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Rocky Mountain Outdoor Center
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Salida, CO

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site home  :: self guided home  :: U.S. river guide  :: Idaho River Trips  :: Salmon River Idaho

Kayaking & Canoeing Salmon River Idaho

Yankee Fork
 map of Yankee Fork
Put-in:  Polecamp Flat
Take-out:  Sunbeam
Difficulty:  Class III, IV
Length:  3 miles
Sunbeam Run
Put-in:  Basin Creek
Take-out:  Torrey Hole
Difficulty:  Class II, III, IV
Length:  13 miles
Panther Creek, Upper
 map of Panther Creek, Upper
Put-in:  Trapper Flat Campground
Take-out:  Birch Creek Campground
Difficulty:  Class III, IV, V
Length:  8 miles
Panther Creek, Lower
 map of Panther Creek, Lower
Put-in:  Clear Creek
Take-out:  Salmon Confluence
Difficulty:  Class III
Length:  4 miles
Pine Creek Run
Put-in:  Pine Creek
Take-out:  Panther Creek
Difficulty:  Class III
Length:  7 miles
The Main Salmon
 photos of The Main Salmon  map of The Main Salmon
Put-in:  Corn Creek
Take-out:  Carey Creek
Difficulty:  Class III, IV
Length:  82 miles
Vinegar Creek Run
Put-in:  Vinegar Creek
Take-out:  Riggins
Difficulty:  Class III, IV
Length:  25 miles
Riggins to Whitebird
Put-in:  Riggins
Take-out:  Hammer Creek
Difficulty:  Class II, III, IV
Length:  34 miles
Lower Salmon Gorge
 photos of Lower Salmon Gorge  map of Lower Salmon Gorge
Put-in:  Hammer Creek
Take-out:  Heller Bar
Difficulty:  Class III, IV
Length:  73 miles (53 on the Salmon, 20 miles on the Snake)


Idaho’s “River of No Return” Salmon River begins high in the Sawtooth Mountains and ends 425 miles later at the confluence of the Snake River. After Hell’s Canyon, this is the deepest gorge on the North American continent, and is considered the longest stretch of undammed waters in the Lower 48. Lewis & Clark declared this river impassable by boat or foot. The roller coaster rapids, comfortable sandy beaches, and remote location combine to make this river one of the most sought after whitewater adventures in the U.S.

Most private trips start at the put-in at Corn Creek and float 86 miles down to Vinegar Creek. There are plenty of options to extend your journey, the best of which is landing a permit to do the Middle Fork the week before. Boaters can also float past Vinegar Creek, and there are many opportunities to take out beyond there, although the river flattens considerably for the remainder of the journey.

The section after Corn Creek drops an average of 12 feet per mile and the rapids range from Class IIs to IVs, with the most difficult being “Big Mallard” and the mile-long “Elkhorn.” This is a high volume “big water” river and many rapids feature giant waves also known as haystacks. This is a great river for rafters and kayakers with intermediate skills.

The canyon is rich with history with historical sites ranging from Sheepeater Indian pictographs, to the famous “Buckskin Bill” lookout tower, to old cabins nestled in the woods. The scenery is equally stunning, with large pine and evergreen forests. Rafters will see sheep, deer, otters, ducks, eagles and beavers along this spectacular journey.

This is a permitted river, and boaters must enter into a lottery if they wish to run it during peak season.  Careful camp planning is important on this trip, and some sites may be reserved with the Forest Service on the day of departure.