Visitor Center and Interpretive Program
The spectacular beauty and solitude of the 217,000 acre Sawtooth Wilderness is experienced by people from all parts of the country. It is considered the "crown jewel" of the Gem State. First protected in 1937 as a "Primitive Area," the rugged Sawtooth Wilderness was officially created by Congress in 1972. The Sawtooth Wilderness is exceptional in scenic beauty and is characterized by high granite peaks and narrow glacial valleys. The Wilderness is comprised of hundeds of jagged peaks, 50 over 10,000 feet in height, with nearly 400 high alpine lakes dotting the predominantly rocky terrain. Also hidden within its boundaries are deep, secluded valleys covered with enormous stands of trees. These mountains hold the headwaters of the North Fork and Middle Fork of the Boise River, the South Fork of the Payette River and contributes significantly to the headwaters of the Salmon River. Nearly 350 miles of trails provide a wide range of routes and many of the high lake basins do not have constructed trails to reach them. The hiking season is short. Alpine wildflowers bring the high meadows alive with color in the months of July and August. An abundant population of wildlife thrives upon the lush, grassy meadows and many species of fish make their home in the thousands of streams that feed the headwaters of four major rivers. The Wilderness offers opportunities for recreational, scenic, scientific, educational, conservation and historic purposes.