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General Information

View from Lava Ridge, Payette National Forest
Copyright: - US Forest Service
View from Lava Ridge, Payette National Forest
Description - The Payette National Forest encompasses some of Idaho's most beautiful and diverse country. Nature has carved rough, granite mountains, high lakes, lush meadows, and deep river canyons. In one day you can travel from hot desert grasslands through cool conifer forests to snow-capped peaks.

Some trails through Hell's Canyon and the lower Salmon River Canyon remain snow-free nearly year-round. Hell's Canyon is North America's deepest gorge and in some places, it's more than a mile from ridge to river. Trails in Hell's Canyon National Recreation Area are generally open by the first of April and sometimes late-March. Some trails follow the canyon bottomsĀ­others climb up towards the rim and offer spectacular views of the surrounding peaks.

The Frank Church - River of No Return Wilderness embraces 2.4 million acres of central Idaho's most remote and rugged mountains and rivers. It is the largest wilderness in the lower 48 states. You can travel the wilderness on 2400 miles of trails, or float the Main Salmon, the Middle Fork Salmon, or challenging tributaries. You can fly in to several
backcountry airstrips, and can arrange an outfitter to guide you in safely--and out again. Two other wildernesses border the Wilderness to the north: the Gospel Hump Wilderness (206,053 acres) and the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness (1,340,681 acres). Together, these three wildernesses make a nearly solid block of Congressionally designated wilderness of over 6,000 square miles.

Recreation - On the Payette, you can tour the Forest on 2,000 miles of roads, hike 2,100 miles of trails, and camp at 30 campgrounds. Numerous reservoirs, lakes, and streams offer a myriad of camping and fishing opportunities. The Salmon River and Middle Fork Salmon River offer world-class river rafting. The Frank Church--River of No Return Wilderness, the largest in the lower 48 states, offers world-class backcountry hiking, fishing, and hunting. In winter, downhill skiing is excellent at Brundage Mountain ski area, and backcountry skiing and snowmobiling trails are unlimited.

Climate - Weather on the Payette National Forest varies with elevation. Summers tend to bring clear days, with afternoon thunderstorms possible. Daytime highs are normally warm to moderate, with relatively cool to cold nights, depending on elevation. Winter can bring cold temperatures with heavy snows, especially at the high elevations. Sunny days are common between winter storms.

Location - Located in west-central Idaho north of Boise, the 2.3 million acre forest extends 100 miles west to east from Hells Canyon to the Middle Fork Salmon River. It stretches 70 miles north to south, from the Salmon River to the Weiser River. Highways 95 and 55 cross the Forest and meet in New Meadows.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Filed By: Tami (Weiser, ID)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: We went to Stirgill Peak above Bear Creek. This is in the canyon above Manns Creek Reservior. Roads were good... gravel a little washboarding but in good condtion. Beautiful day, very few people out, picnic areas were great. 4 wheel drive recommended in some areas. Worth a trip. Directions.... Hwy 95 North of Weiser to Manns Creek Rd. Follow main road until you see the Bear Creek turn off... follow signs.

More Information

Contact Information:
Payette National Forest, 106 West Park Street, P.O. Box 1026 , McCall, ID, 83638, Phone: 208-634-0700

Additional Information:
Idaho National Forests -
North Central Idaho -

Payette National Forest - Official agency website.


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