BLM Idaho's Super 75 Challenge
Happy Birthday to … well, us!
This year marks the Bureau of Land Management’s 75th birthday, and with 12 million acres in Idaho alone, you can find great spots to visit and understand better the many uses of your public land including recreation, mining, wildlife habitat, livestock grazing, forest management and a storehouse for cultural history. Learn more about BLM's history here!
What better way to celebrate #YourPublicLands than by tapping 75 of the best places and tossing out the challenge for you to go find as many as you can, explore them, enjoy them, learn about Idaho, and take a few dozen selfies to share with your thousand closest friends? Get off your couch and get outside!
Ready to accept the Challenge? Let's get started!
#KnowBeforeYouGo Click the links below for locations, directions and additional information about each site or activity. And don't forget to download the BLM Idaho Super 75 Challenge Guide and Checklist to take with you!
When you complete all the challenges within any of our four BLM Idaho Districts, let us know! We’ll send you a nice certificate. If you complete all 75 challenges, we’ll get a really nice certificate to you, the kind you may want to hang over your fireplace and leave to a close family member in your will!
If your mobility is limited, or you’re tired of traveling, no need to fret. At the end of each BLM District’s list of places to visit, we’ve included a few “Armchair Adventures,” which won’t require you to leave home.
We want to tag along on your adventure. Tag us @BLMIdaho on Facebook and Twitter, and don’t forget to use #PublicLands75!
Need more info? Give us a call!
Idaho State Office: 208-373-4000
Boise District: 208-384-3300
Coeur d'Alene District: 208-769-5000
Idaho Falls District: 208-524-7500
Twin Falls District: 208-735-2060
- Boise District - BIG CANYONS, BIG CLIFFS, WILD WATERS AND WILD BIRDS
Wild horses twenty minutes south of downtown Boise? C’mon, pardner! The 101,000 square feet of the Boise Wild Horse Corrals are a temporary home for wild horses gathered from the rangeland and waiting for adoption. Catch the corrals at the right time, and you may get a bonus – wild burros occasionally spend time there, too.
You can imagine the sigh of relief when U.S. Army Captain Benjamin Bonneville reached a small knoll in 1833 and spotted trees in the river valley that French fur trappers named “Les Bois.” A kiosk and interpretive signs tell the story at this easily accessible piece of Idaho history. Oregon Trail ruts and a mountain-bike path to Lucky Peak Reservoir are a hop and skip away.
Canyon Creek Stage Station is one of just two stage stops remaining on The Oregon Trail. Built of local basalt stone in 1874 by homesteader Archibald Daniel, visitors today can stand in the shade of stone buildings, and with a little imagination, hear the creaks and groans of pioneer and freight wagons rumbling their way west. Go see it for yourself at 6870 Mayfield Road, Mountain Home, ID 83647.
Idaho’s first and only archaeological park! Rock carvings, or petroglyphs, date from 100 to 10,000 years ago. Celebration Park also serves as a hub for a web of trails that lead farther into the Snake River Canyon. You can stroll across 124-year old Guffey Railroad Bridge, or hike to Halvorsen Lake, picnic, fish, and walk through the truck-sized boulders left behind by the prehistoric Bonneville flood.
Crags and crevices, the deep canyon of the Snake River, shimmering thermal updrafts, and a broad plateau rich in small wildlife provide habitat for one of the highest concentrations of nesting raptors in North America. Experience the sights from an observation point 400 feet above the canyon floor. Spring is the best time of the year to take in one of Nature’s finest shows.
Need to get back to nature – in a hurry? In Southwest Idaho, one of the best escapes is Hulls Gulch Interpretive Trail, part of the expansive trails system in the Boise Foothills. The pedestrian-only trail is 3.0 miles long but a world away from the bright lights and traffic of downtown Boise. You’ll be surprised at how little you need to travel to go so far.
Yep, this is where so much began. Initial Point is the starting spot for mapping in Idaho, extending pretty much right down to the street you live on. It’s located 20 miles south of Meridian and is one of three-dozen federal survey points of origin in the country. A quick, easy out-and-back trail gets you to the rock platform marking the spot.
