Rafters are being pulled off the Salmon River above Riggins in Idaho in an unprecedented nearly 18-mile river closure due to the approaching Tepee Springs Fire. The rafters are being loaded into hastily arranged shuttles and buses for a two-hour ride down a bumpy dirt road to McCall. “It’s the only way out,” said Suzanne Endsley, spokeswoman for the Cottonwood Field Office of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
“We’ve been working with outfitters and guides to contact the shuttle buses, the trailers,” Endsley said. “Right now the Idaho County Sheriff is staffing at French Creek Road and Vinegar Creek. They are actually pulling folks off the river.”
According to the U.S. Forest Service, 275 people have current rafting permits with scheduled take-outs in the stretch today, tomorrow or the next day. If the closure extends longer, even more people could be affected. The stretch of river from the Corn Creek put-in to Riggins is a six- to eight-day float, according to the Forest Service; the closed area is about four miles downstream of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area.
The Salmon is the longest undammed river in the lower 48 states. Its whitewater thunders through narrow canyons and towering stone cliffs, and meanders through pine forests with white, sandy beaches and abundant wildlife; people come from all over the world to raft it. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.