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Old 02-27-2014   #1
tmaggert's Avatar
Carbondale, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 100
Main Salmon Early May BETA

Does anyone have information on a early May (11th-17th) Main Salmon tip? Will Salmon River Road be passable? Enough water for 14'-16' rafts? I have seen the Snowtel data at ~88% so I am thinking there will be enough. The only time I've run the Main was in August of 2009 and there was plenty of water.

Before anyone says, "SEARCH", I have done some searching here and on Google and can't find too much information. Maybe my searching skills just suck. The best info I could find was in a recent post about a Middle/Main trip in July:

Originally Posted by Rich View Post
Did it in 6 nights/ 7 days in late May (4.5') and had plenty of time to hike & soak. Of course 2' will be slower but very doable. We camped at the confluence (river left) on a huge gravel bar even at high water. Makes an early AM check-in easy. Since it was pre season we had no reserved campsites. Also at high water there are very few beaches. Saw a couple groups on the MFS, did not see anyone on the Main.

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Old 02-27-2014   #2
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Longmont, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Jun 2008
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We did a Main trip in 2009 around May 15th I think. No problem with the Salmon river road. Water levels were moderate and rising - plenty of water for 14'-16' boats. After the first day we had a big rain/snow storm that came in so be prepared.
We did a Jet boat shuttle back to Corn creek.

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Old 02-27-2014   #3's Avatar
lafayette, Colorado
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I'm looking for an educated guess from someone with Mid June experience. What should I expect for June 19 water conditions and weather on the main salmon. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-27-2014   #4
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salmon, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 639
I drove to corn creek a week ago... The road wont be an issue at all lots of big rocks to drive around. I watched the main here in salmon go over 7 feet in april two years ago... I wouldn't be worried about too little water at all because it really isnt ever too low... I would be worried abour being really high.. you never know when it's going to heat up and come off really fast..
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Old 02-27-2014   #5
West of Boulder, CO
Paddling Since: 1996
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We put on the Main June 19th of last year. Plenty of water but a little cool and rainy. Surprisingly few people given that it was the last day before permit season.
"Nothing says dirtbag like a mylar pillow with a spigot."
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Old 02-27-2014   #6
pocatello, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 471
The main is never so low you can't go. The ice just cleared I hear. Some of my buddies run a traditional spring break Main trip. 5 days. Kind of a lot of rowing at low flow but very managable.
I think the road is always open. Or at least you can launch a bit higher and extend the trip just a hair if it doesn't happen to be plowed buy by May it would have to be insane to not be open.
I echo the Salmon local codycleve. My concern would be sudden high water.
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Old 02-28-2014   #7
Tenacious B
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Boise, Idaho
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Posts: 82
High water on the MS = a shit ton of fun. 60k+ is an awesome flow on the ms.
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Old 02-28-2014   #8
Join Date: Sep 2006
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We did 6 nights all the way to Riggins. At high water (55k+) it goes fast and we had plenty of time to hike. Below Carey Creek are some great hot springs at French Creek and several very big rapids/wave trains above Riggins. The Riggins boat ramp is also within walking distance to several bars and liquor stores! The shuttle is also less expensive to Riggins.

All the big beaches on the Main disappear, but you also will not be competing with a lot of other trips for camp spots. We had planned on camping between Big Creek and the confluence but there were no beaches at all and that whole stretch took an hour +/-. We ended up camping on river left at the confluence on a large gravel bar.

Ideally you would have some people join you for the Main to restock, but I'm guessing one of the shuttle companies could drop off a fresh cooler or two.
There is actually a river resort on river left just above Corn Creek where you could spend a night and shower and sleep in a real bed.

A Grand Canyon length trip, but in Idaho! Enjoy!
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Old 02-28-2014   #9
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Grand Junction, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1978
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 523
As these hydrographs illustrate, the Salmon (Main and Middle) is usually rising and can peak in mid-May so having enough water will not be an issue. Be prepared for rain, sometimes pretty constant. Will be low hanging clouds, drizzly, etc. 3-5 feet is a great level. We've run it at 6 and 7 in early June though in those ranges it's really flushing. Nice wave trains, etc. but not as enjoyable as lower flows and of course it's fast and cold and hazardous swimming if a big hydraulic gets you. I'm told 5 feet is actually the "sharpest" level insofar as crunchy holes, etc. At 6,7,8 its big and pushy but manageable if you stay T'd up and run conservative (i.e. go around the big ones, don't be a hero).
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Old 02-28-2014   #10
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I.F., Idaho
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 9
There will be plenty of water in May, I know guys that run it in October every year with no real issues. In May be prepared for a chance of snow, and cold swims dry suit or 6mm wet suit. Even if it is sunny the air may only get to the high 60's or low 70's, with water that was snow the day(s) before. Did I mention cold swims?

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