What’s better than a waterfall? A waterfall in the desert, of course. That sums up this pretty, surprise-of-an-oasis, dropping roughly 50 feet near cliffs at the base of the Owyhee Mountains. It’s just right for a family day trip in early summer.
You’ve been in the neighborhood, now that you’ve found Dedication Point, so let’s include the entire NCA in our BLM Super 75. The NCA is 81 miles long and encompasses 485,000 acres. Roughly 800 pairs of raptors – eagles, hawks, owls and falcons – come to the area every spring for mating season, drawn by the thermal currents, craggy cliff habitat, and the smorgasbord of small mammals that inhabit the nearby plain.
The Owyhee Mountains are highly visible yet barely known by most southwestern Idahoans. If you want to get better acquainted with this vast area of desert rivers and canyons, stunning sagebrush-and-mahogany vistas, and rimrock bluffs, take a day and explore what’s almost in your backyard. It’s high desert country at its finest – stark and spectacular, lush and lonely, close at hand, yet so far away.
The Payette is a premier river for whitewater enthusiasts from the beginner’s level to those who drool at the prospect of sitting in a kayak above a Class V rapid. Camping, swimming and fishing are among the other things-to-do along the river and its tributaries. BLM manages a half-dozen recreation sites along the river. Count on this: With the Payette’s annual flow averaging 100 billion cubic feet of water, you’re going to get soaked!
We promised some hidden gems, and Perjue Canyon helps square that account. An eight-mile trail leads to this slot canyon, which is next to the Little Jacks Creek Wilderness. It’s a desert mirage come true – you’re hiking in a hot upland desert, gassed and thirsty, and two minutes later, you toss off your boots and dip your feet in a cool, gurgling creek. Too good!
High in the Owyhee Mountains, Silver City is a ghost town – but one that is still alive, thanks to recent restoration work and a few hardy souls who live there year-round. In its heyday, Silver City was a classic boom-or-bust mining town, featuring more than 300 homes, 75 businesses (including six general stores, two hotels and eight saloons … hey, miners get thirsty) and was home to Idaho’s first newspaper. Mining still a big part of the local Owyhee economy. BLM maintains a small campground near the town.
Even with space-age technology, wildfires sometimes are best discovered the old-fashioned way: sharp eyes peering through binoculars by someone in a lookout. Perched at an elevation of 7,801 feet in the Owyhee Mountains, this two-story, concrete fire lookout is still valuable for spotting that first wisp of smoke rising from below.
Located at the south end of the 56-mile long Brownlee Reservoir on the Idaho and Oregon Border, Steck Park caters to people who love to hunt, take their four-wheeler for a spin, and most of all, fish. Anglers say that warm-water fishing here for smallmouth bass, crappie and catfish is the best in two states. Just a fishing tale? Find out for yourself!
Boise District Armchair Adventures
“Feathers and Frontiers,” takes us on a deeper dive into the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area. Let’s face it. A few sentences earlier in this brochure barely scratch the surface of this Idaho treasure. (41:00)
Just across the street from the Boise District office is the National Interagency Fire Center, home to the Wildland Firefighters’ Monument. See what has been done to remember those who contributed so much to managing wildfire. (1:45)
People making a difference. That sums up the work of 20 volunteers planting bitterbrush to help restore natural vegetation after the 2013 Pony Fire burned 200,000 acres in the Danskin Mountains. (2:26)
- Coeur d'Alene District - ALPINE LAKES AND BAYS, COOL DIGS AND RAGING WATERS
A small picnic area, a short trail, and big-vista views are featured at the aptly named Beauty Bay site.
Want to make a splash? Blackwell Island provides access to Coeur d’Alene Lake and the Spokane River. Bonus points: It hosts a garden of Idaho native plants, has both group and individual picnic sites and a very cool quarter-mile elevated boardwalk.
A forest. Tucked next to a pretty bay. Add in hiking, biking, horseback riding ,fishing, boating and a bit of Idaho history, and you’ve come across one of the Gem State’s gems.
Layers of history! About 16,000 years ago, humans along the Lower Salmon River in western Idaho were making tools, hunting and fishing, kicking back and calling the place home. The Cooper’s Ferry Interpretive Site provided evidence in the form of projectile points, fire hearths, animal bones, and other artifacts. Although the site is no longer active and is covered, kiosks help tell the story of the oldest inhabited area in North America. BLM’s Pine Bar recreation site is nearby. The Cooper's Ferry site is located above the confluence of Rock Creek and the lower Salmon River approximately 10 miles south of Cottonwood, just before the Pine Bar recreation area.
