Middle Fork Salmon River

Whitewater rafters in Cliffside Rapid, Middle Fork Salmon River, Idaho.

Reunions of the Heart on Idaho’s Middle Fork Salmon River

By Michael Lanza Sitting in my inflatable kayak as our flotilla of more than a dozen rafts and kayaks launches on our first morning on Idaho’s Middle Fork of the Salmon River, I just drift and wait. And it takes only a moment before the feeling sinks in deeper than the warm sunshine on my skin: serenity. The profound peacefulness …

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12 Tips For Getting Your Teenager Outdoors With You

By Michael Lanza

“That sounds totally boring.” “Other parents don’t force their kids to do things they don’t want to do.” “I hate (fill in the activity).” If you’re a parent of a teenager, you’ve probably heard these responses from your child, or any of an infinite number of variations on them—like a personal favorite that one of my kids, at 14, laid on me: “You get to choose your friends, but you don’t get to choose your family.” If you’re trying to persuade a teen to get outdoors with you—which often entails pulling him or her away from an electronic screen—your child can summon powers of resistance that conjure mental images of Superman stopping a high-speed train.

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Young kids in twisted tree root at Idaho's Craters of the Moon National Monument.

10 Tips For Raising Outdoors-Loving Kids

By Michael Lanza As we neared Gunsight Pass in Glacier National Park, on a three-day family backpacking trip, a man and woman in their fifties stopped to talk with us. They sized up our kids and smiled; Nate was nine and Alex was seven. “We’re impressed!” they told us. “We never had any luck trying to get our kids to …

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A hiker above the Middle Fork Salmon River in Idaho's Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.

America’s Newest Long Trail: The Idaho Wilderness Trail

By Michael Lanza

We emerge from our tents on a mild August morning to discover that the waters of the upper and middle Cramer Lakes, in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, have transformed overnight. Where last evening these lakes on either side of our campsite had been rippled by mountain breezes, now they lie perfectly still; they are glassy mirrors offering inverted, sharp reflections of the forest and jagged peaks surrounding the lakes. A few hours later, our backpacking party of three parents and six teenagers hikes across wildflower meadows and past alpine tarns to proudly reach a mountain pass at over 9,000 feet on the Cramer Divide, overlooking a turbulent sea of razor peaks stretching to every horizon.

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Rafters on the Middle Fork Salmon River in Idaho's Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.

Photo Gallery: Floating Idaho’s Middle Fork Salmon River

As our big group of several families and friends disembarked from our flotilla of rafts and kayaks and wandered up to our campsite on a sandy beach beside the river, I started surveying facial expressions. We had just finished the first day of a six-day float trip down Idaho’s Middle Fork Salmon River—a day filled with running rapids, swimming, cliff jumping, fishing, and drifting lazily down one of the West’s most lovely river canyons—and I wondered: What was everyone thinking?

It didn’t take long to ascertain the collective mood: All I saw were smiles, laughter, and the kind of deep calm most of us don’t experience often enough. This did not surprise me. I knew from experience that’s the effect the Middle Fork has on people.

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