A RIVER JOURNAL

Web Streaming Button A raft trip on the Middle Fork of the Salmon

Friday, August 23, 1805. The river...is almost one continued rapid...the passage...with canoes is entirely impossible... My guide and many other Indians tell me that the...water runs with great violence...foaming and roaring through rocks in every direction, so as to render the passage of any thing impossible. Those rapids which I had seen he said was small and trifling in comparison to the rocks and rapids below...and the hills or mountains were not like those I had seen but like the side of a tree straight up. --Captain William Clark. photo of rafter

The Salmon River entered the American consciousness through the journals of Lewis and Clark. Almost immediately upon seeing it, Clark realized that his comrades had no chance of surviving a trip in canoes. This realization prompted Lewis and Clark to take the advice of Native Americans and head north on horseback, through Montana's Bitterroot Valley, to cross Idaho along the Lolo Trail of the Nez Perce.

Lewis and Clark never returned to the Salmon River. It had dashed their hopes for a water route connecting America east and west.

But these days people flock to the Salmon River to raft, kayak, and canoe the famous River of No Return. They come to experience the very wildness that turned back Lewis and Clark.

Each year, close to twenty thousand people raft the main Salmon and its famous tributary the Middle Fork.

To read a modern-day journal of a river trip, click below.

Julie Hall
Bud Henderson
Scott Schaefer
Pete Zimowski

Press Room | Video & Audio | Employment | About | Privacy | Contact | Report Closed Caption Issue