dog-wood winter

Middle Fork Salmon River

The Middle Fork of the Salmon River is located in the northwestern United States in the Sawtooth Mountain Range, which is in central Idaho.


The Middle Fork is a section of the Salmon River. The Salmon River is the main tributary to the Snake River, which is the main tributary to the Columbia River. The other two sections are the Main Salmon and the Lower Salmon. The Salmon River has no dams on it at all. The Middle Fork is one hundred miles of whitewater. The nearest town is Stanley, Idaho. The Middle Fork's elevation starts at 7,000 ft and drops down to 3,900. Bear Vally Creek and Marsh Creek converge and make up the Middle Fork. The Middle Fork has around a hundred tributaries; some of the bigger tributaries are Rapid River, Loon Creek and Camas Creek. These three tributaries range from 20 to 25 miles long. The Middle Fork flows through 2,500 square miles of unforgiving territory . In these 2,500 square miles there are peaks that reach as high as 10,000 ft (Midmore 1-2).

You can choose an outfitter for a 5 or 6 day river trip in the summer. Go to


To go on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River you need to have a permit to go down. Getting a permit is not very easy. There are seven launches a day. The person that is seeking to go must enter lottery control season . To become a permit holder you have to be 18 years old. The permit holder must work with a group to take care of the fees. The permit cannot be given to someone else, and the permit holder must be there at all times on the river. The permit holder must make sure that the rules, which are given by the Forest Service, are followed. An example would be that they must have a fire pan and port-a-potty. The normal season goes from the May 28 and goes to the 3 September. For the pre and the post season launches are first come first serve


The Middle Fork has three hundred rateable rapids. The scale of the rapids rates from class I to class VI. Some of the well-known rapids on the Middle Fork are Dagger Falls, Velvet Falls, Power House, Pistol Creek, Tappan Falls, Red side, Weber, Cliffside, Rubber, Hancock and Devil's Tooth. All of these rapids are range from class III+ to class IV with Dagger falls being the only class V on the Middle Fork . Dagger Falls is just above the put in of the Middle Fork which is Boundary Creek. Velvet Falls is a class IV it is a big falls to avoid danger take the left side. Velvet Falls gets its name because it is smooth as velvet until the falls. Power House a class IV you have to pick your way through gaps and at the same time not get stuck on rocks. The river makes an S turn which is called Pistol Creek a class IV. A person must make sure that they don't let the water slam them on the last turn of the S. Tappan Falls class IV should be run in the middle of the rapid. It is a strait shot and hard paddling must also occur. Red side class IV there is a red big rock in the river and the river is trying to push you in to the rock; avoid the red rock them avoid the rock shorty after. Weber class IV is known for the big holes of whitewater that it makes. Make sure when entering the rapid to hit with speed and keep the boat strait. Cliffside class III+ as a big wave train that pushes you in to the side of the cliff. Rubber class III+ very big waves keep the boat strait and avoid rock on the right side. Hancock class III+ can be rocky at the top the river goes right and hit the wave train strait. Devil's Tooth class III+ have to put the boat in to a small gap to avoid flipping after going through the gap turn boat strait.

International Whitewater Rating System

Class Description I Easy moving water with a few riffles and small waves. II Easy to Medium rapids with waves up to 3 feet high, some obvious obstacles to maneuver around. III Medium to Moderately Difficult rapids with high irregular waves, narrow channels, rocks and holes, some maneuvering required. IV Difficult to very Difficult; long turbulent rapids with powerful waves and holes, many obstacles requiring precise maneuvering. V Extremely Difficult; long violent rapids that must be scouted from shore, dangerous drops, unstable eddy's, irregular currents. VI Unrunnable - Don't even think about it!

Hot Springs

The Middle Fork has 6 [nature hot springs] these hot spring are in the first 52 miles of the river. The hot spring are a very populiur place to stop on the river all these hot spring very in temperature . The six hot springs are Trail Flat, Sheepeater, Sunflower, Whitey Cox, Loon Creek and Hospital Bar. Trail Flat hot springs is 30 yards from and it has one pool. Sheepeater hot springs is a half a mile from the river there are three different pools they all range from super hot to just right. Sunflower hot springs is one of the hot springs that has a lot of different pools. There are five all together, also there is a part of the hot spring that come off the rocks and makes a shower. Whitey Cox's hot springs is up on a hill. The hot springs can hold a lot of people. It has a nice sandy bottom. Loon Creek hot springs is a hike to get to is a mile and a half up Loon Creek which come in to the Middle Fork, but a tub has been build out of wood giving you a nice view of Loon Creek. Hospital Bar is a small hot spring. One of the two pools is right inside of the river


Mule Deer Rocky Mountain Elk Bighorn Sheep Mountain Goat Bobcat Mountain Lion (Cougar) Coyote Otter Black Bear Moose Porcupine Chipmunk Skunk Weasel Badger Muskrat Wolf



Cutthroat Trout Rainbow Trout White Fish Dolly Varden Steelhead Chinook Salmon


Killdeer Osprey Belted KingFisher Common Merganser Water Ouzel Cliff Swallow Red- Tailed Hawk Golden Eagle Blue Grouse Ruffled Grouse Chukar Magpie Mourning Dove Great Horned Owl(Quinn 162-184/).


  • Midmore, Joe. Middle Fork History. Harrah's Club Inc. Lake Tahoe, NV, 1970.
  • Quinn, James M. Quinn, James W. Quinn, Terry L. and King James G. Handbook to the Middle Fork of the Salmon River Canyon. Commercial Printing Company Medford, OR, 1981.
  • Sierra Club. International Whitewater Rating Systems 2003
  • USDA Forest Service. The Middle Fork of the Salmon River 8 January 2008

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