Salmon River (Idaho)
Salmon River in Sawtooth NRA
|Nickname: River of No Return|
|- left||Yankee Fork, Panther Creek, (Middle Fork Salmon River)|
|- right||East Fork Salmon River, Pahsimeroi River, Lemhi River, North Fork Salmon River|
|- elevation||9,220 ft (2,810 m) |
|- elevation||903 ft (275 m) |
|Length||425 mi (684 km) |
|Basin||14,000 sq mi (36,260 km2)|
|Discharge||for White Bird|
|- average||11,060 cu ft/s (313 m3/s) |
|- max||129,000 cu ft/s (3,653 m3/s)|
|- min||1,000 cu ft/s (28 m3/s)|
The Salmon River is located in Idaho in the northwestern United States. The Salmon is also known as The River of No Return. It flows for 425 miles (684 km) through central Idaho, draining 14,000 square miles (36,260 km2) and dropping more than 7,000 feet (2,134 m) between its headwaters, near Galena Summit above the Sawtooth Valley in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, and its confluence with the Snake River. Its discharge is 11,060 cubic feet (313 m3) per second. Cities located along the Salmon River include Stanley, Clayton, Challis, Salmon, Riggins, and White Bird. Redfish Lake and Little Redfish Lake near Stanley flow into the river via Redfish Lake Creek.
The headwaters of the Salmon River are in the mountains of central and eastern Idaho (Lemhi Range, Sawtooth, Salmon River Mountains, Clearwater and Bitterroot Range). The main fork of the Salmon is joined by the Yankee Fork, East Fork, Pahsimeroi, Lemhi, North Fork, Middle Fork, South Fork, and Little Salmon Rivers before emptying into the Snake River on the Oregon-Idaho border, north of Hells Canyon, 15 miles (24 km) south of Washington and 40 miles (64 km) south of Lewiston. The Middle Fork of the Salmon River is one of the premier recreational rafting and kayaking rivers in the world.
Ten miles (16 km) downstream (west) of its confluence with the Middle Fork, the Salmon River becomes the dividing line for the two time zones in Idaho: Mountain time to the south, Pacific time to the north, bisecting the state at approximately 45.5 degrees north latitude.
The Salmon River area has been home to people for at least the last 8,000 years. Much of the area was inhabited by several tribes, including the Nez Perce. The river was a rich source of food for the indigenous people of the area, who relied on the abundant salmon species and other wildlife.
Corps of Discovery
"...I shall in justice to Capt. Lewis who was the first white man ever on this fork of the Columbia Call this Louis's river. ...The Westerly fork of the Columbia River [the present Salmon River] is double the size of the Easterley fork [the present Lemhi River] & below those forks the river is ...100 yards [100 m] wide, it is very rapid & Sholey water Clear but little timber."
The honor didn't last long; by 1810 maps of the area were already referring to "Louis' River" as the Salmon. Clark had thought that the Salmon River was the Snake River, thus he called it the "Westerly fork of the Columbia". The Snake River retained the variant name "Lewis River" or "Lewis Fork" longer than did the Salmon.
In the 1860s, placer deposits of gold were found along the river, and a gold rush began. Miners came to the area, causing clashes with the Nez Perce on their ancestral tribal lands. Many historic and present day mines (including dredging operations) can be seen while traveling along the river.
Several national forests and Sawtooth National Recreation Area provide for numerous recreation opportunities within the river's watershed. Two segments (the Middle Fork and a section of the main Salmon River) are protected as National Wild and Scenic Rivers. Today, the Salmon is a popular destination for whitewater kayaking, canoeing or rafting. Both the Middle Fork and Main Fork travels through the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area. The Middle Fork is about 110 miles long, while the Main Fork is about 81 miles long. The Middle Fork raft trip run ends 7 miles prior to the beginning of the Main Fork run; Corn Creek is the start of the Main Fork section of the Salmon River. The South Fork flows through Payette National Forest and enters the Main Fork rafting/fishing section at Mackay Bar. The Main Fork raft trip ends about 25 miles east of the city of Riggins, Idaho, either at Vinegar Creek or Carey Creek. Thus marking the beginning of the Lower Salmon rafting trips. Single and multiple day trips on the river are available and offer beautiful views of wildlife and scenery. The river canyon allows for magnificent views of the complex geology of the region. The Middle Fork of the Salmon River is known as one of the best catch and release fly fisheries in the nation. While traveling through the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area, you enter the second deepest canyon in the continental U.S. Deeper than the Grand Canyon. It is roughly at 7,000 feet in depth.
The Salmon River historically produced 45% percent of all the steelhead (salmon) and 45 percent of all the spring and summer chinook salmon in the entire Columbia River Basin. The Salmon River basin contains most (up to 70 percent) of the remaining salmon and steelhead habitat in the Columbia River Basin. Despite the abundant salmon habitat in the river, these fish have been declining, in large part because of the effects of four federal reservoirs and dams on the lower Snake and Columbia rivers.
