Salmon is located on the edge of the Frank Church Wilderness Area and at the base of the beautiful Bitterroot mountain range. This location makes Salmon a great place for hunting, fishing, whitewater river rafting, mountain biking, hiking, and ATV’ing. Winter activities include fantastic cross country skiing and snowmobiling. For downhill skiers and snowboarders, you’re in luck! Only 45 minutes away is Montana’s, Lost Trail- Powder Mountain Ski resort. Located on the continental divide with ski runs in both Idaho and Montana! This page has several links to outdoor adventure and aviation companies. Feel free to view our provided video and learn about Salmon’s rich historical history. Ask our staff about nearby and pocket friendly activities!
Listed below are links to your next adventure.
River Companies and Aviation
Travel and Transportation
Rivers and Lakes
Salmon, Idaho, boasts two world renowned wild and scenic rivers: the Main Salmon and the Middle Fork of the Salmon River alone attract well over 20,000 visitors from all over the world each year. Other major tributaries in the area include the East Fork and the North Fork of the Salmon, Lemhi, and Pahsimeroi River, home to the Pahsimeroi Fish Hatchery.
Known as “The River of No Return,” the Salmon River is the longest free flowing river within one state, in the lower 48. Experience one of the few remaining un-damned waterways in America on a guided rafting adventure or a private river trip of your own. Enjoy an abundance of animal life such as deer, elk, black bear, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, cougar, moose, bobcat, coyote, red fox, etc., which all can be seen throughout the rugged mountains and grassy plains through which the rivers passes.
The Main Salmon River carves the second deepest canyon in North America, (deeper than the famous Grand Canyon) second only to Idaho’s Hell’s Canyon. Approximately 180 miles of the Salmon Canyon is more than one mile deep. Carved through mostly metamorphic rock, nowhere in this spectacular high desert canyon is it as dramatic as where it has penetrated the igneous granite of the Idaho Batholith.
Mountain lakes abound in the Salmon area. The most accessible is Williams Lake, 11 campsites near Williams Lake, on Lake Creek. Hike or ride into the Salmon National Forest. The lake is accessed at the Forest Service boat ramp & day use area. Iron Lake is accessible by road (4WD is recommended) and is well worth a day trip or longer. Wallace Lake, also accessible by road and only 32 miles in beautiful high mountain lake with a great view of the surrounding valley. The Bighorn crags are riddled with high Alpine lakes, (which are in turn riddled with fish) mostly accessible by foot or horseback, as are many others in the area.
It is no wonder that the many rivers, tributaries and lakes the Salmon area has to offer that it has been a desirable fishing destination for both the avid and recreational fisherman alike.
Situated at the base of the Continental Divide, in the Northern Rocky Mountains, Salmon, Idaho is within easy reach of several major peaks, many over 10,000 feet, and an ideal base for a back country adventure.
Ajax, Cooper head, Freeman, Monument, and Sacajawea Peaks of the Beaver head Mountains in the Bitter root Range of the Continental Divide form the eastern border between Idaho and Montana. The Lemhi Mountains rise between the Lemhi and Salmon Rivers, and the Salmon River Mountains flank the Salmon River to the West. Most prominent in the Salmon River Range are the Bighorn Crags, located in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.
Lemhi Pass; southeast of Salmon, at the top of Agency Creek is part of the Lewis & Clark Back Country Byway. At 7,323 feet elevation this historical pass is the site where, in 1805, the Lewis and Clark Corp of Discovery expedition first saw the headwaters of the Columbia River. Open from June to early fall to motorists it is a favorite for the snowmobile’s in the winter on the groomed trails.
Lost Trail Pass; located on Hwy 93, 45 miles N. of Salmon is open year round and provides panoramic views of the area at 7,014 feet, and the best access to all forms of winter recreation. The Lost Trail Ski area offer 5 lifts to over acres of superb runs.
Gilmore Summit; located south of Salmon on Hwy 28 is the easiest of the passes into the Salmon Valley. Take a side trip and have a picnic at Meadow Lake or visit the old ghost town of Gilmore.
Back country trails
The Lewis Clark Trail crosses Lemhi County and opportunities abound to re-live the Lewis & Clark adventure. It was here that the expedition crossed the Continental Divide searching for a water route to the Pacific only to be turned back by the turbulent waters of the Salmon River. The Nez Perce National Historic Trail enters Lemhi County near the town of Leadore. In addition to these historic trails, the mountains and foothills surrounding Salmon are laced with hiking, biking, skiing, snowmobiling, ATV and horseback riding trails.
The Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness the largest Wilderness Area in the lower 48 states, encompassing the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, and bordering much of the Main Salmon River, is connected to the Selway -Bitter root Wilderness to the north, and the Gospel Hump Wilderness to the northwest. The proximity to this vast primitive area, positions Salmon, Idaho, as one of the best jumping off points for back country forays into the central Idaho Wilderness.
