Special Places

The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests have many unique and historical sites for your "Must Visit!" list. Take a look at these areas of interest, and then come out to the forest for a visit.

Highlighted Areas

Lolo Pass Visitor Center

The newly remodeled Lolo Pass Visitor Center, constructed in 2003, echoes the log-built architecture of historic forest service ranger stations of yore. The Visitor Center serves as one of the many historical landmarks off Highway 12, the Lewis & Clark highway. The Visitor Center displays information on the Lewis and Clark journey across the Bitterroot Mountains and the 1877 flight of the Nez Perce Indians, and provides historical, natural, and general information about the area.  Not only is it a recreational destination for winter sports enthusiasts, but the Visitor Center also doubles as a rest area at the Montana/ Idaho border along Highway 12. The facility includes an interpretive center, small book store & gift shop, 24 hour restrooms, covered picnic area, picnic tables and a short interpretive trail with benches. So stop on by for a complimentary cup of hot chocolate, tea or coffee and experience the Lolo Pass Pass Visitor Center. 

Click here to see the Montana Department of Transportation’s 24 hour web camera view of road conditions for Highway 12 at the Montana/Idaho state line (there’s a snow depth gauge in the image to the far right/center).
Print your own map of the Lolo Pass Recreation Trails!

Elk Creek Falls Trailhead and Picnic Area

Just 50 miles east of Moscow, Idaho, visitors will find The Elk Creek Falls Recreation Area, home to the Elk Creek Falls National Recreation Trail, possessing the tallest waterfall in the state of Idaho.  Three separate waterfalls totaling over 140 feet carve a beautiful canyon filled with mesmerizing columnar basaltic formations…with amenities such as restrooms, picnic tables, pedestal grills and trailhead information all accessible by a developed Forest Service trail… Elk Creek Falls awaits you!

Although there are no camping facilities at the Elk Creek Falls Recreation Area, developed Forest Service camping can be found close by at Elk Creek Campground, near Elk River, ID (fees apply and reservations can be made through www.recreation.gov).

Hells Canyon Wilderness

Hells Canyon Wilderness is a part of the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area (HCNRA) that straddles the border of northeastern Oregon and western Idaho, split in half by the Wild and Scenic Snake River.  The Idaho side boasts the Seven Devils mountain range, and is jointly managed by the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests, along with the Wallowa-Whitman National Forests. A small portion of the Wilderness in Oregon is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.  Find out more about this and other wildernesses at Wilderness.net

Lochsa Historical Ranger Station

The Lochsa Historical Ranger Station is located along U.S. Highway 12 in the Lochsa River drainage, approximately 48 miles east of Kooskia, Idaho.  From 1925 to the late 1950s, the station was utilized as a backcountry Ranger Station by the Forest Service. It served as the administrative hub for a system of fire lookouts, smoke chaser cabins, and other remote Forest Service facilities linked together by a system of pack trails and telephone lines.  In 1976, the station was formally dedicated as an interpretive site, as part of the nation's Bicentennial Celebration. The station is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The visitor center, located within the Alternate Ranger's cabin, is a shady oasis on a hot summer day. The mix of conifers and Locust trees provide a pleasant rest stop for the weary traveler.

Gospel-Hump Wilderness

In 1978, Congress recognized 206,053 acres of undeveloped federal land as a special area and designated it the Gospel-Hump Wilderness. It is a land of contrasts: its northern section is moist and heavily forested, while the southern section is dry and sparsely vegetated. Separating these diverse landscapes is a rugged, glaciated divide where the Wilderness Areas’ namesake peaks are located. Elevations range from 1,970’ at the Salmon River to 8,940’ at the summit of Buffalo Hump.  Find out more about this and other wildernesses at Wilderness.net

Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness

The Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness lies within the boundaries of four national forests and seven ranger districts. Its rugged peaks and connection to four national forests make this a popular destination for people looking to spend time in the wild. Find out more about this and other wildernesses at Wilderness.net

Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness

Ranking as the second largest Wilderness in the National Wilderness Preservation System is only one of the many attributes of which the Frank Church-River of No Return can boast. Its namesake, Frank Church (Senator and lawyer) played a major role in passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964, and in the creation of the River of No Return Wilderness in 1980. The treacherous waters of the Main Salmon River slice through a chasm deeper than the Grand Canyon—hence its moniker as the River of No Return. Portions of this 2.4 million acre Wilderness are located on five different national forests—the Boise, Bitterroot, Nez Perce, Payette, and Salmon-Challis. Many of its visitors venture into these wild lands on the river corridors of both the Main and Middle Fork of the Salmon River.  Find out more about this and other wildernesses at Wilderness.net

Areas & Activities