12,197 foot Diamond Peak, the lord of the Lemhi Range is the third highest mountain in Idaho.
The Lemhi Range is a long (approx. 110 mile) basin and range mountain chain that rises abruptly out of the basalt of the Snake River Plain and then runs north by NW ending near the town of Salmon, Idaho.
Much of the range is roadless. The roadless area in its southern section, often called "Diamond Peak" because of this prominent mountain, is separated from the larger "North Lemhi" roadless area by an old area of mining tunnels, roads, and small pits in the middle portion of the range.
The southern part of the range is high, but narrow, with a number of peaks over 11,000 feet in elevation. Aside from Diamond Peak which tops 12,000 feet, the most prominent peak is Bell Mountain (11,618 ft.). The southern part of the range is composed mostly of sedimentary rocks -- limestone and dolomite. Metamorphics and scenic Challis volcanics dominate in the broader, but someone lower northern Lemhis.
The Diamond Peak roadless area is full of spectacular cliffs, numerous natural arches and shallow caves, and it is a mountain range with great relief, rising from 5000 to 7000 feet above the adjacent valley floors.
In their new forest plan (1997), the Targhee National Forest selected the east slope of the Diamond Peak roadless area to recommend to Congress for addition to the National Wilderness Preservation System. Unfortunately this does not mean they will give the area any extra protection during the interim, i.e., until Congress acts. The big threat is incursions by off-road vehicles. Thoughtless ATV riders climb the areas bare slopes, creating long-lasting scars.
For such an harsh high desert environment, the southern Lemhi range has an abundance of wildlife: pronghorn antelope, mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep and mountain goats, plus coyotes, black bear and cougar. The photo below was taken May 1996 of a band of bighorn near Uncle Ike Creek. The bighorn were reintroduced into the area 20 years ago.
View up Rocky Canyon during a high rainfall June
© Ralph Maughan
Rocky Canyon is a long canyon on the east-
facing side of the southern Lemhi Range—
one of the few canyons with a spring or two.
Diamond Peak (left) from the SW
Photo © Ralph Maughan
Across Meadow Canyon (not much meadow!) from the flank of Bell Mountain
Photo © Ralph Maughan
Occasionally some of the Idaho reintroduced wolves visit the Lemhi Range and the adjacent valleys.
Bighorn sheep to the north of Uncle Ike Creek. Lemhi Range. © Ralph Maughan
The Lemhi Range is surrounded by four great valleys -- the Little Lost and Pahsimeroi to its west and the Birch Creek and the Lemhi Valley to its east. While not roadless, most of these valleys are public land and wonderful recreation areas. The largest antelope herds in Idaho range these valleys.
More photos of the southern portion of the Lemhi Range. Rev. 12-10-05