Apply for Idaho River Permits

It’s time to look to the upcoming summer and put in your dates for securing a river permit for Idaho’s wild and scenic rivers.

It’s always tough to look so far ahead, I mean ski season just started, but you need to get on it and plan for your summer river trip.

You can apply online via the previous link until January 31st. Applying doesn’t guarantee a start, it’s a lottery(odds are 1 of 30 last I checked), but at least you’ll have a chance.

Better the Odds

To increase your chances remind your river running buddies to apply as well. Make a pact with them; if you get a permit you’ll invite them along, and they will reciprocate.

Pick a date you think will probably work then have your buddies pick the same day, this’ll increase your odds of one of you getting that start date. Don’t forget, anyone 18 years or older can apply, so if you buddy has kids…

The nice thing about figuring all this stuff out so early is that you’ll know whether or not you got a permit in March. If you or your friends got a permit you’ll have a couple of months to get the time off and plan for the trip.

Planning for these big river trips isn’t easy and will be a topic for an upcoming post on

Kids are Finally Ready

This will be the first year I feel my kids are old enough to do a river trip besides our standard Rogue trip. This year we are applying for a permit on the Middle Fork of the Salmon river in Idaho.

I first did this river with my parents when I was a teenager. I’ve done multiple private trips and a lot of river guiding on the Middle Fork since those early days.

It’s a classic 100 mile, 6 or 7 day river trip full of incredible beauty and fun rapids.

The real gravy though is the fabulous trout fishing. The Middle Fork of the Salmon is a catch and release fishing river and is full of fat, uneducated cutthroat trout. It isn’t unusual to catch 100 fish in a day without even hitting it hard.

The whitewater is a step up with mostly class 3 and some class 4 rapids. It’s remote, so you want to be sure you bring plenty of  safety gear as well as patch material.

As you get deeper into the summer the permits get easier to obtain, because the water tends to drop quickly around mid-July.

Of course this is completely reliant on how much snow pack the mountains hold, but if you go much beyond July 15th you may have a difficult time with a loaded raft, especially the first 30 miles.

In fact when the water gets low, many boaters will put in at Dagger falls with empty boats and push all the way to Indian Creek where they can pick up the rest of their flown-in gear. This is called, “dead heading.”

It can be a somewhat narrow window for optimal river flows on the middle fork, June will likely be high and late July, too low. You’re probably perfect if you can get on around the 4th of July. Of course those optimum dates are the hardest to get due to the competition.

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