Where the Wild Things Go

Fly In: It's simple. A ONE-HOUR FLIGHT EQUALS A DAY BY CAR, A WEEK BY BIKE, OR A MONTH ON FOOT. Sure makes an airtight case for the air-assisted outing.

Apr 1, 2003
Outside Magazine

Splash landings expected    Photo: Jim Oltersdort/Index Stock

Wilson Bar, Idaho
THE PITCH Buzz the airstrip at least once before your final approach into Wilson Bar, a remote canyon fly-in on the banks of the Salmon River in central Idaho's Nez Perce National Forest: The landing—a skinny turf strip bracketed by 3,000-foot granite escarpments—leaves little room for error, and elk have been known to graze on the runway. Pitch your tent along the grassy banks, shaded by 75-foot lodgepole pines and painted with flowering lilacs. Here, next to the massive Frank Church- River of No Return Wilderness, the only signs of human habitation are a crumbling root cellar and a few rusted machinery parts—relics of a Depression-era prospecting claim. Cast for cutthroat and steelhead, bushwhack to gin-clear swimming holes, or scramble up the steep canyon slopes for huge, wild views of the solitude that surrounds you.
BETA Wilson Bar is about 30 minutes by air northeast of McCall, Idaho. Pilots can hone their backcountry landing skills through McCall Mountain Canyon Flying School, 208-634-1344, www.mountaincanyonflying.com. No permits required.
PRIME TIME July-August
RESOURCES For general info: Nez Perce National Forest, 208-983-1950, www.fs.fed.us/r1/nezperce. For maps: Galen Hanselman's Fly Idaho! ($40; 800-574-9702, www.flyidaho.com). For charters: McCall Air, 800-992-7137, www.mccallaviation.com.

Punta San Francisquito,
Baja, Mexico

THE PITCH There are two ways to get to Punta San Francisquito, an isolated spit halfway down Baja's east coast: Drive 60 miles of wretched, washboard dirt road south from Bahía de los Angeles, or touch down on San Francisquito's runway, only a few feet from the Sea of Cortez and just over an hour from San Diego. Easy choice. Pay camping is fair game anywhere on this idyllic sweep of beach, and the simple but homey Punta San Francisquito Resort rents thatch-roofed cabanas and serves up ceviche de pulpo (octopus) and grilled lobster.
RESOURCES For charters: Lundy Air, in San Diego, 800-574-9702, www.lundyair.com. For maps: Galen Hanselman's Air Baja! ($50; 800-574-9702, www.flyidaho.com). For info: Punta San Francisquito, 011-52-6681-0709.

Twin Lakes, Alaska
THE PITCH The water's your runway at Twin Lakes, a spectacular backcountry base camp 140 air miles southwest of Anchorage in little-visited Lake Clark National Park. There are no roads to the park and its more than four million acres of trailless tundra, dense coastal forests, and glacial tarns, so you'll need to hop a float plane to your camp beneath the ragged summits of the Chigmit Mountains. Set up along the lakeshore and spend days scouting for caribou and red fox along the rolling, dwarf-birch-covered slopes, or fishing for plump grayling on the wild and scenic Chilikadrotna River.
RESOURCES For charters: Iliamna Air Taxi, 907-571-1248. For guided trips: Alaska Wildtrek, 907-235-6463, www.alaskawildtrek.com. For info: Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, 907-781-2218, www.nps.gov/lacl.

Crux Gear
Stranded? Unspool the antenna coiled inside BREITLING's EMERGENCY MISSION wristwatch to BROADCAST a distress signal that can travel up to 220 nautical miles. It keeps pretty good time, too. ($3,975; 203-762-1180, www.breitling.com)