This year marks the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, which protects more than 12,000 miles of pristine waterways. Here are five places where you and your family can relish the natural beauty of our nation’s rivers.
1. Middle Fork of the Salmon, Idaho
Find your way to Idaho’s Frank Church Wilderness and commit to an unplugged week on the Middle Fork of the Salmon. As you float, fish and splash through 100 miles of spectacular scenery you’ll be treated to unexpected luxuries along the way. Relish the fresh air of morning as your crew delivers hot coffee or cocoa to your luxury tent. Later, warm up in a hot spring, dine on organic, seasonal specialties and plan for the next day’s adventure under a starry sky.
2. Rio Grande River, Big Bend National Park, Texas
This Wild and Scenic River forms the southern boundary of this 800,000-acre playground. It’s the only park in the United States that hosts a complete mountain range — the Chisos. With older children in tow, soak in the park’s scenery as well as the warm water offered by a resident hot spring. On the northern riverbank, steamy water fills the foundation of an old bathhouse, creating a popular natural hot tub. Nearby, look for painted pictographs on the cliff walls as you enjoy a one-mile loop hike past historic buildings and the area where various Indian groups lived and traveled.
3. The Rogue River, Ore.
Float through 40 miles of scenic Southwestern Oregon and you’ll explore the same rugged country that drew Native Americans, trappers and prospectors for centuries. Stay in the raft or up the adrenalin ante by running the rapids in an inflatable kayak. Designated a “Wild & Scenic” wilderness area, you and your family will paddle through the Siskiyou Mountains and the Rogue River National Forest. Also possible are adventures that include hiking and gourmet dining options.
4. Au Sable, Wellston, Mich.
Introduce your family to the joys of fly-fishing in the north woods of Michigan. The scenic and diverse Au Sable River originates north of Grayling and winds for more than 100 miles before meeting Lake Huron
A fly-fishing only section of the river flows past Burton’s Landing and is known as the “Holy Water” for its productive riffles and trout-filled pools. Team up with a local outfitter for instruction designed for young anglers.
5. Cache la Poudre, Colo.
Located in the northern Front Range and dubbed the “Poudre” by local residents and longtime visitors, the main and south forks of the Cache la Poudre River originate in Rocky Mountain National Park and flow north and east through the Roosevelt National Forest before eventually passing through Fort Collins.
You can explore the region via the Cache la Poudre–North Park Scenic Byway. Beginning in Fort Collins, it follows the river and the route used by settlers to connect Colorado’s northern plains to the Green River settlement in Utah.
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