Main Salmon History
The most famous scow captain on the Salmon, Harry Guleke, piloted his boat to Riggins, Idaho, in 1896, about 152 miles, and proved the entire river could be navigated. Guleke dominated the river for 40 years; his typical trip would start in Salmon and end in Riggins or Lewiston, Idaho, where the Salmon meets the Snake River. At trip’s end, he would sell the boat for lumber and return to Salmon to start the entire process over again. These one-way trips coined the moniker “River of No Return.” Once Guleke and his fellow boatmen started running the length of the river, settlers staked mining claims and homesteads along the banks of the Salmon. Historic structures can still be found at Campbell’s Ferry, Jim Moore’s, Rhett Creek, Buckskin Bill’s, Polly Bemis and Shepp Ranch with two listed on the National Register of Historic Places: Jim Moore’s place and Polly Bemis Ranch. In July, 1936, the National Geographic Society commissioned Monroe Hancock, along with John Cunningham on the back sweep, to pilot his wooden scow on a U.S Geological Survey of the Salmon River from Salmon to Lewiston, Idaho.
Amos Berg ran the first rubber raft down the River of No Return on a 16-day trip in 1939 that started on the Middle Fork, a tributary of the Main Salmon, and ended at Riggins Hot Springs.
The Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness was established in 1980 and named after Idaho’s late senator, Frank Church, who was instrumental in passage of the 1964 Wilderness Act. The wilderness encompasses over 2.3 million acres that includes the 79 mile wilderness section of the mighty Salmon River. The Salmon was also designated a Wild and Scenic River in 1980.
Present day river runners can step back in time and explore the River of No Return and the surrounding wilderness. This is a true escape from all of the pressures of daily life. Sit back, relax and enjoy simple pleasures: run rapids, reconnect with friends and family, take a hike, view wildlife and capture it all on film.
The Salmon River offers exciting whitewater, sandy beaches and fun for everyone in your group.