LEWIS & CLARK, and THE RIVER OF NO RETURN WILDERNESS TOUR ~ July 08-17,2019
in The frank church
river of no return wilderness
The main salmon river
Researchers in one year found over 370 different species in the are including eight big game animals. Rich in history and geology, wildlife and beauty, the area was home to hermits like Buckskin Bill (Last of the Mountain Men), Polly Bemis (Chinese woman rescued in a poker game), and Frances Zaunmiller (jounalist who wrote weekly about her bears to a local newspaper The Free Press)
river of no return wilderness
Naming rivers has been around since the dawn of time. The Main Salmon River that runs free in the State of Idaho has aquired more names than most, beginning with the Nez Perce calling it “Na-so-koos,” meaning Chinook Salmon water. The Lemhi Shoshone called it “Agipah,” meaning xxx. August xx, 1805, Clark wrote,
“I shall in justice to Capt. Lewis who was the first white man ever on this fork of the Columbia Call this Louis's river.” This honor did not last long, as maps in 1810 started labelling this majestic river the “Salmon River.” The Salmon River was named “River of No Return” not in August 1805 because Clark recognized it would be impassable with canoes, but during the mid 1800s when pioneers, chasing the gold rush, assembled skows to navigate the waters. Once the skows took to the current of the river, no way back existed. So downriver, they burnt the wooden skows for fuel. Hence the name “River of No Return”.
Known for its deep canyons and large white sand beaches, it also boasts a vast variety of landscapes visible from the river and a few hotsprings. Imagine monumental bluffs and slides, picturesque castles and towers, solitary crags and wooded forests rising to the sky. Labeled as the 2nd deepest river canyon in North America, you won’t find the milky way and shooting stars elsewhere shining brighter.
In 1964, the Wilderness Act was born, protecting 9 million acres of national land. In 1980, 2.4 million acres became protected and were named “The River of No Return Wilderness.” Now defined as the largest contiguous wilderness area in the lower 48 states, it also borders two more wilderness areas, “The Selway Bitterroot Wilderness” to the north, and “The Gospel Hump Wilderness” to the south. You will be floating through a primitive, protected, section of wild lands totalling 4.3 million acres, nearly half the size of the total protected wilderness areas in the nation, at 9 million acres. Gliding down this river, camping on the beaches, and sitting on the canyon rims will offer you no better chance to witness wildlife and a river running free. The hard work, experience and gourmet recipes of your “outfitter and guides” will impress you with the comforts of the twenty-first century.
Thanks to the efforts of Senate Floor Sponsor Frank Church in propelling the passage of the nation’s Wilderness Act in 1964, and becoming the lead in designating the State of Idaho’s most primitive landscapes as wilderness areas, in 1984, Idaho honored Frank Church by adding his name to the river and wilderness. Some folks call the river “The Frank.” Names, like this river, keep flowing and have not rested yet. One more name is starting to take hold. You will hear it most from outfitters and guides, guests and hermit landowners that frequent this area. They call the river and the wilderness area “The Heart of Idaho.” We have to agree!