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!
As we work through an unpredictable and rapidly changing situation, health and safety is our priority. We are committed to continuing support of our communities and fulfilling our mission as we work together to minimize the impacts and spread of COVID-19.
The Salmon-Challis National Forest is currently using a virtual process to issue float permits for reserved launch dates to float the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Instructions regarding how to request camps and issuance of a reserved float permit are being emailed to permit holders.
Any available cancelled reservations for the remainder of the season can be reserved on Recreation.gov. Permits are required year-round, with a limit of seven launches per day.
Boaters should be aware that there have been positive COVID-19 cases associated with river trips, and an increase of cases in local communities, the state of Idaho, and nationwide.
Permits may be issued if the trip leader can certify the group’s willingness and ability to meet and follow the health and safety guidelines for health, social distancing, cleaning, and travel as outlined by the State of Idaho and comply with any closure orders issued by the Forest .
Before the permit is issued, the permit holder must sign an Addendum to the float permit, which documents their agreement to these orders. A Forest Service employee will contact the trip leader to review the terms and conditions of the permit, including the Addendum, and will also discuss what's expected during the appropriate stage of reopening. An outline of the Wilderness Ethics Talk for the Middle Fork of the Salmon River will be provided to the trip leader, who will share this information with all trip participants.
Launch ramp offices are periodically being staffed for the sole purpose of reviewing a copy of boaters' signed permits prior to launching. If the launch ramp office is staffed, the trip leader must present the signed permit to Forest Service personnel prior to launching.
Self-sufficiency will be a critical component of trip planning. Trip leaders are advised to bring everything they need (food and equipment) from home to minimize local interactions and to reduce supply impacts on small communities.
Local managers are continually monitoring and assessing the situation and will adapt as needed to changing conditions. Please continue to visit this page for updates.
Need to change your exit date?
Please click on the calendar to change the date; do not click the Modify button/link to avoid errors.
Then, check each group member's exit date to ensure these are correct also.
This permit authorizes the permit holder to float the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.
A permit is required year-round to be on the waters of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, and only seven permits a day are allowed. During the lottery control season (May 28-Sept 3), only one permit per person is allowed. The permitted stretch begins at Dagger Falls and ends at the river’s confluence with the Salmon. Your launch date is the first day that your boats should hit any section of the river.
Big Creek floaters must obtain a Tributary Permit from the Krassel Ranger District but they are not required to obtain a Middle Fork of the Salmon launch reservation and permit if they will go all the way out in one day (no overnight stays). Because chinook salmon spawn in Big Creek, tributary permits are only allowed from June 1 through July 31. Contact the Krassel District to obtain a tributary permit.
Need to Know
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
311 N US Highway 93 Challis ID 83226
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