Sawtooth National Recreation Area

 (Photo: Middle Fork Rapid Transit)

Many of the outdoor recreation experiences in the SNRA are water-oriented. Lakes, rivers and streams offer diverse opportunities for fishing, canoeing, floatboating, windsurfing, waterskiing, small-craft sailing, and motorboating. Outfitted floating on the Salmon River is authorized by special use permit.

Boating & Sailing
Alturas Lake is the scene of regattas for sailboats and catamarans each summer. In general, motorboaters can troll, water ski and cruise on the four larger lakes: Redfish, Alturas, Pettit, and Stanley. Motorboats must have good mufflers. Perkins, Little Redfish and Yellow Belly Lakes are reserved for non-motorized craft. Motorboats are also prohibited on the Salmon River and Valley Creek.

Out-of-state boaters must obtain a temporary license at the Blaine County Courthouse in Hailey or at Twin Peaks Store in Challis.

Boats and rafts can not be stored or left unattended for more than 24 hours, except in designated parking areas.

Redfish Lake Services
A variety of services is available at the lodge on Redfish Lake, including boat rentals (motorboats, canoes and paddleboats). Other services include groceries, fuel, boat moorings, guided boat tours and a boat shuttle service to the hikers' trailhead at the south end of the lake.

Floating the Main Salmon River
People of all ages can enjoy the ride of a lifetime on a float trip. Salmon River outfitters offer a variety of services and equipment, with four companies operating out of Stanley and Sunbeam Village. Half-day and full-day trips are available, some including riverside meals.

The Salmon River is generally floatable from April through September. During high water in May and June, floatboaters often put in at Lower Stanley and take out before Basin Creek. In mid-summer, trips usually start at Yankee Fork or Elk Creek (past Sunbeam Dam) and float to Torrey's Hole.

Salmon River Rapids
The river drops an average of 15 feet per mile. Most water is Class I or II. However, between Yankee Fork and Torrey's Hole there are two sections of Class III rapids that require experienced boating skills: Piece of Cake (one mile past Sunbeam Dam) and Warm Springs Narrows. Between Basin Creek and Yankee Fork there are two sections of Class IV rapids that demand expert boating skills: Shotgun and Sunbeam Dam.

The easiest section of the river lies between Stanley and Basin Creek. Canoes and inner tubes may be used safely on this section, but they are not recommended from Basin Creek to Torrey's Hole.

River Hazards
Floating the river upstream of Stanley is not recommended because of the fragile salmon spawning sites, downed logs, fish weirs and other obstacles.

The Salmon is a cold, high mountain river, and is dangerous during high water.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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