No matter where you go on the forest, you will be blown away by the natural beauty, diverse flora and fauna, and outstanding recreational opportunities. We encourage you to spend time exploring Caribou-Targhee National Forest and all it has to offer.
Wilderness places tremendous value in untamed places. The Caribou-Targhee National Forest has two small but powerful wilderness areas (Jedediah Smith and Winegar Hole). The Wilderness Act of 1964 states “In order to assure that an increasing population, accompanied by expanding settlement and growing mechanization, does not occupy and modify all areas within the United States and its possessions, leaving no lands designated for preservation and protection in their natural condition, it is hereby declared to be the policy of the Congress to secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness.” Learn more about wilderness management at https://www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/wilderness.
Jedediah Smith Wilderness
The 123,451-acre Jedediah Smith Wilderness was designated in October 1984 because of its unique karst limestone geology. It lies on the west slop of the Teton Range, adjacent to Grand Teton National Park and sports amazing views. This area is heavily used so its critical that individuals adhere to leave no trace principles and plan a head before they hit the trails. The Wilderness Act allows for hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, skiing and grazing. Campfires are allowed in most areas but some are closed to open fires to protect resources and the limited number of trees in the area. Mechanical transport (bicycles) and motorized equipment is prohibited year-round. Horses can be used, however overnight camping with stock is only allowed in specific locations. Contact the Teton Basin Ranger District to learn more.
Winegar Hole Wilderness
The small 10,721-acre Winegar Hole Wilderness was designated the same time as the Jed Smith in 1984. It’s designated was unique in that it was set aside to provide high quality habitat for grizzly bears. It is difficult to access and hikers should be prepared for bear encounters. It is located 25 miles east of Ashton, Idaho, adjacent to the southeast corner of Yellowstone National Park. For more information on Winegar Hole contact the Ashton/Island Park Ranger District.
Off the beaten path you can access a piece of Idaho history! During the 1880's the Birch Creek Valley bustled with activity as miners worked a rich body of ore located about 10 miles east of the Kilns, known as the Viola Mine. It was discovered in 1881 and produced $2,500,000 worth of lead and silver before the ore ran out in 1888. Metal was extracted from the ore by a smelter located near the mine.
If you like caves, then go see Minnetonka Cave. It is a half-mile cavern of fascinating geological formations. The cave features guided tours from June through Labor Day. Fee site.
The Mesa Falls Visitor Center occupies the historic Big Falls Inn, built around 1915 by the Snake River Electric Light and Power Company. Exhibits on the natural and cultural history of the area can be enjoyed inside the visitor center. From the Visitor Center, an accessible trail and boardwalk provide spectacular views of Mesa Falls. A rainbow often decorates the canyon on summer mornings when sunlight passes through the mist, and interpretive panels share the natural and cultural history of the area.
The Curlew National Grassland
The Curlew National Grassland comprises 47,000 acres of public land. It was originally established to improve the soils and vegetation. The Curlew National Grassland is managed to promote and demonstrate grassland agriculture and sustained-yield management of forage, fish and wildlife, water and recreation resources.
Upper Palisades Lake
Experience this 15.0-mile out-and-back trail near Irwin, Idaho. Generally considered a moderately challenging route, it takes an average of 6 h 14 min to complete. This is a very popular area for backpacking, camping, and fishing, so you'll likely encounter other people while exploring. The best times to visit this trail are June through October. Dogs are welcome, but must be on a leash.
Teton Canyon has recreational opportunities all year long. The 5.2 mile gravel road runs along the length of the canyon with access to trailheads, campgrounds, dispersed camping and picnicking. The road ends at two Jedediah Smith Wilderness trailheads. In the winter, the road is groomed allowing for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and fat biking.
Mink Creek Recreation Area
An area to visit is located outside of Pocatello. Mink Creek Recreation Area provides a unique variety of dispersed and developed recreation opportunities including campgrounds, picnic areas, group sites, trails - motorized and non-motorized, research natural area and interpretive sites for both summer and winter activities.