Middle Fork Salmon campgrounds: book day of departure? - Mountain Buzz
 

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Old 06-06-2013   #1
 
penguin's Avatar
 
Tahoe City, California
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 57
Middle Fork Salmon campgrounds: book day of departure?

Hey all,

I'm a permit holder for an early August launch at Boundary Creek on the Middle Fork Salmon. From our location in California, this trip can be very long when you combine the drive on both sides, so we're driving in one day from Truckee to Stanley, and then going to Boundary the morning of our launch. There are nine people in our party.

Normally, campsites are chosen at 3:30 pm the day before your launch. However, we don't really want to camp at the put-in the night before - it's just too much after a heck of a long drive, so we'll stay at a hotel in Stanley or somewhere nearby the night before launch.

Sounds like you can still choose campsites the day of the launch.

Salmon-Challis National Forest - Water Activities

http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_...rdb5345683.pdf

So my question:

1. Do you think that the campsites would be badly picked over if we wait until the launch day to make our choices, since we'd be choosing from leftovers?

2. As our party size is less than 10 people, do you think that nice campgrounds would be left over for us since most parties are greater than 10 people? The list above implies that many sites are for 10 or less people.

I guess I just don't want to get wrapped up in the "gotta be there, go go go" trip to get there so quickly just to negotiate campsites. Perhaps I'm looking for justification for what many of you think might be a bad idea - choosing campsites the day of launch! To me, any trip on the MF Salmon is a fantastic opportunity.

Would love your thoughts!

Thanks,

penguin

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Old 06-06-2013   #2
 
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portland, Oregon
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I've never arrived at Boundary in time for the pow wow. I've always been happy with the campsites on the trip. Yeah, every so often you wind up with one not up to the usual standards, but there are few that you will say "boy did we get screwed"

I've stayed overnight at boundary every time, once arriving at 1am. It's about 1:15 from Stanley I think, and if you are driving from boise you can be at boundary about the same time you roll into Stanley.

You should reconsider. You can be rigging and launching your boats while someone is organizing breakfast. If you are launching in August, especially this season, you will want every minute you can be on the water

With a 10 person group in August you will have your choice in sites on the first night. I would recommend you stay at the first hot springs (cant remember the name) but its after Velvet. Unless of course you can score Sunflower
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Old 06-07-2013   #3
 
Walterville, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1977
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Quote:
Originally Posted by penguin View Post
1. Do you think that the campsites would be badly picked over if we wait until the launch day to make our choices, since we'd be choosing from leftovers?

2. As our party size is less than 10 people, do you think that nice campgrounds would be left over for us since most parties are greater than 10 people? The list above implies that many sites are for 10 or less people.
I wouldn't get too twisted up about getting to Boundary Creek the day before just to reserve campsites. You will still choose campsites on your launch day. It probably will not make much of a difference because you are a small group and the USFS will not let you reserve the larger sites even if you are there the day before.

We often camp on the South Fork Payette, have a nice breakfast at the Sourdough Lodge (8406 Highway 21, mile post 84, 11 miles East of Lowman), drive to Boundary Creek and launch that day.
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Old 06-07-2013   #4
 
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stanley, Idaho
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 61
OK I'll throw in my 2 cents here.

If you can't make it for the 3:30 pick, I'd tell you you'll miss some great camps, but the point was spot on before me- you're a small group and the FS won't let you take big camps in that meeting anyways. Side note: if you're nice and the camp is open that morning they'll let you score it as all the other groups passed it up.

The hot spring is Trail Flat, it's after Big Bend and Velvet. Warning here, great hot spring, it's a bitch of a pack up that hill and with low water you'll be packing up 100 yards of rocks before you even get to head up the hill. Still it's a good camp and after a long day on the top end you'll welcome it.

Sunflower- it was mentioned, I LOVE this camp- in JUNE!! By August it's over run with ivy, so be careful. It's got the best kitchen on the river, period. The view while you cook can't be matched. It's between the 2 eddies up on like rock over look. Problem is with the ivy and 9 people, you'll be sleeping in the trail just to have room.

Getting there the day of isn't an issue, you'll be good. Going to Stanley is out of your way and I would almost advise against it. Stay in Boise or camp in Lowman, tons of sights on the way, if you're a hot spring lover head to pine flat, it's on the way, look it up.

