The Italian Peaks roadless area

Climbing Eighteenmile Peak in the Italian Peaks, Idaho-Montana

The ridge in the photo is the Continental Divide. Montana is on the left

Copyright: Ralph Maughan

The Italian Peaks roadless area is a large swath of Continental Divide country sprawling along the Idaho and Montana border in the Beaverhead Range. Here is a roadless area of over 300,000 acres in size! The little-known Beaverhead Mountains are a range about 175 miles long, forming much of the Idaho/Montana state line as well as being the Continental Divide.

Eighteenmile Peak is a high point in this roadless area. At 11,141 feet elevation, it is the highest point on the Continental Divide between Canada and the Absaroka Range of Wyoming to the south.

The core of the high country is slightly offset from the Divide, however, with the highest peak being 11,393 ft. (3472m) Scott Peak. Scott Peak is about one mile west of the Divide, entirely in Idaho. The Scott Peak/ Webber Peaks group is visible In the far distance of the first photograph.

Jump Peak from the Birch Creek Valley, Idaho. Early January 1997

Ralph Maughan

Jump Peak, just short of reaching 11,000 feet, sits right in front of Eighteenmile Peak. For many years (until I climbed Eighteenmile), I thought this beautiful mountain with its many radiating ridges was Eighteenmile Peak.

Up the North Fork of Webber Creek

                                                                                                Ralph Maughan

Above: The head of the North Fork of Webber Creek, Idaho, in the Scott/Webber Peaks area. The Montana border--the Continental Divide --l ies at the head of the canyon and also to the right.

Wildlife is abundant in the Italian Peaks: mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, pronghorn antelope ranging from the valleys below to the broad ridgetops, cougar, bear, an occasional wolf or grizzly.

There are few trails and few defenders of this country which sees increasing interest from the dirt bike/ATV crowd every year. Although not in the Italian Peaks, I traveled the area last January and noticed scores of new 4 x 4 hillclimbs scaring the Beaverhead Mountains near Baker (just south of Salmon, Idaho).

The Targhee and Beaverhead National Forests and the BLM have jointly recommended a wilderness designation of about 125,000 acres in the area of the highest peaks, but the the roadless area extends onto land managed by the Salmon National Forest as well. Of course, remember that for Americans it is not Forest Service or BLM land. It is your land.

Italian Peaks roadless area/ November 18, 1998