Stanley is the jumping-off point for the legendary Middle Fork of the Salmon. Billed as the 'last wild river,' it throws over 100 rapids at boaters during the 100-mile, 3000ft run that passes through the ominously named River of No Return Wilderness. This is alpine rafting at its finest, and is accessible through a number of guiding companies.

Private permits to go without a company are exceedingly difficult to get: only 387 are issued each year to a pool of nearly 13,000 applicants.