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Minimum Impact Boating and Camping

Camping | Water | Human Waste | Trash | Fires | Hot Springs | Trespass | Archaeological Sites | Sand Anchor | Dish Water | Bathing | Wildlife

You affect Idaho's rivers each time you boat and these beautiful rivers cannot survive if you don't work to protect them. Passing through without a trace is a challenge, but with your help we can all help care for the river and ensure it's beauty for many years to come.

As a courtesy to other users, keep noise levels low when you float by other parties.  Remember, one of the reasons you’re here is to get away from the noise of civilization.


  • Camp and travel on durable surfaces. Minimize your impacts and preserve the wild nature of the rivers by using established campsites. Camp on gravel or sand bars to avoid trampling vegetation. Avoid the fragile green riparian areas along the river banks. Kitchens should be set up in as durable a site as possible; sand or rocks are good places. Avoid cutting new trails. Stay on trails that are already established. 


  • Assume water is NOT available at camp areas. 
  • If nessary boil, filter, or chemically treat all drinking, cooking and dish-washing water collected from the river.


  • All visitors must carry out all solid human waste and toilet paper using an approved carry-out system large enough to accommodate the entire party.
  • An approved portable toilet system must be reusable, washable, water-tight, non-biodegradable, rigid, durable, and designed to receive and hold human waste without leaking.
  • Toilets must also be designed to be emptied using the approved protocol at an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved RV dump station and/or SCAT machine at the end of each trip.
  • Toilets cannot be dumped into a BLM vault toilet.
  • Portable RV toilets are not approved for rafting trips.
  • Portable toilets with snap-on lids (such as ammo cans or plastic buckets) are required to have a rubber gasket in the lid. 
  • Plastic bag liners are not acceptable with the exception of solid human waste pouches, such as WAG® bags and RESTOP 2® bag systems. Wag Bags must be contained in a sealable container until their disposal at a landfill or garbage container. Do not dispose of in vault toilets or garbage containers at boat access sites. Please note: No bag systems of any kind are allowed on the Lower Salmon River.
  • At camp, set up your toilet facilities in a location screened from view and at least 100 feet from the water.
  • Dump stations are available for disposal of waste. Please see individual river sites for more information on local sites.
  • Build your own portable toilet for canoes and kayaks
  • Please urinate only on wet sand or in the river. Urinating on hot, dry sand or rocks creates an offensive odor and attracts insects.
  • Clean-up after your dog.


  • Carry out all your trash (including ash).  Do not burn it.  Much of the trash that looks burnable is lined with plastic or foil, which leaves a residue that will linger for many years.
  • Spend a few extra minutes to scout your camp and pick up litter that may have been left behind by others. Did you leave any cigarette butts or twist ties?
  • Never sink cans or bottles in the river.
  • Food scraps and other waste left at campsites make pests out of skunks, bears and other wildlife. Please keep wildlife wild and do not intentionally feed wildlife.


  • A gas stove is clean and easy to use, and causes no permanent impacts.
  • Campfires must be contained in a metal fire pan or on a fire blanket that protects the ground from scarring and ash.  All unburned contents of the fire including ash shall be removed and carried out of the river corridor. 
  • Elevate fire pan off the ground with rocks to prevent scorching.
  • All unburned contents of the fire including ash shall be removed and carried out of the river corridor.
  • Do not cut or destroy standing live or dead vegetation. Hackberry trees and some shrubs appear to be dead during the primary boating season, but they are actually dormant.
  • Bring your own firewood or gather driftwood and scatter the unused pieces away from camp before leaving.
  • Remove rocks after using them on the beaches.
  • All seasonal fire restrictions must be followed in the river corridor; Fireworks are prohibited.
  • Before leaving camp, extinguish your fire and pack the debris out with you. Fire pan contents may be re-burned in subsequent camp fires.

Hot Springs

Natural hot springs exist throughout Idaho, often supporting protected plants and animals. Federal and State laws prohibit digging, damming, or otherwise altering the natural flow or appearance of hot springs. 


Please respect the rights of others. Private land is intermingled with public land along the river. Please don't enter private land without the permission of the land owner. 

Archaeological Sites

An archaeological artifact may have been in place for hundreds of years. A rock may have lain in place for millions. Allow others a sense of discovery by leaving plants, rocks, archaeological artifacts and all other objects of beauty or interest as you find them. Collecting, destroying or disturbing artifacts and historic objects is prohibited by federal law.

Sand Anchor

To avoid moving big rocks to tie up a boat, consider making a sand anchor. These can be as simple as a two-foot long piece of reinforcement bar, or "re-bar," available at hardware stores, with a 90° angle bend about six inches from one end. Sand anchors pushed deep into sand provide a secure boat tie-up. They are also easy on your back and light on the land. If you must use rocks to anchor your boat or tents, remove the rocks from the beach before leaving camp.

Dish Water

Use biodegradable soap for washing dishes. Food bits left in camp are a magnet for biting insects. Bring along a strainer or piece of screen to filter bits of food from dishwater. Scatter the strained water into vegetation at least 200 feet away from camp and the river or dig a hole in the sand above the high water line, strain your dishwater into it and cover the hole when you finish. In camps where there isn’t 200 feet of space, dispose waste water as far from the river as possible. Leftover liquids from cooking, drinking and draining canned foods along with toothpaste waste can be deposited directly into the river. 


During the summer you can reduce the need to bathe by swimming frequently in the river. However, if you need to bathe, do so away from the river and use biodegradable soap. Do not allow any water containing soap, biodegradable or otherwise, to get into rivers or streams to protect local fish and aquatic life.


Avoid disturbing wildlife. If you encounter nesting broods of waterfowl, stay as far away from them as possible.  To protect wildlife, as well as other visitors, discharging firearms is discouraged except during designated hunting seasons. If you bring a dog along, keep it under control at all times and pack out dog waste.






Portable Toilet


Camping- South Fork of Snake River