Salmo River - Canyon (Gr 3-4+)
Last Updated on Monday, 28 May 2007 14:40 Written by Spencer Cox Tuesday, 22 May 2007 12:07
Character: A fast flowing continuous medium-large volume river in the heart of the Kootenays. At higher water it is characterized by large waves, and pushy water in the lower canyon (Gr 4+). At lower water it is more technical with rocks and pourovers to dodge but is slower moving and less pushy (Gr 3+).
River Name - Salmo River
Grade - 3-4+
Class - 3-4+
Takeout -To reach the takeout leave Salmo and head South on Highway 6. Continue (towards the US and Nelway) until you are about 50 feet from the border. Do not cross. Instead take a right down a road (Pend dOreille Rd). Follow this road avoiding any minor roads which take off from either side for several km. Eventually it will wind down along the reservoir on the Pend dOreille and Salmo. It eventually crosses the Salmo (slow moving or backed up) and there is a good takeout on river right. This is somewhat of a dirty redneck campsite which is quite dirty.
GPS Takeout - 49.025376°, -117.380347°
Put-in - To reach the putin leave Salmo and head South on Highway 6. Continue (towards the US and Nelway). A few km after crossing the South Salmo start watching for a small road leaving the right (West) side of the road, just before a corner and a section where concrete guard rails begin on the right. You will know if you are in the right place if you find a gauging station complete with a cable tram they use to cross the river.
GPS Put-in: 49.046557°, -117.293571
Description: From the put-in the river proceeds quickly through some class 1-2 water. It builds streadily with growing wave trains and a few isolated pour overs. The river makes a sharp right turn at after a few km and you get into more of a defined canyon. On this corner there are some big waves and holes on the river left (outside) with a small eddy for service. A few hundred metres of calm and you get into some more class 3-4 read and run. The steepest section seems to come after a long right bend then a left corner. Here the river enters a straight stretch, with most of the water along the left side and several pour overs on the right side. It makes a left bend below here and is split by a large midstream boulder with clear passage in the left channel. It eases off to splashy class 3 with the odd hole until you see a small logging camp of some sort on the left. At this point the river takes a bit of a right, over a small broken weir which is used to enhance fish habitat. It stays in a tight canyon with a few more good rapids and good surf spots below until eventually you reach the slow moving water created by the reservoir. It's a couple of km on the flats to reach the takeout.
This is a classic playboat run in my opinion similar in character to runs like the Upper Fraser, Chilko etc. No scouting has been required on either of my trips although wood is certainly a concern in this part of BC. There are few distinct rapids, instead just a run of continuous class 3-4. A swim would be long especially at higher flows.
Gauge - 08NE074