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

The official address of this site is fs.usda.gov/ipnf If you are curious about the long address you see in your web browser or interested in other short addresses for specific sections of this site, visit our web address information page.

'Tis the Season for Christmas Trees

Forest Service Shield with the tree decorated for ChristmasChristmas tree permits are now available from the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. Here’s what you need to know about the tree permits (tags)

  • Christmas tree tags are $5 each. Cash or check only please.
  • A family may purchase up to three tags.
  • Christmas tree tags can be used to cut trees on:
  • National Forest lands in northern Idaho and Montana; and
  • Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands administered by the Coeur d’Alene District Office in northern Idaho; and by the Missoula, Butte and Dillon field offices in western Montana.

The Idaho Panhandle National Forests also offer a “permit by mail” system. Simply print and complete the form, include a check or money order, and mail. Tree tags will be mailed the next working day after receipt of application. Forms and instructions are located on the Idaho Panhandle National Forest Christmas Tree web page.

Idaho Panhandle Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) Seeking New Members

The Idaho Panhandle RAC is seeking applicants to fill up to seven vacancies on their 15-member Resource Advisory Committee. Committe members participate in collaborative decision making and recommend distribution of funding for projects on, or adjacent to, the Idaho Panhandle National Forest. Past funding levels have averaged more than half a million dollars each year. The committee’s duties include recommending projects and funding to improve forest health, watersheds, roads and facilities on or adjacent to the Idaho Panhandle National Forest. 

Download an application now!

For more information about the Idaho Panhandle RAC, or the Secure Rural Schools Act, visit the IPNF Advisory Committee webpage.

Revised Forest Plan Documents Now Available

The draft Record of Decision, revised Forest Plan, and Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) are now available on the Idaho Panhandle forest planning webpage.

The Idaho Panhandle National Forests are using a Pre-decisional Administrative Review Process, also known as an “Objection Process.” The Objection Filing Period for the revised plan ended November 26, 2013. For a list of objections received, a listing of designated "interested persons," and information about the Objection Resolution Meeting held on April 29, 2014 please visit the IPNF Revised Forest Plan - Objections Received webpage.

On September 8, 2014 the reviewing officer signed the response to objections, which includes direction to the Northern Rockies Regional Forester (deciding official). The reviewing officer’s response to objections is the final decision by the US Department of Agriculture on the objections. Full text of the response is available on the IPNF Revised Forest Plan - Objections Received webpage. The Forest Service is currently working to implement the reviewing officer’s directions and expects to sign the final Record of Decision for the forest plan revision this winter if the additional work indicates the forest does not need to go back out to the public.

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.