Island Bar Recreation Site is one of the numerous Bureau of Land Management sites along the Lower Salmon River in Riggins, Idaho. This recreation site is largely known for its access to plenty of water-based recreational activities. Wherever you go, you’ll catch sight of water enthusiasts enjoying rafting, kayaking, motor boating, and jet skiing via the semi-developed boat launch area.
With the river being the center of attention, the Island Bar Recreation Site itself is quite undeveloped. Camping here is primitive but means having access to the large sandy beaches of Salmon River and enjoying dips in its cool waters whenever your heart desires.
With only three campsites at the recreation site, the spots fill up pretty fast. Fortunately, BLM campsites such as Lucile Recreation Site, Old Lucile, Slate Creek, Hammer Creek, Skookumchuck, and Shorts bar are also along the same stretch of Salmon River. The Island Bar Recreation Site has one of those island vibes where you just want to chill and relax and take a break from your regular life.
It is believed that the first time Salmon River was inhabited was 8000 years ago and so you can find more than a few pioneer and Native American historic sites along the river.
Island Bar Recreation Site is located about five miles east of Riggins on Big Salmon Road, in Idaho. Signs guiding you towards the Salmon River as well other BLM campsites are clear and prominent and finding your destination is quite easy.
The roads to the Island Bar Recreation Site are paved at the entrance, from where you would need to make a tight turn, especially if you have a large RV, to the left. The paved road will then transform into a bumpy river rock road for the next 300 yards. Drive slowly and carefully to avoid a puncture or worse until you reach the campsites. If you need anything, you can head to the town of Riggins, which is quite close by.
Island Bar Recreation Site boasts a very small campground with only three campsites. These sites come along with picnic tables and fire grills. Campground facilities include toilets and a boat launch area. The campground is also pet-friendly. Both tents and RVs are permitted on the campsites. You’ll need to bring your own tents.
The campground is ADA accessible and firewood is available on the premises. Phone service and trash disposal services are also extended to visitors.
If you visit Island Bar Recreation Site and there aren’t any campsites left, you can head to Spring Bar Campground, which is less than a fifteen-minute drive away. This campground has a total of 18 RV campsites. Three of which are pull-through. All but two campsites come with a picnic table and a fire ring. Some of the sites are more open with less privacy and some are secluded and detached from others.
Amenities include potable water, restrooms, and a picnic area. Leashed pets are allowed.
Salmon River is a popular fishing hotspot. You can expect some high-quality sportfishing in these beautiful waters. Fish species you might end up catching from the docks of Island Bar Recreation Site include sockeye salmon, steelhead, cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, sturgeon, squawfish, and chinook salmon during spring, summer, and fall runs.
There are several fishing docks along the river, and most belong to BLM. Pick the one you like and set camp. Or you can choose to boat on the river instead, your choice!
Boating is popular here given the proximity of the recreation site to the river. There is one boat launch at Island Bar Recreation Site to accommodate boating enthusiasts. Another BLM site, Pine Bar, is along the Lower Salmon River and you can head there for their frequent put-in spot for kayaking, rafting, powerboating, and jet skiing. You can also boat and fish at the same time if you wish to find a less crowded area away from the docks.
Numerous bird habitats are attracted to the river and the surrounding lands. Waterfowl, songbirds, and shorebirds can be seen and heard all around the recreation site. Other resident birds along the Salmon River include blue grouse, spruce grouse, partridge, chukar, and ruffed grouse. Plenty of seasonal migrating birds can also be spotted by birdwatchers.
Island Bar Recreation Site is an old-school picnic spot where you can just lay your blankets on the grassy picnic area right next to the Salmon River and enjoy your favorite snacks while taking in the views. Students often come here to study in peace and bibliophiles come here to read.
If you can’t find a good enough spot here, keep walking down the Salmon River and there are several BLM sites within walking distance with more developed picnic areas.
Weis Rockshelter is an archeological site that might be on your route as you are going back home, or heading towards Island Bar Recreation Site. Weis Rockshelter was the home of Nez Perce people for more than 8000 years. This site was excavated and then filled back in by an amateur archeologist. The artifacts from this site are currently stored at the University of Idaho.
Camping or picnicking along the Salmon River, you are most likely to get an uninvited −yet welcome– guests such as whitetail buck or doe. These two are most commonly spotted on the slope of the river. Some other wildlife species in the area include mule deer, elk, bobcats, skunks, marmots, coyote, red fox, porcupine, beaver, mink, weasel, river otter, and muskrat.