Salmon River - Redfish Lake to Torrey’s Bar; Stanley Area [SA1]
The Piece of Cake stretch of the Salmon is a popular run for both kayakers and rafters. The Salmon at this point is a small, mountain river, not far from its headwaters in the spectacular Sawtooth Range. In June, the water can be fast and fairly big, but by mid-summer, this becomes an excellent run for novice boaters.
The most difficult rapid, Shotgun, comes one-half mile after the put-in (it’s easy to put in farther upstream if you want more warm up). Shotgun can easily be scouted from the road before you get on the river.
Sunbeam Dam is three miles below the put-in. Its right side has been blasted away and the resulting ledge drop is runnable at high water. However, it is very difficult to carry around, so at medium flows and below, it is advisable to put in below the dam.
About a quarter mile below the dam is Piece of Cake Rapid (Class III at high water, Class II at lower flows). This rapid is the former site of the Stanley Whitewater Rodeo, which has since been banned by the Forest Service.
One mile downstream from Piece of Cake is Robinson Bar bridge. It is a good place to take out if you are looking for a short trip. Except for one gorge downstream, most of the whitewater is concentrated above Robinson Bar. If they wish, kayakers can continue past Robinson Bar and take out somewhere shortly below Robinson Bar until they reach Torrey’s boat ramp, 11 miles below the put-in.
Sunbeam Dam was built in 1910 to provide hydroelectric power for a mill processing ore from the Yankee Fork gold mines. The dam almost annihilated anadromous fish runs on the upper Salmon. Sockeye salmon, which formerly had been plentiful on the upper Salmon, where wiped out. The right side of the dam was dynamited in 1934, anonymously. As Johhny Carrey and Cort Conley say in their book, River of No Return, the incident demonstrates that “there are no limit as to what can be accomplished if no one cares who gets the credit.”
The put-in is at mileage marker 199 on State Highway 75 downstream from Stanley. Howerver, the highway runs right along the river and you can put in anywhere you choose. At medium flows and lower, Sunbeam dam (three miles downstream from the put-in) is runnable, requiring a put-in at a highway turnout and boat ramp downstream from the dam.The take-out is at Torrey's boat ramp, 11 miles downstream from the put-in.Camping: There are numerous Forest Services campgrounds located between Stanley and the take-out.