North Idaho is a lush, green landscape far different from the rest of the mostly arid Rocky Mountains. Here the creeks are fern-lined and the mountains are timbered with Western white pine and giant Western red cedar. Three major lakes dominate the landscape. Lake Pend Oreille, 65 miles long, is one of the largest natural lakes in the West. Remote, mostly undeveloped Priest Lake is edged in spruce and hemlock. Lake Coeur d'Alene is the beautiful companion to the resort village of the same name. The region is further dotted by dozens of smaller lakes, including Twin Lakes, Spirit Lake, Hauser Lake, Fernan Lake, Cocolalla Lake, Rose Lake and Hayden Lake. Connecting them are rivers such as the secluded Moyie and the wild and scenic St. Joe. All this water sits among scenic hills and mountains. The granite peaks of the Selkirk Mountains shelter an endangered caribou herd. The Cabinet, Purcell, Coeur d'Alene and St. Joe Mountains and the Panhandle National Forests are home to elk, deer, and bear, including the rare grizzly. Outfitted trips of all kinds are offered in this region.
At Idaho's heart are five federally protected Wilderness areas, where no cars and few people go. Fish and wildlife thrive here. And the outfitted trips are memorable. The Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness is the largest wilderness in the lower 48 states. It is named for the Salmon "River of No Return," the longest undammed river in a single continental state. The Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, on the Idaho\Montana border, is nearly as huge and even more remote. Add the Gospel Hump Wilderness to this area along with the backcountry in the Clearwater, Nez Perce and Salmon Forests and the Lemhi and Lost River Mountains, and the total is more than 4 million acres untouched by civilization. The Nez Perce Indians have inhabited this region for 11,000 years. Lewis and Clark came through here on their historic exploration, crossing the Continental Divide. This area also includes the Hells Canyon Wilderness and National Recreation Area on the Idaho/Oregon border. Hells Canyon is the deepest canyon in North America--deeper than the Grand Canyon. The Seven Devils Mountains stand up to 9,000 feet above it on the Idaho side. The 10,000-foot serrated mountain peaks of the Sawtooth Wilderness and National Recreation Area are often compared to the Swiss Alps. Nearby are the beautiful Boulder, Pioneer, and White Cloud Mountains including 12,662-foot Mt. Borah, the highest peak in the state. Volcanoes formed the lava fields and formations at Craters of the Moon National Monument.
The mighty Snake River cuts dramatic canyonlands and creates unique ecosystems in southern Idaho. The river begins near Yellowstone and Teton National Parks. The Henry's Fork of the Snake River cuts a beautiful meandering path through the Targhee Forest, Harriman State Park and the Island Park area in this region. It joins the South Fork of the Snake River and continues across the southern part of the state. Pioneers often followed the Snake River while traveling West on The Oregon Trail more than 150 years ago. The pioneers carved their names in the pinnacles of the City of Rocks National Reserve. To the south is the Bear Lake recreation area, with its shoreline of juniper and pine. Moving west along the volcanic Snake River plain are the Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument and nearby Shoshone Falls, a waterfall higher than Niagara. The Snake River Birds of Prey Area protects the largest population of nesting eagles, hawks and falcons in the country. Across the sagebrush flats are three hidden rivers, the Owyhee, Bruneau and Jarbidge Rivers. The Boise and Payette National Forests edge the capital city of Boise. To the north is more outfitter country around the mountain resort town of McCall and Ponderosa State Park.