Salmon River, South Fork - Secesh to Main (The Canyon)

Idaho-US  

Description

The South Fork of the Salmon is one of the best non-permitted multi-day trips in the country. At late summer flows (around 3' on the Krassel Gauge), it offers mostly a class III-IV experience with several solid class IV rapids. Above 4', it becomes a committing class V experience where swimming could be disastrous. Locals will run the stretch as high as it gets (often 7'+), but at these flows a guide is highly recommended. With scenery reminiscent of the Middle Fork of the Salmon, this run has it all.

The South Fork runs about 35 miles from the put-in at the confluence of the Secesh to the confluence with the Main Salmon. The takeout is 20 miles further down the Main at Vinegar Creek. Many people choose to do the run in 3 days, although it has been done at higher flows in a single day. Note that camping is not allowed on the Main, although the 20 miles of mostly flat water only should take 3-4 hours to paddle.

There are too many rapids to describe here, there is a good trip report at this link: http://cacreeks.com/mfsfsalm.htm. Be warned that their descriptions are at low water, and they overstate the difficulty of the rapids (at least at the levels in the pictures). That being said, it is a wilderness run, so maybe class IV becomes class V-. Just make sure you know when Devil's Creek, Surprise, Elk Creek and Fall Creek are coming.

The gauge is on the South Fork above the confluence with the East Fork South Fork and the Secesh. It reads less than a quarter of the total flow at the put-in, so beware that it is only a proxy gauge.

Statistics

bolsito
Class III to V
Current Flow 193.0 CFS
08-22-2017 19:45
Recommended Flow Minimum:
Average:
Maximum:
Typical Season Begins: May
Ends: August
Recommended Use Kayaking: Yes
Rafting: Yes
Canoeing: No
SUP: No
Packrafting: No
Fishing: No
Primary Gauge SF SALMON RIVER NR KRASSEL RANGER STATION ID
Length 52.0 Mile(s)
Gradient 42.0 FPM