This is a moderate 2.8 mile, out-and-back, lightly used, high-elevation trail that leads to (you guessed it) the very scenic Crystal Lake. It’s roughly a mile high in elevation, so keep an eye on the weather, which can be fickle.
Few sights in nature get hearts thumping faster than the magnificent aerial displays of bald eagles at Lake Coeur d’Alene. From November into February, bald eagles make the lakeside their home, diving to the water and feasting on spawning kokanee salmon. Since 1974, BLM designates one weekend in the winter for the public to count the birds. Keep your eyes on our website and social media accounts for specific dates.
It’s not as big and not as deep as its better-known neighbors, which may be part of Gamlin Lake’s charm. Almost four miles long, the easy hiking and biking trail to this little lake winds through a cozy forest canopy. You may see moose or osprey along the way, and remember to take your fishing rod – bass, perch and crappie thrive in Gamlin Lake.
Location, location, location! That’s what Hammer Creek Recreation Site boasts, with the world-renowned Lower Salmon River a river rock’s toss away. Hammer Creek sits in a semi-arid canyon and is the launch point for rafting, kayaking, jet and power boating excursions. If there’s a little river rat in you, then you’ll feel right at home here. It’s one of several BLM rec sites that provide easy access to the Lower Salmon.
A popular campground smack next to a lazy bend on the St. Joe River, Huckleberry Campground is often used as a hub for other nearby adventures such as fishing and floating, or just leaning back and watching the river (and life) flow by. Thirty-three sites, both for individual camping and groups, include potable water, electricity and picnic tables. And yup, you might find huckleberries nearby at the right time of the year.
This 1.2-mile trail takes you through habitat used by more than 100 bird species. Listen for the calls and chirps as you stride to the top, where you’ll be treated to spectacular views of Coeur d’Alene Lake.
If you’re a bridge fanatic, and we know there are some of you out there, then the Manning Crevice Bridger over the Lower Salmon River is a must-see. The 248-foot bridge was originally constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1934, as one of the few asymmetrical suspension bridges in the world. Judged unsafe a few years back, it was replaced in 2018 by a one-lane bridge that retained most of its original design – right down to using weathered steel to maintain its rustic, and rusty, appearance. The Manning Crevice Bridge carries Salmon River Road across the Salmon River in a picturesque, V-shaped canyon 14 miles upstream from Riggins, Idaho.
Snug against the scenic Clearwater River, and a location visited by Lewis and Clark 215 years ago, McKay’s Bend is a popular place to play and camp. It’s a full-feature recreation site, with RV hookups, group facilities, and for those who like to rough it easy, flush toilets and showers, which Lewis and Clark would have relished. Spend a little time there and you’ll understand why this BLM Super 75 spot receives so many five-star reviews.
A popular 3.3 mile, easy-to-hike trail, Mineral Ridge features postcard views of Idaho at its best. Store up your oohs and ahhs. You’ll need them.
In 1877, about 750 Nez Perce people, under the leadership of Chief Joseph, traveled in a circuitous route through Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming attempting to evade the U.S. Army and prevent relocation to Oklahoma. The Nez Perce, nearing starvation, finally surrendered just short of their destination, the Canadian border. BLM is one of several partner agencies that care for this historic trail.
Pink House is a large, developed recreation site with most of the trimmings – a boat launch, 15 full RV hookups, a group picnic pavilion, drinking water, toilets, a small sandy beach on the Clearwater River, and more. Full disclosure: There is no pink house on the site. At least that we’ve been able to find.
It’s 1910 and a roaring fire is bearing down on Ranger Ed Pulaski and his 44-man crew. He leads them to a mine tunnel and they duck in, and with motivation provided by his revolver, Pulaski holds his panicky crew until the deadly fire passes. Thirty-eight firefighters survive. Relive this riveting story of Idaho history on the four-mile long, moderately difficult interpretive trail.
