Debris flow creates a big rapid on the Salmon River (central Idaho)

The new “Black Creek Blowout” could be the biggest rapid on the river-

This is big news for all who float or boat the main fork of the Salmon River below the Corn Creek put-in. I’d like to know more about what caused this blowout on April 1.

White water created on Salmon River by blowout. By Eric Barker. The Lewiston Tribune as reported in the Idaho Statesman.


  1. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I’d say there is some chance this might be greatly modified and made less of rapid by spring run-off which might be heavy this year because of the big snowpack and the slow melt so far, which might melt suddenly later if higher than normal temperatures set in following this unusually long cold season.

  2. Doryfun Avatar

    When I first saw pictures of the new rapid it reminded me of the Devils Slide on the Lower Salmon, which is a fearsome nemisis in very high water. When a photo makes a rapid look big, it is normally much bigger when you get into the middle of it all.

    I talked to Eric about it, before anyone had run the rapid, and he mentioned of his interest to do a story. There is a log jam shortly below the rapid, so an overturned boat/raft is a serious consequence to deal with.

    Last I heard there was an opening to one side or the other for a boat to get through. Of course, high water will take this out (USFS is counting on), but I don’t think the boulders will move that much. My guess, a new rapid is now part of future trip carnage stories.

    I have seen several overnight rapids made over the years, on various rivers – simple short term geology being played out. Intense rain in small side drainages is the typical mode of transformation for localized rapids, as it was in this one too.

    Anyway, no time to write more, I’m heading out for an extende river trip.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar

      Thanks for the information, Doryfun!

  3. Salle Avatar

    I have seen parts of the Salmon R. in high water but I want to see some pictures of this new rapid. Sounds pretty rough.

  4. Jeff Avatar

    Geology in action—something we don’t always get the pleasure of seeing. As a lifetime river rat I am always excited to see new rapids form and transform and I also love looking at big rapids wondering what it was like the day(s) it formed. I haven’t done the main in a few years, but it sounds exciting. High water this year will certainly add to its transformation as a new rapid.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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