It may not be a first descent, but these remote rivers can make you feel like you’re making the maiden float.
OWYHEE: With more than 300 miles of boatable river, the Owyhee flows through vertical rock walls in the lightly trafficked high desert where southeast Oregon meets Idaho.
LAUNCH: Rome, Oregon. Or level up to whitewater by launching at BLM’S Three Forks Recreation Site.
OUTFITTERS: River Drifters
ST. CROIX: One of the original eight rivers protected under the 1968
Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the Minnesota-wisconsin border river is relatively accessible from the Twin Cities. It’s renowned for wildlife and great riverside campsites before its terminus at the Mississippi River. LAUNCH: Taylors Falls, Minnesota
OUTFITTER: Wild River Outfitters
RIO GRANDE: This wetland corridor cuts through desolate hunks of New Mexico and Texas. The Wild and Scenic Lower Canyons of Big Bend National Park offer high payoff with 80-plus miles of remote and infrequently run canyon.
LAUNCH: Terlingua, Texas
OUTFITTER: Big Bend River Tours
ALLAGASH: From Mount Katahdin, the Allagash undulates at a mostly peaceful pace through the North Maine Woods. In this moose-laden area you can travel for days with few signs of civilization. LAUNCH: Greenville, Maine
OUTFITTER: Allagash Canoe Trips
MIDDLE FORK OF THE SALMON: Part of the largest roadless area in the Lower 48, and riddled with continuous Class III–IV whitewater and hot springs, Idaho’s Middle Fork is a favorite among seasoned wilderness river trippers.
LAUNCH: Stanley, Idaho. Launch permits are scarce. Outfitters like Middle Fork River Expeditions or Idaho River Journeys offer the simplest access.