fairly similar, but the Main obviously has a limited entry lottery, hot springs, blackbutte porter milkshakes, and way way way way way longer shuttle. Difficulty is similar, though I haven't had the opportunity yet to row the new rapid that backwatered salmon fallsAnyone able to give beta on how the Main Salmon compares to the Lower Salmon for a family friendly trip (ie, kids in duckies) at low to medium flows around end of July/first part of August?
got to disagree with mr slick a tad on this one, neither section resembles the Grande Ronde or John Day to a significant degree in my mind, and I think the overall single hardest move difficulty may be only a slight edge to the Main at low flow. Neither is packed with III or IV water, and the Lower has way way more Class II, and most of that is packed into 54 miles on the Lower Salmon, with few rapids on the 20 mile section of the Snake.Lower salmon is definitely significantly easier than the main at august flows.
Lower salmon has two significant rapids, IV Snow Hole and III China Bar. The Lower in August is a blast furnance of hot sand beaches, stellar swimming, and little shade. Much of the trip is a moving flatwater experience closer to the John Day or Grande Ronde than to the Main or Middle Fork Salmon.
The Main Salmon is packed with III whitewater, with several harder drops, and rapids are much more densely plentiful than the lower. It has some lovely forested camps in the first half of the trip, and very little flatwater to fight. I'd argue better hiking too.
A good tool for getting a sense of these rivers is Will Hansen's great site whitewatercampsites.com.
Both are good trips. For kids in iks, the lower will be much more appropriate. but August to me is a better time to be on the main, if the fires are not too bad. then again I can't handle the heat or sun of the lower in august, it's just too much sun for me.