Salmon River Rafting and Wildlife

Whitewater Wildlife


Rafting down the Main Salmon and the Middle Fork of the Salmon is the perfect opportunity to get friends and family together. The fun and splashy waves throughout this trip contain the perfect amount of excitement for all age groups. Not to mention, these stretches also have an immense amount of Flora and Fauna for guests to look at as you make your way down the river. 



Flora on the Salmon

While floating down the Salmon, you will notice that there are a large variety of trees that line the canyon walls. One common type of tree that you will see is the Ponderosa Pine Tree. This specific species of pine is the state tree of Montana. Along with this, these trees have developed extremely impressive ways to combat the fires that are common in this area. One way that they do this is by shedding their puzzle-like bark when flames reach towards their exterior. This prevents the heat of the fire from damaging their inner vital structures. Similarly, these trees also shed their lower branches as they mature in order to reduce the risk of going ablaze during a fire. 

Another type of tree that you will encounter while on the Middle Fork is the Plains Cottonwood. This tree can get up to eighty feet tall and live for over one hundred years! These trees are very recognizable due to the fact that the smallest breeze can make its leaves shake. Not only is this tree wonderful to look at, but it is also important to many tribes due to its versatility in use. These plants were used by Native tribes as lean food sources and in treating gastric ailments. Both of which would come in handy during colder months when plants are less abundant in this region. 

Straying away from trees, there are also plenty of wildflowers and plants that scatter the canyon along the Main and Middle Fork of the Salmon. However, one plant that is slightly random is the clumps of Perennial Peas that can be found at the Big Mallard Camp. This species of pea is not the eating type, since you would get poisoned if you were to consume it. In some areas this plant can be considered invasive since it is native to the Mediterranean, only coming to North America in the early 1700s. This plant is known to bloom its pink, lavender, and white blooms in summer and autumn. 

Fauna on the Salmon

Throughout your multi-day whitewater rafting trip down the Salmon River, you will encounter a variety of animals. On the Middle Fork of the Salmon, you are likely to encounter a  larger game selection which includes bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, mountain goats, black bears, and moose. This makes for an extremely interesting ride since you can constantly find yourself watching the trees for a glimpse of movement. These animals prefer the Middle Fork due to its more mild summer temperatures. However, you can still tent to find these animals along the shores of Main Salmon – especially black bears and bighorn sheep. 

Similarly, there is an ample amount of fish in these waters. Some of which include: cutthroat trout, bull trout, rainbow trout, mountain whitefish, sockeye salmon, Chinook salmon, steelhead, smallmouth bass, sucker, and sturgeon. Make sure to come with your barbs clipped and your cast ready because these fish put up a fight. 

On the Main Salmon, there is the opportunity to go on a variety of hikes that are based out of the campsites along the river. On these hikes, make sure to keep your eye out for smaller animals such as dragonflies, butterflies, snakes, and grouse. These animals are especially prominent in the month of June when the temperatures are starting to warm the air a bit. So, the next time that you take a trip with Rocky Mountain River Tours on the Main Salmon, or the Middle Fork, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for all the fun plants and animals that are out and about during your float. 

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