Payette

The Payette National Forest spans 2.3 million acres of some of west-central Idaho's most beautiful and diverse country. In one day you can travel from hot desert grasslands through cool conifer forests to snow-capped peaks.

The Payette National Forest offers the visitor over 2.3 million acres to enjoy. Everything from the deep recesses of Hell's Canyon to peaks reaching elevations of almost 9,500 feet - the ecology of the Payette is fascinating.

Dry desert grasslands compliment heavily forested acres. Gateways to the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness lead the visitor to experience the solitude of seldom traveled trails.

So much to do
Come visit the Payette National Forest spring, summer, autumn, or winter as a wide range of recreational activities abound during any of the four seasons: hiking, fishing, camping, hunting, skiing, snowmobiling. You can find a spot on the forest to indulge your recreational interest.

The Payette's five Ranger Districts offer a variety of camping opportunities. Deep, low-elevation canyons and high peaks can keep the more adventurous camping almost year round. Campground information is divided by ranger district. The Payette also has numerous trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and motorized use.

Fishing opportunities abound on the Payette. Is your preference for rivers or do you prefer a hike up to a high elevation lake? Or is it steelhead season on the Salmon River along the forest's northern boundary or fishing for trout in the high mountain lakes?

For wildlife watchers, more than 300 different species of wildlife make their home on the Payette National Forest. Some are common and easily spotted from roads and trails, while others are more reclusive and require perseverance to see.

Map:


Payette statistics

State(s):
Idaho

Nearest large Urban Area:
Lewiston

Notes & Conditions:
Research campground locations and amenities at the U.S. National Forest Campground Directory. The Web site is full of pictures and detailed descriptions to help you plan your next trip.

If you want to experience a guided recreation trip in a National Forest, visit Adventure Vacation to learn about whitewater rafting, canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding, camping, hiking and fishing trips.

Neighboring National Forests
Adjacent to the Payette is the Boise National Forest, the Salmon-Challis, the Nez Perce and the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area on the Snake River. The canyon is the deepest river gorge in North America. Stand on the canyons east rim and in some places you gaze down 8,000 feet to the Snake River that carved this canyon. Gaze across the ten mile wide chasm into the neighboring state of Oregon.

Permits, passes, fees:
The Visit Idaho Playgrounds (VIP) Pass is valid at more than 100 sites throughout Idaho that currently charge day-use or entry fees. These include sites managed by state and federal agencies. Passes currently may be purchased via the web at www.idahorec.org or by phone at 1-800-VISIT-ID

Maps:
Visit the National Forest Store to see what maps are available for this Forest and others you may want to visit.

First-timer's adventure:
Hike to a lake
To reach the trailhead for Louie Lake, turn east off Highway 55 at the Elo (Farm-to-Market) Road. Stay on this road until you see a sign for Boulder Lake and turn east again. The Louie Lake trailhead is about 4 miles up the road on the right just before the Boulder Meadows Reservoir.

Walk through the trees to Boulder Creek which is crossed on logs. The trail then climbs 300 feet through huckleberry bushes to intersect with the Louie Lake jeep trail at 0.5 mile. Louie Lake is 1 mile further up the trail. Although the trail is a pretty steady uphill walk it is an easily followed trail and does afford some good views of Long Valley far below and some excellent picture taking.

Louie is a beautiful deep-blue lake with the grey cliffs of Jughandle Mountain overlooking it. The lake contains two small granite islands. The truly ambitious can take off around the southeastern part of the lake to climb Jughandle Mountain itself.

Contact Info:
PO Box 1026
800 West Lakeside Ave
McCall, ID 83638

(208) 634-0700

Forest Service website >>

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