Top Place: Payette National Forest

Meadow above Boulder Lake in Payette National Forest
Miguel Vieira-Flickr
The Payette National Forest is an extremely diverse wildland that contains meadows, mountains, desert plains and river canyons.

Experience the Payette National Forest

Idaho's Payette National Forest is Salmon River country. Its lands remain full of roadless areas, wilderness, wildlife habitat and unparalleled recreation.

About a third of the Payette’s 2.3 million acres are part of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. This includes most of the canyon carved by the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.

What is the best thing about Payette National Forest?

Access to the Salmon River.

The South Fork of the Salmon River remains the most productive Chinook salmon spawning ground in the lower 48 states. 

More than 25 miles of road follow the South Fork before it disappears through a vast roadless area in its final descent toward the mighty Main Salmon River.

For lands this wild, the access doesn’t come any easier.

What’s one activity the Payette National Forest is known for?

Whitewater adventure.

A multi-day wilderness float down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River carries you past grazing bighorn sheep and great chasms of rock.

Interested in wild adventures? Get insider tips.

What’s one way The Wilderness Society is working to protect the Payette National Forest?

We work with the Forest Service to see that the agency’s green budget, which includes funds for tree planting and other restoration work, is spent on forest stewardship.

Green budget projects include:

  • Eliminating unnecessary roads and culverts that damage wildlife habitat
  • Expanding salmon spawning grounds
  • Improving habitat for elk and moose

Learn more about our work in the Payette National Forest.

Helpful links

  • Forest Service:

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