Wilderness Areas in Idaho

“I think it is far more important to save one square mile of wilderness, anywhere, by any means, than to produce another book on the subject.”

― Edward Abbey, Postcards from Ed: Dispatches and Salvos from an American Iconoclast

With the addition of The Owyhee River Wilderness areas, Idaho is 4th in the nation in total wilderness acres. Idaho boasts 4,792,969 acres of wilderness. Add in a whopping 9,000,000 acres of inventoried Roadless areas that have the potential to become wilderness and Idaho would be second only to Alaska. From the two biggest wilderness areas, the Selway-Bitterroot and the Frank Church River Of No Return Wilderness Areas to the tiny micro wilderness areas in the Owyhees like the Pole Creek Top, which is complete with cellular service and a view of Boise, there is something for everyone. The best feature is the fact that it is free and easy. Other than organized camp grounds and river trips on the big 4 rivers, there are few to no fees to hike climb, hunt, camp, soak, fish or star gaze.

Suspension Pack Bridge Salmon River
Climbers love the granite cliffs that rise high above the banks of Ship Island Lake deep in the heart of “The Frank’s” Big Horn Crags. Canyoneers enjoy a weekend lost amongst the deep labyrinths and twisting canyons of The Owyhee Canyon Lands wilderness areas. The rapids of the mighty Salmon River are sure to get the blood of even the most hardy adventurer pumping like the spring run off! A trip to a lake set high in the mountains will lead on past fields of wildflowers, natural hot springs and land you on the banks of a pristine lake often teaming with trout and surely boasting a star filled sky the likes you may have never seen before! Visit lookouts like the one at Ruffneck Peak near Stanley. Stare down from an antique suspension pack bridge like the Porphyry Creek Pack bridge Pictured Above. If you are lucky you can watch the trout dart hither and yon for a quick meal or even see a mighty salmon work its way up stream to the gravel beds of its birth.
Below is a list of the wilderness areas in Idaho. For some that are more familiar to me I have included a tip or two on trails to hike, or lakes to visit. My aim is not to take you there, only give you a shove in the right direction!

Wilderness Waterfall Frank Church Wilderness Area

•Big Jacks Creek Wilderness
•Bruneau-Jarbidge Rivers Wilderness – Early fall cutthroat at the Indian Hot Springs bridge or Robertson’s trail
•Craters of the Moon National Wilderness Area- Find a Lava Tube Cave and Explore it.
•Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness- Back packing- Buck Lake in Pistol Creek or Big Horn Crags.
•Gospel-Hump Wilderness-
•Hells Canyon Wilderness (ID/OR)- Cast and Blast Chukar- Bass- Steelhead- October.
•Hemingway-Boulders Wilderness- Fly-fishing Heart Lake.
•Jim McClure-Jerry Peak Wilderness
•Little Jacks Creek Wilderness
•North Fork Owyhee Wilderness
•Owyhee River Wilderness- Rafting and Hot springs at 3 Forks.
•Pole Creek Wilderness- Two state Chukar hunt, In the morning Idaho, In the afternoon Oregon. Limit 20 quail, 16 chukars, 8 Huns!
•Sawtooth Wilderness- Hot Springs at Grandjean followed by backpack to 10 Lakes Basin
•Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness- Raft Selway River- Car camp the Magruder corridor road 101 miles of heaven between Red River and Paradise.
•White Clouds Wilderness

Boulder White Clouds Wilderness

Posted by Mike and Erica Carr on


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