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Salmon River Highlights

Ideal Camping Conditions: Idaho has a brief but dry and hot summer that typically kicks in around late June and ends in late August.  During this time, temperatures on the Salmon River will range from 80 to 100 degrees and it is rare that it rains.  There are no mosquitoes on the river.  River temperatures start out in the high 60’s in early July and warm up to the low 70’s by the third week of July.  The hot air temperatures coupled with mild water temperatures, lack of rain and bugs makes for ideal camping.

Isolated River Canyons: The Salmon River canyons are not within a designated Wilderness Area, but most of the land surrounding the river is public lands managed by the BLM.  The area has the feel and look of wilderness, however there are a couple of places where roads reach the river.  Still, for the most part, this is a roadless river experience.

Fun, Intermediate Whitewater: The rapids on the Salmon River are mostly fairly straight forward intermediate, class III rapids.  Rapid ratings have to do with difficulty, not how big the waves are, and rafting the Salmon River Canyons has some fantastic rapids with long series of large waves that make for a fun, roller-coaster ride.

Since this is a remote and isolated area, there is a good chance to see wildlife on the Salmon River.  Deer and river otter are a couple of the more common sightings. There are also eagles, hawks and falcons.  With some luck you might also see elk or a rare moose.

The Columbia River Basalt flow is the most dramatic geologic feature of this section of the Salmon River.  There are numerous places along the river where the dramatic columns, that are the signature feature of these basalt formations, fall vertically into the river. In some cases there are vertical columns, in other cases there are fan formations or even horizontal columns.  Some of these places make ideal places for jumping from the rocks into the river.

Indigenous History: Like many of Idaho’s rivers, the Salmon River has been home to people for thousands of years.  It is estimated that people arrived around 12-13,000 years ago.  The ancestors of the Nez Perce lived in these canyons and have left a few pictographs along the canyon walls.

Settler History/River exploration: Explorers and prospectors began investigating the Salmon River canyons in the early 1800’s. Settlers began to populate the area as early as the 1860’s.  There are a few old homestead cabins hidden away along the river.  Chinese miners worked here starting in the 1870’s and remained till the end of the 19th century.  They left rock houses here and there, along with other evidence of their time in the canyon.

The Salmon River has a variety of fish living in its water, including the northern pike minnow, trout, smallmouth bass and sturgeon.  Salmon River fishing is moderately productive for those that are focused and have some experience. All those fishing must have a valid Idaho license


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