Lower Salmon River - Hammer Creek to Heller Bar


Feb 12, 2014
For this year's family camping trip we loaded up the ole family truckster and headed for the river, and our river of choice was the Lower Salmon River. We started at Hammer Creek, which is near White Bird, Idaho (not too far from Riggins). Why the Lower Salmon? Because it didn't require a whole lot of planning/roll of the dice to obtain a permit. This stretch just needs a self-issued permit at the put in. Take out for this trip is at Heller Bar on the Snake River near Asotin, Washington. This is also on the edge of Hells Canyon. From put in to take out it's about 80 miles. We hired a shuttle company to move our vehicles to the take out.
This trip would be five days and four nights. The first night is at a campground at the put-in and then four days and three nights on the river.
Our group of 11 included six adults and five kids from ages 10-16. We used a large 12' raft, a 9.5' raft, a two-man inflatable kayak, and a one-man inflatable kayak.

Loading the gear

It was a busy day at the put in ramp. A good mix of outfitters and us regular folks.

Here are some shots on the river, most of the rapids this time of year are just fun waves. No big problematic holes or monster raids to deal with. All class II-III, Snow Hole Rapid is listed as a class IV, but still just a fun rapid. Thus a great trip for families. We did make sure kids had to have their parents, and no kids under the age of 10. Only people that ended up swimming were on purpose playing on flat water, or a couple times the one in the single kayak got bounced out...and we laughed.





Lunch stop


Kids found a pool with a bunch of tadpoles and baby frogs

This was the site of one of Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce Indians' primary camps.

When it's time to stop for camp, here's what it looks like.


And on river trips the food is amazing, here's some chicken and shrimp paella...a weee better than a mountain house.

Here's another day's meal, london broil with potatoes.

How do we get such amazing meals? You bring someone that was a river guide for 20 years and has done this millions of times before.
Here's what the kitchen looked like at all our camps.

We also stopped to check out some ancient rock art from people they estimate from 10,000-12,000 years old.


Here's what all the gear looks like loaded on the raft.


Looking back up at Snow Hole Rapid.

On the final day the Salmon dumps into the Snake River, and the jet boats are now coming thru.

A fun little waterfall along the Snake River

And it was cold....but felt good.

Final day had a lot of flat water, so we hooked up the rafts and traded off rowing.

At the take out at Heller Bar.


So there you have it. It was a great trip and memories I'll never forget.

Featured image for home page:
Awesome. River trips are great fun. And I agree, the food is generally awesome. Especially when you have ex-guides with you! Thanks for sharing. Looks like it was a good trip.
Nice. You've got a huge fam! Nice job coordinating all that. My family can't even go to dinner right in town without it turning into a clusterf**k.
This is awesome. We need more river trip reports on BCP! I'm in the process of buying a raft. This really gets the stoke flowing for next year. :)
Awesome! I plan to start doing water trips like this over the next few years. Are permits difficult to get in some places? I know the Salmon is a popular route, but wasn't thinking you needed a permit.
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
BJett Part 3 - Tour de Canyon Country. Lower Escalante Loop Hiking & Camping 0
fiber Lower Grand Gulch Pour-off Trip Planning 19
slieb Lower Muddy Creek in Winter? Trip Planning 7
regehr water in lower muley twist? Trip Planning 0
regehr Lower Horseshoe Canyon and Big Spring Trip Planning 7
J Scrambles in the Lower Colorado River Corridor AZ/NV; Dec. 11-14, 2020 Hiking & Camping 5
Devin Ashby The Lower Gulch - Escalante (Seeking info on the route) Trip Planning 14
RyanP Lower Death Hollow next week (late May/early June), miscellaneous questions Trip Planning 16
Stephanie B Sixteen Room Ruin and Lower Butler Wash Hiking & Camping 15
Boognish Lower Death Hollow Narrows April 2018 Backpacking 17
fossana Sheep Bridge/Lower JEM trail (Virgin, UT) Conservation Project General Discussion 5
T Dark canyon - lower blm portion with pack goats?? Canyoneering 2
pstm13 Texas Pass Cirque of Towers Lower Wind River Range August 2018 Trip Planning 7
Ross West Canyon quicksand (a/one want to go lower West/Face/Labyrinth August? Trip Planning 3
Strawsome Lower Death Hollow at it's finest Backpacking 3
DiscGo Lower Watermaiden [Video] Hiking & Camping 5
RyanP Lower Death Hollow, mid-April Trip Planning 8
Outdoors24 Overnight in Lower Spring Canyon Backpacking 5
Ravialdo Lower Muley Twist water situation? Trip Planning 13
Udink Lower Horseshoe Canyon Hiking & Camping 0
Kullaberg63 Lower Dirty Devil Backpacking 7
Jackson Lower Red Castle Lake Backpacking 4
scatman Lower and Midway Geyser Basins plus Buffalo Meadows - Yellowstone National Park - June 26, 2016 Backpacking 5
BJett Lower Escalante Trifecta - Davis Gulch to Fiftymile Creek Backpacking 8
BJett Lower Escalante Trifecta - Willow Gulch to Davis Gulch Backpacking 14
mattvogt7 Lower Escalante Packraft Loop Backpacking 12
Jackson Lower Spring Canyon in Winter Backpacking 14
Nick Floating lower Cataract into Glen Canyon Trip Planning 2
mattvogt7 Lower Cataract Canyon Loop Backpacking 16
lostlandscapes Lower Red Castle Lake -- 6/13/15 Backpacking 19
IntrepidXJ The Lower San Juan River On The Water 8
IntrepidXJ Lower Grand Gulch Backpacking 5
toejam Lower Sisquoc Loop Backpacking 7
ram Crash Site/Lower Hades Canyon 2-15-15 Canyoneering 1
LarryBoy Water Sources in Lower Grand Gulch Trip Planning 15
Ben wind river range, elkhart park to lower jean lake Backpacking 13
Dave December in Lower Muley Twist Backpacking 20
Udink Lower Price River Hiking & Camping 8
westerner54 Lower Grand Gulch, Below the Narrows Backpacking 3
IntrepidXJ Lower Calf Creek Falls Hiking & Camping 5
Scott Chandler Chimney Rock-Lower Spring Canyon, Cap Reef NP Hiking & Camping 6
Nick Lower Black Box Trip Planning 0
BJett Lower Big Creek - Great Smoky Mountains National Park On The Water 2
Nick Lower Bells Canyon Hiking & Camping 3
Udink Lower San Rafael Hiking & Camping 4
Bill Lower Brimstone Gulch - Escalante Hiking & Camping 11
Cody Halls Creek Loop via Lower Muley and Red Slide Backpacking 16
slc_dan Lower-Lower Muley Twist 4/12/2013 Backpacking 14
Nick Lower Muley Twist vs. Upper Muley Twist Trip Planning 19
slc_dan Lower Salt Creek/Paul Bunyan's Potty Backpacking 11

Similar threads