Amazing Photo Of An Ice Circle On Idaho's Salmon River Makes A Splash On Social Media

Dec 16, 2015

This picture has been popping up on social media. It’s an unusual phenomenon known as an “ice circle.” And this one was spotted by an Idaho river guide who snapped this picture while heading out for a hunting trip several years ago.

Gary Lane is a river guide and photographer. He and his wife Barb run Wapiti River Guides out of Riggins. He took the photo in 2009.

“I was driving up the road along the Salmon River above Riggins and I saw that ice circle, so of course I had to get out and take a picture of it,” Lane says.

According to Lane, ice circles are usually formed after a river has frozen over and is about to break up.

“The thing about the Salmon River is that it’s a big river and so the eddies are really large in some places and that particular place, just below Island Bar, it happens there almost every year when the river freezes over.”

What happens, Lane says, is because of the direction of the current and the eddy, as the river starts to melt off, chunks of ice will start breaking away from the shore. As things start to deteriorate, the ice goes around and around in a circle and makes a rosette. He says it’s a special phenomenon.

“Anybody that would see that that day would be stopping and looking at it.”

He says it’s not that unusual on a big river like the Salmon, if you’re paying attention.

“It’s just that the beauty of the Salmon, that it’s such a big river, that the magnitude size-wise that allows for bigger rosettes to develop.”

This picture, of an ice circle just starting to form, was taken by Gary Lane last month.
Credit Gary Lane / Wapiti River Guides

Lane says it’s been snowing outside his window, but the river hasn’t frozen over yet. But he’s hopeful he’ll see another ice circle this year.

“When we get another cold spell, it’s possible it will freeze over again and we may get some more ice circles.”

When he’s not watching ice circles, Lane and his wife take people down the river for whitewater trips, fishing trips and photography trips. He also takes a lot of wildlife pictures and has even taken pictures from his dog’s back, to get a dog’s eye view of things.

But he has a special fascination with ice and he spends a lot of time taking pictures of all kinds of ice phenomena this time of year.

“It’s just another fascination of nature,” Lane says.

Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio

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