The United States Geological Survey operates four stream gauge water level monitoring stations on the main stem of the Salmon River and 17 others on its tributaries. Real time data is available for each station on the USGS website. For a map of these see Salmon River USGS Station Map or in the box at right.
|Stream||Location||Site number||Coordinates||Drainage area||Max discharge||Min discharge||Website|
|Salmon River||Clayton, ID||13296500||807 sq mi (2,090 km2)||10,400 cu ft/s (290 m3/s)||160 cu ft/s (4.5 m3/s)|||
|Salmon River||Salmon, ID||13302500||3,737 sq mi (9,680 km2)||17,700 cu ft/s (500 m3/s)||242 cu ft/s (6.9 m3/s)|||
|Salmon River||Shoup, ID||13307000||6,239 sq mi (16,160 km2)||25,700 cu ft/s (730 m3/s)||600 cu ft/s (17 m3/s)|||
|Salmon River||White Bird, ID||13317000||13,421 sq mi (34,760 km2)||130,000 cu ft/s (3,700 m3/s)||1,000 cu ft/s (28 m3/s)|||
|Valley Creek||Stanley, ID||13295000||147 sq mi (380 km2)||2,210 cu ft/s (63 m3/s)||34 cu ft/s (0.96 m3/s)|||
|Yankee Fork Salmon River||Clayton, ID||13296000||189 sq mi (490 km2)||3,360 cu ft/s (95 m3/s)||10 cu ft/s (0.28 m3/s)|||
|Thompson Creek||Clayton, ID||13297330||29.1 sq mi (75 km2)||442 cu ft/s (12.5 m3/s)||1.0 cu ft/s (0.028 m3/s)|||
|Squaw Creek||Clayton, ID||13297355||71.6 sq mi (185 km2)||755 cu ft/s (21.4 m3/s)||3.3 cu ft/s (0.093 m3/s)|||
|Pahsimeroi River||Ellis, ID||13302005||830 sq mi (2,100 km2)||710 cu ft/s (20 m3/s)||87 cu ft/s (2.5 m3/s)|||
|Lemhi River||Lemhi, ID||13305000||897 sq mi (2,320 km2)||2,430 cu ft/s (69 m3/s)||22 cu ft/s (0.62 m3/s)|||
|Lemhi River||Salmon, ID||13305310||1,216 sq mi (3,150 km2)||2,920 cu ft/s (83 m3/s)||0.75 cu ft/s (0.021 m3/s)|||
|Blackbird Creek||Cobalt, ID||13306336||Unknown||100 cu ft/s (2.8 m3/s)||2 cu ft/s (0.057 m3/s)|||
|Panther Creek||Cobalt, ID||13306370||Unknown||1,100 cu ft/s (31 m3/s)||3.5 cu ft/s (0.099 m3/s)|||
|Napias Creek||Leesburg, ID||13306385||41.1 sq mi (106 km2)||1,020 cu ft/s (29 m3/s)||3.5 cu ft/s (0.099 m3/s)|||
|Middle Fork Salmon River||Yellow Pine, ID||13309229||1,042 sq mi (2,700 km2)||20,900 cu ft/s (590 m3/s)||190 cu ft/s (5.4 m3/s)|||
|Middle Fork Salmon River||Shoup, ID||13310199||2,876 sq mi (7,450 km2)||28,600 cu ft/s (810 m3/s)||349 cu ft/s (9.9 m3/s)|||
|South Fork Salmon River||Krassel Ranger Station||13310700||330 sq mi (850 km2)||9,710 cu ft/s (275 m3/s)||38 cu ft/s (1.1 m3/s)|||
|East Fork Salmon River||Stibnite, ID||13311000||19.3 sq mi (50 km2)||394 cu ft/s (11.2 m3/s)||2.0 cu ft/s (0.057 m3/s)|||
|Sugar Creek||Stibnite, ID||13311450||Unknown||7.9 cu ft/s (0.22 m3/s)||6.9 cu ft/s (0.20 m3/s)|||
|Johnson Creek||Yellow Pine, ID||13313000||218 sq mi (560 km2)||6,250 cu ft/s (177 m3/s)||21 cu ft/s (0.59 m3/s)|||
|Little Salmon River||Riggins, ID||13316500||576 sq mi (1,490 km2)||12,600 cu ft/s (360 m3/s)||54 cu ft/s (1.5 m3/s)|||
Salmon River, north of Riggins
- Google Earth elevation for GNIS coordinates.
- U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Salmon River, USGS, GNIS
- Salmon River, The Columbia Gazetteer of North America
- Water Resources Data, Idaho, 2005, USGS
- http://pubs.usgs.gov/wdr/2005/wdr-id-05-1/ Water Resources Data, Idaho, 2005
- "Salmon River – Idaho". National Wild & Scenics Rivers. Retrieved 2009-01-10.
- "18 – Forks of Louis's River". Salmon-Challis National Forest – Lewis & Clark Interactive Tour. U. S. Forest Service. Retrieved 2009-01-10.
- "Current Conditions". United States Geological Survey. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
- Salmon River – Salmon River, Info Hub
- Visit Idaho.org – Idaho Rivers
- Salmon River (National Wild and Scenic Rivers site)
- Middle Fork of the Salmon (National Wild and Scenic Rivers site)