The Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness is the largest wilderness area in the United States covering 2,366,698 acres. The wilderness area dominates the unsettled heart of Idaho.
The park was designated as the River of No Return Wilderness in 1980, and was renamed the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in 1984 (after the Idaho Senator who carried the first wilderness bill in 1964).
One of the main features of the Wilderness is the Salmon River. Lewis and Clark explored the River of No Return in their 1805 expedition to find a trade route across the United State. Having hiked several miles down the canyon, William Clark rejected the river as a viable route and chose to return north through Montana.
In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps began an ambitious project to build a road through the area. They built a road twenty miles up river from Riggins and a road as far as Corn Creek from the North Fork side. Fortunately, the project was not completed, and the area remains as one of the largest road free areas in the United States.
Of course, all this road free business means it takes work and planning to get into the back country. The most popular way to see the area is on a raft trip down the Middle Fork or Main Salmon River. There are many horse trails, and a few back country ranches accessible by airplane.
I did not have the time, cash or equipment for such journeys and can only provide you with pictures of the edges of the wilderness.
- Salmon River (137 pictures) The Salmon River is the namesake of the River of No Return Wilderness.
- Salmon River Drive (79 pictures) The Salmon River Road will bring you as far as the Corn Creek boat ramp. From there you will either need to boat along the main river or hike along the wilderness trails.
- Stoddard Pack Bridge and Trail (12 pictures) The Stoddard Wooden Suspension Bridge brings you to the south side of the Salmon River, where you will find a number of trails to remote places.