Wilderness Areas

Lake surrounded by pine trees"To secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness..."  Wilderness Act of 1964


Sawtooth Wilderness         

The Sawtooth Wilderness is one of the most beautiful places on earth.  With over 300 crystal clear alpine lakes and more than 50 peaks over 10,000 feet, 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.  A centerpiece of the Sawtooth NRA, the 217,000-acre Wilderness includes the headwaters of the North Fork and the Middle Fork of the Boise River, the South Fork of the Payette River, and contributes significantly to the headwaters of the Salmon River.  The Wilderness provides shelter to many native species of plants and wildlife, as well as a refuge for visitors seeking solitude.

 There are over 2700 miles of trail but much of the Wilderness is only accessible via off-trail route finding.  You won't find many signs or bridges along the trails, or facilities at the campsites.  The focus of management of this area is to preserve its undisturbed character.  You will find a range of opportunities, from well-maintained trails to challenging travel in pristine trailless areas.  You can expect to encounter the challenges and risks of changing weather, even in the summer, temperatures might drop to freezing, rugged geography and other phenomena inherent to wilderness.

Planning ahead and practicing Leave No Trace principles will help insure that your trip is safe, enjoyable and leaves the Wilderness intact for those to come.  Open fires are not permitted in some high-use regions, and group size is limited in the area to help reduce human impacts. 

Sawtooth Wilderness Map


White Clouds Wilderness, Hemingway-Boulders Wilderness and Jim McClure-Jerry Peak Wilderness

This area was designated as Wilderness on Friday, Aug. 7, 2015, following unanimous passage into law by Congress. Different than any other form of public land, Wilderness is established as an antidote to expanding settlement and growing mechanization, a place where ecosystems remain undeveloped and intact, natural processes unfold without intervention, and humans may visit but not stay. You can help protect these values for future generations.

The White Clouds Wilderness and Hemingway-Boulders Wilderness will be administered by the Sawtooth National Forest, while the Jim McClure-Jerry Peak Wilderness will be managed by the Salmon-Challis National Forest and the Challis BLM.

White Clouds Wilderness Map

Hemingway-Boulders Wilderness Map


Wilderness Regulations

Highlighted Video

Leave No Trace - A Backpacker's Oath


Learn about the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace from this instructive video!