Welcome to the remote and rugged mountains and rivers of Central Idaho, where over 10,000 people float the Middle Fork of the Salmon River each year. The Middle Fork is a 104-miles of crystal-clear water that flows through the heart of the Frank Church--River of No Return Wilderness and is one of the original eight rivers in the nation designated as Wild and Scenic on October 2, 1968.
The Middle Fork originates 20 miles northwest of Stanley, ID, at the intersection of Bear Valley and Marsh Creeks, and is known world-wide for extraordinary whitewater float trips. A multitude of class III and IV rapids offer boating excitement and challenge as part of a non-motorized floating experience with many technical runs. These multi-day float trips offer a wide sampling of scenic beauty along the banks, including alpine forests, high mountain deserts and a sheer, rock-walled canyon—the third deepest in North America!
Beyond rafting, the area offers natural hot springs, prime fly fishing (catch-and-release only), scenic wilderness hikes with glimpses of prehistoric paintings and abandoned settler cabins, dazzling night skies, and geologic evidence of the river’s continuing efforts to carve its way through the Idaho Batholith.
The Middle Fork employs a permit system to protect the river and wilderness resources from excessive human impacts. As part of that protection plan, we ask you to learn and practice “Leave No Trace” ethics. Because of the remote location, man's presence in the area was somewhat limited, leaving it in the condition we see today. In fact, there are a small number of trails, landing strips, private ranches and Forest Service stations that serve as evidence of man's intrusion. If you choose to hike from one of the river campsites, you may even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of how past inhabitants lived!
Float permits are required year-round to be on the waters of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, with a limit of seven launches per day. Permits to float this river are very popular; if a date does not show on the calendar, all launches have been reserved for that date. Note: The Recreation.gov Call Center does not have access to additional reservation dates beyond what is visible on the website.
Cancelled permits are made available to the public randomly within 24 hours. However, cancellations for launch dates of August 15 through September 15 are not released due to Chinook salmon that spawn in the Middle Fork and its tributaries.
Idaho's Dept. of Fish and Game has installed the fish trap in Marsh Creek for 2021.
If you have a rollover reservation that needs to modified, you must contact Recreation.gov for assistance. Due to a permissions error, you will not be able to make modifications online; these must be done by creating a ticket with the Contact Center .
You can use the chat feature on the Recreation.gov website or call 1-877-444-6777 (Mon-Sun 10:00 AM ET - 12:00 AM ET); afternoons and evenings typically have shorter wait times.
Please tell the agent that you have a rollover reservation for a permit on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River and tell them the facility advised you to have a ticket created for a Customer Care Advocate to assist you with modifying your reservation. They should give you a ticket/case number for reference; if they do not, ask to speak to a supervisor.
A Customer Care Advocate will call you from an unidentified number to make the modifications needed and accept payment if monies are due. You can confirm their authenticity with the case number and your reservation number.
A float permit is required year-round to be on the waters of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River; only seven permits a day are allowed.
Booking a reservation allows the individual to obtain a permit to float this river.
The launch date is the first day that watercraft should hit any section of the river. The permitted stretch begins at Dagger Falls and ends at the river’s confluence with the Salmon.
During the lottery control season (May 28 through September 3), only one permit per person is allowed.
Cancelled reservations are made available to the public randomly within 24 hours. However, cancellations for launches for Aug. 15 through Sept. 15 are not released to help protect spawning Chinook salmon.
Big Creek floaters are required to obtain a Tributary Permit from the McCall District Office, but they are not required to obtain a Middle Fork permit if they will go all the way out in one day. Big Creek is only open to floating June 1 through July 31.
When applying for or reserving a launch date on this river, I certify that:
Group size determines trip length during the Lottery Control Season (May 28-September3):
Outside the Lottery Control Season, the maximum group size is 24 and the maximum trip length is 8 days.
Permit Terms and Conditions
The safety of visitors and protection of this wonderful, natural resource are top priorities. As such, securing your permit comes with agreement from you and your guests to the following:
Reservation or Lottery Application Fee: $6.00. This fee is non-refundable.
Special Recreation Fee: All persons floating the Middle Fork of the Salmon will pay $4.00 per person per day, or have a valid Salmon Rivers Season Pass (local pass).
The permit holder must submit complete and final payment of the entire group’s recreation fees prior to the reserved launch date. This must be done in their reservation within their Recreation.gov account using a credit card. Cash and check payments cannot be accepted at the launch site for river fees.
More information can be found here.
Cancellation Policy – 21 days
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