The tour leads through heavy forests of pine, tamarack, and fir. Rising from the deep cleft of the river’s channel are benchlands, a series of ascending terraces that break into steep, rugged mountain slopes. East of the river, the Kaniksu National Forest extends into Idaho. After climbing for a few miles, the highway dips sharply down to the benchlands. This is a region of cutover lands, with stumps, snags, and small second-growth trees.
At the beginning of the century, a vast forest spread over these foothills and up the mountain slopes. In the spring, when the heavy blanket of snow melted, the water level of the river, and of the numerous small streams draining into it, rose; but serious floods were rare, the dense woods and the underbrush holding back part of the water. Within a generation, however, logging operations have denuded much of the region, and fires have destroyed what remained of the protective covering. Today most of the small streams are silt-laden torrents in the spring, but turn to dry channels as summer advances.