Stargazers Rejoice: U.S. Gets Its First International Dark Sky Reserve

Pack your bags, astronomy lovers. Idaho is now home to the United States’ first International Dark Sky Reserve. The International Dark Sky Association, an Arizona-based nonprofit that advocates against light pollution, designated an area covering more than 1,400 square miles as the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve. The reserve includes the Sawtooth Range and other...

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Boise’s hiking Grand Slam

Tom Lopez created the Grand Slam peaks of the Boise, Idaho, area as a four-step training regimen for his summer climbs. Others have latched onto the concept as a goal unto itself, or a circuit worth completing against the clock. “When I redid the website a couple of years ago, the Grand Slam peaks page disappeared,” said Lopez, a retired attorney, mountain climber and...

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Idaho’s Black Butte is otherworldly destination

Instead of an actual trail, jumbled volcanic rock dictates that you meander through its obstacle course. Each turn brings you closer to the summit that tops out just up the road from the Shoshone Ice Caves, but progress was slow. The immense stone garden that is traversed continually changes. Early on, the ground surface contains enough soil interspersed between rocks to...

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Inside the dangerous and unpredictable behavior of wildfire

Aircraft N2UW has flown through all kinds of weather. The twin-propeller plane is sleek, petite, and so packed with scientific gear for studying the atmosphere that there’s barely room for two passengers to squeeze into its back seats. Monitors show radar reflections, gas concentrations and the sizes of cloud droplets. The plane has flown through tropical rainstorms in...

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16 ways to take on Idaho’s Sawtooths and surrounding mountains

The Sawtooth National Forest in Idaho envelopes the Sawtooth Mountains, for which it was named, as well as other nearby mountain ranges. The Pioneer, White Cloud, Boulder and Smoky mountains are all nearby and can be easily accessed from Stanley or Ketchum, the town that hosts Sun Valley Lodge. The area of the Sawtooths is an outdoor destination that attracts outdoor...

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Scotchman Peak hiking trail closed due to aggressive goats

The popular trail to the summit of Scotchman Peak north of Clark Fork, Idaho, has been closed temporarily because of recent incidents with aggressive mountain goats, the Idaho Panhandle National Forests has announced. The news is no surprise to groups that have been posting signs and trying to educate hikers for several years regarding the consequences of feeding the...

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Big chunk of N. Idaho national forest closed for fire danger

The U.S. Forest Service closed a large chunk of the North Fork Coeur d’Alene River drainage in Northern Idaho due to a forecast of hazardous fire weather and because of close to 20 fires already burning on the Coeur d’Alene River Ranger District. “It’s probably among the most popular forest access in all of the Idaho Panhandle,” said Jason Kirchner, spokesman for the...

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River of No Return

by Isaac and Bjornen Babcock Central Idaho’s Frank Church-River of No Return is a wilderness of steep, rugged mountains, deep canyons, and wild, whitewater rivers. The Salmon River Mountains, located south of the Main Salmon and west of the Middle Fork, are the most massive range, and dominate the Wilderness. North of the Main Salmon River are the Clearwater...

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Trail angels keep Idaho Foothills trails in prime shape

A tan ribbon of dirt snaking across the landscape serves many functions. It gets us from point A to point B, whether on foot, bike, motorcycle or horseback, and often in an interesting way. How often do you find yourself walking a straight line in the Foothills? Not often. Part of that is the topography doesn’t allow it, but it’s also more interesting for a trail to...

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Cleo’s Nature Trail a “vibrant faith adventure”

It’s one of those places you probably pass by all the time and don’t even realize it’s there. There are no road signs marking it. It’s a cheerful trail hidden and tucked away from sight. They call it a vibrant faith adventure, and that it is. Happy words of encouragement surround you along Cleo’s Nature Trail. It’s a whimsical spot on...

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Upper Dry Creek easement allows for conservation, restoration, research

Tim Breuer doesn’t ask the question unless he knows the answer will be “yes.” Sometimes, it takes awhile to get there. In the case of the most recent easement agreements between the city of Boise, Idaho, the Land Trust of the Treasure Valley and Grossman Company Properties, it took 20 years. “The first time I walked on [Upper Dry Creek] with the...

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Hike into hell: Testing your limits in the mountains

The past winter was so brutal that only the thought of a week-long hike through hell could keep Scott Gauvin warm. Gauvin, 37, of Springfield, IL, is one of 14 outdoor bloggers from all over the country to undertake the six-day Hell Hike and Raft — named for the trip through the Seven Devils mountain range and the Snake River running through Hell’s Canyon in Idaho. It...

