Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 04-27-2010   #1
DeeGardiner's Avatar
Sandy, Utah
Paddling Since: 1975
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 83
Main Salmon mid-June advice needed

We have a permit for the Main Salmon on June 22. I have never run the Main prior to mid-July before, so I am looking for some advice on a mid-June run.

1) The river will likely be higher than I have run it in the past. Our group consists of a few families. We all have fairly good experience (Main, Middle Fork, Deso, Lodore, etc), but we usually don't take the full family when on the more challenging rivers. This will be a full family trip - so I don't want too much risk of flipping or a nasty swim. How high is "too" high for families in 14' and 16' rafts? I was thinking somewhere around 6' on the gauge at Corn Creek. Thoughts?

2) What is the weather usually like this time of year? I know the MF can be very cold and wet and maybe even snow. Same for the Main? Or is it low enough that it should be less severe?

3) Any suggestions on camp sites for high water? Which ones are good? Which ones will be under water or too hard to land?

4) Any other advice for mid-June?

DeeGardiner is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-27-2010   #2
surrounded by mountains, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1981
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 475
great family fun, but be safety minded

We did a multi-family trip putting on 6/30 last year. It had dropped to 15,000 by then in a big snow year for the north. The Main had peaked out over 85,000 earlier that month I think. I don't think they had as much snow this year.

It was my wife and I's honeymoon with my kids. Her and my then 12 and 14 year old daughters and I all kayaked. We had a big group with rafts, a conoe, and sometimes duckies. My wife and youngest daughter had a couple of swims, but were not scared. The other daughter styled it in the JK Punk Rocker. They all portaged two or three of the hardest rapids by loading their boats onto the rafts. It was a fantastic trip, though. The weather was excellent and the beaches are phenominal.

The whirlpools were challenging for the gals. They're in most rapids and definitely at the end of all. Most rapids were fun 6' wave trains. Only a few were class III+ or IV. We had a two person, father/daughter, open canoe ont he trip also. They had a lot of excitement, but did well with my helping guiding and or rescue them. We only had one raft flip during the trip and had they been paying attention it wouldn't have happened.

15,000 fairly big volume, but the rapids are not really very difficult. Lower volume should probably be easier. However, please do not allow anyone in the water at camps without pfds on. The current is strong and full of whirlpools. We did encounter a camp swimming drowning from another group. I, too, foolishly swam an earlier rapid at a camp with a pfd on and was exhausted trying to get back to shore. Any swimmers should be fine in the rapids but do need to have good pfds and be rescued by boat, either raft or kayak. It is a wide river and at those volumes or higher it is difficult to get out. I was the safety kayaker and worked hard to get anyone out. Nonetheless, I loved all the rapids. In many I would just hold my paddle out of the water and just use my edges to let the waves toss and surf me around. Some waves were big enough to actually pitch me 8 or 10 feet through the air from one wave to the next. They were all fun and none really very hard. Just fun.

The hardest part of the whole trip for us was the killer drive. I recommend taking two days each way. We did the 24 hr straight through marathons and it was killer. I also might suggest you consider hiring the jet boat companies to take your group and gear from the takeout to the put in and avoid the car shuttle. We paid to have cars shuttled and it became an issue with keys not left in one vehicle and was equally expensive, too. Checking out the jet boat shuttle might be worthwhile. The jet boat rides are cool. We got treated to two by one of the generous boat owners that liked our camp sites and parties going on.

Bottom line: It's a great trip for families and was great weather by then. Here are a couple of river level forcast links to be checking. One is way down stream and the other upstream. So, neither are accurate for what you will have on the Main section, but can help give you an idea of what the trend is.,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1

Hope this helps. Have a great trip!


No risk, no reward. It is not that we have to, it is that we get to. Preparation and education are essential to self-confidence and success. - KV
"If there is no risk there is no adventure."- Bill Briggs
Ken Vanatta is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-27-2010   #3
lhowemt's Avatar
at my house, Montana
Paddling Since: 2020
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 4,347
Here is the forecast from the "oracle", the NRCS snow survey group that has a worthwhile forecast, even long term.

The flows will be low, likely more comparable to last year's mid July. Of course it all depends on the weather, which can vary ANY season in this country. The water is going to go FAST, there's not much snow up there. Rain could extend it, or it could flush it all out too. Prepare for sunny and 80-90, and also cold and raining. It should be less severe than the MF, but that is all relative. June is typically the rainiest month, or pretty close. I believe the El Nino pattern, as it breaks, is supposed to give us a bit more moisture this summer. Unless it makes it hotter and drier.

I can't comment to whether or not this is appropriate for your "family" trips, you don't mention which rivers you consider more challenging and don't take the kids on. I consider the Main a mellow family float, suitable for my dogs who don't like big rapids. I think late June would be a good time for them this year.

Here's some info for campsites:

Whitewater Rafting Campsites | Resources for Planning Rafting Trips
I am a river, babe - I've got plenty of time, I don't know where I'm going, I'm just following the lines..... - "We are water" by Shaye
lhowemt is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 04-27-2010   #4
pocatello, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 471
given the flow for the last few days, the amount of water in the snowpack and a bit of magical guessing I would say you are going to be fine.

