В
      • Group Size (11-20) – Maximum Trip Length: 7 Days (6 nights)В
      • Group Size (1-10) – Maximum Trip Length: 8 Days (7 nights)В В В

    Outside the Lottery Control Season, the maximum group size is 24 and the maximum trip length is 8 days.В В

    Watercraft limit: В

    • There is a maximum of 12 watercraft per permit for August 15 through September 15 launches due to spawning Chinook salmon.В В

    Permit Terms and ConditionsВ

    The safety of visitors and protection of this wonderful, natural resource are top priorities. As such, securing your permit comes with agreement from you and your guests to the following:В В

    • Camp in the assigned camps listed on the permit. All group members must camp together. Although assigned to boating parties, this does not imply exclusive use; you may need to share with other Forest users.В
    • Carry and use the following required equipment:В В
      • Portable toilet – make sure you have carrying capacity for your group size and trip length.В
      • Fire pan – required even if you do not plan to build a fire.В
      • Ash container – use this to carry out all campfire ashes and charcoal.В
      • Mesh strainer – use this to strain food particles from your dish- and gray-water.В
      • Shovel and bucket— to help extinguish fires.В В
    • Ensure all boats are clean, drained, and dry with appropriate Idaho Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) stickers. All watercraft must be inspected prior to going into the river.В
    • Pick up all garbage including foil, plastic bottles, cans, cigarette butts, and micro-trash, and carry them out of the river area to a provided dump site and recycling station.В
    • Do not use soap, not even biodegradable soap, in any stream, river, lake or hot springs. These are harmful to the environment.В
    • Carry and display permit upon request of any Forest Officer.В
    • Leave all archeological artifacts and natural features intact. (Take home only pictures and memories.)В
    • Observe all local, state and Federal laws and regulations.В
    • Public nudity is prohibited.В
    • The Middle Fork of the Salmon River runs through the Frank Church–River of No Return Wilderness . All Wilderness areas have a number of regulations in place which are designed to protect the resource. Mechanical transport and motorized equipment are not allowed in Wilderness; this includes bicycles, carts and boat motors. Hangliders are prohibited in order to preserve the aesthetic value of wilderness. The use of Drones (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) is not allowed within wilderness. Drones (UAS) are considered to be aircraft, and are both “motorized equipment” and “mechanical transport”. As such, these aircraft cannot take off from, land in, or be operated from congressionally designated wilderness areas. To learn more, see the USDA Forest Service’s Recreational Drone Tips and visit Unmanned Aircraft Systems on the FAA’s site.

    Fee Policy

    Reservation or Lottery Application Fee: $6.00. This fee is non-refundable.

    Special Recreation Fee: All persons floating the Middle Fork of the Salmon will pay $4.00 per person per day, or have a valid Salmon Rivers Season Pass (local pass).В В

    The permit holder must submit complete and final payment of the entire group’s recreation fees prior to the reserved launch date. This must be done in their reservation within their Recreation.gov account using a credit card. Cash and check payments cannot be accepted at the launch site for river fees.

    More information can be found here.В

    Cancellation Policy

    Change PolicyВ

    • The launch date and the permit holder’s name cannot be changed, but other details can be changed prior to the permit issuance.В
    • The permit is non-transferable. If you cannot go on your reserved launch date, you must cancel it.

    Cancellation Policy – 21 daysВ

    Explore Middle Fork Of The Salmon (4 Rivers) in Salmon-Challis National Forest, Idaho with Recreation.gov. Welcome to the remote and rugged mountains and rivers of Central Idaho, where over 10,000 people float the Middle Fork of the Salmon River each year. The Middle

    Salmon River (4 Rivers)

    The Salmon River originates in the Sawtooth and Lemhi Valleys of central and eastern Idaho. Springs and snowmelt feed this wild river as it makes its way through the second-deepest gorge on the continent; only Hells Canyon on the Snake River is deeper. The Salmon’s granite-walled canyon is over 1,000 feet deeper than the Grand Canyon. For approximately 180 miles, the Salmon River canyon is more than a mile deep.В

    The wild section of the Salmon consists of 79-miles of free-flowing river in the heart of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, between Corn Creek and Long Tom Bar.В

    The Main Salmon River is a renowned whitewater/wilderness float trip, known for its history, scenic beauty, big water, and sandy beaches. The Salmon provides an amazing mix of adventure and tranquility that makes it an excellent family trip. Each year, approximately 10,000 people float this beautiful river.

    The Salmon River is historically known as The River of No Return. For more than 105 years after the first European Americans came to the area, only one-way trips down the river were possible. The most commonly used boats were wooden scows, designed to carry heavy loads and withstand whitewater. They were then dismantled and used for lumber at the trips’ conclusion. It was from these trips that the Salmon’s nickname, “River of No Return,” originated.

    The Salmon 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 ethics. Because of its remote location, man’s presence in the area was somewhat limited, leaving it in the condition we see today.

    Notifications and Alerts

    Notice: Eligible 2020 reservation holders were given the option to defer their permit launch date to 2021 if their travel and/or trip plans were impacted due to concerns regarding COVID-19. Due to these deferments (rollovers), a reduced number of launches will be available for allocation through the 2021 lottery; some dates do not have any launches available. Calendar slots identifying the number of non-commercial (PVT) launches are available on the Four Rivers Lottery web page. Please review the number of available launches before submitting your application.

    We thank you for your understanding at this time, and for your continued interest in floating the Salmon River.В

    Permit & Season Information

    This permit authorizes the permit holder to float the Wild section of the Salmon River.

