Upper Middle Fork of the Salmon River
- Length: 25 miles / 4 days
- Date: August 28, 2020
- Activities: Class IV Inflatable Kayaking
- Max Group Size: 8
- Includes: Professional guides, camping equipment,
and flight from Indian Creek
- Meeting Place: Stanley, Idaho
- Trip Cost: $1495
The Middle Fork of the Salmon is a spectacular river no matter the time of year. In late spring the river roars down the canyon, and the miles fly by as you are carried downstream with hardly a chance to catch your breath. As fun as those high-speed days are, they can make it difficult to appreciate the intricate beauty of the Middle Fork’s first 25 miles. When the water starts to drop in late June, things slow down, and the rocks that create the high-water wave trains begin to show. The rapids become technical and more challenging by the day.
By August, most trips begin with a flight in to Indian Creek Ranger station, twenty-seven miles downstream from the nearest road access. Guides begin at Boundary Creek put-in the day before, and spend a day navigating the tight, technical rapids in order to meet guests at the air strip the following morning.
In contrast, this trip offers the rare opportunity for guests to see this first section of the Middle Fork in late August, with plenty of time to explore and enjoy the beauty of the river’s early miles. For fishing aficionados, the low volume and clear water of the river makes for world class fly-fishing opportunities in camp. The trip covers 25 miles in four days, traveling from Boundary Creek river access to Indian Creek Ranger Station.
In order to effectively navigate the top section of the Middle Fork, everyone must captain their own inflatable kayak, or “duckie.” The lower water levels might slow the pace down, but in many ways the rapids become more difficult. Long, continuous boulder gardens provide challenging maneuvers for kayakers, requiring active paddling, a sense of adventure, and a willingness to get a little wet.
The rhythm of an inflatable kayak trip is tailored to the fact that everyone is paddling their own boat. On the water, rapids come quickly, one after the other, and our primary concern is guests’ safety through the rapids. This means taking a slow, deliberate pace through these sections to ensure that everyone is comfortable and able to safely take on the challenge of the Middle Fork.
Guides position themselves above, in, and below the rapids to help paddlers navigate downstream. Depending on water levels and the team’s paddling abilities, some places may require a portaging, or carrying our boats and equipment around the rapid. As the trip goes on the rapids become more spaced out, allowing opportunities for leisurely floating in between. Time on the water is punctuated with riverside adventures to hot springs, historical sites, and side hikes through the stunning scenery of the Frank Church Wilderness.
After a long day on the water, you get to set up your riverside home for the night. The guides will help you set up your tent, and then we will kick back and enjoy a leisurely evening with a delicious backpacking-style dinner. Depending on the camp, activities may include a hike, river games, a soak in natural hot springs, or a chance to just sit by the river and enjoy the beauty of the Middle Fork.
Flora and Fauna
Black Hawthorn, Mountain Alder, Cottonwood, Ponderosa Pine. Cutthroat trout, deer, elk, bear, river otter, bald eagles, osprey, Big Horn Sheep, and if we’re super lucky we’ll see mountain goats.