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Priest Lake hiking is a soothing summer treat

The Lakeshore Trail No. 294 is ideal for peak summer-heat hiking. Meandering along the northwest shoreline of Priest Lake, Idaho, about 90 miles north of Coeur d’Alene, the trail is an ideally shaded corridor through large cedar stands and other old-growth timber. Beams of sunlight streaming through the canopy cover in spots and reaching the lush forest floor are the...

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Pacific Northwest Trail offers lesser traveled trek through Idaho, Washington

About 20 people hike the length of the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail each year, starting at Glacier National Park and trekking 1,200 miles to the Pacific Ocean. The trail doesn’t have the cachet of the Pacific Crest or Appalachian trails, which attract hundreds of hikers who go the whole distance, said Matt McGrath, the trail’s program manager. But the Forest...

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Final winter hiking event set for March 15

Take it outside with other outdoor enthusiasts for a sunset/moonrise hike in the Cedar Ridge Wilderness Study Area near Jiggs, ID at 4 p.m. March 15, 2014. The Elko District, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, and Cedar Creek Clothing are teaming up for the final event of the winter hiking series. This hike is for all ages and skill levels to participate....

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New book gives secrets on biking and hiking in the Owyhee Canyonlands

The Owyhee Canyonlands is one heck of a big place, as you will find when you thumb through “The Owyhee Canyonlands — An Outdoor Adventure Guide,” by Boise, ID outdoor writer Steve Stuebner and photographer Mark Lisk. The guidebook features 55 hikes and mountain bike rides from Leslie Gulch and Succor Creek in eastern Oregon, south of Ontario, across the Owyhee Front from...

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New Owyhee Canyonlands Guide Features 55 Hikes

Idaho outdoor authors Steve Stuebner and fine arts photographer Mark Lisk teamed up to produce a new 240-page guidebook titled “The Owyhee Canyonlands — An Outdoor Adventure Guide,” which was released for retail sales this week. The book is a product of several decades of research by Stuebner and Lisk, who love to camp, hike, bike, boat and explore the Owyhee Mountains...

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Wilderness designation sought for Scotchman Peaks

Wilderness policy is an often-divisive arena. In this arena, the Scotchman Peaks straddle many boundaries. The scenic mountain range between the Clark Fork and Bull rivers has more geopolitical lines dotting its map than a United Nations seating chart. About 20,000 of Scotchman’s 88,000 roadless acres lie in the Panhandle National Forest on the Idaho side of the border....

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Three Idaho hikes to find autumn colors

No bugs. Impressive color. Mild temperatures. Falling leaves. Empty trails. How can you not love the serenity of fall hiking? Most people associate Labor Day with the end of mountain play, but veteran hikers know this is the most spectacular time of the year to enjoy the woods. Depending on where your fall itinerary takes you, here are three excellent hikes in Idaho...

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Oregon Trail section damaged by artifact-seekers

Portions of the Oregon Trail in south-central Idaho near Burley have been damaged by people using metal detectors and shovels to illegally search for artifacts, federal officials said. Bureau of Land Management officials said they recently found about 400 holes over several miles of the trail, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and protected...

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Here are a half-dozen Idaho mountain hikes for kids

The calls from parents echo through the woods at Ponderosa State Park near McCall, ID. The kids are usually way out in front of the parents as families hike near the Lily Marsh at one of Idaho’s most popular state parks. The parents try to put the reins on the kids, but there is so much to see — from deer casually browsing in the brush to tall, tall, incredibly...

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Your Own Private Idaho

The “Entering Stanley, Idaho” sign seems more like a friendly warning than a welcome. “Population 63,” it reads, as if to say: Congratulations, you’ve made it to the middle of nowhere. Stanley is the entry point to the Sawtooth Valley, a time warp of a place with four saloons, five mountain ranges and not much else. Established by Congress in 1972 and managed by the...

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Lost in the Frank Church Wilderness: What Does It Mean to Be Utterly, Hopelessly, Truly Lost?

by: Jim Thornton for Backpacker Magazine You can take the blindfold off now, yells Dan, the bush pilot, over the propeller’s whine. When we first left the central Idaho mountain town of McCall this afternoon, I’d tried to maintain my bearings behind the blindfold by tracking the angle of the sun’s rays on my skin. It didn’t work. Five minutes...

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New trail christened at Baker Lake, ID

The Baker Lake Trailhead northeast of Ketchum, ID gives recreationists access to serene views of crystal-blue alpine lakes and stunning vistas of the Boulder Mountains. Now, hikers have more options off of this versatile trailhead. The Idaho Trails Association worked to complete an extension of the Osberg Ridge trail system. Hikers can now begin at the Baker Lake...

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