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As I was pondering the benefits of nature travel, I was reminded of what a positive impact the outdoors has had on my life. Travel can bring very different joys and benefits for different people. Some love adrenaline, some crave relaxation; some value high-end escapes while others tend to keep to a budget. One aspect of travel that I think we should all be considering when searching for our next vacation is how a new experience affects our overall wellbeing. 

Not only is nature travel the best way to find the most unique and off the beaten path places in the world, it is also extremely beneficial for your overall health and wellness. More and more studies are being done on the positive influence that happens to your mindset and your physical sense of health when you spend a week in the wild. 

On the Middle Fork of the Salmon River with Solitude River Trips, you will find yourself in the perfect setting to reboot and revitalize your sense of self and place within the natural world. You’ll sleep under one of the starriest skies in the country, float through some of the most pristine water imaginable, witness the drama of an “impassible” canyon, and forge deep and meaningful connections with your fellow travelers and Mother Nature herself. 

We want to help you understand all of the potential health and wellness benefits of floating the Middle Fork of the Salmon River with us, both in a raft and in a fishing boat. Here is list of eight benefits that come when traveling off the beaten path in the largest wilderness area in the lower 48 and how they can make you feel like a new and improved person.

1. Bringing Couples Together

Many couples share almost everything with their significant other — from finances and a home, a family and friends, to a living space and lifestyle. But its hard to tell just how much they are actually sharing between one another in a lasting and meaningful way when so much gets lost in the business of life and work and money. 

A surefire way to build a strong relationship inside and out is by sharing time with your loved one in nature. The outdoors has the ability to strip away worries and problems and simplify the joy and beauty that life holds for us. This includes our partner in life. When our material concerns fall away and we can focus on what actually makes us happy, we usually find the answer staring back at us in the form of our significant other. A moment like this is even sweeter when the backdrop is a stunning river canyon. 

On Solitude river trips, you and your partner will enjoy a private tent together or a space next to one another out in the open under the stars. All of your meals will be prepared for you, allowing even more time to relax in each others’ presence like you haven’t been able to in years. You’ll experience excitement together as well, whether you’re matching paddle strokes in one of our paddle boats or cheering the other on as they reel in a native cutthroat trout. A big benefit of nature travel is that time on the river and in the outdoors allows us to feel like kids again, and enjoy the simple pleasures in life. You and your partner will have a chance to reconnect on a deeper level, through learning and playing on the wild river, on side hikes and excursions, and at our scenic camp sites. 

a couple enjoying the benefits of nature travel.

Loved ones on the river.

2. Not Having Cell Service for a Week 

There are too many of us who exist more in screens than in reality. We can’t help it, that’s the way the world is heading. Which is why it’s more important than ever to seek out time in nature and dedicate that time to the tangible, off the beaten path, natural world. Technology use is an area of research that scientists have been focusing on more and more — and the results are clear across the board. Time away from your phone can only benefit your mental health and physical well-being. 

The Middle Fork of the Salmon River flows through the heart of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. At 1.2 million acres “The Frank” is the largest contiguous wilderness area in the lower 48 states. And it exists entirely outside of cell service range — meaning that when you float the river with Solitude River Trips, you’ll spend six whole days without the ability to send a text, answer an email, or check social media. Can you think of the last time in your life that you went that long without technology? For most of us, its been since childhood, or never. There are a myriad of health and wellness benefits that come with leaving behind our screens for an extended period of time. 

We become much more aware of our surroundings and find it easier to remain present in our setting when we don’t have a screen to distract us. There is so much to admire about the Middle Fork of the Salmon — you’ll be constantly mesmerized by the swirling currents and hypnotizing waves of the river, stunned by the sheer size of the canyon walls, and transfixed by the flora and fauna constantly making itself known along the riverbanks. It will be difficult to take it all in, but soaking in those moments of perfect clarity and complete oneness with nature can bring you to a healthier place in your mental wellness. 

magical waters of the middle fork

Magical waters of the Middle Fork.

Another advantage of leaving your phone behind is improving your sleep schedule. You’ll be hard-pressed to get a better night’s sleep than when you’re glamping with Solitude River Trips. We provide every guest on our trip with their own cot and deluxe sleeping pad, full pillow, and large sleeping bag. After a full day of mental and physical stimulation, with no screen to distract you, sleep will be deep and completely rejuvenating. There will be no phone to greet you in the morning — instead you’ll be roused by the call of the Canyon Wren and the smell of fresh coffee and the sound of the rushing river. 

