PHOTOS: 12 Must-See Wild and Scenic Rivers of the West

The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968 was a major achievement for conservation. It represented part of the ongoing shift in the public interest to preserve wild places, in this case a system of free-flowing rivers set aside for their wild, scenic, or recreational values. So get out there and get to know a Wild and Scenic River this year. After all, these spectacular stretches of river—more than 200 in 40 different states—were protected for all of us to enjoy. Here are a few of our favorites in the West…

PHOTOS: 12 Must-See Wild and Scenic Rivers of the West

1) TUOLUMNE RIVER, CA

Designated in 1984 | Total protected miles: 83

From its source in Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park, the Tuolumne River flows through the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and into California’s famous Gold Country. Photo: James Kaiser

PHOTOS: 12 Must-See Wild and Scenic Rivers of the West

2) MERCED RIVER, CA

Designated in 1987, 1992 | Total protected miles: 122.5

Flowing from Yosemite National Park, the Merced River begins its course at the foot of Yosemite’s famous waterfalls and flows unimpeded to the man-made reservoir of Lake McClure. Photo: Justin Bailie

PHOTOS: 12 Must-See Wild and Scenic Rivers of the West

3) KLAMATH RIVER, CA

Designated in 1981 | Total protected miles: 286

Historically one of California’s most important salmon runs, the Klamath River is still home to a diverse ecosystem of bird and wildlife. Photo: Josh Miller Photography

PHOTOS: 12 Must-See Wild and Scenic Rivers of the West

4) OWYHEE RIVER, OR

Designated in 1984 | Total protected miles: 120

The Owyhee River is named after three Hawaiian trappers who lost their lives while exploring the region in 1819. “Owyhee” was the standard period spelling of “Hawaii.” Photo: Jillian Lukiwski

PHOTOS: 12 Must-See Wild and Scenic Rivers of the West

5) ROGUE RIVER, OR

Designated in 1968, 1988 | Total protected miles: 124

The Rogue River is one of the original eight rivers named in the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968 and is home to numerous species of wildlife including deer, otter and black bear. Photo: Justin Bailie

PHOTOS: 12 Must-See Wild and Scenic Rivers of the West

6) ILLINOIS RIVER, OR

Designated in 1984 | Total protected miles: 50.4

An un-dammed tributary of the Rogue River, the Illinois River is home to a millenium-old Chinook salmon run and some very challenging Class IV-V rapids. Photo: Zach Collier

PHOTOS: 12 Must-See Wild and Scenic Rivers of the West

7) WHITE SALMON RIVER, WA

Designated in 1986, 2005 | Total protected miles: 27.7

On October 26, 2011, the Condit Dam on the White Salmon River was intentionally breached as part of the dam’s decommissioning. The breach allowed the river to flow unimpeded for the first time in nearly a century. Photo: Zach Collier

PHOTOS: 12 Must-See Wild and Scenic Rivers of the West

8) MAIN SALMON RIVER, ID

Designated in 1980 | Total protected miles: 125

The Salmon River lies at the heart of the 2.3-million-acre Frank Church Wilderness and it’s one of the longest free-flowing rivers in the Lower 48. The abundant wildlife along its banks have provided a food source for Native Americans for thousands of years. Photo: James Kaiser

PHOTOS: 12 Must-See Wild & Scenic Rivers of the West

9) MIDDLE FORK OF THE SALMON RIVER, ID

Designated in 1968 | Total protected miles: 104

The Middle Fork of the Salmon River is home to the sweep boat—a unique craft that dates back to the 1870’s. The sweep uses two huge oars fore and aft to guide (rather than row) the raft downstream. Photo: Justin Bailie

PHOTOS: 12 Must-See Wild and Scenic Rivers of the West

10) SNAKE RIVER THROUGH HELLS CANYON, ID & OR

Designated in 1975 | Total protected miles: 67.5

Hells Canyon is the deepest river gorge in North America at 7,993 feet. At the heart of the canyon and on the bank of the river, McGaffee Cabin stands as a reminder of the early efforts to settle the area. Photo: Justin Bailie

PHOTOS: 12 Must-See Wild and Scenic Rivers of the West

11) FLATHEAD RIVER, MT

Designated in 1976 | Total protected miles: 219

The North Fork of the Flathead River was deemed the “wildest river in the continental United States” by The New York Times in 2004. Photo: NPS/Tim Rains

PHOTOS: 12 Must-See Wild and Scenic Rivers of the West

12) HEADWATERS OF THE SNAKE RIVER, WY

Designated in 2009 | Total protected miles: 412.2

The 16 rivers and creeks that make up the Headwaters of the Snake River comprise one of the last intact functioning temperate ecosystems on Earth and are among the most pristine in the nation. Photo: Greg Von Doersten

Request a Free Adventures Catalog

 

[gravityform id="25" title="false" description="false"]
<div class='gf_browser_unknown gform_wrapper' id='gform_wrapper_25' ><form method='post' enctype='multipart/form-data' id='gform_25' action='/blog/photos-12-must-see-wild-and-scenic-rivers/'> <input type='hidden' class='gforms-pum' value='{"closepopup":false,"closedelay":2,"openpopup":false,"openpopup_id":37143}' /> <div class='gform_body'><ul id='gform_fields_25' class='gform_fields top_label form_sublabel_below description_below'><li id='field_25_1' class='gfield gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_25_1' >First Name<span class='gfield_required'>*</span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_1' id='input_25_1' type='text' value='' class='medium' placeholder='First name' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false" /></div></li><li id='field_25_2' class='gfield gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_25_2' >Email<span class='gfield_required'>*</span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_email'> <input name='input_2' id='input_25_2' type='text' value='' class='medium' placeholder='Email Address' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false" /> </div></li> </ul></div> <div class='gform_footer top_label'> <input type='submit' id='gform_submit_button_25' class='gform_button button' value='Get Your Guide' onclick='if(window["gf_submitting_25"]){return false;} window["gf_submitting_25"]=true; ' onkeypress='if( event.keyCode == 13 ){ if(window["gf_submitting_25"]){return false;} window["gf_submitting_25"]=true; jQuery("#gform_25").trigger("submit",[true]); }' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='is_submit_25' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_submit' value='25' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_unique_id' value='' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='state_25' value='WyJbXSIsIjU3ZTliNjU4YTQxNTJjNTdhOTAwMjQ2MDBjZGU1YmJmIl0=' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_target_page_number_25' id='gform_target_page_number_25' value='0' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_source_page_number_25' id='gform_source_page_number_25' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' name='gform_field_values' value='' /> </div> </form> </div><script type='text/javascript'> jQuery(document).bind('gform_post_render', function(event, formId, currentPage){if(formId == 25) {if(typeof Placeholders != 'undefined'){ Placeholders.enable(); }} } );jQuery(document).bind('gform_post_conditional_logic', function(event, formId, fields, isInit){} );</script><script type='text/javascript'> jQuery(document).ready(function(){jQuery(document).trigger('gform_post_render', [25, 1]) } ); </script>