Historically, pink salmon were the most numerous of the five Pacific salmonids in the Elwha River, returning to spawn in odd numbered years. They are estimated to have numbered in the hundreds of thousands.They were relatively abundant up until the 1960's, and seemed to have died out by the late 1980's. Like chum salmon, pink are not the strong jumpers that coho and chinook are. It is speculated that the rapids at Rica Canyon restricted pink and chum to river mile 16, spawning in the streams and tributaries closer to the mouth of the river.
—The red line represents the theoretical range of pink salmon before construction of the dams. This extends to river mile 16, below Rica Canyon.
--The dotted red line represents the theoretical range that pink salmon could have possibly occupied, depending on the conditions. There is no historical evidence that pink salmon occupied this range.