Vacation in Idaho's stunning Clearwater Basin as a Wilderness volunteer

Vista at Mallard-Larkins Recommended Wilderness area

Liz Bell

If you are seeking an opportunity to explore wilderness this summer - and a chance to give back - look no further.

Wilderness Volunteers (WV) is offering a unique opportunity to experience the wild lands of Idaho. In late July, WV is sponsoring a six-day volunteer vacation to the Mallard-Larkins Recommended Wilderness area, a sprawling 255,000 acre primitive area within Idaho's Clearwater Basin. Trip participants will camp in a small pass with panoramic views of two National Forests, and spend four days giving back to the land by working on trails that provide access to the Mallard-Larkins area. A mid-week rest day will allow participants time to explore the area.

Hear a story of one Wilderness volunteer's 'ultimate vacation':

The state of Idaho is home to the largest wilderness complex in the continental United States, the Frank Church-Selway Bitterroot Wilderness areas. Idaho also has more land without roads than any state other than Alaska, with 9.3 million acres of wilderness quality land. With all this to offer, Idaho is a spectacular vacation destination.

Mallard-Larkins in particular is a great place to explore. Its lands range from low elevation coastal rainforest to jagged peaks towering over crystal-clear subalpine lakes where mountain goats are known to frequent. At the lower elevations, visitors can find dense, old growth forests with trees that are 12 feet in diameter and over 150 feet tall, some of which may be more than 1,000 years old. All this adds up to stunning vistas and memorable recreation opportunities.

Mallard-Larkins lies within the Clearwater Basin, an area of large wild landscapes and equally wild rivers.  The Basin's 1.2 million acres of Roadless Areas provide world class recreation for backcountry skiers, hunters, backpackers and hikers. Its 2,200 miles of wild rivers provide crucial spawning habitat for Chinook salmon and bull and steelhead trout, and recreation for anglers and whitewater enthusiasts.  Visitors to the area experience a landscape nearly unchanged since the days of Lewis and Clark.

Because of the ecological and recreational values of the Clearwater Basin, The Wilderness Society has long sought to protect this area. In May 2008, Idaho Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) helped form the Clearwater Basin Collaborative (CBC) to resolve long-standing conflicts over public land use, and with a mission to enhance and protect the ecological and economic health of the forests, rivers, and communities within the Basin by working collaboratively across a diversity of interests. The Collaborative represents conservation, recreation, timber and business interests; the Forest Service; and local, state, federal, and Nez Perce Tribal governments. 

To learn more about the Mallard-Larkins volunteer vacation opportunity offered by Wilderness Volunteers, visit the WV webpage for the Mallard-Larkins Trip.

Above-right photo: Rafting near Mallard-Larkins Recommended Wilderness area. Credit: Eric Melson.