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Sawtooth Wilderness

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A small stream flowing through a large grassy plain, stretching off to the forest in the distance. Rugged snowcapped mountains rise beyond, drenched in the final golden rays of evening light.
Library image #2942: Sunset on the Sawtooth Range.


The United States Congress designated the Sawtooth Wilderness (map) in 1972 and it now has a total of 217,511 acres. All of this wilderness is located in Idaho and is managed by the Forest Service.


The Sawtooth Mountains have long been recognized for their exceptional beauty and wild qualities. As the name suggests, this spectacular wilderness is comprised of hundreds of jagged peaks, 42 over 10,000 feet in height, with hundreds of high alpine lakes and tranquil basins. Within this dazzling landscape with its endless recreation possibilities, lie the headwaters of three major rivers. Deep, secluded valleys provide habitat for an abundant population of wildlife and many species of fish. Designated a Mandatory Class I air quality area by the 1977 Clean Air Act, the Sawtooth Wilderness has the clearest air in the continental United States. Many visitors come for the outstanding scenery, trout fishing, mountain climbing, hunting, hiking, horse packing and camping. Forty-two Wilderness trails cover about 270 miles. Some remarkable regions of the Wilderness are only accessible by off-trail route finding. Open fires are not permitted in some high-use regions, and group size is limited in the area to help stem the tide of human impact. On any given night, temperatures might drop to freezing, and in summer the mosquitoes have been known to provoke visitors.

Planning to Visit the Sawtooth Wilderness?

Leave No Trace

How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Sawtooth Wilderness.
  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
For more information on Leave No Trace, Visit the Leave No Trace, Inc. website.

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