    Permits are required year-round for individuals wishing to float the wild section of the Salmon River, which extends from Corn Creek to Long Tom Bar. The “typical” season on the Salmon runs from June through September. If floating during the shoulder seasons (spring and fall), plan accordingly for cold weather and or high water. Winter weather can limit floating opportunities December through March.

    Boaters floating the South Fork of the Salmon River and exiting onto the wild section of the Main Salmon must obtain a tributary permit before floating. South Fork floaters will need to contact the Krassel Ranger District at (208) 634-0600 for permit information.

    Need to Know

    When applying for or reserving a launch date on this river, I certify that:В В

    • I recognize that this launch date is not transferable upon securing this reservation and that I will become the responsible person for this group;В
    • I am not currently being penalized for a no-show or late cancellation on this river;В
    • I will only submit one application for this river’s lottery;В
    • I am/will be at least 18 years old before the launch date;В
    • I understand that I am limited to holding only one permit at a time, and one total permit for the Salmon River during the lottery control season;В
    • I recognize that this reservation/application is for a private (non-commercial) float permit unless authorized as a commercial operator on this river;В
    • I will be with the group and on the trip for the entire duration;В
    • I will provide a complete passenger list.В В

    The safety of visitors and protection of this wonderful, natural resource, are always our top priorities. As such, securing your permit also comes with agreement from you and your guests to the following:В В

    • Observe all local, state and Federal laws and regulations.В В
    • The use of Drones (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) is not allowed within wilderness. Drones (UAS) are considered to be aircraft, and are both “motorized equipment” and “mechanical transport”. As such, these aircraft cannot take off from, land in, or be operated from congressionally designated wilderness areas. To learn more, see the USDA Forest Service’s Recreational Drone Tips and visit Unmanned Aircraft Systems on the FAA’s site.
    • All boaters must maintain group integrity; maximum distance of 1/4 mile from person or boat with party. If party has a reserved camp, a boat can be sent ahead of group to set up camp.В В
    • A maximum of 2 kicker motors are allowed per float party. Motors cannot exceed 10 horsepower.В
    • Carry and display permit upon request of any Forest Officer.В
    • Leave all archeological artifacts and natural features intact. (Take home only pictures and memories.)В
    • Bring the following required equipment for safety and convenience. Equipment will be checked at put in:В
      • Portable toilet – make sure you have carrying capacity for your group size.В В
      • Fire pan and ash container – use this when building fires and to carry out all campfire ashes and charcoal.В В
      • Mesh strainer – use this to strain food particles and other materials from your dish- and gray-water.В В
      • Sand stakes are required for securing rafts.В В
      • Shovel and bucket—use this to help extinguish fires.В В В
    • Ensure all boats are clean, drained, and dry with appropriate Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) stickers.В В В

    Group Size and trip length:В

    During the Lottery Control Season, (June 20-September 7), group size determines trip length.В В

    • Non-Commercial Trips:В В
      • Group Size (21-30) – Maximum Trip Length: 6 Days (5 nights)В
      • Group Size (11-20) – Maximum Trip Length: 7 Days (6 nights)В
      • Group Size (1-10) – Maximum Trip Length: 8 Days (7 nights)В В В

    Outside the Lottery Control Season, the maximum group size is 30 and the maximum trip length is 10 days.В

    If you have a spring float reservation, call the North Fork Ranger District (open M-F) at 208-865-2700 several days prior to your launch date to make arrangements regarding obtaining your permit before going on the river. The launch site is intermittently staffed until late May.В

    Fee Policy

    The Reservation/Application Fee ($6.00) is non-refundable. All persons floating the Main Salmon River must also pay a recreation fee in the amount ofВ $4.00 per person per day or have a valid Salmon Rivers Season Pass.

    Fee Payment

    The permit holder is responsible for submitting complete and final payment of recreation fees for the entire group’s recreation fees ($4.00 per person per day) at least three days prior to arriving at the launch site. Fees must be paid at Recreation.gov using a credit card.

    Season pass holders and trip participants using a Senior or Access Pass for a fee discount must present their pass, along with their photo ID, to the launch personnel issuing the permit.

    A fee reduction of 50% is available to Senior and/or Access Pass holders (formerly Golden Age or Golden Access Passports). The Interagency Annual Pass (America the Beautiful Annual Pass) does not qualify for a discount on any river fees.

    The permit holder must list any Pass holders and their pass numbers in their reservation (Season, Senior or Access) at the time of final payment for the group. Eligible discounts apply only to the pass holders and do not apply to other group members.

    Season Passes

    The $40.00 Salmon Rivers Season Pass entitles the pass holder to float the Middle Fork and/or Salmon Rivers without additional Recreation Fees for one year from the date of purchase. Passes are valid for the pass holder only and do not apply to other group members. Passes and river maps are not available at the launch sites and must be purchased ahead of time.

    Cancellation Policy

    Change PolicyВ В

    • Changes can be made until three days prior to your launch date. The launch date and permit holder’s name cannot be changed.В
    • The permit is non-transferable. If you cannot go on your reserved launch date, you must cancel the reservation. Exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis for medical or special circumstances by calling the North Fork District office at 208-865-2700.В В

    Cancellation Policy – 21 daysВ В

    Explore Salmon River (4 Rivers) in Salmon-Challis National Forest, Idaho with Recreation.gov. The Salmon River originates in the Sawtooth and Lemhi Valleys of central and eastern Idaho. Springs and snowmelt feed this wild river as it makes its way throug ]]>