The State of Idaho has more classified & “defacto” wilderness than any state in the USA outside of Alaska, some 11, 000, 000 acres. The heart of this incredible wild area is bisected by several scenic & wild rivers, including the Selway, Middle Fork of the Salmon, South Fork & Main Salmon, and Secesh rivers providing the best whitewater rafting adventures in America. Outfitters still take pack strings into remote areas for big game hunting trips, and wild steelhead & salmon return over 800 miles from the pacific to their pristine home rivers to spawn.
This area was never settled or developed because it was simply too tough & remote. However, a few hardy souls found their way down the river corridors to prospect for gold or simply “drop out of society” into America’s last wilderness. As a result many filed for homestead entries and got a piece of deeded land, and built small wilderness ranches.
Some of these properties still exist as a speck of deeded property surrounded by a sea of Federal Wilderness. Access to these properties is limited to “bush planes” or horse back. They are “off the grid” so power is provided by small hydro plants, solar panels and propane that is flown in by airplane. For years communication was by low frequency radios using Arnold Aviation in Cascade, Idaho as the base. Today satellite phones are used at most ranches. The US postal service has a mail route serviced by bush planes piloted by veteran pilots Ray Arnold and Mike Dorris that includes putting skis on the aircraft in winter.
There are roughly 25 of these in-holdings still in “private hands” and there is a surprisingly strong market for these unique properties for buyers who are willing to leave the modern world behind and experience life without automobiles, cell phones, Fed EX, and the internet. Imagine that! Below are three examples of Idaho wilderness ranches currently on the market.
The 104± acre Shepp Ranch is a premier wilderness guest ranch and outfitting business offering the very best in backcountry recreation and lifestyle. Located 30 air miles east of the riverfront community of Riggins, Idaho, the ranch lies alongside the Salmon River inside the Gospel Hump Wilderness Area and is accessible by jet boat and light aircraft. The ranch controls two commercial jet boat permits for the Salmon River and a 75, 000-acre hunting outfitter’s area within the adjacent Gospel Hump Wilderness and features its own private airfield. Improvements are classic “Idaho Ranch” style and in topnotch condition with a main lodge, owner’s residence, guest cottages, and staff quarters.
Surrounded by the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area and the Salmon River Wild & Scenic River Corridor, Ram Lodge at Mackay Bar is a 42.5 acre inholding located deep in the mountainous backcountry of central Idaho just above the confluence of the Main Salmon and South Fork of the Salmon Rivers.
The South Fork Ranch is one of Idaho’s iconic wilderness “inholding” ranches totaling 235+/- deeded acres in two separate parcels with extensive river frontage on the South Fork of the Salmon River. The ranch is surrounded by the Payette National Forest at the end of a seasonal gravel road approximately two hours from McCall, Idaho. Improvements include a manager’s home, bunkhouse, barn, hay sheds, 2, 000 foot private airstrip, and a new 2012 hydro plant that provides 8 k.w. of electricity year-round as well as gravity pressure irrigation.