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.

Flaming Gorge-Uintas Byway on the Ashley National Forest

Flaming Gorge DamAre you ready for adventure? A road trip along the Flaming Gorge-Uintas National Scenic Byway may be just the ticket.

The byway meanders over the eastern flank of the Uinta Mountains- one of the few east-west ranges in the country-and through the Flaming Gorge National Recreating Area. The majestic peaks of the Unita Mountains provide the backdrop.

Aptly named, the theme for the byway is "Wildlife through the Ages" since the route travels through one of the richest areas for wildlife and fossils in the west. During your drive you will not only experience abundant wildlife, but also deep multi-colored canyons, unique geologic features, breathtaking scenic vistas, and broad forest landscapes. Many wayside exhibits and trails are available to enhance your visit. The route also crosses Flaming Gorge Dam, towering 502 feet above the waters of the Green River below.

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Forest Lookouts on the Boise National Forest

Forest Lookout BuildingOn top of the world! Come visit some of the Boise National Forest’s fire lookouts and get a spectacular 360-degree view from a remote mountaintop. The lookouts are usually accessible from July through September. Lookout personnel are available from approximately 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., but may be busy with a fire during the day. Please realize they need to continually scan the horizon for smoke so have limited time to talk. Lookouts include:

  • Deadwood - available for overnight rental
  • Silver Creek - amazing vistas into vast roadless country
  • Whitehawk - beautiful overlook of Bear Valley Meadows
  • Trinity - a steep hike, but the view is worth it


Buffalo Valley on the Bridger-Teton National Forest

Buffalo ValleyAs you travel east from Moran Junction (the east gate of Grand Teton National Park) you will enter a scenic, pastoral setting, exemplifying Jackson Hole. Private resorts, summer homes, and campgrounds are scattered throughout, and numerous trailheads provide access to the Teton Wilderness. The Buffalo Fork is a National Scenic River and is the central feature of a valley of great importance to native wildlife.

Big Springs on the Caribou-Targhee National Forest

Big Springs Campground and Group Area is located 25 miles south of West Yellowstone, Montana in beautiful Island Park, Idaho at an elevation of 6400 feet. Big Spring Campground is in a wooded area with new growth lodgepole pine and summer wildflowers dot the landscape.

Big Springs was designated on January 19, 1981 as the first water trail in the National Recreation Trail System. The slow moving current of this portion of the Henrys Fork of the Snake River provides nearly a 5 mile long peaceful and enjoyable floating experience. Moose, bald eagles, and other wildlife are frequently seen as one float the river. The boat launch site is about half a mile west of Big Springs bridge. The launch site is hand-carry boats only such as rafts and canoes, Parking and vault restrooms are on site.

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Highway 12 on the Dixie National Forest

Highway 12Leaving Utah Heritage Highway 89 seven miles south of Panguitch, travel east into Red Canyon where you’ll encounter a dramatic landscape of sandstone hoodoos. Continue east up onto the Paunsaugunt Plateau and the entrance to Bryce Canyon National Park. East of the plateau you’ll drive through the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, past three State Parks, and numerous scenic viewpoints into Capitol Reef, Boulder Top, the Henry Mountains, Circle Cliffs, and Navajo Mountain. The byway ends in Torrey at Highway 24.

A good place to start your explorations is at the Red Canyon Visitor Center, located on the western end of the byway, 3 miles east of the Highway 89 junction. It is usually open from Easter Day to the end of October.

Along Highway 12, a 124-mile All American Road, you will pass more than enough scenery to fill up your camera.

A paved bike road runs parallel to Highway 12 for bikers to safely ride from Red Canyon to the East Fork of the Sevier River. In addition, trails leaving from the valley invite the hiker, biker OHV user, and equestrian to explore further.

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Bullion Canyon Trail System on the Fishlake National Forest

Bullion Canyon TrailThe Bullion Canyon Trails System is made up of five rugged trails, providing the hiker or mountain biker a 10–12 mile round-trip loop. The trails are located on the east side of the Tushars, and can be accessed from three newly constructed trailheads: 1) west of the Miner’s Park on the way to Bullion Falls, 2) Alunite Ridge on the south fork of Bullion Canyon, and 3) Bullion Pasture, near Marysvale.


