» General Shuttle Logistics
Put in: Corn Creek
Take Out: Vinegar Creek
Shuttle Length: 400 mi.
To reach the put-in from the town of Salmon, take U.S. 93 north for 16 miles to North Fork. Turn left at the North Fork store. The put-in is 4 miles down the road at Corn Creek.
The take-out is on the far side of the state, 24 miles upstream from Riggins (U.S. 95) at Vinegar Creek.
Camping: There is camping near the put-in at two Forest Service campgrounds upriver from the confluence with the Middle Fork. Near the take-out, there is camping at numerous Forest Service campgrounds along the river between Vinegar Creek and Riggins.
Permits: A permit is required to run the Salmon between June 20 and Sept. 8. Cancellations are often available for short-notice trips. To obtain a permit, call or write the North Fork Ranger Station, Box 840, North Fork, ID 83466, (208) 865-2383.
Additional Information: A detailed river map is available from the Forest Service. For a mile-by-mile description of running the Salmon, see John Garren's Idaho River Tours. For a historical account of the river, see Johnny Carrey's and Cort Conley's River of No Return.
*for private parties
For much of the 425 miles that the Salmon River traverses Idaho, settlement is evidenced by nearby small towns, roads and commerce. Northwest of the rural mountain community of Salmon along the Continental Divide, the river veers west, abruptly leaving civilization behind. It is this 85 roadless stretch, from Corn Creek to Vinegar Creek that is known as the Main Salmon, the “River of No Return”.
Here the Salmon churns through the second deepest canyon in America, sometimes dropping precipitously through famous rapids; sometimes peacefully meandering near historic places of early settlement. No river in America provides a glimpse of our past as stunningly as this section of the Salmon. We travel near reminders of Native American and early pioneer settlement. Abandoned homesteads, cabins and mines remain nearby.
The Main is a big river with exceptional flows all summer. The water is warmer than most mountain rivers and there are plenty of rapids of varying difficulty from splashy Class II runs to adrenaline pumping Class III drops at Bailey, Split Rock, Bid Mallard, and Elkhorn. Camping is exquisite, often on big sandy beaches or at campsites tucked in groves of Ponderosa Pine or Douglas Fir.
Outfitted trips on the Main Salmon are usually 5- 6 days although some shorter trips are available. Typically, a variety of boats are used, with most outfitters offering paddle and kayaking options.
For people looking for a river rich in history with a variety of boating, hiking, and relaxation opportunities, the Main Salmon is a wonderful choice. It is a favorite for family rafting vacations and the perfect river for multigenerational reunions. In most years, the best time for families to visit the Main is mid-June through August, although spring and fall trips are spectacular as well. Abundant wildlife and breathtaking granite canyon vistas are yours to enjoy year round.