Main Salmon Rapid Descriptions


Mile 1.6 – Killum (class 2): run center but at low flow there is a clean line toward inside (right) bend

Mile 2.3 – Gunbarrel (class 2): Run far left (it will look like you will be going too close to wall – don’t worry). Center and left have shelve of rocks hard to see at times. Note, this is the rapid that REALLY PUSHES hard against left rock wall – led to some early excitement last year.  With last year’s flows we probably could have avoided the left but expect at lower flow will have to stay left – just pull hard away from wall.

Mile 4.2 Stub Creek (class 2): straight forward. Avoid hole at bottom left at low flows.

Mile 8 Rainier Rapid (class 2- 3): Run is over the wave train (big waves – keep straight!).  Hole emerges right of center midway through rapid at low flows. If you want to be conservative it seems easy to skirt wave train to the right.

Mile 8.6 Alder Creek Rapid (class 2-3): Read and run but big waves. It appears the tongue is left of center and following it is a good line.

Mile 11.2 Lantz Rapid (class 2+): current makes backward S turn pushing hard against right bank.  There is a rock ledge – pull hard left here.

Mile 12.9 Devil’s Teeth (class 2+-3): Big rock in center. Cleanest line is left of big rock. Another big rock emerges at low flow on left – watch out for hole it creates

Mile 16.5 Little Devil’s Teeth (class 2-): cleanest run on far right

  • Mile 20.8 Black Creek (3-4): usual line is on the left.Follow tongue, just to the left of large boulder.  There will be a drop and at low flows an ugly looking rock you will be heading straight toward.  Move right after drop – though it seems current takes you that way regardless. If you take the right, start right then pull hard away from wall/ big rock and follow main flow.  Looks intimidating but really felt straightforward, and lot’s of fun!!

Mile 25.8 Hancock Rapid (class 2): Enter on the far right just after Bear Creek enters on the right. Take the right line – the left will stick you on rocks.

Mile 26.2 Maisie’s Rapid (class 2): Read and Run

  • Mile 32.5 Bailey (3+-4): Scout from river right (recommended). At low flow start center and quickly move right, but not too far right.  Somewhat of a tongue/ channel emerges – follow it but do not get too far right as a big rock/ hole emerges.  At the start, you might be able to just start and stay right but harder at low flows as it gets rocky.  Note there is a hole hiding in wave train that can flip boats.  I tried to be cool by taking the advice from an old guide we met and ended up sideways heading for the big hole on the left which was not fun.  From scout, the line is pretty obvious and the moves not that hard.

Mile 33.2 Allison Ranch Rapid: read and run but line tends to be on the right

Mile 34.1 Sapp Creek Rapid (class 2): read and run

  • Mile 34.3 Five Mile Rapid (class 3): Tricky rapid.  It seems there is a clean run on the far right between a big rock and the right bank/wall (it is a squeeze).  There is a big hole midway through the rapid hiding in the wave train just right of center.  One option is to run the rapid just left of center then start pulling to the right once you pass the above – mentioned hole (there is another hole below and you miss it by pulling right). Last year – hard to scout. Was read and run, and quite fun!

Mile 34.5 – Split Rock Rapid (class 3 -): standard run is just right of the big rock (right of center). General advice: keep right.

Mile 34.9 Little Stinker Rapid (class 2): rock garden at low flows.  At low flows, keep right.

  • 36.9 Big Mallard (3+): Really the only smart run is a tight but very doable squeeze between the left bank and large rock.  The hole behind the big rock (Big Mallard) needs to be avoided – do not even think of running right of the rock, it is a scam.  In setting up for the rapid you want to keep right but not too far.  Fairly close to hitting the slot between the rock and shore there is a sleeper rock on the right that can knock you off course and put you sideways down the drop.  You will probably need to ship your oars when running through. We all did this fine last year but learned that it is possible to get too close to the left bank – this can knock you off course and lead you to go through the slot sideways which is not the recommended course.

38.8 Little Mallard (class 2+): At low flows, follow the right sided wave train.. Can get nasty on the left

  • 40.2 Elkhorn Rapid (class 3-4): This is a long rapid but water is not moving super fast at low flows. There is a large entrance rock- best to enter just left of this. Once past, do not stray too far left – move toward center toward the big (Elephant) rock.  Note from last year: you want to start moving right pretty fast here – while the water seems slow it is easy to end up on the “dome” rock. There are too “retirement” holes just before the big rock on either side.  Stay in the center until past the holes – once past these pass Elephant Rock on either side.  At this point get back mid – stream as there are more holes.

41.4 Growler Rapid (class 2+): Most run it on the left side down the tongue

43.5 Don’t Lose Me Now Rapid (2): easy read and run

43.9 Whiplash (class 2-4): straightforward at normal flows

46.1 China Bar Rapids (class 2): the river sweeps around a bend. Be careful of a large hole just left of center.  The current apparently tends to push you toward the center.  An ugly rock forms below the hole at low holes.  Best to stay in channel on far left.

50.2 Boise Bar Rapid (2+-3): This forms at the tail end of a right bend in river, just below Boise Bar Camp.  It becomes rocky on the left, but there is a large hole at the bottom on the right.  Run center, moving toward the left.

Note: Slow water from Five Mile Bar to Warren Creek – Mile 52.5 to 61.3 (Salmon Lake)

54.7 Ludwig (class 3): Starts after a blind left corner. Most folks run it far left but many lines exist.

Mile 63 James Ranch Rapid (class 2): decent sized waves and strong eddy on right.

Mile 63.5 Pete’s Rock Rapid (class 2)

Mile 69.8 Cottontail Rapid (class 2

Mile 71.6 T Bone Rapid (class 2+-3): Keep an eye out for nasty back to back holes on the right

Mile 75 Dried Meat Rapid (class 3 -): Most people run down the tongue.  At lower flows the big wave hides a big hole.  Try to skirt it to the right

  • Mile 78 Chittam Rapid (3-4): Most run the tongue, pulling hard from the center to the far right, punching through several lateral waves below the rock that creates them. At flows < 0 feet, it is easiest to run this far left, through a hole, before pulling away from the wall. Note: below 2 feet an island emerges above the rapid. Enter the left channel – if flows < 0 feet stay left then pull away from wall.  Otherwise build momentum and push through laterals to the right.  To scout – run right of the island and park in the small eddy above the rapid.
  • Mile 78.7 Vinagar Rapid (class 3-4): Worth scouting (from right bank).  At lower flows, run down the right side – a big hole hides in the wave train.  Stay just right of the wave train but do not get too far right (if you are hugging the right bank, you are too far right).  Intimidating scout but we all looked like pros doing it.