From 'The Wild and Scenic Rivers of North America' by Tim Palmer, Island Press 1993
The Middle Fork of the Salmon is widely regarded as the ultimate wild and scenic river in America. This is the pristine stronghold of the surviving Snake River basin salmon, a major river almost entirely in wilderness, and a canyon 6,000 ft deep with rapids and hot springs, sublime campsites, cascading tributaries, and abundant and diverse wildlife. This is one of the longest national rivers designated from north to south.
The Middle Fork cuts across the Salmon River Range, first through dark woods of Douglas Fir, Englemann spruce, and lodgepole pine, then past towering ponderosa pine and sun-baked slopes of mountain mahogany and bitterbrush. Sections of the canyon rise as sheer cliffs for hundreds of feet; other areas offer expansive sand bars and luxuriant forests. Elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, cougars, black bears, coyotes, and bobcats live here. It is vital to threatened runs of salmon; nearly one-third of the chinook in the Salmon River basin spawn here. Steelhead, Dolly Varden, and rainbow trout thrive in these pure waters.
The Middle Fork is one of the most sought-after and prized river runs in the country. The Forest Service has required permits since 1973 for the 96 mi trip of up to eight days. By August, low water makes floating in the upper river difficult, and boaters fly into Indian Creek. Fishing from drift boats and rafts has drawn anglers for 50 years. Several trails reach the river and serve backpackers in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness that surrounds the river - America's largest designated wilderness outside Alaska at 3.2 million acres, and probably the largest wilderness in the temperate zones of earth.