Central Idaho

Description of Central Idaho-  Most of Idaho’s human population lives in the eastern, southern, and northern part of the state. Central Idaho is a mass of mountains, one ridge after another. Parts of these mountains have been given various names, such as the “Lick Creek Mountains” or the “Bighorn Crags., but they are more generally just called the “Salmon River Mountains;” and more to the  north, for no geological reason, they are called the “Clearwater Mountains”.

There are no cities in central Idaho. A few towns such as Salmon, Challis, Stanley, Grangeville, and Riggins are on the edges. Inside the mountains, there are just a few small places of habitation such as Shoup, Yellowpine, Dixie, and Elk City.

Central Idaho in the headwaters of the Yankee Fork. Copyright Ralph Maughan

Central Idaho in the headwaters of the Yankee Fork. Copyright Ralph Maughan

Unlike the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, there are no paved highways, few farms or ranches, and little livestock grazing in most of the core area. There are few flat spots except the narrow canyon bottoms, and a few mountain valleys and plateaus such as the Sawtooth Valley and the Chamberlain Basin.

A good portion of central Idaho is protected within the Frank Church, Selway/Bitterroot, Sawtooth, and Gospel Hump Wilderness areas. There are many more smaller, and unprotected, roadless areas (on the order of 50 or 100-thousand acres each).  The areas that do have roads were developed mostly for timbering and mining, and have few permanent residents. Central Idaho has proven to be excellent wolf country, and due to its primitive nature there have been fewer human-caused wolf deaths and livestock depredations.

Idaho Fish and Game has declared war on the wolves in the upper Selway area due to their perception of too many eaten elk.


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October 2023


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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