River Mileage


River Left

About Elk Bar

One cool aspect about the Middle Fork of the Salmon and specifically it being a free-flowing river, is you can see the changing effects of sediment deposition as you travel downstream. The camps in the upper reaches and the middle section tend to lack sand as there isn’t very much river volume and the current is moving, which keeps sediment in suspension. As the river picks up volume and sediment, and more importantly, begins to pool drop, that sediment begins to deposit, creating beaches and sandbars. Elk Bar is an example of this and is typically the first big beach that you come across on the trip. On rivers with dams, this phenomenon is significantly muted as they hold back much of that sediment due to the deposition happening in the reservoir. Elk Bar is a gorgeous beach camp that offers amazing views of Impassable Canyon. As the water comes down the beach grows, eventually lending itself as an excellent spot for a volleyball or football game.

Its one downside is the location. With camping restricted to just one night in Impassable Canyon it’s typically desired to go further downstream to allow for an earlier rather than later takeout time the next day. If the water is high this isn’t such a big deal though.