If you’re looking for a real experience in the backcountry, look no further than the Frank Church Wilderness Area of Idaho. The Salmon River runs through it and is one of the most remote rivers in the state. That combined with the rugged terrain along its banks have earned the Salmon a secondary moniker as the “River of No Return”. Approximately 125 miles long it runs through one of the deepest gorges on the continent, the Salmon Canyon. At more than a mile deep for over 100 miles, some of the oldest rocks in the state are exposed (called gneiss) at 1.5 billion years old. Because the river runs through protected wilderness, those who wish experience this part of the country via raft must apply for a permit. Permit applications are entered into a lottery and drawn at random, approximately 7000 people are allowed per season (June 20 – September 7).
A typical excursion through the middle Salmon takes approximately six days and each night there are welcoming sandy beaches to setup camp, relax and reflect upon the experience. If six days is a bit much for your taste, jet boats are allowed on the river as well, but also in small controlled numbers. If you’ve made it this far, chances are you’re interested and, in that case,, a trip down the Salmon River is something we could not give a stronger recommendation to. It is one you’ll never forget. Just make sure to leave no trace when your time there is done.
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