Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness

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The Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness area is a wilderness of steep, rugged mountains, deep canyons, and wild, whitewater rivers. The Salmon River Mountains, located south of the Main Salmon and west of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, are the largest range and dominate the Wilderness. North of the Main Salmon River are the Clearwater Mountains and east of the Middle Fork are the Bighorn Crags. The Salmon River Canyon is one of the deepest gorges in North America, deeper even than the famous Grand Canyon.

The name of this Wilderness has two roots. The Main Salmon River was called “The River of No Return” during a time when boats could navigate down the river, but could not get back up through the fast water and numerous rapids. The romantic name lives on today, even though jet boats can navigate upstream. Second, the name Frank Church was attached to this wilderness in 1984 and is a memorial to honor a man who did so much to help preserve this wild central core of Idaho. The United States Congress designated the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in 1980 and it now encompasses a total of 2,366,757 acres. The largest contiguous wilderness in the United States outside of Alaska.

USDA Forest Service - Frank Church Wilderness Area

Things To Know

  • Boating is allowed on the Salmon and Middle Fork of the Salmon, as well as some tributaries, under a permit system. Jet boats are allowed on the Salmon River.
  • Please follow Leave No Trace principles when recreating in this Wilderness.
  • The Antiquities Act prohibits the collection of archaeological artifacts.
  • This website provides helpful information when planning your trip to the area: User's Guide to the Frank Church--River of No Return Wilderness

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