The Frank Church - River of No Return National Wilderness Area
In Wilderness, we can still experience the true Western Frontier, where the vastness of wild untouched nature remains real and you can feel it stretching out farther than your five senses. In Wilderness, the liberating, regenerative power of Solitude still holds its full meaning. Here, the wolves and elk make their gruff peace, the otter and trout find balance, and the birds return to a reputable oasis from during their exhausting migrations.
The Middle Fork lies within a 2.3 million acre area designated as the The Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. In this Wilderness area lies the most remote (and one of the most rugged) parts of the contiguous United States. When we enter this area, we are stepping into a western eden as only the first human explorers know it – no roads and the only society is what we chose to bring.
Idaho Senator Frank Church, one of the namesake of Idaho's Wilderness designation, was the Senate floor sponsor for The Wilderness Act of 1964. In 1968, he introduced the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, which included the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, so that rivers "shall be preserved in free-flowing condition, and that they and their immediate environments shall be protected for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations."
Wildlife and Geography
The Middle Fork is one of the healthiest trout fisheries in the world. In addition to offering stupendous fly fishing, an entire biodiversity cascades from this healthy ecological environment. The Middle Fork Canyon is one of the most important remaining environments for many species, including Wolf, Cougar, Lynx, Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Goats, Bobcat, Badger, River Otter, Elk, and Mule Deer. Birds such as Bald and Golden Eagles, Ouzel, Grouse, Chukar, Great Horned Owls, Red Tail Hawk, Osprey, Swallows, and countless cute songbirds that will wake you if you are late for breakfast.
Idaho has many flattering nomenclatures, such as 'The White Water State' and 'The Wilderness State;' Idaho's first geological surveyors claimed that if you flattened out all of the terrain features in Idaho, it would be bigger than Texas. "The Frank," as this Wilderness area is endearingly called, lives up to all of these reputations, and the Middle Fork provides a spectacular profile of its wonders. Floating along with the flow is the most comfortable pace to experience this incredible river canyon.
Willi Cannell, the owner of Solitude River Trips, is an ardent self-educator of history, concepts, and issues surrounding Wilderness policy and protection. Please contact him in person if you would like more information pertaining to Wilderness in Idaho.
"What a blessing to be on a world class rafting and fishing river that is almost exactly as it was when the white man first stumbled across it -- no roads, houses, billboards, trails of any kind -- only the gorgeous sounds and sights and smells of nature." - Paul O, Texas