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Photo by U.S. Forest Service

Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests

Welcome to the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests - 4.0 million acres of beautiful and diverse land, located in north-central Idaho. From the dry, rugged canyons of the Salmon River to the moist cedar forests of the Selway drainage to the rolling uplands of the Palouse, the forest offers something for everyone.

This vast, diverse area is managed to provide a variety of goods and services including breathtaking scenery, wilderness, wildlife, fisheries, timber harvest, livestock grazing, mining, pristine water quality and a wide array of recreation opportunities.

The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests is best known for its wild character. Nearly half of the forest is designated Wilderness. They also sport three rivers popular with thrill-seeking floaters—the Selway, the Lochsa and the Salmon.

Behind the Name

The Forest was the traditional home of the Ni Mii Puu (The People). The Ni Mii Puu were later named the Nez Perce Indians by the Lewis and Clark expeditions. We are proud of this name and the rich heritage it represents. Therefore, to show respect to the Nez Perce Tribe, the name Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests was chosen when the forests administratively combined in 2012.

Historical Places

The Lolo visitor center at the top of Lolo Pass serves as one of the many historical landmarks off Highway 12, the Lewis & Clark highway. Winter season on the pass is quite busy, too, as it serves as a major trail head for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. The visitor center sells parking permits and carries maps and winter usage information for visitors. It is open from December 1 through March, Friday - Monday, 9:00am - 4:00pm.

Lewis and Clark

In 1805 Lewis and Clark followed the Lolo Trail through the mountains of Idaho and Montana. This rugged path had been carved over the centuries by indigenous peoples traveling to hunting areas and to trade with neighboring tribes. Known locally as the "Lolo Motorway," the Lolo Trail National Historic Landmark is still traveled by adventurous explorers and is still sacred to the Ni Mii Puu (Nez Perce Indians).




Nearest Large Urban Area:

Coeur d'Alene

Notes & Conditions:

Be sure to check forest conditions before heading out.

If you're an off-highway vehicle rider, please read this information page.

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.


Visit the U.S. Forest Service Map Directory to see what maps are available for this Forest and others you may want to visit.

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