Sawtooth National Recreation Area

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Sawtooth National Recreation Area
IUCN category V (protected landscape/seascape)
Stanley Lake.JPG
Stanley Lake in Sawtooth National Recreation Area
Map showing the location of Sawtooth National Recreation Area
Map showing the location of Sawtooth National Recreation Area
Location Idaho, USA
Nearest city Ketchum, Idaho
Coordinates 44°N 115°W / 44°N 115°W / 44; -115Coordinates: 44°N 115°W / 44°N 115°W / 44; -115
Area 778,000 acres (3,148.45 km2)
Established 1972 (1972)
Governing body U.S. Forest Service

The Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA) is a National Recreation Area located in central Idaho, within the Boise, Challis, and Sawtooth National Forests. The recreation area was established in 1972,[1] is managed by the U.S. Forest Service, and includes the Sawtooth Wilderness. Activities within the roughly 778,000-acre (3,150 km2) recreation area include hiking, backpacking, White water rafting, camping, rock climbing, kayaking, mountain biking, fishing, and hunting.

The SNRA headquarters are about seven miles (11 km) north of Ketchum on Highway 75, and the SNRA also has a ranger station in Stanley, near its northern boundary.


Sawtooth Mountains

Much of the SNRA was heavily glaciated, especially in the Sawtooth Mountains where remnants of these glaciers exist as glacial lakes, moraines, hanging valleys, cirques, and arêtes. The Sawtooth Fault stretches 40 mi (64 km) long, and runs through the Sawtooth Valley, while the two past large earthquakes likely took place on the fault around 7,000 and 4,000 years b.p.[2][3]


Idaho's most famous mountain range, the Sawtooth Mountains are located within the SNRA, along with the White Cloud, Boulder, and Smoky mountains.[4] The highest point in the SNRA is Castle Peak at 11,815 ft (3,601 m) in the White Cloud Mountains, while the second highest point is Ryan Peak at 11,714 ft (3,570 m) in the Boulder Mountains. However, 10,751 ft (3,277 m) Thompson Peak, the highest point in the Sawtooth Mountains, is perhaps the most popular summit to hike to.


The headwaters of the Salmon River, also known as the "River of No Return" are in the SNRA, and the river flows north through the Sawtooth Valley before turning east in Stanley and following the northern border of the SNRA. The headwaters of the Big Wood, Boise, and Payette rivers are also in SNRA.


There are hundreds of lakes in the SNRA, most of which have been created by alpine glaciers. The largest lakes are Redfish Lake, Alturas Lake, Pettit Lake, Yellow Belly Lake, Stanley Lake, and Sawtooth Lake.


Gray wolves were reintroduced in the 1990s and plans to reintroduce grizzly bears have been abandoned. The SNRA contains prime habitat for wolverines and the endangered Canada lynx, but no recent sightings have been reported. Bull trout are the management indicator species for the SNRA and population monitoring efforts are undertaken every year.

Popular culture[edit]

Sawtooth National Recreation Area license plate

A 2003 memoir by John Rember, Traplines: Coming Home to the Sawtooth Valley, describes the life and culture of Stanley, Idaho before and after establishment of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.[5]

Clint Eastwood's 1985 film Pale Rider was filmed in the SNRA, mostly in the Boulder Mountains in the fall of 1984. The opening credits scene was shot south of Stanley in front of the Sawtooth Mountains.[6]

This national recreation area is one of the settings of the 2010 3-D computer animated comedy drama film Alpha and Omega.[7]

The Idaho Department of Motor Vehicles also created a license plate depicting the SNRA (see right).


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ewert, Sara E. Dant. “Peak Park Politics: The Struggle over the Sawtooths, from Borah to Church.” Pacific Northwest Quarterly (Summer 2000): 138-149.
  2. ^ US & Canada, BBC News (18 November 2010). "Scientists find new seismic fault in Rocky Mountains". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 20 November 2010. 
  3. ^ Wall, Tim (November 19, 2010). "Large Seismic Fault Found in the Rockies". Discovery News. Retrieved 20 November 2010. 
  4. ^ Sawtooth National Forest. “Sawtooth National Forest” [map].1:126,720, 1”=2 miles. Twin Falls, Idaho: Sawtooth National Forest, United States Forest Service, 1998.
  5. ^ Rember, John (2003). Traplines: Coming Home to Sawtooth Valley (1st Pantheon ed.). New York: Pantheon Books. ISBN 0375422072. OCLC 50604950. 
  6. ^ "Pale Rider". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2012-01-15. 
  7. ^ "Film Review: Alpha and Omega". Film Journal International. Retrieved 2012-01-16. 

External links[edit]