The Selway is Idaho's most private Wild and Scenic river. Only one launch is allowed each day, in order to protect the pristine beauty of the river as it passes through the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. The banks of the river are overgrown with cedar, fir, huckleberries and ferns, and the water always runs clear. The rapids are nearly all large, through all 60 river running miles. At high flows, rapids such as Ladle and Double Drop can reach epic Class IV-V proportions. Whitewater, wilderness and solitude are the Selway's chief attractions. Limited access makes the Selway a challenge to experience. Independent permits are hard to draw, and commercial trips must be booked 8-12 months in advance. Catch-and release fishing trips for native westslope cutthroat trout on quiet water are also available. This is an expert rafting river at certain flows because of class IV and V rapids. Flows over 5 feet at the Paradise Gauge are considered dangerous and the rapids below Moose Creek are very technical and can be treacherous in high water.
Camping is permitted at the following sites: Put-in area: North Fork (5 Units), Spring Bar (9 Units), Fish Creek (8 Units), Rocky Bluff (4 Units) at the Put-In area. Take-out area: Johnson Bar (4 Units), O'Hara Bar (34 Units), Rackliff (6 Units), Boyd Creek (5 Units) Glover (7 Units), Race Creek (3 Units), Selway Falls (7 Units).
Getting There: The river launch site at Paradise Ranger Station is reached by driving north out of Salmon on U.S. 93 over Lost Trail pass. In Darby, Montana, take the Connor cutoff to the left and then take the west fork road left for about 10 miles. Make a right on the Elk City Road over Nez Perce pass to a right fork to Paradise. It is well marked. The road over Nez Perce Pass may be blocked by snow in the spring.
LOCATION: Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness
RECREATION: Kayaking, Rafting, Fishing, Camping, Hiking
TRAILS: Trails follow both sides of the river and there are several day hikes and excellent backpacking opportunities in Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.
FISHING: Bull Trout, Cutthroat Trout, Rainbow Trout, White Fish
PUT-IN: Paradise Guard Station
TAKE-OUT: Meadow Creek, above Selway Falls
PERIOD RUNNABLE: Spring, Summer
DIFFICULTY: Class III-V
LENGTH OF TYPICAL TRIP: 3-5 days
PERMIT NEEDED: May 14-July 31
REGULATIONS: Permit needed for all floaters.
LENGTH OF SHUTTLE: 245 miles
OPTIMAL FLOW: 5,000 CFS
SIZE: 47 miles
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication