A wilderness of steep, rugged mountains deep canyons and wild whitewater rivers exists and has the name of Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. In the center of the Wilderness is the Salmon River Mountains. The Salmon River Mountains is just south of the Main Salmon and west of the Middle Fork. These mountains are a major range and rule the wilderness. North of the Main Salmon River is the Clearwater Mountains and finally east of the Middle Fork is the Bighorn Crags. One of the deepest gorges in North America is located in this wilderness, which is the Salmon River Canyon. The Salmon River Canyon is even deeper than the famous Grand Canyon of the Colorado in Arizona. However, unlike the Grand Canyon, the Salmon River Canyon does not have sheer walls and towering heights but has a diversity of landscapes within sight of the river, huge eroded monuments, wooded ridges that reach up to the sky and slides and bluffs, isolated crags and picturesque castles and towers.
In 1980, the United State Congress appointed the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness and at this time it contains a total of 2,366,757 acres. Two Forest Service Regions (Northern and Intermountain successfully manage the wilderness. It also consists of four National Forests, the Bitterroot, Nez Perce, Payette and Salmon Challis. The Salmon River Canyon is the largest connecting wilderness in the Lower 48, in addition to being the second largest component of the National Wilderness Preservation System in the Lower 48. The headquarters for the managing forest that coordinates the Wilderness is in Salmon, Idaho. The Forest’s name is Salmon Challis National Forest.
Frank Chuch River of No Return Wilderness — History and Geology
There are two roots to the name of the Wilderness. In the early days, there was a time when boats could navigate down the river, during this time the Main Salmon River was named “The River of No Return” as it was not possible to get back up the fast waters and many rapids. Although the name remains today, the jet boats can now go back up through the fast waters and many rapids. The second part of the name came in 1984 and was created after the adoption of the wilderness. The name was created in memory of a man who did a lot to help preserve the wild central core of Idaho.
Several Artifacts are proof that humans have been a large part of the Wilderness. The artifacts are part of the Shoshone and Nez Perce tribes’ jobs, journals about the early fur trappers and missionaries, along with the leftover of early miner and homestead settlements. One of the most valuable pieces of the Wilderness is the prehistoric and historic heritage of the area.
There are several regulations that come with a place like the Wilderness, which helps protect the resources and helps with the design. There is no mechanized or motorized equipment allowed in the Wilderness, this also includes bicycles, boat motors, and carts. In order to preserve the aesthetic value of wilderness hang gliders are also restricted. Under State regulations, hunting and fishing are allowed along with commercial guides and outfitters with the proper authorization and special use permits. Access to private land, operations of valid mining claims and administrations. With a permit grazing of domestic livestock is also allowed.
Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness — Unique Laws and Regulations and Why they Make it So Fun!
Distinctive to the Frank Church Wilderness and recognized by the Central Idaho Wilderness Act of 1980 are the following:
• The Salmon River allows Jet boats
• The Salmon and Middle Fork of the Salmon are allowing boating and some tributaries, under a permit system. However, party sizes are limited, and no trace can be left
• If you have a party of 20 or less and your length of stay up to 14 days, general backcountry visitation is permitted.
• Livestock is also permitted with a max party size of 20 people and 20 head of stock
Even more vital that the regulations that are in place are the responsibilities of each and every traveler that enters the Wilderness and that they need to protect it. A way to do this is to practice the minimum impact camping techniques. One incentive to do this comes from a respect for the land, water, reflection and politeness of all those who are to come after you. Using the “Leave No Trace” philosophy many fundamental principles and techniques have been developed. Some of the most vital practices are:
• Groups of 10 to 12 individuals work the best; however, the maximum of 20 individuals is possible unless you have approval for more. It’s important to be quiet and inconspicuous. Respect the isolation which is one of the most precious pieces of the wilderness resources.
• Make sure to stay on the trails to keep from widening them and causing major wear. In addition, do not cut switchbacks.
• No camping within sight or sound of any other campers and outside at least 200 feet from rivers, trails, and streams.
• Do not dispose of any soap and detergent in the hot springs, lakes, and streams. Dispose of water after washing and rinsing using buckets or pans at least 200 feet from lakes or streams.
• Try to locate a campsite that has already impacted the land, especially if your group is more than 6.
• Pick and pack out all track and litter. If camping in a popular area, make sure to leave the campsite even better than you found it. If you choose to camp in an area that has not been used or has been used very little, make sure to leave no evidence of your stay.
• Take responsibility for human waste, take a small shovel or trowel with you to dispose of the feces. When floating on the rivers use the proper sealed portable toilets and take them out with you. If going overland, bury feces.
• Do not construct facilities like fire circles, bough beds, lean-tos, or gear racks.
• In areas where fires are allowed only build a small one and only use dead or down wood of small diameter. Take out garbage that will not burn.
• The feed that you have for stock must be “Weed Seed Free” supplemental feed, if needed, in addition, you should only bring alfalfa hay, processed pellets, and grain to prevent native plants that are not from the Wilderness. There is no straw allowed in the Wilderness.
• Archeological artifacts are not allowed to be collected according to the Antiquities Act. Enjoy the artifacts but leave them as they are to be enjoyed by the next visitors.
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