Special Places

Special Areas have been established to protect and manage for public use and enjoyment, special recreation areas with scenic, geological, botanical, zoological, paleontological, archaeological, or with other special characteristics or unique values.

Swett Ranch on the Ashley National Forest

Sitting on the benches of the Uinta Mountains near Red Canyon, the Swett Ranch is a capsule of frontier life projected into modern times. Oscar Swett homesteaded the family's original claim in 1909 accumulating additional acreage over the next 58 years. Today, the Swett Ranch is on the National Register of Historic Places. Tours of the ranch are offered in the summer.

Payette River System on the Boise National Forest

Photo of a river bend in the South Fork of the Payette RiverKnown for kayaking and rafting, the Payette River is about one hour north of Boise. It includes the South Fork and Main Payette River -- rapids range from Class 1 to Class 4, (If desired, rafting outfitters are available to help guide your adventure.). With sandy beaches and boat launch sites such as Banks Beach, Beehive Bend, and Confluence, one can find easy access along the cool river on a hot summer day. Nominal fees for parking and boat launching are returned to the site in the form of improvements such as boat launch facilities, restrooms, paved parking, and recreation infrastructure.

Continental Divide on the Bridger-Teton National Forest

The spine of North America twists and turns along the mountains on the east side of the Forest. You can cross the Continental Divide at Togwotee Pass (east of Grand Teton National Park) and the Sweetwater River near South Pass (south end of the Wind River Range), as well as along many backcountry trails. The Continental Divide Trail Association works hard to bring grants and volunteers to the area to maintain and improve the trail.

Historical photo of the Continental Divide

Charcoal Kilns on the Caribou-Targhee National Forest

Located on the Dubois Ranger District just off U.S. 28 south of the Gilmore Summit. Only four partially intact brick kilns remain of the original 16 kilns that were built to furnish charcoal to the smelter at Nicholia. Interpretive signs are located along the trail and there is a picnic table and restroom on site.

Cedar Mountain-Navajo Lake/Cascade Falls Trail/Lava Beds on the Dixie National Forest

D2 Navajo Lake canoeThe area known locally as Cedar Mountain is really the Markagunt Plateau, on the edge of the Colorado Plateau. A large field of stark and abrasive lava beds sit near the center of this plateau, some of which ae less than 2,000 years old.  Much of the lava did not come from a central volcano but welled up from cracks in the earth's surface. Underground lava tubes formed as a result, one of which can be seen at Mammoth Cave. Navajo Lake | Cascade Falls Trail

Tushar Mountains on the Fishlake National Forest

nullThe Tushar Mountains are one of the most defining features of the Fishlake National Forest. These mountains contain several loop roads with spots for camping, fishing, hiking, and mountain biking. Keep your eyes open for mountain goats, especially if driving from Big John Flat to Marysvale or Fremont Indian State Park.  Although the Tushar Mountains are enjoyed by hundreds of motorists on summer weekends, the same area has some very rugged and remote backcountry trails for hiking and backpacking. Two of the more popular areas are the Bullion Canyon Trail System (west of Marysvale) and the South Fork of the North Creek (east of Beaver).

Arc Dome Wilderness on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest

Photo of a man on horseback leading a pack horse at the top of a canyon.Situated in the southern portion of the Toiyabe Range, Arc Dome Wilderness Area offers breathtaking vistas, seemingly endless trails, and spectacular wildlife viewing opportunities. This area's main attraction is the National Recreation Toiyabe Crest Trail that offers travelers over 70 miles of trail (30 within the Wilderness) atop the ridge of the Toiyabe Mountain Range. With multiple access points along the trail (each offering their own unique canyon environments) the entire length can be broken down to smaller segments to hike and enjoy. Aspen stands and streams are common in most of the area.

Dark Canyon Wilderness on the Manti-La Sal National Forest

Dark Canyon WildernessArches, old-growth ponderosa pine, aspen groves, meadows, hanging gardens, and high country deserts are all found here. This remote section of the Colorado Plateau is a place where visitors are dwarfed by the sculpted and terraced sandstone walls. Look closely -- you may spot evidence of the Ancestral Puebloan structures and rock art tucked along the cliffs. (Please leave these treasures undisturbed for others to experience.) Water is scare - check the local Forest Service offices for current availability. Read more about the Dark Canyon Wilderness.

Rapid River on the Payette National Forest

Especially popular in the spring for early hiking and biking, and in the fall for hunting, the Rapid River area offers excellent opportunities for a more primitive recreation experience. Multiple trails present hikers and mountain bikers the chance to view wildlife, wildflowers, and amazing scenery. Rapid River is a designated Wild and Scenic River for its entire length and is important habitat for threatened Chinook salmon, steelhead, and bull trout. Within the Rapid River area, Black Lake is a popular recreation destination.

Yellowjacket Guard Station on the Salmon-Challis National Forest

Photo of a white building with green trim and a fence around it, pine trees are in the background.The Yellowjacket Guard Station looks much as it did in the 1930s when it began its long career of hosting crews working in the forest.  In 1934, a Civilian Conservation Corps camp was stationed here to remodel the original dwelling (built in 1925) and construct more buildings including a barn, cellar, and bridge. In addition, emergency Relief Agency crews worked at Yellowjacket through at least 1938. Next, the complex was the summer headquarters of the Yellowjacket Ranger District until 1954. Since that time, the site has been a seasonal work center.

Rock Creek Complex on the Sawtooth National Forest

Photo of a meadow with conifers in the background.Looking south from Twin Falls you will see the desert canyons of the South Hills with stately stands of cottonwood and aspen, and one of the state's healthiest Mule deer populations. The Rock Creek Canyon Road winds through volcanic ash deposits (tuff) that have eroded into hoodoos and pinnacles, giving the area an other-early feel.  There are eight campgrounds and three picnic areas open in the summer, and three trailheads that access 60 miles of trails (all but the 9.5 mile Rim View Trail are open to motorized use). Don't pass up the opportunity to drive the two miles to the Pike Mountain viewpoint for the interpretive displays and a spectacular panorama of the South Hills. In winter, Rock Creek Road is plowed to Diamondfield Jack Snow-park. A warming hut and popular trailhead provide access to miles of snowmobile trails.

American Fork Canyon on the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest

Mt. Timpanogas, Pleasant Grove Ranger DistrictAmerican Fork Canyon is a backyard escape for the 1.8 million people living in the Wasatch Front Metro Area. Attractions include Timpanogos Cave National Monument, Cascade Springs, Tibble Fork and Silver Lake Flat Reservoirs, and Wasatch Mountain State Park. Trailheads lead adventure seekers into the Mt. Timpanogos and Lone Peak Wildernesses. American Fork Canyon can be accessed from the Alpine Loop Scenic Backway (SR-92). The spectacular canyon walls in lower American Fork Canyon are deeply incised. Higher up, the canyon forks into open basins with alpine peaks that top 11,000 feet. The road then crosses over a divide into the North Fork of the Provo Canyon with views of Mt. Timpanaogos and dazzling fall colors.