Imagine this: A blazing summer day in the dry hills of western Idaho. Now envision this: A breezy, shady spot along the Lower Salmon River, featuring a wide, sandy beach. Got the picture? It’s Skookumchuck Recreation Site, and the sound of the river just might be calling your name.
A small, one-of-a-kind boat-in developed campsite, featuring 14 tent units, seven mooring docks, and two floating restrooms.
Coeur d’Alene District Armchair Adventure
A little dirt never hurt … take a video tour of summer at Cooper’s Ferry archaeological site, where archaeologists worked until recently to uncover clues from human life 16,000 years ago. (5:39)
- Idaho Falls District - GEOLOGIC GEMS, HIP HISTORY AND RIVERS RUNNING THROUGH IT
Big Southern Butte is one of the largest volcanic domes in the world, topping out at 7,560 feet. It rises, mirage-like, from the vast Snake River Plain. In its upper reaches, you’ll see small stands of Douglas fir, lodgepole, aspen, and very rare for a desert climate, the brushy, red, manzanita.
Fishing, floating, a few rapids, a diversity of landscapes, and five BLM campgrounds along the Blackfoot provide something for just about anybody in need of a getaway or who enjoys the snap of the line when a fat trout takes the hook.
This family-friendly, 1.1 mile trail features 18 interpretive signs that help explain one of the most varied environments in eastern Idaho. The great views aren’t limited to just the gorgeous scenery along the South Fork of the Snake River; you might see deer, eagles or moose in the right season. Remember, Bullwinkle was the exception – moose can get very cranky around humans.
The Deep Creeks are an unbroken mountain range running 30 miles long in southeastern Idaho; the highest peak juts skyward 8,848 feet. The range is split by several large canyons, Knox being the best-known. Point your vehicle toward the Deep Creeks if you’re in the mood for a long, leisurely and lightly traveled drive to one of Idaho’s better-kept forest and canyon secrets.
You’ll experience exceptional single-track biking and horseback riding through rolling sage-covered hills, just two miles from downtown Salmon, Idaho. Add to the mix jaw-dropping views of the Continental Divide and Salmon River Valley, and it’s a short trip with a lot to take in.
Ever feel like you want to just crawl into a cave? That’s what “Dugout Dick” Zimmerman did for 60 years. While he was never deeded the land, by hand, pick, shovel, wheelbarrow and grit he excavated an extensive cave village, which he called home. And you could join him underground, for $2 a night or $25 a month, which was, of course, more than slightly illegal. Dugout Dick died in 2010 at age the age of 94. From Salmon, Idaho, follow US-93 south for about 19 miles. Just past a small farm on your right and a collection of four white mailboxes there is a right-hand turn-off to a one-lane wooden bridge. Go over the bridge and turn left onto Loening Road. Follow for about half a mile and the site will be on your left, across from the original site of the caves.
The homestead of author Vardis Fisher, the beauty of this site is protected in perpetuity by an agreement with its currents owners and BLM. A visit will quickly reveal where Mr. Fisher likely drew his writing inspiration.
A lava lover’s lab, right off the interstate. The interpretive trail starting near the rest area is less than a mile long, and might be just right for kids on trips who need to get out a few wiggles while picking up a few geologic pointers about the eastern edge of Idaho’s unique basaltic plain.
Jimmy Smith Lake is a rarity. It’s a natural, high-desert, high elevation, 60-acre lake near the White Cloud Mountains and Jim McClure/Jerry Peak Wilderness Area. It’s a short, well maintained trail that will lead you on foot, mountain bike, or horseback to fine fishing for rainbow trout and a front-porch view of some of Idaho’s best backcountry.
You can imagine the thoughts of Meriwether Lewis and his traveling companions (“You’re kidding me, bro!”) when they scaled Lemhi Pass, hoping to see the Pacific Ocean and maybe sitting down to a seafood dinner in a day or two. Instead, more mountains, more rivers, more plains, more berries, roots and beaver tail to eat … and many more miles of travel. Relive the adventure on the 36-mile loop drive managed by BLM and the U.S. Forest Service.
In October 1983, an earthquake measured at a magnitude of 7.3 shook the area around Mt. Borah, leaving a clearly visible fault scarp at the foot of Idaho’s tallest peak. A small earthquake interpretive site near the Mt. Borah Trailhead provides details of the quake that literally moved the mountains.
