Payette National Forest, Idaho

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Payette National Forest

While you’re visiting McCall, take some time to explore the beautiful Payette National Forest with its towering mountain peaks, crystal blue alpine lakes, and winding rivers. Read More

  • 2100 miles of trails to enjoy hiking, biking, backpacking, or horseback riding.
  • 4000 miles of waterways and 400 lakes and reservoirs make it a haven for fishing.
  • Located between spectacular Hells Canyon and Frank Church Wilderness.
  • Plenty of recreational opportunities all year round.

Overview

One of Idaho’s most beautiful areas is the Payette National Forest. It is comprised of over 2.3 million acres of lush forest, majestic mountains, winding rivers, sparkling lakes, and arid desert grasslands. Located in west central Idaho, the vast Frank Church Wilderness lies to the east, and the magnificent Hells Canyon to the west. A popular vacation destination, Payette National Forest offers an abundance of outdoor enjoyment and recreational fun including skiing, fishing, hiking, camping, biking, hunting, and whitewater rafting.

Location & Information

With its headquarters in McCall, the Payette National Forest, Idaho, is located in the west central part of the state. The area offers access and recreational opportunities year round.

Contact information:
Payette National Forest
800 West Lakeside Avenue
McCall, Idaho 83638
Phone: (208) 634-0400
Visit the website here.

Activities

Fishing and Whitewater Rafting
Fishing here is excellent, with an abundance of fish-bearing lakes, reservoirs, rivers and streams. The rivers also offer excellent whitewater rapids for kayaking and rafting.

Hiking and Camping
Payette National Forest has numerous campgrounds and over 2,100 miles of trails for hikers, backpackers, horseback riders, and campers to explore. If you want to get away from it all, this is the perfect place.

Wildlife Viewing
Boasting a diverse landscape, this area has a huge array of splendid wildlife. Over 300 different species of animals and birds make their home here, including bighorn sheep, mountain goats, marmots, moose, deer, bears, picas, and river otters. Birdwatchers will especially enjoy sightings of osprey, bald eagles, red tail hawks, and boreal owls.

Frank Church Wilderness and Hells Canyon
Located to the east and west of the forest, respectively, these are definitely worth taking the time to explore. Hells Canyon is the deepest canyon in North America and offers an abundance of recreational opportunities and phenomenal scenery. Frank Church Wilderness is the second largest designated wilderness area in the lower 48 states.

Fun Facts

  • The forest has 4000 miles of waterways for fishing, and approximately 400 reservoirs and lakes, making it a paradise for anglers.
  • The highest peaks in the forest reach 9500 feet.
  • Depending on the elevation, you will find Douglas fir, Ponderosa pine, western larch, lodgepole pine, whitebark pine, subalpine fir, grand fir, and Englemann spruce.

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