Caribou-Targhee National Forest

 (Targhee National Forest)

Targhee National Forest is a land of impressive natural diversity, to be sure, but it also features several intriguing man-made highlights, making a visit to the Forest all the more fascinating. For example, in the Dubois Ranger District, you can visit an opal mine, located three miles east of Spencer, Idaho. In addition, history buffs will find fascinating the Old Nicholia Mine in Smelter Canyon, northeast of State Highway 28. This attraction, along with the Birch Creek area charcoal kilns originally used to supply the mine, provide a glimpse into important local sources of income in 19th century Idaho.

The Johnny Sack Cabin with its quaint waterwheel, is an interesting visitor center and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It is located in the Island Park Ranger District at Big Springs and is open July 4 through Labor Day.

Other park highlights are listed below, by Ranger District.

Island Park Ranger District

Big Springs National Recreation Water Trail. A popular float trip of two to four hours. The water flows gently between shores lined with trees and shrubs, past marshy islands, where many kinds of birds and wildlife may be seen. A dock is available 0.75 mile below Big Springs and fishing is allowed starting at Henry's Lake Outlet.

Big Springs. Unique springs are found in the headwaters of Henry's Fork of the Snake River; rainbow trout can be seen year-round. Located five miles east of Macks Inn. Constant temperature of 52 degrees; constant flow of 186 cubic feet per second. Fishing is closed in this area to protect the fisheries.

Centennial Mountains. Scenic mountain range, part of the Continental Divide.

Howard Springs. The springs are named for General Howard who passed them during his pursuit of Chief Joseph following the Nez Perce uprising of 1877. This is a day-use picnic area.

Island Park Reservoir. Kokanee salmon spawn in streams above the Reservoir. They migrate to the lake where they live for three to five years, then return to their original stream in September to spawn. At this time, they turn bright red and the males become humpbacked with hooked noses. The dam, built in 1937, is earth-filled, 91 feet high, and 1,250 feet long.

Sawtell Peak. View the entire Island Park area from this site of a Federal Aviation Agency radar installation. Located 11 miles off US Highway 20, with easy access to top of Forest Road 024. The road is steep and winding above tree line, and is open June 1 to November 1, snow conditions permitting.

Two Top. One of the most spectacular winter scenic areas in the National Forest system, a snowmobiler's delight. Site of a National Recreation Snowmobile Trail.

Lucky Dog Ski Trail. Twenty-two miles of privately-operated trails that range from easy to difficult. Trailhead at the end of South Big Springs Road.

Harriman State Park Ski Trails. Twenty miles of state-owned trails that range from easy to difficult. Trailheads are within the Park.

Ashton Ranger District

Cave Falls. Located in Yellowstone National Park on Cave Falls Road (582), 26 miles from Ashton. A cave at east end of the Falls gives the area its name.

Jedediah Smith Wilderness. Adjacent to Grand Teton National Park.

Lake of the Woods. A 200-acre lake in a wooded area. Accessible from the Ashton-Flagg Ranch Road (261), 38 miles from Ashton. No boat trailer access. Four-wheel drive permitted from July 25 to September 30.

Loon Lake. A home to the duck-like common loon. Accessible from the Ashton-Flagg Ranch Road (261).

Mesa Falls. Approximately 14 miles northeast of Ashton are Upper and Lower Mesa Falls. Lower Mesa Falls is 65 feet high and Upper Mesa Falls is 114 feet high. Accessible from Mesa Falls Scenic Byway (294).

Grassy Lake. A 320-acre lake located 41 miles east of Ashton with year-long fishing. Accessible by the Ashton-Flagg Ranch Road (251).

Warm River Springs. Four miles east of Mesa Falls Scenic Byway (Forest Roads 150 & 154). Spring feeds into Warm River.

Winegar Hole Wilderness. Adjacent to Yellowstone National Park—prime grizzly habitat. Campers should take extra safety precautions in this area. Brochures about how to camp in grizzly country are available at all Targhee offices. This wilderness is 90 percent trailless.

Sheep Falls. Three miles east of Highway 20 on Forest Road 163. It is a 1.5-mile hike to the Falls.

Palisades Ranger District

Bear Creek. A good summer drive for viewing outstanding scenery. Parts of the road are narrow and rocky. Caution should be used when traveling. Trailer traffic is not recommended on Jensen Creek Loop Road from Bear Creek to McCoy.

Fall Creek. Travertine deposits a mile up the canyon graphically portray the massive geological activity that took place millions of years ago. Fall Creek Falls spill from a height of 60 feet into the Snake River over an outcropping of travertine. No developed viewing points. Located off State Highway 26 on Snake River, Palisades Dam Road.

Palisades Reservoir. This area offers a beautiful drive, boating, fishing, and observation point from which to view the lake, dam, spillway, and powerhouse.

Skyline Road. Provides a scenic summer drive from Fall Creek to the Brockman area with a view of the Snake River Mountains and the Tetons. Pickup or four-wheel drive vehicles recommended.

Travertine Springs. A lukewarm sulphur spring located three miles up Fall Creek above Fall Creek Falls.

Upper Palisades Lake. A beautiful high mountain lake worth the seven-mile hike up Palisades Creek east of State Highway 26. Offers good fishing. Closed to all motorized vehicle use.

Waterfall Canyon. Scenic waterfall located three miles from Upper Palisades Lake in Waterfall Canyon will make the hike worthwhile. Closed to all motorized vehicle use.

Teton Basin Ranger District

Jedediah Smith Wilderness. The Jedediah Smith Wilderness Area traverses the upper portions of the west slopes of the Teton Mountain Range. Terrain varies from rough, rugged slopes and peaks to gentle benches. Accessibility varies from easy to difficult.

Alaska Basin. An alpine area accessible by horse or foot trails. Very heavily used. Because excessive resource damage could occur, open fires and overnight use by stock or by outfitter or guide parties are prohibited.

Fox Creek Pass. Closed to open fires. Very scenic.

Granite Basin Lakes. Very scenic area accessible by horse or foot trail. Heavily used.

Green Lakes. Good view of the Teton Mountains. Heavily used.

Moose Falls. Cascading Moose Falls in Moose Canyon attracts hikers to this area. Fishing is good. Accessible by foot or horse trails; moderately used.

South Fork Darby Canyon. Scenic area accessible by foot or horse trail; heavily used. A wind cave along the trail is an added attraction.

Harrop's Hill Turnout. Beautiful view of Teton Peaks and Teton Valley. On State Highway 33 about 5 miles west of Tetonia.

Grandview Point. View of Teton Peaks, Teton Valley, as well as Rexburg and St. Anthony toward the Lost River Range.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 12 Jul 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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