Special Places

What makes the Northern Region special?

Photo of the Lewis & Clark National Historic Interpretive Center. Photo of the Savanac Nursery entrance. Photo of the Earthquake Lake Visitor's Center.

Photos of Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center, the Savanac Nursery, and the Earthquake Lake Visitor's Center.

The Northern Region is home to a vast array of Special Places that have been recognized by Congress as Wilderness Areas, National Wild and Scenic Rivers, and National Scenic and Historic Trails. Numerous National Historic Register sites preserved across the Region tell the story of western settlement and of Forest Service history. Special auto tour routes have been developed that interpret parts of the Indian Wars, such as the story of the flight of the Nez Perce and the route followed in North Dakota by General Custer to the Battle of the Little Bighorn. National Scenic Byways in Montana and Idaho traverse diverse landscapes revealing spectacular scenery and provide opportunity for travelers to step off the beaten track.

Outside of Alaska, the northern ranges of the Rocky Mountains contain some of the “Last Best Places” of Wild land, Wild Rivers, and Wildlife in the nation. Learn more…………

| National Visitor Centers in Region One
| National Trails and National Recreation Trails |
| National Scenic Byways in Region One and National Forest Scenic Byways | 
| Wild and Scenic RiversWilderness |
| Research Natural Areas | Special Areas | History and Cultural Resources

What is a Research Natural Area?

A Research Natural Area (RNA) is any tract of land or water which supports high quality examples of terrestrial or aquatic ecosystems, habitats, and populations of rare or endangered plant or animal species, or unique geological study of the features, and is managed in a way that allows natural processes to predominate, with minimal human intervention.

Special Areas

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

National Recreation Areas

“Areas that have outstanding combinations of outdoor recreation opportunities, aesthetic attractions, and proximity to potential users. They may also have cultural, historical, archeological, pastoral, wilderness, scientific, wildlife, and other values contributing to public enjoyment.” From Forest Service Manual - Recreation, Wilderness and Related Resource Management, Chapter 2370, Special Designations - Definition of a National Recreation Area.

Two areas have been classified by Congress as National Recreation Areas (NRA). The Rattlesnake NRA, located adjacent to Missoula, Montana, on the Lolo National Forest is easily accessed and provides good hiking, backpacking, and horseback riding opportunities. The Seven Devils area of the Hells Canyon NRA is on the Nez Perce National Forest. Other portions of the Hells Canyon NRA are located on the Payette National Forest in Idaho and the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest in Oregon. Recreation information is best obtained from the Hells Canyon NRA in Lewiston, Idaho.

History and Cultural Resources 

Cultural resources are the collective evidence of past human activities and accomplishments, and include prehistoric and historic locations, structures, buildings, features, and objects with scientific, historic, and cultural value. They are protected for the inspiration and benefit of present and future generations.