South Fork Salmon Love

The South Fork of the Salmon is remote. It pulls us back as often as we can to paddle its pristine waters with a draw that for me is unparalleled in the US. The true wilderness experience we find on the South Fork is one that few other rivers in the lower 48 can provide. Nestled in a spectacular canyon and boasting excellent camping, the moments spent there feed the part of your soul that cannot be quenched by roadside boating experiences. This resource is finite. We need to cherish the beauty of this Idaho classic in its unfettered state and preserve this multi-day kayaking and rafting gem for future generations to enjoy as we have.

I have rallied three of the past four summers to the South Fork, beginning with my bachelor party. My friends knew what I needed as a send off, and the amazing class IV and V whitewater we experienced at a perfect medium flow built memories that I will cherish for life. A few thunderous class V rapids paired with long stretches of Idaho class IV whitewater at is finest define this stretch in my mind as an ultra classic multi-day within a days drive of most of the west.  Opening the South Fork watershed up to mining would be a drastic mistake, as it would have huge impacts on the water quality, ecosystem, and boating experience.

Each year I watch the snow loads in Idaho and make my best prediction for the perfect water level and weather window to reconnect with the wild of the South Fork.  If you have the skills, I implore you to journey yourself to put your toes in the sand at a secluded beach camp, and cook yourself a gourmet meal under the open sky. As you float through this majestic zone smell the fresh scent of pine and keep your eyes peeled for the resident eagles and bighorn sheep. Let this canyon provide relief from your modern distractions, digital tethers, and the hustle and bustle of life. And join me in working to protect this wild place that we find so compelling, and keep the South Fork pristine for our children and our children’s children to experience.

 - Nick Hinds, Pacific Northwest Sales & Customer Service

The South Fork of the Salmon River in central Idaho is under threat from a massive mining proposal. The Midas Gold Stibnite Project is at a scale that Idaho hasn't really seen before with three giant open-pit mines that will affect already restored wetlands, and re-route and re-channel streams in the headwaters of the East Fork of the South Fork. The project would take place on the Payette National Forest and they have completed the scoping phase that is part of the public lands process for the approval of the mining plan. Down the road in this process there will be multiple opportunities for public comments and we'll be counting on our community to weigh in on the potential affects this plan would have on whitewater recreation in the South Fork watershed. For more information you can read the Scoping and Issues Summary Report and stay tuned to American Whitewater for opportunities to take action.

Photos by: Dan Patrinellis and Mike Hagadorn