Middle Fork of the Salmon River, Idaho

Fly Fishing Travel

“Frank Church -River of No Return Wilderness area.”

The Middle Fork of the Salmon River originates 20 miles northwest of Stanley, Idaho, with the merging of Bear Valley and Marsh Creeks. It traverses portions of the Challis, Payette, and Salmon National Forests as it flows 106 miles northeast through one of the deepest gorges in North America before joining the Main Salmon River. The Middle Fork was one of the original eight rivers in the Nation designated as Wild and Scenic on October 2, 1968. In July 1980, the President of the United States established the “Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness” which encompasses the Wild and Scenic River in its entirety.

It passes through a landscape of rugged peaks and deep valleys. Near its junction with the Main Salmon River are the Bighorn Crags, one of the most rugged and wild mountain ranges in the nation. Only a few trails, landing strips, private ranches and Forest Service stations are evidence of man’s presence. It is this combination of rugged scenic beauty, quiet isolation, and the challenge of wild water that draws people to float the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.

Some Forest Service trails extend out on either side of the river, offering interesting side trips. A map and a compass are recommended for cross-country travel. A map of the surrounding Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness is available from Forest Service offices.

Below are day by day photos of our trip