If it is wildlife viewing that you seek, then there is no better place to visit than the Salmon Idaho. Just driving through will offer you the chance to see Bald Eagles, Osprey, Red Tail Hawks, Antelope, Elk, Big Horn Sheep and of course deer, both Mule and White Tail. At times motorists are treated to Moose, Black Bear and Mountain Goat as well. There is no fee to drive our wildlife corridor, and the animals you’ll see are wild and unprotected, unlike those you find in many National Wildlife Parks.
Gold Bug Hot Springs – undeveloped, approximately 20 miles south on Hwy 93, just south of Elk Bend.
Sharkey Hot Springs – Includes 2.5 miles moderately developed, along the Backcountry Byway off Hwy 28.
Panther Creek Hot springs- A sky high drive on a single lane, winding road. A short hike to the hot springs, enjoy the amazing view
Horse Creek Hot Springs – semi-developed, off the Salmon River Road, need USFS map.
Follow Highway 28 South of Salmon (approximately 60 miles), and you will reach Gilmore Summit and the old mining town of Gilmore. Deserted during the depression of 1929, about 40 buildings still remain. The Gilmore & Pittsburg Railroad ran between Armstead, Montana, Salmon and Gilmore, Idaho.
Along with four friends, Frank Barney Sharkey discovered gold in 1866 below the North Fork of the Salmon River. The mining town of Leesburg grew to a population of seven thousand in a few short years. It is estimated that as much as $40 million in gold has been removed from the mines of Leesburg, a town named after General Lee by its residents, mostly soldiers of the Civil War. By the end of World War II the town was mostly deserted – only a few cabins stand today.
Nicholia Charcoal Kilns
Nicholia was established in 1885 when a two stack smelter was built. By 1889, Nicholia had a population of over fifteen hundred people. The Viola Mine was located high on a ridge behind the town and tramways brought the ore to the smelter. Evidence of the old tramway can still be seen. The charcoal kilns built to supply the smelter with fuel are located across the valley. Four of the original sixteen kilns remain standing today. Self Guided Tour.
Along the River Road, West of North Fork, on the banks of the Salmon River, is the Historic township of Shoup, established in 1881. Once a thriving gold mining town, re-named after Idaho’s Governor Shoup, still survives as a remote outpost (population 4) servicing the many adventurers who come to enjoy the river canyon each year. Many historic cabins remain intact and in use, not least the old log schoolhouse, which now provides lodging for fishermen, hunters and rafters. Many historic mills and mining equipment also remain along the canyon. Tours are available only through guided river trip operators.
Other Ghost Towns;
Blackbird, Cobalt, Grantsville, Hahn, Kingville, Lava, Leadville, Reno, Smithville, Summit City, and Yellowjacket
Salmon River Scenic Byway – Hwy 93 runs Stanley to Lost Trail Pass.
Sacajawea Historic Byway – Follow the trail of Sacajawea and the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery. Begin at the junction of Interstate 15 and State Hwy 33 to Hwy 28 and on to Salmon. Sacajawea, an “Agaidika” Shoshone woman born around 1788, was a valuable member of the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery. Born and raised in Idaho’s Lemhi Valley until the age of twelve, she was captured by the Arikira Indians and forced to live in the Mandan Villages of North Dakota. Carrying her infant son and acting as an interpreter for Lewis and Clark.
Found here are fossils of the extinct Pleistocene lion, Native American rock art, and stories of the Lemhi-Shoshone people. Follow the stage routes and rail lines that served the mining boom of the late 1800′s
Lewis & Clark Back Country Byway – Begins 20 miles S. of Salmon then east from Hwy 28 at the Tendoy Store. View country that looks much the same as when Lewis and Clark first discovered it. Things to see: Back Country Interpretive Kiosk; Sha rkey Hot Springs; Lemhi Pass (first crossing by Lewis and Clark of the Continental Divide); 1st Flag Unfurling Site; Continental Divide National Scenic Trail; Headwaters of the Missouri River. Trail is open summer and early fall. Groomed trails open to the snowmobile enthusiast.
Sacajawea Center (Pocket book friendly)
Created to honor Sacajawea, who was born in the Salmon Valley, the Sacajawea Center provides visitors and locals alike a place to walk, visit, watch performances and learn about the area and the inhabitants.
Tower Creek Pyramids ; (Pocket book friendly) The Lewis and Clark expedition traveled up Tower Creek on August 31st 1805. Clark recorded, “…passed remarkable rock resembling pyramids.” The day use site offers picnic tables and a historic homesteader’s cabin. Information panels interpret the geology of the “pyramids’”.
The above information was provided by
Salmon Valley Chamber of Commerce:
Follow the link to even more information on events and activities in the Salmon area