The River of No Return
The Middle Fork of "The River of No Return"
The Middle Fork is the largest tributary of the Main Salmon River, which is the largest tributary of the Snake, which is the larges tributary of the Columbia, which is the largest North American tributary of the largest Ocean ( the pacific) in the world!
The Middle Fork is over 116 miles long (no dams), and descends over 4,000ft in elevation. As it grows from a tumbling creek to a mighty river, the Middle Fork is fed by runoff from spectacular mountain ranges such as The Sawtooths, Pistol Ridge, The Bighorn Crags, The Tango Peaks, and the Yellow Jacket Mountains.
A spectacular part of the Middle Fork is how much the geology, wildlife, vegetation, and size of the river changes as you descend from the top of the canyon all the way to the confluence with the Main Salmon. This diversity is one of the most unqiue river experiences in the world.
The famous Impassable Canyon
The Salmon River holds the second deepest river canyon - surpassing the Grand Canyon in vertical relief - and second only to Hell's Canyon on the border of Idaho and Oregon. The Impassable Canyon is the deepest section of the Middle Fork where the river has carved the steepest canyon section into the ancient granite bedrock of the Idaho batholith.
The Impassabe Canyon is characterized by sheer, multi-thousand foot cliff walls dropping straight down to the river banks. Our camps in the Impassable Canyon are hemmed in by smajetic granite amphitheaters and are often visited by Bighorn Sheep and occasionally a Mountain Goat can be spotted high on the cliff walls.
Geothermal activity emerges all over Idaho (In fact, the whole state has traveled right over the top of Yellowstone caldera. These thermic springs shoot steaming hot and healthy goodness out of mother nature's elegant cracks and crevices. Take a break from fishing and rafting for some complete relaxation and rejuvenation while basking in these natural springs.
The Middle Fork is rich with human history and fascinating characters. The Sheepeater Indians, pioneers, miners, hunters, hermits, murderers, victims of the gruesome frontier, pioneer feminists, and wilderness guides have all left their legendary mark on this rugged area. Our guides are enthusiasts of lore, and love stopping to share an old mine, cabin, cave, or mystery.
One of the most interesting things to explore in the Middle Fork canyon are the pictographs left by the relatively unrevealed Sheepeater culture. What could these creative and bizarre messages mean? Many of the drawings are a mystery even to modern anthropology; with the slightest application of imagination, their eccentric meaning ignites before your eyes.
The Middle Fork of the Salmon River holds one of the strongest populations of all-wild West Slope Cutthroat Trout. The Cutthroat Trout is a very fragile species, and has suffered massive habitat loss due to over fishing and river environment changes. The Middle Fork has been a stronghold for this incredible species primarily for two reasons: (1) Idaho Fish and Game's single barbless hook, catch and release policy that has been in place since 1973, and (2) the protection of the Middle Fork from logging, mining, and other human impact on the river environment due to the Idaho Wilderness Act, Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, and the Wilderness Act.
"I think each guide was thoughtful, helpful when asked, and fun to be with for a day. I like the rotation and the different experience each provides. Each is knowledgeable about the Middle Fork from history to geology to fishing it well." - Paul B, North Carolina