Scenic USA - Idaho

Salmon River Canyon

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Salmon River Canyon - White Bird, Idaho

Photos by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA Artist Website

   For a short distance, between Riggins and White Bird, a section of Idaho's U.S. Route 95 parallels the Salmon River. Not more than 10 miles from the famous Hell's Canyon, this section of the Salmon River has cut its own gorge through the Miocene basalt. Running through the Salmon River Canyon, the river does its best imitation of a backward letter S before it approaches its confluence of the Snake River.
   In a most tumultuous period of Earth's history, this area of western Idaho's landscape was the site of extreme fluid lava flows. Visible today throughout eastern Oregon, Washington and western Idaho, lava gushed from low volcanic cones and open fissures during the middle Miocene. Well beyond comprehension, these super-thick layers of basalt are thousands of feet deep, making them the largest lava flows on Earth.
   Along this stretch of Route 95, travelers are treated to a variety of scenery. Quickly changing from hilly terrain of the Palouse and the white pine forests to the north, this section of rugged canyonlands marks the end of the River of No Return.
   Bird watchers in the canyon enjoy a wide variety of birds, including one of the world's highest concentrations of raptors. Golden eagles, northern harriers, American kestrels and red-tailed hawks take to air, while on the ground, beaver and otter live and work along the river's edge. Deer and bighorn sheep can easily be spotted on the mountainsides, but cougar and bobcat sightings are rare. Wild nearly all the way, the Lower Salmon River attracts anglers, rafters, backcountry explorers and plenty of sightseers.

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