Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sift the white sand through your toes on the Salmon River

Our private Idaho

Tommy made a monster

Elena found some tadpoles

Camping on the other side of the river from the road is ideal

Tom and Carolyn clown around

My son Drew and Elena

The beaches on the lower half of the Salmon River, upstream of Riggins or downstream from Whitebird, remind me of the Caribbean.

That's why we love to go there ... not only to float the whitewater on the Salmon River, but to camp on those enormous white sandy beaches, let the kids make sand castles at the water line, play badminton and volleyball, and about once every 15 minutes, you dive into the Salmon River to cool off, and do it all again.

If it's especially hot, set your lawn chair in the water and submerge at least half of your body to guard against the heat. The water temperature right now is absolutely purrrfect!

For this week's outdoor tip, I would recommend heading up to the Salmon River upstream of Riggins, and go camping on the beach, float the river and camp along the way, or do some combination thereof.

If you don't have your own raft or kayak, you can book a trip with Exodus in Riggins while you're up there and enjoy a bunch of super-fun whitewater Class 3-4 rapids on the Riggins day trip section. It's an awesome place for water fights and rapids that make the kids scream with delight. Half day trips start at $66/person.

Check out this video from Exodus on rafting the Riggins day trip.

If you plan to go there, remember that this is a popular destination, especially this time of year. So try to get up there early on a Thursday or Friday to nail a great campsite, or go on a Sunday when everyone is heading back home for work.

Don't forget your sunscreen and a big sun tarp that can withstand a major wind.

So why are the beaches so huge? Because the Salmon River is free flowing with no dams for 475 miles from Galena Summit north of Sun Valley to the mouth in Hells Canyon. It's a natural fully functioning river system. During high water, sediments are carried from hundreds of creeks and deposited high on the river bank. Beaches move around each year as the river dynamics always change. There aren't any big beaches left in Hells Canyon because of the high dams. But the Salmon will always be free flowing because it's a federal wild & scenic river.

How to get there: Take Idaho 55 north to New Meadows. Go north on U.S. 95 to Riggins. It's about three hours from Boise. Turn right in Riggins on the Big Salmon River road and cruise upstream to find your campsite. It's about 30 miles to the end of the road. If you have your own raft, you can nail some beautiful camps that are across the river from the road, so that will give you a distinct advantage.

Have fun! -- SS