Guide Ross Cooper shares his joy of running the river.

The Middle Fork of the Salmon River, one of the original rivers designated as Wild and Scenic, flows for 100 miles through the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in central Idaho. Over eons of time, the river carved its way through towering granite mountains. Throughout its course, whitewater rapids alternate with more gentle flows and pools full of cutthroat trout.

As part of the largest roadless area remaining in the lower 48 states, the only way to visit this national treasure is by backpacking the river trail or by floating the river in a non-motorized boat. Not long ago, I had the opportunity to do a rafting trip on the Middle Fork with one of the premier outfitters on the river, Far and Away Adventures.

During our five-day trip, we ran some gnarly rapids, lazily drifted through deep canyons, did some short hikes to visit historical Native American and pioneer sites, and soaked in a riverside hot spring. Wildflowers dotted meadows along the river, and we spotted deer, bighorn sheep, and river otters. The days ended with gourmet meals, campfires and camaraderie in our river-front campsites.

With no cell service and no WiFi on the river, I thoroughly enjoyed five blissful days of digital detox. Our expert guides provided us with plenty of entertainment with stories and sharing their love and knowledge of the river and surrounding terrain.

I enjoyed my trip so much that I’ve signed up for another trip with some friends next summer. Several outfitters operate on the MFS, with services from basic to luxury, but the number of trips permitted each season is severely limited, so it’s not too soon to book your own adventure for next year or even the year after – the Middle Fork Salmon River is one of the most sought-after wilderness trips in the country.