Idaho's Mount Borah
Soaring over the Snake River Birds of Prey NCA Survey pin Teepees at Idaho's Sacajawea Interpretive Center in Salmon Riding Idaho's rangelands Kayaking on Idaho's scenic rivers
BLM>Idaho>River Activities>Lower Salmon
Print Page

Lower Salmon River

Stage I Fire Restrictions in Effect for Payette Fire Restrictions Area

The 425-mile Salmon River is one of the longest free-flowing river in the lower 48 states. The river begins at not much more than a trickle at an elevation of about 8,000 feet in the Sawtooth and Whitecloud Mountains of central Idaho. It gathers force as it makes its way northeast and then west, fed by snows from the Sawtooth and Salmon River Mountains in the south and the Clearwater and Bitterroot Mountains in the north.

About 150 miles further on its westward course, the Salmon River has carved the second deepest canyon in North America, which effectively splits Idaho in half. The section known as the Lower Salmon River begins at Vinegar Creek, 25 miles above the town of Riggins. At Riggins, the river swings north and then west for 87 miles where it then meets the Snake River. The Salmon and Snake combine to flow into the Columbia River and eventually into the ocean. The drainage area of the Salmon River, which lies entirely within Idaho's borders, encompasses approximately 13,550 square miles.

Lower Salmon River

The river and its canyon are truly remarkable in this "pool and drop" river where difficult rapids are located in the narrow canyons. The numerous unusual white sand beaches offer camping and serve as a reminder that this river is still free flowing. The 20-mile stretch of the Snake River, from the confluence with the Salmon River to the Heller Bar take-out near the confluence with the Grande Ronde River, contains slower moving water with some rapids and is often characterized by stiff up-canyon winds.

Along the Lower Salmon River, the BLM manages the following sites: Hammer Creek, Island Bar, Lucile, Old Lucile, Pine Bar, Salmon River (Vinegar Creek to Confluence with Snake River), Shorts Bar, Skookumchuck, Slate Creek and White Bird Gravel Pit.

Please respect the river, listen to it, learn from it, cooperate with it and care for it.

Authorized BLM Permitted Outfitters

The Bureau of Land Management provides this list as a service to boaters and it is in no way an endorsement of those listed.

Find an outfitter

 New commercial use permits are now required for commercial outfitters using the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission (WDFW)'s Heller Bar Site

Learn More and Purchase a Permit 

Public Conduct Rules