The Smoky Mountains Roadless Area, Idaho

The rugged crest of the Smoky Mountains of central Idaho
Ralph Maughan

The Smoky Mountains of central Idaho are a large, roughly circular area of high, wild, and rugged mountains that lie between the Soldier Mountains to the south, the Sawtooths to the north, the Salmon River Mountains to west, and the Pioneers and Boulders to the east.

The roadless area is over 200,000 acres in size.

Map showing the relationship of the Smoky Mountains roadless area to the Sawtooth Wilderness

The east-facing side can be seen by recreational travelers on Idaho Highway 75. The extensive western, southern, and northern reaches of the range are seen only from backcountry dirt roads and trails, and they get much less use.

The area is full of wildlife including deer, elk, black bear, wolverine, and increasingly, a small number of moose. The reintroduced Idaho wolves established a pack in the area in the year 2000 - the Big Smoky Pack (after Big Smoky Creek, a long drainage in the area). However, the pack was soon illegally poisoned.

This large roadless area is not as well known or as well supported as the more prominent White Clouds, Boulders, and Pioneers nearby. In recent years part of the area has burned and the pressure to timber has abated. Whether that is just a temporary happy fact of politics will be determined by the election of 2000.

The major threat at present is uncontrolled abuse by off road vehicles.

Penstemon on the Baker Lake trail
Smoky Mountains roadless area
copyright Ralph Maughan

Southern end of Idaho's Smoky Mountains
Dollarhide Mtn. at the southern end of the Smoky Mtns.
          Photo looking north from Wells Summit.
                 Copyright Ralph Maughan
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 Smoky Mountains Roadless area, Idaho/ 3-17-2002