The river seems to be peaking fairly early and in a fairly sustained manner. the combined flow from MF and Shoup gauges has been 6000+ for a week. If memory serves this puts it above 6' on the corn creek gauge. I don't see a second peak in the future.

The main isn't nearly as prone to rain surges as the MF and smaller creeks. the drainage is so big it averages out a bit.

I think we'll see flows below 3' by June 15.

Have fun
fiya79 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2010   #5
bozeman, Montana
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 6
In one of the posts above Ihowemt refers to a year comparison graph of flow on the Salmon River. Does anyone know where on the NRCS site you can request this type of graph or is it something they issue every so often (and where to find an update)?
mtcarys is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2010   #6
cataraftgirl's Avatar
Sandy, Utah
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,120
The Main Salmon is my favorite river trip. I've done it every year for the last 10 years, anywhere from Mid-June to September. We launch on June 12. We are expecting flows to be below 3.0ft by then. It appears that the Main has peaked this past week or so and is heading down. At least that's the way it looks. Here's the rule of thumb I use .... take the flow at Shoup, add it to the MF flow at the mouth near Shoup and this gives you an approximate flow at Corn Creek. 10,000 cfs (give or take) = 3 ft. 7800 cfs = 2 ft. 5600 cfs = 1 ft. We always do family trips, and take kids at flows below 3 ft. As for camps, there really aren't any "bad' camps on the Main. Except maybe Swimming Hole ..... hot, no shade, and the "swimming hole" is a mucky back water that requires hiking over a boulder field to get to. It's my least favorite camp. By June 22 you should be golden. Weather on the Main is usually pretty good, but can vary a lot in June. Have a great trip.
cataraftgirl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2010   #7
cataraftgirl's Avatar
Sandy, Utah
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,120
One other resource. Check out Rafting The West website. Will has done an awesome job of documenting all of the campsites. You can see pictures of all the camps.
cataraftgirl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2010   #8
ednaout's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 966
This is great info. I am going to be on from 5/29 - 6/3. The forecast is for low temps of 35/night and 60s/days. Not too bad for temps. The water does, indeed seem to be coming down a bit. I'm interested to see the flow over the next couple days leading up to our launch.
Anyone that has ANY input on a late may/early june launch, I would be happy to hear it. This is my first Salmon trip so bring on the advice!


"You know that old trees just grow stronger and old rivers grow wilder, everyday..."
ednaout is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-26-2010   #9
cataraftgirl's Avatar
Sandy, Utah
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,120
I haven't done it quite that early, but I'm guessing you'll be somewhere between 2.5 - 3.0 ft. That's a great level. Rapids to watch for / scout - Bailey, Salmon Falls, Big Mallard, Chittam, Vinegar. The scout for Salmon Falls isn't easy, so you may just want to go for it. Remember on Big Mallard the run is down the left, between the shore & the huge hole. On Chittum, stay away from the wall if you can. Best guide book is by Eric Newell (Black Canyon Guides publication). It has spot on descriptions of camps, rapids, and rapid diagrams.
Other must-do things - a stop at Buckskin Bills for ice, soda pop, ice cream, and to check out the little museum, a soak in Barth hot springs, and another stop for milkshakes, ice, soda pop at Mackey Bar. If you have time, stop at as many for the old homesteads as possible - Jim Moore, Campbells Ferry. Polly B, Shepp Ranch.
Have a great trip.
cataraftgirl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-26-2010   #10
ednaout's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 966
Thanks, that's all great info...I'm going to see if I can track down that guide book today -
I should have mentioned that I would be in my kayak...I will probably do some rowing too but primarily small craft.
KJ- every year for the past 10 years! WOW! What a great tradition: )
Thanks again!

"You know that old trees just grow stronger and old rivers grow wilder, everyday..."
ednaout is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Topic Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Raft Support Needed for Middle Fork Salmon Launch June 10 barry Whitewater Rafting 4 02-07-2010 04:39 PM
Main Salmon-Rafters Needed COUNT Rafting | Trip Planner 10 06-11-2009 01:42 PM
Anyone Running the Salmon Mid June? Paco Kayaking | Trip Planner 1 06-04-2008 10:26 AM
Anyone with a Mid June Middle Fork or Main Salm Launch Date? reynolcm Whitewater Kayaking 3 05-16-2006 10:56 AM
Anyone with a Mid June Middle Fork or Main Salmon Launch? reynolcm Kayaking | Trip Planner 0 05-15-2006 08:32 PM

» Classified Ads
Pyranha S6F

posted by CFriday

2008 Pyranha S6F. Stopped paddling in 2008, been stored in...

Used Pyranha 9R...

posted by Rendezvous River Sports


NRS Whitewater Kayak...

posted by sunsurfsnow

Brand new, still has tag. Price is $20 less than retail and...

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

Our Communities

Our communities encompass many different hobbies and interests, but each one is built on friendly, intelligent membership.

» More about our Communities

Automotive Communities

Our Automotive communities encompass many different makes and models. From U.S. domestics to European Saloons.

» More about our Automotive Communities

Marine Communities

Our Marine websites focus on Cruising and Sailing Vessels, including forums and the largest cruising Wiki project on the web today.

» More about our Marine Communities

Copyright 2002-2012 Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 09:49 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.