Bonneville Peak Roadless Area, Portneuf Range

The Bonneville Peak roadless area of 32,200 acres is one of the three remaining roadless areas in the forty mile long Portneuf mountain range which lies about fifteen miles to the east of the city of Pocatello, Idaho. This particular area is from the Inman Creek road on the north southward for about 15 miles where the national forest ends and Idaho Highway 30 runs up the Portneuf River valley to Lava Hot Springs then over Fish Creek Summit and beyond. The roadless area is from two to seven miles wide.

The bold face of Portneuf Range is highly visible from the west because Interstate Highway 15 follows along near its base. The southern, and especially the eastern sides of the area are less directly fronted by development.

 


In the cliffs on Snow Peak. Bonneville Peak roadless area. © Ralph Maughan
Portneuf Range
The Portneuf Range from "The Lavas" on its west side. The Lavas are not part of the roadless area.

In the near future the small northern 3000 areas will probably be cut off from the rest of the roadless area as Pebble Creek ski area expands to the top of the range and over onto the east side. Most of the area that has commercial timber has been logged, so the size of the roadless area will probably not be reduced further by timbering.

The Bonneville Peak roadless area has just a few maintained trails, the "Robbers Roost Trail" being the most prominent. The foothills of the range are ringed, however, by the "Boundary Trail. Every year a few people climb up onto its rugged, and cliffy west face to ascend Bonneville Peak (elev. 9271), adjacent Snow Peak (9132), and Haystack Mountain (9033). The "Boundary trail", a "multiple use" trail, crosses much of the lower part of the roadless area. Despite the presence of machine riders on this trail, use is usually not high, and hiking or horse riding the area in the late spring or fall is pleasant. Autumn colors are often very bright.

Haystack Peak in the Portneuf Range. Bonneville Peak roadless area.

The steep west face of 9000 foot + Haystack Mountain in the Bonneville Peak roadless area
of the Portneuf Range. Telephoto. Copyright © Ralph Maughan


Wildlife includes mule deer, a growing elk herd, coyotes, and a few cougar and black bear. In front of the roadless area, the Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game has a wildlife management area on formerly private land. This Fish and Game-purchased ground is in the foothills of the range beneath Snow and Haystack Peaks. Over the years it has turned from cultivated dry farm area back into a scenic natural area of riparian forest, and sagebrush upland, and good wildlife habitat very important as mule deer and elk winter range. Unfortunately part of it burned in a wildfire in 2003, so the invasion of noxious alien weeds (mostly Dyer's Woad) could be a problem.

The west side of the range often gets but little snow at lower elevations. This is good for the wintering wildlife and bad for the ski area. The east side of the mountains gets "pounded". Therefore, expansion over the top onto the less accessible, but snowy east side, has always been a goal of downhill ski enthusiasts. In addition, snowmobilers are climbing higher on the slopes and driving off self propelled winter enthusiasts.


Autumn in Big Canyon. Bonneville Peak roadless area.
Copyright © Ralph Maughan

Backside of Bonneville Peak. Portneuf Range
Backside of Bonneville Peak. © Sept. 25, 2005. Ralph Maughan

 

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Bonneville Peak roadless area/ email Ralph Maughan/ Sept. 26, 2005