Four Rivers Lottery

US Forest Service - 1999 Information


  Main_Fork   Middle_Fork   Selway
  Hells_Canyon   How_to_Apply   Where_to_Apply


Main Salmon

Originating in the high mountains of central Idaho, the Salmon Wild & Scenic River cascades through the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, the largest Wilderness in the lower United States. The river corridor is not part of the Wilderness and jet boats are permitted.

The Shoshoni Indians called the river Tom-Agit-Pah, or Big Fish Water. In the past they lived along the river during the annual salmon run and fished for this important part of their diet. These native peoples considered the river too dangerous for canoe travel and developed an extensive trail system to provide access to the canyon. The Nez Perce tribe used the lower river, and the Sheepeater Shoshoni lived upstream.

The Salmon River is one of the most scenic in the world and thousands of visitors enjoy its splendors each year.

Fire pans are required and campsites are not assigned. Floaters must make provisions for carrying out human waste and campfire ashes. The number of people and number of launches per day are regulated from June 20 through September 7. Permits are not required outside this period.


Middle Fork of the Salmon

The Middle Fork is 98 miles of free-flowing river in the heart of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. It is a non-motorized, roadless floating river experience. The river has many technical rapids, but still offers a well-rounded family adventure. It has several natural hot springs, crystal clear water, and catch and release fishing for fun.

The Middle Fork offers floaters a wide variety of wildlife and scenery that would thrill any photographer or nature lover.

Fire pans are required, and campsites are assigned. Floaters must make provisions for carrying out human waste and campfire ashes. The number of launches are regulated year-round on the Middle Fork. The heavy use period, June 1 through September 3, is regulated by the Four Rivers lottery system. Pre and post season launches may be requested by phone after October 1 on a first come first served basis.



The Selway is one of the most challenging whitewater rivers in the United States. The river's course takes the floater through the 1,239,840 acre Selway Bitterroot Wilderness. Most of this large Wilderness is passable only by horseback, foot, or boat. From Paradise Guard Station at the mouth of White Cap Creek to Selway Falls the river drops an average of 28 feet per mile creating a very technical whitewater floating xperience.

On the Selway there are several Class III and IV rapids which require a high level of whitewater skill and experience.

The number of launches are regulated from May 15 through July 31.


Snake-Hells Canyon

The Snake River in Hells Canyon National Recreation Area divides Idaho and Oregon, flowing through North America's deepest river canyon. The 67-1/2 miles of Wild & Scenic River corridor passes through Hells Canyon Wilderness over part of its length but is not itself a Wilderness.

The river corridor provides both motorized and nonmotorized recreation opportunities. The largest rapids are located in the wild section. The Wild. Snake has several Class IV rapids with huge hydraulics. The Scenic section offers less challenging Class II to III rapids with beautiful canyon vistas.

Hells Canyon human occupation dates back at least 7100 years. People from modern to prehistoric times have left interesting and irreplaceable evidence of their cultures.

No campfires are permitted from July 1 through September 15. For the balance of the year firepans are required. The party size is limited to 30 floaters per launch. Float launches in the Wild River segment are regulated with reservations required from the Friday before Memorial Day through September 15. Self issue permits are required year long for all other boating.


How to Apply

Permits to float the Selway, Snake-Hells Canyon, Middle Fork and Main Salmon Rivers are allocated through a lottery system. Lottery application forms for the coming float season are available from any of the four offices listed below any time after October 1.

Submit one (1) application, with a non-refundable application fee, to any one of the offices listed below.

All four rivers are covered on one application form.

The applicant has the opportunity to draw for one or more rivers with that single application.

Applications must be received at any one of the four offices no earlier than December 1 and no later than January 31.


Where to Apply

Click here for Four Rivers applications on-line

Snake-Hells Canyon
Hells Canyon Nat'l Rec. Area
P.O. Box 699
Clarkston, WA 99403-0699
Ph. (509) 758-1957

West Fork Ranger District
Forest Service
6735 West Fork Road
Darby, MT 59829
Ph. (406) 821-3269

Middle Fork of the Salmon
Middle Fork Ranger District
Forest Service
P.O. Box 750
Challis, ID 83226-0750
Ph. (208) 879-4112 for applications
Ph. (208) 879-4101 for additional info

Main Salmon
North Fork Ranger District
Forest Service
P.O. Box 180
North Fork, ID 83466-0180
Ph. (208) 865-2725 for applications
Ph. (208) 865-2700 for additional info

Updated March 21, 2000