The Middle Fork of the Salmon (aka "The Middle Fork") is perhaps the best river trip in the world. This "bucket list" trip runs for 100 miles of nearly continuous rapids along with world class trout fishing, hot springs, wildlife, and amazing scenery. Permits are required and issued by the Forest Service through a competitive lottery that occurs each January. Middle Fork permit applications typically have a 1 in 25 chance of success.
Middle Fork of the Salmon River Guidebook
Matt Leidecker's Middle Fork of the Salmon River: A Comprehensive Guide is the most comprehensive mile by mile guidebook for the Idaho's Middle Fork of the Salmon River. This spiral bound book full of professional photos and detailed topo maps is printed on waterproof paper. It is the perfect guidebook for your next trip down this iconic river! Click here to buy now.
The Middle Fork flows through the heart of the Frank Church - River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho. The "Frank" is the second largest protected wilderness in the lower 48 states and famous for it's stunning mountains, wildlife, and for the Salmon River. This is a true wilderness trip!
ARTA River Trips (800) 323-2782 is a non-profit organization that runs 18 of the best rivers in the West.
Northwest Rafting Company (541) 450-9855 is an award-winning group of professional, well-trained guides that lead people down the most beautiful rivers in the world.
Most trips start at Boundary Creek, a beautiful 90 minute drive from Stanley, Idaho. When the water drops in late July some groups choose to start their trip into the Indian Creek Ranger Station to avoid the first 25 mile which are quite difficult and hard one equipment at low water.
Mile 0: Put-in at Boundary Creek. Most people arrive the night before to rig their boats and slide them down the boat ramp.
Mile 0.9: Murph's Hole is hardly noticeable at normal flows but can flip rafts above 4 feet. As the river gets higher this rapid becomes more difficult. It can be scouted by hiking down from Boundary Creek the night before you launch.
Mile 5.1: Velvet Falls is one of the most notorious rapids on the Middle Fork. At higher flows (5 feet and above) the falls become a boat flipping hole that is difficult to miss.
Mile 18.5: Rapid River enters from the left side.
Mile 21.7: Lake Creek Rapid was formed by landslides from Lake Creek. The most recent blowout was on July 26, 2006 and sent logs downstream to Pistol Creek which spanned the river and were eventually blown out by dynamite.
Mile 22.1: Pistol Creek Rapid is a classic s-turn rapid between vertical walls. You can scout on the right by catching the large Eddy above Lake Creek or a smaller eddy just below Lake Creek Rapid.
Mile 25.5: Indian Creek Airstrip is an alternate put-in that is commonly used at really high (> 6') and lower water (< 2.2'). You can fly all or part of your equipment into this airstrip. The Forest Service has a camp here and is set up to issue permits.
Mile 32.5: Marble Creek Rapid (III-) is at a right hand turn in the river. It has a large wave on the left and a sticky hole on the right at most flows.
Mile 50: Loon Creek enters on the right hand side. Most groups camp near Loon Creek as there is a great hot spring about a mile up the creek.
Mile 57: Grouse Creek Rapid (II+) is a fun S-turn rapid and a good warm up for the Tappan Rapids downstream.
Mile 58.2: Tappan I (III-) is the first of the Tappan Rapids.
Mile 58.5: Tappan Falls is the biggest rapid in the Tappan Rapids.
Mile 59: Cove Creek Rapid (or Tappan 2 1/2) changed Tappan III and part of Tappan II after the Cove Creek landslide in 2008. Since this rapid was formed by a recent landslide it changes each season.
Mile 60.3: Camas Creek is a major tributary that enters form the right.
Mile 67.8: Haystack and Bernard Rapid come in quick succession soon after the Flying B Ranch.
Mile 78: Big Creek enters from the left marking the beginning of the Impassable Canyon. There is no trail along the river downstream of Big Creek as cliff walls commonly rise from the river.
Mile 80.3: Veil Falls is a popular stop. Eddy out on the right and hike up through boulders to a beautiful cave and waterfall.
Mile 82.2: Redside Rapid (III) comes right after the river takes a sharp turn to the right.
Mile 82.6: Weber Rapid (III) is a fun series of hydraulics that comes up quick following Redside.
Mile 88.3: Cliffside Rapid (III) follows a long calm stretch. It's fairly easy at higher flows and at lower flows forces you against the cliff wall on the right. Lower Cliffside Rapid (III) follows soon after.
Mile 91.1: Rubber (III+/IV) is typically one of the bigger rapids in the Impassable Canyon. At lower flows it's pretty straightforward, but at higher flows it has some large hydraulics that commonly flips boats.
Mile 99.5: Cramer Creek Rapid (IV) was formed when Cramer Creek flash flooded in 2003. Due to the combined flows of the Middle Fork and Main Salmon, this is a Grand Canyon style of rapid with big waves and hydraulics. It can be easily scouted from the right bank.
Mile 100: Take-out at Cache Bar. This can be a very congested take-out so please be respectful of others. If you want to have a relaxed take-out, arrive after 2 PM.