Petrified redwood and sequoia tree stumps in the arid Idaho mountains? You’re kidding! But that’s what you can see in Malm Gulch, which once boasted a cool, moist climate more like today’s Pacific Coast. It all changed when volcanoes erupted, covering the area with ash, setting in motion the process for petrified trees. From Challis, drive 10 miles south on Highway 75. The Gulch is on the east side of the road.
Time out! We’re going to fudge on this one … you can’t actually visit a phosphate mine, of which there are several in southeastern Idaho, but you may see one as you travel the back roads. Phosphate is used for everything from fertilizer to putting the fizz in your soft drink, from personal care products to computer components. The BLM’s phosphate patch in Idaho accounts for 22% of the national supply and four percent of the world’s reserves. Keep an eye out for them while you're enjoying your public lands in southeast Idaho's Upper Blackfoot River.
Let’s see. More than 10,000 acres of white quartz sand drifted into dunes 400 feet high? Just where are you? The Sahara? Nope. You’re in eastern Idaho, at St. Anthony Sand Dunes, one of the most popular OHV riding spots in the West. Bonus: You won’t glimpse any camels here, but one of Idaho’s largest elk herds lives near the dunes.
Get yourself into some hot water … the good kind! Sharkey Hot Springs features two good-sized soaking pools, two bathrooms, two changing rooms and two barbeques, which all add up to two much fun! Two much fun. Get it?
The South Fork of the Snake River features the largest array of cottonwood trees in the western United States. Yup, that’s a big deal. It’s also blue-ribbon habitat for the Yellowstone cutthroat trout and other fish species. Specially managed to protect its values, the South Fork fits well with its big-name neighbors, the Grand Tetons, Henry’s Fork and Yellowstone.
Lewis and Clark got around! They took note of these “pirimids” in 1805. BLM maintains a three-acre site to preserve this spot’s unique historic and geologic attributes. Scout around and you’ll see the remnants of a homesteader’s apple orchard.
Whitebark pines (Pinus albicaulis) are an amazing part of Idaho forestry: They grow at elevations from 6,000 to 12,000 feet; live between 400 and 1,000 years; and their seeds feed everything from small birds to grizzly bears to humans. Yet their populations are dwindling because of a fungal infection and beetles, and efforts are underway to conserve them. Take a hike at the Eighteen Mile Wilderness Study Area 15 miles southeast of Leadore and keep your eyes open for these tenacious, clumpy, gnarly trees.
Idaho Falls District Armchair Adventure
The problem: For more than 100 years, chinook and steelhead were unable to return to Hawley Creek, in east-central Idaho, primarily because of irrigation diversions and human-made barriers. The solution: An incredible public/private partnership that is helping restore the stream and enable fish to back to the basin. If you can’t get there to see the interpretive kiosk that commemorates the work, this video is the next best way to visit. (10:58)
- Twin Falls District - DEEP-CUT CANYONS AND MOONSCAPES, OOLYITES AND HOODOOS
This popular BLM trailhead is a jumping off point for the Big Cottonwood Wildlife Management Area, managed by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Stretch your legs, spin your mountain bike wheels or saddle your horse to enjoy some outstanding birding, hunting, or fishing!
Maybe the best-known of BLM’s Super 75 sites, Bald Mountain, rising over Sun Valley and Ketchum, is home to more than 100 ski runs. It’s a year-round place to play, with spring and summer hiking, biking, or gondola riding. No truth to the legend that composer Modest Mussorgsky once spent a night here.
Carved through basalt by the Big Wood River over the last 10,000 years, Black Magic Canyon is a hidden geologic treasure of smooth, polished and more than a little eerie rock formations. Call the local canal company before you begin your trek to this slot canyon because water is released into it at certain times of the year. You want to walk out, not float out. From Shoshone, go north on Hwy 93 for 16 miles to the turnoff (left) for Magic Reservoir West Shore. Continue about 200 meters and park in the parking area on right.
This Super 75 spot has been called the Grand Canyon of southwestern Idaho, and for good reason. The best place to soak in the view is from the Bruneau Canyon Overlook, where you’ll see how volcanism, glacial scraping and the gouging waters of the Bruneau River combined to create an Idaho showcase.
