Expedition Logistics


The campsite is the beach lunch spot below Turtle Pond, on river right. This spot is sometimes called "Cable Car" or "Long Beach."

Downstream of the Phoenix Toilet, there is a terrific shaded kitchen area. 

There is no cost to camp on the BLM land, but there are several strict (yet simple) requirements:

  • You must notify the BLM, in writing, prior to camping on BLM land on the river. Please work with the Permit Coordinator for this.
  • You must have a BLM/USFS campfire permit, even if you only use propane stoves.
    • Fortunately these permits are free and easy to get (online or at any BLM, USFS, or Cal Fire Ranger Station). 
    • Typically campfires are banned starting July 1 (even with the permit), perhaps even earlier in drought years. (Propane stoves are allowed with the campfire permit)
  • There is a limit of 30 people camping. The BLM can make special arrangements for larger groups. Contact them for more information.
  • Bring toilet paper for your group. This is for river karma. There may be limited supplies at the Phoenix toilet, and it would be rude to deplete whatever is there. 


The biggest challenge with a South Fork expedition trip is deciding where to park the vehicles over night.
You cannot park overnight at the Skunk Hollow
($90 tickets in 2008), Salmon Falls, or Greenwood Creek lots.
Your options are:

  • The Nugget
  • Camp Lotus
  • On the road at Take Out
  • Magnolia Ranch (Equestrian trailhead)
  • other? 

The Nugget is probably the most secure place to leave vehicles overnight, and if you do that, then you don't have to worry about shuttle on put-in day.

The next challenge is how to shuttle the vehicles to takeout. Here are your options:

  • Have an off-river Shuttle Bunny or private shuttle deliver the vehicles on take-out day
  • Hike out on take-out day, shuttle the vehicles to take out, hitchhike back, and then hike back to camp.
    • The hike to Magnolia Ranch is 15 minutes one-way. 
    • This can take advantage of down time if you are waiting for water.
    • Not everyone may be comfortable hitchhiking.
    • Having a bunch of people (all the drivers) essentially leave the trip can disrupt wilderness feel, and may leave you short on chaperons or trainers.
  • Use The River Shuttle to shuttle drivers from takeout to the cars.
    • In 2014, the Skunk Hallow pick-up is at 5:00pm. They change $10/person to go to Coloma/Lotus and $15/person to Chili Bar. They did not offer private/custom shuttles. 


On Put-in Day

It is important to be time-conscious, but if you are organized there is usually enough time to make it to camp before you run out of water.

If you put-in before 11:00am, you can expect to arrive at camp at or before 5:00pm, even at a Training pace.

If you are worried about a long put-in, or you have a large trip (river regulations limit trips to seven rafts), you can have the gear boats put in downstream as a separate flotilla, which will give them more time to rig.

Tips for staying organized and time-efficient

  • Get all of the boating gear the night before. Gathering, loading, and tying down gear takes a lot more time than you think. Do not schedule it for the morning of put-in.
  • Camp at The Nugget the night before. This is especially important for participant groups or anyone who might get lost or have unexpected delays. 
    • If you camp at The Nugget the night before, get camp completely packed up before you begin put-in. People tend to putter and dawdle in camp, and it is better to keep the group focused. It will also force people to pack their dry bags and get river ready. 
  • At Put-in, send all of the cars away as soon as possible. PG will not get fully packed while cars are still lingering.

On Take-out Day

It takes 3.5 to 4 hours for the water to arrive at the BLM camp. For example, with a 9:00am release, the water would start to rise at 12:30pm, and the water would be up by 1:00pm. If you have to wait for water, be prepared for the down time. 

It is a 40 minute drive (one-way) from Salmon Falls to the Nugget.

With a 4:30pm arrival at the Salmon Falls take-out, 80 minutes for round-trip vehicle shuttle, gear tie-down, and Closing Circle, don't expect to depart Take-out until about 6:30pm. The participant group can typically head home directly from Take-out, but you may need to return to the Lotus Shed to unload gear. It can be a long day.

Alternative meal schedule: Let everyone sleep in! Instead of breakfast and lunch, have a big brunch. You can head downstream before the water is fully up, and then stop at BLM2 (the last Phoenix toilet) for heavy snacks. The snacks will be key! Your takeout will be disastrous if no one has eaten since 10:00am. With this plan you can get to Skunk Hallow around 4:00pm or earlier. The disadvantages are that (1) this might put you in the traffic jam of all the commercial trips, and (2) you will be waiting a long time for the River Shuttle, if you're using it.