Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests, Idaho

Photo by Zachary Collier

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Much of the West is wild, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a wilder expanse than what exists in the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests, which covers a solid portion of northern Idaho at some 4 million acres.

It’s partly home to the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, which is also in Montana. Lewis and Clark followed the Lolo Trail of the Nez Perce Indians through this area. The 120-mile trek across the Bitterroot Mountains was said to be among the most difficult on their route. In fact, Clark wrote: “I have been wet and as cold in every part as I ever was in my life.”

An area that bleeds into Oregon on the west side of the state is Hells Canyon Wilderness, with the Seven Devils mountain range. There are actually quite a few more than seven peaks, topping out at roughly 9,300 feet with He Devil and She Devil, named from Nez Perce mythology.

Another prominent area is the Gospel-Hump Wilderness. It’s 206,053 acres of undeveloped federal land with a majorly diverse landscape. The northern half is mostly wet and heavily forested while the southern part is dry and open. 

For raft or canoe trips along the Salmon River, check out the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. It’s the second-largest wilderness area in the National Wilderness Preservation System at 2.4 million acres.

Visit for more information on lands in and around the sprawling Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests.