And now for a happy conservation story: The Franklin River’s ecosystem environment is one of the most pristine on earth thanks to hawk-like activism and conservation efforts by Tasmanian Expeditions, the company that pioneered the first commercial descent back in 1978. (Incidentally, for Everest historians, Lincoln Hall was on that first trip.) Since then, the company has led efforts to prevent a dam in 1983, continues to remove noxious weed infestations along the banks, and manages the nearly invisible, leave-no-trace campsites.
This nine-day trip that passes canyon gorges, cascading waterfalls, and floats mellow pools is a total commitment—once you start, the only way out is to keep rafting. $2,709; best November through January.