Welcome to the
Idaho Panhandle National Forests

Photo of Sisters Creek gorge, a tributary to the St. Joe River.
Sisters Creek gorge,
a tributary to the St. Joe River.

From the shores of big lakes to the banks of winding rivers, the Idaho Panhandle National Forests create a tapestry of land and water in the handle of North Idaho. The Forest has been and continues to be the lifeline for local communities. Silver, gold and large timber drew settlers to the area. Remnant roads that once led to work now lead to play, and treasures sought are now recreational - water-based activities, winter uses and the traditional hiking, hunting, fishing and gathering....Read more

Wildfire emergency closures shrink due to improving weather, cooler temperatures

Most area closures have been lifted, or significantly reduced in size. For information on current fire-related area, road and trail closures visit the Wildfire Temporary Closures web page.

Travel Analysis documents now available

In June 2015 the Idaho Panhandle National Forests held a series of public meetings to evalulate the risks and benefits posed by individual road segments across the forest. That public input, in conjunction with field surveys, was used to create the Final Subpart A Travel Analysis document. For more information on the purpose of this document, how it was developed and the final product, please visit the IPNF Travel Analysis webpage.

Highlighted Areas

Emerald Creek Garnet Area

There are only two places in the world you can find Star Garnets - India and right here on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests! The garnets found here are called "star garnets" because of a unique property that causes some of them to display a reflection like a four or six pointed star. India is the only other place in the world where star garnets like these are found in any quantity.

The 12-sided (dodecahedron) crystals found here range in size from sand particles to golf-ball or larger size. Gem quality faceting material is also found at the Garnet Area.

The Forest Service has developed the Garnet Area as a place where the public may collect these unique gems in a safe and environmentally friendly way. In the past, people would dig in the stream bed in search of the garnets. Now, due to concerns for water quality, aquatic habitat, and public safety, the Forest Service provides a stockpile of garnet bearing gravels from which people can gather material to run through one of two sluice boxes in search of garnets. Click here to learn what to bring, get detailed directions, view photo galleries, and more!

Route of the Hiawatha Rail-Trail

It's been called one of the most scenic stretches of railroad in the country. Winding through nine tunnels and over seven high steel trestles, the 15-mile route crosses the rugged Bitterroot Mountains between Idaho and Montana.

The route of the Hiawatha is best known for the long, dark St. Paul Pass or "Taft" Tunnel which burrows for 1.66 miles under the state line. The tunnel, which had been closed for repairs, reopened for use by mountain bikers, hikers, and wheelchair users the end of May 2001.

The first 13 miles of the route were opened to the public on May 29, 1998. When finished, a bicyclist will be able to ride the Route of the Hiawatha between St. Regis, Montana and Pearson, Idaho. Once again, people will be able to travel the Milwaukee Road over the Bitterroot Mountains, soaking up the rich history and enjoying the breathtaking scenery.  MORE INFORMATION...

Red Ives Cabin

Photo of Red Ives CabinRed Ives Cabin is one of our most popular rental facilities. It served as the Ranger Station for the Red Ives Ranger District of the St. Joe National Forest from the 1930s to 1984. Attractions include its location on the St. Joe Wild and Scenic River.  It is located 86 miles southeast of St. Maries, Idaho on Forest Road 218.

The cabin features 2 bedrooms, kitchen, living room, bathroom, and covered front porch; propane stove/oven and refrigerator; hot water, flush toilet, and shower/ tub. Propane/battery lanterns are provided for lights and there is a gas log fireplace for heat.  Absolutely no pets. For current conditions click here. For more information please contact the St. Maries Ranger Station at (208) 245-2531.