The benefits of nature travel include sleeping under the stars.

A guide sleeping under the stars.

When we get outside and leave our phones behind, we have a greater ability to form meaningful connections with ourselves and the people around us. You’ll be on a trip with loved ones and likely a stranger or two, with all the time in the world to get to know the new and interesting people organically, or form stronger bonds with the people who mean the most. You can also find deeper connection to the space you’re in and appreciate the wonders of the canyon even more intrinsically. 

The Middle Fork is the perfect place to escape cell service and screen time because of the ample opportunity to learn and explore. You will find constant stimulation as you delve into the comprehensive history that tells its tale along the river, such as the indigenous Shoshone and Tukudeka settlements as well as historic mining outposts. The opportunity to learn the story of a place is an engaging benefit of nature travel. There are also ample hiking opportunities on the well-established trail that runs along the majority of the river, taking you to waterfalls, hot springs, crystalline side creeks and springs, and jaw-dropping overlooks. If you just want to spend your time casting a fly and watching it dance through the river’s many currents, you’ll find no finer fishing than on the Middle Fork.

The ability to exist without a technology for a week is incredibly rare in this day and age, and experiencing this freedom can lead to huge benefits on your health and wellness. Enjoying this freedom on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River only adds to your overall happiness.

3. Impacts of the Slow Living Movement

A recent discovery of ours at Solitude River Trips is the existence of the slow living movement that seems to align naturally with spending time on the river. One of the owners here at Solitude took the time to dedicate a whole post to the idea of living slow on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Jake addresses what it could be like to embrace a slower and more mindful approach to life while you’re on your river trip. He also talks about how this mindset can improve your mental health in the long run, by helping you carve out moments for mindfulness, embrace the outdoors whenever possible, simplify daily tasks, and practice being grateful for life every day. 

The slow living movement resonates with river time and personal well-being because it emphasizes the art of balancing accomplishment with presence. It feels good to slow down! And its not easy to do without dedication and intent! Your body and mind will thank you for choosing relaxation and rejuvenation on the river. Take a look at Jake’s post about slow living on the river to more fully understand how nature can improve wellbeing with this practice.

buddies fishing together

Fishing buddies.

4. Benefit of Nature Travel for Child Development & Families

Raising a kid and having a family is one of the hardest but without a doubt most rewarding acts anyone can do. We’ve all heard the saying “it takes a village to raise a kid.” As it turns out, including Mother Nature as one of those “villagers” will vastly impact the development of your child, mentally and physically, in the most magical and powerful of ways. 

Recent research discusses the importance of exposing kids to the outside world early and often. One such study tells us that “contact with nature is important because it promotes a child’s creativity and imagination, intellectual and cognitive development and boosts social relationships… Similarly, basic theories of education suggest interaction with nature enhances a child’s knowledge of nature, establishes their emotional, cognitive and spiritual connection to the world, and promotes their understanding of their place in the world.” Children will be happier, healthier, and better adjusted if they are given the chance to explore the natural world. 

Six days and five nights on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River is more time spent outside than most children get in a year. Sure, they spend quality time on school playgrounds and in local parks, but experiencing a brand new place and a unique environment is an eye-opening inspiration to kids’ senses. Cognitive development and creative abilities will thrive when kids are outside. Children will be able to swim, play, explore, learn, and laugh for days on end when they go on a river trip with their family. They will feel a never-ending sense of wonder at the power of the natural world, helping them to realize the importance of keeping themselves and our planet healthy. You might notice your child’s independence strengthen, urging them to step out of their comfort zone more often while on the river.

At Solitude, we facilitate these developments in kids by building fun friendships with them from the beginning, helping them catch a fish or perfect their paddling, and giving them space to play and roam. All while keeping an eye on them so you don’t have to worry as much. 

Kids at sunflower hot springs.

Kiddos at Sun Flower Hot Spring.

A river trip with your family will not only help your children become happier and healthier people, but will also bring all family members closer than ever before. Countless remarkable memories are made on a Solitude River Trip, from exciting moments in endless rapids, to tying flies and reeling in a native trout, to exploring hot springs and cliff jumps, to sitting around the fire and counting shooting stars. You won’t have to worry about normal daily tasks like getting food on the table — we’ll do our best to take care of even the pickiest of eaters. Your tents will be set up when you get to camp so you and your kids can easily show up and spend more quality time together. We’ll show you the beauty of the Middle Fork that your family can share forever. 

