We’re ending our week-long celebration of rivers and trails with this beautiful shot of Cow Island – where the Missouri Wild and Scenic River crosses the Nez Perce National Historic Trail. Canoeists can follow in the footsteps of famous explorers Lewis and Clark as they traverse the geological folds and faults of “Breaks” country on Montana’s Upper Missouri River. Anglers can cast a line for one of the many fish species found here, or #FindYourWay to adventure along the river’s banks. This spot doesn’t just protect an outstanding landscape and the story of its legendary exploration. It also tells the story of a brutal, sorrowful moment in our history – the 1877 flight of the Nez Perce Indian Tribe from their homelands while being pursued by the U.S. Army. After the Nez Perce were ordered to relocate to a reservation, violence erupted and the Nez Perce fled towards Canada. Nearly 750 Nez Perce men, women and children travelled over 1,170 miles through the mountains before they surrendered just shy of the Canadian border. Their desperate and circuitous escape route, along with their story of pursuit and persecution, is now called the Nez Perce National Historic Trail. As you walk in the same path as the Nez Perce, learn about this part of our country’s heritage and see some of the sacred land that the Nez Perce still use today. Photo by Bureau of Land Management, @mypubliclands
As we continue our celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers System and the National Trails System, we’re spotlighting the St. Croix Wild and Scenic River. One of the original eight rivers protected in 1968 under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the St. Croix is a lush green ribbon that winds along the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin, offering outdoor enthusiasts a chance to enjoy nature within easy reach of a major metropolitan area. You can #FindYourWay in a canoe and camp amid the northwoods; boat and fish surrounded by wooded bluffs, state parks and historic towns; or enjoy a swim, take in bountiful scenic views and watch for wildlife that make the banks their home. Nearby, the Ice Age National Scenic Trail traces the southern edge of the Wisconsin Glaciation, which ended 10,000 years ago. Several sections of the Ice Age Trail are rail-trails – disused railway tracks that have been converted to recreational trails. Rail-trails are part of the National Trails System, and today there are nearly 24,000 miles of rail-trails across the United States. Photos courtesy of Craig Blacklock.
#FindYourWay to deep canyons and truly wild streams along the Little Jacks Creek Wild and Scenic River in Idaho. Protected in 2009 and surrounded by wilderness in Southern Idaho’s Owyhee Canyonlands, the multi-tiered cliffs and steep grassy slopes of Little Jacks Creek plunge almost 1,000 feet to the streambed, which provides habitat for Redband trout. The Little Jacks Creek canyon is a prime example of high desert fluvial geology; vertical and angular rock lines create a mosaic amid coarse-textured, red, brown, or blackish eroded basalt cliffs, often glazed with yellow to light green micro-flora. Bighorn sheep are a main attraction for visiting hikers, so be sure to keep your eyes open! Little Jacks Creek is one of 209 river segments in 40 states that are part of the Wild and Scenic Rivers System, which has protected 12,754 miles of free-flowing rivers over the last 50 years! Photo by Bureau of Land Management, @mypubliclands
On October 2, 1968, President Johnson signed the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and the National Trails System Act into law – creating a system of rivers and one of trails for current and future generations to enjoy.
We’re celebrating these landmark acts all week with photos from some of the amazing rivers and trails that have been protected over the years. First up is the Flathead Wild and Scenic River in Montana – where the philosophy of river protection was born. In response to a proposed dam on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River in the late 1950s, naturalists and researchers John and Frank Craighead asserted the idea that some rivers should always remain free-flowing. Their thinking, activism and writing eventually resulted in passage of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Today, all three forks of the Flathead River are protected. Flowing along the southern boundary of Glacier National Park, the Middle Fork serves up Class II-III whitewater. #FindYourWay to solitude and sweeping views on its North Fork, which intersects the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail – one of the most recent scenic trails designated in 2009. Experience true wilderness water adventure on its South Fork, which flows out of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. What is your favorite river adventure? Photos by Daniel Lombardi, National Park Service.
Protected as part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, the South Fork of the John Day River flows from south to north through central Oregon, providing unparalleled recreational opportunities including fishing, swimming, hiking, camping and birdwatching. The views here are colorful, striking and unique. Basalt outcrops, Ponderosa pine, and Douglas and white fir intermix with juniper, sagebrush and native bunchgrasses to create a distinct pattern on the rugged canyon slopes. Photo by Greg Shine, Bureau of Land Management, @mypubliclands
Take a trip to gold country in Alaska. Canoeists along the Fortymile River can see modern prospectors working the river gravels, as well as remnants of several large historic dredges, as they float through thick stands of black spruce and tussocks that grow above the permafrost. It never truly gets dark here in summer, making more time for fun and exploring. The long days melt into a pink dusk that slowly transitions into a lengthy dawn. This is the longest river in the system with the main stem and tributaries stretching for almost 400 miles. #FindYourWay on more wild and scenic rivers: https://on.doi.gov/2vBIC9K
It’s Great Outdoors Month – a time to connect with nature whether it’s in your backyards, along trails or on the water. At Upper Missouri Wild and Scenic River in Montana (pictured here), canoeists can float from several days to weeks, following in the footsteps of famous explorers Lewis and Clark as they traverse the geological folds and faults of “Breaks” country. The roadless canyon boasts broad vistas where fishermen are likely to catch goldeye, drum, sauger, walleye, northern pike, channel catfish, carp, smallmouth buffalo and paddlefish. Floaters might even spot some of the many elk and mule deer that inhabit the area, or they can scan the cliffs to get a glimpse of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. Photo by Roland Taylor (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The Giant Gap run of the famous North Fork of the American River Wild and Scenic River is one of the most challenging runs in northern California. Cliffs tower 2,000 feet above clear green streams, smashing a path through rapids choked with boulders. Heaps of mine tailings and an old cabin border the course of this roller coaster ride through historic Mother Lode. While the awe-inspiring river canyon is best known for its thrilling whitewater, its challenging hiking trails, excellent fishing, abundant wildlife and dramatic scenery make it a popular place to #FindYourWay. Photos by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management, @mypubliclands
The John Day Wild and Scenic River is the longest undammed river in Oregon. Located in the eastern part of the state, the section from Service Creek to Tumwater Falls flows through a number of colorful canyons broad valleys and breathtaking terrain. It offers year-round recreation opportunities – from whitewater boating and camping to fishing and hunting, camping with snowmobiling and skiing in the winter. Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management, @mypubliclands
The Owyhee River flows through the 1,000-foot deep “Grand Canyon” of Oregon. Named for a trio of Hawaiian trappers exploring the uncharted river, the word Owyhee is derived from an earlier version of “Hawaii.” Today this river is well-known by rafters for its remote beauty and technically challenging rapids. It’s also a protected Wild & Scenic River to ensure its millions of years of history and archaeological value will be preserved for future generations. Photo by Bureau of Land Management.