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Old 06-18-2011   #1
Avon, Colorado
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 38
Lower Salmon Beta?

Hey all, I'm planning a trip to the Salmon in late July. The last week to be exact. Looking for any info you can give me on this stretch. Great camps, do's/don'ts, side hikes, shuttle companies, anything you deem worthy. I'm also wondering what I should expect the flows to be in another month, and where to find releases and proposed flows. As of now the river is running steady around 55,000 cfs and I've heard that this stretch is not runnable unless it's under 20,000 due to Slide rapid being to dangerous. True/False? Thanks for any insight. ad

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Old 06-23-2011   #2
Cottonwood Heights, Utah
Paddling Since: 1977
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 5
I've floated the Lower Salmon/Snake every year since 2004. Put in at Hammer Creek (near Whitebird), take out Heller's Bar (near Lewiston). I've been using All Rivers Shuttle in Whitebird for years (Google them) and have only good things to say about them. My diesel truck died one year but Michelle went way past the call of duty to ensure it was waiting for me at the take out.

Make sure to get a copy of "Lower Salmon River Boater's Guide" pubilshed by the BLM - it's a GREAT river map - if only all maps were this good.

CHeck out Lower Salmon Gorge Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing Trip on the Salmon River in Idaho - Whitewater Kayak & Canoe Lower Salmon Gorge - Lower Salmon Gorge Whitewater Kayak & Canoe Trip. There you'll find a link to the USGS stream flow. I just checked back to 1980 and there have been a small handful of flows hitting 20k CFS in July and my guess is those were in early July. There are no "releases" on the Salmon - I think it's the last undammed significant river in the continental US!

You can find 2006-2010 Lower Salmon pics by googling "picasa robboat". The campsites rock! All sandy beaches, no mud anywhere, great fishing. Not much shade and it gets pretty damn hot down there - bring some sort of portable shade in July . Let me know if you've any questions and I'll try to help.


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Old 06-23-2011   #3
Cottonwood Heights, Utah
Paddling Since: 1977
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 5
Forgot to mention Slide Rapids - under 10k CFS, it's pretty washed out (highest I've done it was ~7k) but there's not really any place to scout it. Snow Hole and China Rapids should be scouted (both from river left). You'll start running into jetboats ("River Vermin") once you near the confluence with the Snake. Afternoon winds on the Snake are predictably up-canyon and can be a bitch - a motor or early morning starts are recommended...
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Old 06-23-2011   #4
Cottonwood Heights, Utah
Paddling Since: 1977
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 5
One other thing - once you're on the Snake, the releases from Hell's Canyon Dam slow at night and can raise water level by mult. feet - secure those boats! Woke up one morning to see an unmanned raft floating by. Got it secured and sure as hell an hour later comes a group that were pretty jazzed to recover their boat.
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Old 06-27-2011   #5
Fort Collins, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 30
any one else with some tidbits?

is the river gonna be below 10k by the end of July??
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Old 06-27-2011   #6
Cottonwood Heights, Utah
Paddling Since: 1977
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 5
Originally Posted by ofrogg View Post
any one else with some tidbits?

is the river gonna be below 10k by the end of July??
Historical data is available at
USGS Surface Water data for USA: USGS Surface-Water Monthly Statistics

Select the "Discharge, cubic feet per second" criterion, input a date range into "Date range for statistics calculation of all selected parameters" and then submit. You'll have to draw your own conclusions but the mean July (that's for all of July...) discharge is 13,300.
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Old 06-27-2011   #7
lll100's Avatar
spokane, Washington
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 76
The Slide ok below 20,000

The Slide is quite runable below 20,000cfs. I've done it a bunch in 16 ft boats. It flipped me on a 12 ft cat @ 15,000. It is easily scouted on river left. If you go in with good momentum and point your boat toward river right, you will make it fine. All the power is in a lateral wave coming off river right. Square up to it and Hi-side, the rest of the river is washed out for the most part. Good luck.
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Old 06-27-2011   #8
Grangeville, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 102
Beaches with shade - Packer's Creek beach (last beach before Cougar Canyon:river right), Skeleton Creak Beach (right after Skeleton Creek rapid: river left). I would avoid camping between Eagle Creek Rapid and Wapshilla Rapid just because there is a dirt road along the river there and usually it is full of car campers and ATVer's. White House Bar has huge beaches but sometimes you can find evidence of other trips like litter, food scraps and poo. There is also a lot of poo when you get close to the confluence with the Snake (Pullman Mine and Eye of the Needle) because the Jet Boaters use that for their bathroom going in and out from Hell's Canyon There is a sweet log jump about 7 miles into the trip right across from Schwartz Bar. Eddy out river left below the log and walk back up. Less than a mile past the log on river right is a trail that leads to a pictograph. You can also find old Chinese stone houses right below Half and Half on river right and at the scout for China Rapid. As for flows pretty sure you'll be fine with Slide. PM me if you have any other questions. Good chance I'll see ya out there!!
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Old 06-27-2011   #9
Grangeville, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 102
Correction: the eddy for the log jump is on river right
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Old 06-27-2011   #10
lhowemt's Avatar
at my house, Montana
Paddling Since: 2020
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 4,346
Ignore historical flows, this year is blowing all the models and correlations. 55K now, will it be below 10K? Probably not I'd guess but who the hell knows. Do you have this yet?
Lower Salmon River

Look for the map pages, I think you might even be able to order it. The first canyon section from Hammer is beautiful. I recommend camping in it. Quite a few good camps right before Snowhole canyon starts, then a few nice secluded ones on the oxbow. China scout is a walk in the park, Snowhole scout can be dangerous and cannot be walked. Slide cannot be scouted or walked. You can see jetboats anywhere, although not through snowhole canyon. They usually access from above or below, and your flows may limit them. Below the oxbow it gets really open and hot as shit, with a few houses here and there so I didn't like camping there. Blue canyon is gorgeous, try to camp near/in there. Many many small camps that are in my opinion better then fighting other people for the big ones or inadvertantly sharing. I wanted to do some hiking, but it's not really there although I may just not know. It's usually a quick blast through and not somewhere people spend a lot of relaxing time or layover days.

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
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