As far as river trips in the Lower 48 are concerned, the Selway is the ultimate. Take the rapids of the Tuolumne, the remoteness of the Illinois, the scenery of the Middle Fork Salmon, the hiking of the Yampa, the campsites of the Main Salmon, etc. etc. etc. and the Selway stands shoulder to shoulder with all of them. And the fishing and lack of other people is head and shoulders ABOVE all of them. We love this place so much we schedule an extra day right in the middle of our trips so that we can enjoy it even more; a layover day where we don’t travel downstream but rather spend two nights at the same camp and gorge ourselves on the cornucopia of Selway treats. The gung-ho take an epic, all-day hike to the Schissler Peak fire lookout and then return with stories of marmots and eagles and bears; the not-so-gung-ho take a nap and then listen. Everyone has a gin and tonic. Pretty amazing place. We are privileged to be one of only four outfitters licensed to offer trips here; and thankful
More about the Selway River
The Selway River begins its journey high in the Bitterroot Mountains near the Idaho-Montana border. Heading north into the rugged Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area, the river travels through isolated and primitive country before its confluence with the Lochsa River near Lowell. Our trips cover 47 miles between Paradise Guard Station and Selway Falls in the heart of the Wilderness Area, offering a wilderness river experience with few equals.
The Selway is a steep, free-flowing river in a geographically compact drainage basin and has a wide range of flows. Rapids vary from long, technical rock gardens to large, crashing wave trains. The nine mile stretch of nearly continuous rapids below the confluence with Moose Creek earns the river its deserved reputation as one of the best whitewater runs in the United States. Between rapids, the river flows though quiet pools and stretches of crystal clear water over a mosaic of colorful rocks.
Whitewater, however, is only one of the many appealing features of the trip. We will have time to hike, fish, swim, and enjoy the many fascinating natural elements of the canyon. The Selway was one of the original rivers to be protected in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, and the Forest Service manages it in a highly primitive condition. Only one group, with a maximum of 16 people, is allowed to launch each day. Few people are able to float this wild and primitive stretch of river, and we come away from each trip with a new appreciation for this wonderful remnant of primitive America.
I treasured feeling as though we were the only group in the magnificent alpine wilderness. Quite a contrast to other rivers I’ve paddled. It was so cosmic to paddle with all the butterflies and birdies around us. What a gorgeous, gorgeous place.