Mt. Rose Wilderness on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest

Photo of a man on horseback leading a pack horse at the top of a canyon.

Nestled between Lake Tahoe and Reno, Nevada, Mt. Rose encompasses most of the high country of the Carson Range. The Hunter Lake jeep road splits the area into two distinct sections: the 5,000 acre northern section and the 23,000-acre southern section, which contains the 10,776-foot Mt. Rose and most of the major canyons and ridges. Due to its proximity to urban centers (the area almost shares a border with Reno), Mt. Rose is easily Nevada’s most heavily used Wilderness. Portions of the interior hide small meadows and smaller lakes seldom seen by humans. Enjoy the park by staying at Mt. Rose Campground.

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Harts Draw Highway on the Manti-La Sal National Forest

Harts Draw Highway Manti-LaThe Harts Draw Highway travels across the northwestern flank of the Abajo Mountains between Monticello and SR-211 near Newspaper Rock. The Harts Draw-Canyonlands Overlook is about 10 miles from Monticello, with vistas of the La Sal Mountains, Shay Mountain, and the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. In autumn, aspens and maples are blazing flags along the drive. Once you reach SR-211, you can take a short side trip to the Newspaper Rock petroglyph panel.


Payette River Scenic Byway on the Payette National Forest

Payette River Scenic BywayFrom the junction of Idaho 44 and Idaho 55 west of Boise, this byway heads north on Idaho 55 to Horseshoe Bend where it meets the Payette River. From there it passes through the Boise and Payette National Forests and the towns of Cascade and McCall before reaching the northern end at New Meadows. For motorists, it can be a distracting drive as the river crashes and tumbles its way over the rocks through this narrow river valley. There are occasional pull-offs where you can view the wilder parts, and treat your senses to the sight, sound, smell, and rhythm of Idaho’s whitewater. Along the Payette River Scenic Byway are some great locations for camping, hiking, boating, fishing, and guided float trips.

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Custer Motorway on the Salmon-Challis National Forest

Custer Motorway

The mining camps of Bonanza and Custer were already established before any roads came into the Yankee Fork area. Pack trains brought supplies in and took gold and silver ore out to Challis, charging 20 cents per pound for their loads.

In 1879, Fred Myers and Alexander Topance constructed a 35-mile road over two steep summits to link Bonanza and Challis. The road proved a boon to the growth of Bonanza and Custer.

Several stopping places were operated along the way since the trip from Bonanza to Challis took at least two days. A toll was charged until 1889, when the construction of a new road along the Salmon River from the mouth of the Yankee Fork provided a new and easier link to Challis.

Traveling along this historic road, you can still see remains of the Eleven Mile Barn, Fannie's Upper Hole and the Toll Gate. The road is not recommended for trailers.

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South Fork of the Boise River on the Sawtooth National Forest

South Fork of Boise River Sawtooth ForestThis beautiful mountain river rises in the Smoky Mountains of southcentral Idaho where, over epochs, it has carved a steep channel through the erosive granite of the Idaho Batholith here. Near the old mining community of Featherville, the aroma of lodgepole pine, Douglas fir, and ponderosa pine will engulf you.

This little visited but stunningly beautiful area has abundant recreation opportunities. The Bear Creek, Canyon, Kelly Creek, and Willow Creek trailheads access miles of trails and thousands of acres of roadless backcountry for horsepackers, hikers, and OHV enthusiasts. Eight campgrounds along the river are open from Memorial Day through hunting season, including Baumgartner Campground which even has a hot springs pool.

This area is closed from Dec. 1-April 30 to protect wintering wildlife.

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Mount Timpanogos Wilderness on the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest

Mount Timpanogos Wilderness Uinta ForestLocated along the Wasatch Front, Mount Timpanogos Wilderness is a small Wilderness of 10,750 acres. Photographers have many opportunities with the many waterfalls, glacial cirques, rugged terrain, and wildflowers. Horse use is limited from the Timpooneke Trail to the Timpanogos Basin area.



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