Pick your description: Stunning. Isolated. Awe-inspiring. Rugged. Stark. Carved by three desert rivers, the Bruneau/ Jarbidge Wilderness Area is an area of placid pools and turbulent whitewater, bounded by towering canyons or steep, grassy slopes. Come once, and we’ll bet you’ll start planning your next trip before you take off your backpack or cool down your horse.
BLM manages 320 acres of this geologic focal point, sandwiched between land managed by Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation and the U.S. Forest Service. Climbing, bouldering, hiking and camping are among the activities in this area. And if you’re wondering how the area received its name, well, with an ounce of imagination, the towering rocks do resemble castles.
Here’s where the Snake River squeezes into a narrow canyon and the results are spectacular and intimidating, especially during the spring runoff. Named by Scottish fur trappers in 1811, Cauldron Linn is a waterfall and series of rapids that displays the power of water on the move.
Take your pick of stuff to do at or near Cedar Creek Reservoir – boating, hiking, camping, photography or catching glimpses of Idaho wildlife. But it’s the fishing that probably will hook you – record rainbow trout have been snagged in these high-desert waters.
The landscape may look like a moonscape, but there’s a stunning variety of geologic wonders and wildlife in this 750,000-acre national monument. The more you look, the more you’ll see … guaranteed!
Wanna up your mountain biking or motorcycle skills? That’s what the scenic Croy Creek Trail System is designed to do, featuring everything from single track to state-of-the-art trails featuring rollers, berms, and tabletop jumps. And Croy Creek is also good for those who prefer to the more conventional approach -- legs and feet -- to get around.
Who knew what’s a hoodoo? Visit this site on foot, mountain bike, or horseback and the answer is, “You do!” Hint: Think of a stack of basalt mushroom caps or a stack of coins. Or layers of arches, fins and pillars. Got the picture of this geologic marvel?
Lud Drexler was a pioneer sportsman who championed south-central Idaho, and among the first to recognize the outdoor recreational potential of the rugged area near the 111-year old Salmon Creek Falls dam. To honor his contributions, this 20-campsite park was named for him in 1981.
Do you believe in magic? Well, it’s on display at Magic Reservoir, a hidden desert getaway that remains largely unknown outside the local area. Fed by the Big Wood River and Camas Creek, Magic Reservoir boasts seven BLM sites, plus several commercial facilities that provide a range for almost every camping taste, from primitive to pleasurable.
Emigrants on the Oregon Trail often stopped here at the edge of the Snake River to rest for a day or two. Their wagon wheels left ruts in the soft soil, which are still visible. A walking path and interpretive shelter make this a highlight stop for those who soak up western history. The site is adjacent to four miles of the Snake River and features camping, boating, fishing, a walking trail and other amenities.
Fifty or so horses roam the desert here – pintos, sorrels, roans, palominos, bays, grays, browns and black. Local lore has it they hail from near Challis, and horse runners captured them in the 1960s, brought in a registered stallion (and soon thereafter, foals and fillies began to pop up), and turned them out on the Saylor Creek site.
Twelve million years ago, the vast Lake Idaho drained in pretty much a huge whoosh when the Snake River punched through what is today Hell’s Canyon, leaving behind little egg-shaped grains of sedimentary limestone, called “oolites.” An easy, kid-friendly trail takes you to the site’s many windows, arches and curves, with scads of interpretive signs to help you understand just what you’re seeing. The trailhead starts about 12 miles south of Grand View along Mud Flat Road.
Another desert revelation where you least expect it – Snowdrift Crater is a water-trapping bowl at the top of an 800-foot tall shield volcano, with a grove of aspen trees sitting in the basin. Snowdrift is subtle, hidden, and starkly beautiful to those who admire an arid landscape.
This is where the Jarbidge and Bruneau meet, a place of narrow canyons, legend and lore, big whitewater, statuesque rock formations, an array of high-desert wildlife, and scenery unique to south-central Idaho. Twenty-nine miles of the canyon are designated wild and scenic.
Twin Falls District Armchair Adventure
This clip will take you back in time, to the days when government trappers were put to work. Visit the old cabin, the last of its kind, built by the federal government to house trappers in the 1940s, and recently restored. (5:32)