Data from studies tells us that “individuals, who as children actively interact with nature, are likely to have a better quality of life and tend to live longer.” There is no better way to get you and your kids off the beaten path and into nature than a river trip on the Salmon River.

family dinner

Family dinner, riverside.

6. Sustainable Travel

Not only should we being thinking about ourselves when we make travel plans, but also the lives and future of other people and our planet. Many vacations these days involve immense impacts on our environment — flights around the world or cruises across oceans, massive theme parks or sprawling hotel complexes, and spending time in mega cities that are totally removed from their surrounding natural world. Caring about your own health and wellbeing can also involve rethinking how your vacation impacts the world around you. 

For people looking to embrace sustainable travel, a six day rafting or fly fishing trip on the Middle Fork of the Salmon is the answer. There is no perfect balance between travel and sustainability, but at Solitude River Trips we strive to do the best we can to share nature with our guests in a way that respects the river canyon and leaves no trace. We encourage everyone to observe and appreciate the beauty of the river, and we strive to educate everyone about the cultures that occupied the surrounding lands long before we got there. Solitude is a small, family run company that operates solely the Middle Fork of the Salmon, with just one launch a week, minimizing our overall impact on the land while dedicating the entirety of our time and resources to ensuring that each trip is the best experience possible for guests. 

views down the canyon

Views down the canyon.

A well-run river trip can have immense benefits on an individual’s health and wellbeing, while leaving little to no trace in the areas occupied. According to the UN’s World Tourism Organization, sustainable tourism “takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.” Operating under a special use permit through the Forest Service, we are dedicated to following strict environmental rules and regulations in order to preserve the wilderness area to the best of our abilities, all while sharing it with you. We also support many organizations that are committed to preserving the land, the river, and its indigenous cultures. 

As a company that relies on a free-flowing river, we are particularly vulnerable to the climate crisis. We have found ourselves adapting to rapidly changing circumstances and planning for more complex and difficult contingencies as the crisis develops. Solitude River Trips is committed more than ever to protecting the amazing Middle Fork of the Salmon River for future generations by operating in a sustainable and eco-conscious manner.

7. New and Unique Connections

In our modern and digital world, it can be daunting and difficult to make new friendships that develop into something lasting and meaningful. People always seem to be in too much of a rush to actually take the time to get to know one another. Loneliness and isolation can be very detrimental to mental health, and spending too much time at home alone does nothing for your physical wellbeing. Many people have set goals to make more friends and get out and about more often, but don’t really know the best ways to do so. I’m here to tell you that — you guessed it — a river trip might just be the answer to these dilemmas. 

Making new friends is a huge benefit of nature travel!

New friends on the river.

Whether you’re traveling with your significant other, your family, among a group of friends, or just getting in some solo travel time, you will likely be a part of a varied and diverse roster of adventurers on your Solitude river trip. Throughout our six day float, you’ll have a chance to branch out and meet new and interesting people that you would never have otherwise met. The river is known as “the great equalizer.” We often realize we have much more in common than not. Interactions on the river have none of the distractions of modern life like phone calls, work responsibilities, or the non-stop news cycle. You might just find your new adventure buddy or fishing partner. 

Fostering new and unique connections with people of all ages and histories is a significant benefit of nature travel and a bolster to your mental wellbeing. You’ll feel the exciting stimulation of forging bonds and realizing commonalities as you float down the river or relax in camp with new friends. People from different backgrounds and opinions can become tight-knit and steadfast as they share the wonders of the Middle Fork. You’ll leave the river with a wealth of memories as well as fresh and important friendships that might continue for many years and many river miles to come.

8. All You Have to Do is Be Yourself

The best thing about planning a Solitude river trip is that once you show up, the planning and anticipation is over, and all you have to do is be yourself. Our crew of guides will take care of the rest. They will guide you expertly through rapids or towards the best seams to fish, cook all of your gourmet backcountry meals in dutch ovens and on the fire, set up and take down your tents, lead you on hikes and excursions, facilitate campfire bonding and singalongs, and demonstrate just what it means to really and truly love a place. 

Once you’re on river time, all you need to do is be your most authentic self, letting go of social apprehensions and forgetting work schedules. The outside world doesn’t have to exist. It’s just you and the river and your new river family. It’s hard to express how amazing this can feel mentally and physically, as you relax into your most innate sense of self and enjoy the beauty of the natural world all around you. There are many benefits of nature travel — these are just a few you’ll appreciate on a Solitude River Trip.

friends on the paddle boat.