2006 Lower Salmon River

July 01, 2006 at 10:00 AM

Lower Salmon River Trip Report

Hammer Creek to Heller Bar (Snake River)

“A Lot of Bang for the Buck”

July 1-4, 2006

Flow (Whitebird) 17,000 cfs at put in; 14,000 by take out day

This is a great river trip at high flow, unjustly overlooked in my opinion.  We had good, fun waves, great sandy beach camping, good scenery, and a fast float.  The best part is that there is no permit lottery, so you can just show up, and put in.  The downsides were the hot temperatures, and the $115 shuttle fee.

Comments: Major campsites are marked on the map, but there are plenty of others that are suitable for small and moderate sized-groups which are not listed.  At this flow, it would not be difficult to do this 72 mile trip in 3 days (we were off the water before 1PM on three of the four days).  The scenery is good, especially in Snow Hole Canyon.  We scouted Snow Hole and China rapids; at this flow, none of the rocks of Snow Hole were exposed.  Some of the standing waves in other rapids were fairly big (one stalled my 16 foot raft for an instant), so beginners should probably wait until later in the summer.  Slide rapid at 15,000 isn’t incredibly difficult—we ran left to avoid bigger waves at the bottom of the rapid on the right; there is some eddy action to contend with on the left at the bottom.  The current is slower on the Snake, so allow a little extra time for those last 20 miles.  Take some kind of shelter for shade in camp. 

This river is a treat at high water, and worth re-discovering.

Eric Ball

Tags: Lower Salmon Heller Bar Hammer Creek
Category: Trip Report

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