As for water- it'll be gone so get on the water ASAP, give yourself 2+ days on the top, you'll thank me later. Plus the fishing is EPIC on the top, this year it should be killer if it doesn't get too hot. If you're not on the water by Noon I would not go more than 12 miles...
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Old 06-07-2013   #5
 
Helena, Montana
Paddling Since: 1976
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How about Sheepeater Hotsprings? If you can't get it camp at Scout and short hike to Sheepeater. Then, when at Sunflower, camp across at Lost Oak and ferry over to Sunflower
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Old 06-07-2013   #6
 
Jenks, Oklahoma
Join Date: Oct 2004
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For what it is worth

If memory correct, last years trip down the middle fork was my 6th trip.

I am sure I have not hit all the camps but think I have hit most of them.

Including a couple located on the last night's section that I had been told were just awful. Turns out the landings are a tad more difficult than others but not that bad.

Not a bad camp ever.

Enjoy your trip. This is a classic river trip and you are lucky to get a permit no matter where you camp.
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Old 06-07-2013   #7
 
Lake Oswego, Oregon
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Why drive to Stanley and then backtrack to Boundary? We leave Portland at about 10 am, drive up through Banks, party in Crouch, and stay at the Sourdough Lodge ( has nice hot tub) in Lowman. 2 hours from there to the put in and you can gas up and have a nice breakfast in their restaurant. Don't drive up 21 (way too many curves), go up 55.

I think it is much less stressful to get there a day early and pick your campsites and get your boats rigged the day before launch. The people who get there at the 3:30 time should have campsite priority over the groups who show up the day of launch. You could ask to share some large campsites with other groups or you can challenge (coin flip) for a campsite if you really want it, but the people who picked their campsites the day earlier really do have first dibs. I think that is bad river karma to come in late and ask for a coin flip. Nicole (the head ranger at the put in) said she has only seen 5 coin flip challenges in her 3 years of working at Boundary.
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Old 06-07-2013   #8
 
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portland, Oregon
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You may be able to phone the ranger, give them an idea about what larger camps you may want to split with a smaller group, and what day or days you might reach that point.. Maybe during the powwow another small group requests those larger sites, maybe they would be willing to split with you in your absence.

They've always been accomodating to our small groups, and we've only had two bad sites in three trips (bees and flys)
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Old 06-07-2013   #9
 
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portland, Oregon
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You can search online there is a site with pictures of the river campsites
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Old 06-11-2013   #10
 
McMinnville, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1974
Join Date: Sep 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by penguin View Post
Hey all,

I'm a permit holder for an early August launch at Boundary Creek on the Middle Fork Salmon. From our location in California, this trip can be very long when you combine the drive on both sides, so we're driving in one day from Truckee to Stanley, and then going to Boundary the morning of our launch. There are nine people in our party.

Normally, campsites are chosen at 3:30 pm the day before your launch. However, we don't really want to camp at the put-in the night before - it's just too much after a heck of a long drive, so we'll stay at a hotel in Stanley or somewhere nearby the night before launch.

Sounds like you can still choose campsites the day of the launch.

Salmon-Challis National Forest - Water Activities

http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_...rdb5345683.pdf

So my question:

1. Do you think that the campsites would be badly picked over if we wait until the launch day to make our choices, since we'd be choosing from leftovers?

2. As our party size is less than 10 people, do you think that nice campgrounds would be left over for us since most parties are greater than 10 people? The list above implies that many sites are for 10 or less people.

I guess I just don't want to get wrapped up in the "gotta be there, go go go" trip to get there so quickly just to negotiate campsites. Perhaps I'm looking for justification for what many of you think might be a bad idea - choosing campsites the day of launch! To me, any trip on the MF Salmon is a fantastic opportunity.

Would love your thoughts!

Thanks,

penguin
I can't get enough of the MF, just wrapped up a May 29 float. Totally awesome outside of a rude encounter with a total jerk taking out at Cache Creek behind us. In thirty years of running rivers it was my first encounter with such behavior. What topped it all was we made a huge effort to rescue his boat at Otter Bar and barely got it back to camp. Left it untied on shore. He was running the river solo, this guy, his wife, and 3 dogs walked down river from Cradle to Otter hoping they would find it. Totally insane! I mean what would this guy have done had we just let it float on by? I would suggest if at all possible you arrive at the South Payette River at least 2 days prior to launch. Arriving at Boundary at 10 o'clock the night before or the day of launch is crazy. Camp at Pine Flats 5 miles east of Lowman, great hot springs. Arrive at Boundary the day prior to launch, grab a breakfast at the Sourdough Lodge 10 mile west of Lowman. You can reserve a campsite at Pine Flats or Boundary ahead of time at Recreation.gov. You will have very low water this year in August, I mean bad. Keep an eye on the conditions, you may have to fly into Indian Creek if you have big boats.
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