Borah Peak Roadless Area
Lost River Range, Idaho

Updated last on Jan. 2, 2009


2005-2008. Every year the management of grazing in and near the roadless area has become more careless, sloppy, abusive, and contrary to the public interest. The Forest Service's Lost River Range District and Salmon-Challis National Forest deserves a big lawsuit or whatever it takes to prevent the streams and meadows from eroding away.

Good News! Update 8-9-2005. We can now confirm that this this ill-conceived, back room proposal is totally dead.

4-21-2004. Lost River ATV trail put on back burner. Idaho Mountain Express.

Danger! 4-2-2004. The Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation is planning a vast network of ATV trails near Borah Peak that will likely promote uncontrolled hill climbing all over the area.

Borah Peak in Early May from the northwest. Elevation, 12,662 ft. (3859 meters)
Copyright © Ralph Maughan
Borah Peak aka Mount Borah

Scarp from Borah Peak earthquake
This photo (© Ralph Maughan) was taken from Thousand Springs Valley on the west side of the Lost River Range, just south of Mt. Borah. Notice the crack (scarp from the 1983 Borah Peak Earthquake) along the base of the mountain range. The quake measured 7.3 on the Richter Scale. A retrospective on the quake after 20 years. Idaho Mountain Express.

Borah Peak, in the Lost River Range, is the highest point in Idaho. Borah Peak is the highest summit on massive Mount Borah.

The semi-arid Lost River Range has 9 of Idaho's 11 peaks over 12,000 feet: Borah Peak, Leatherman Peak, Mount Church, Mount Breitenbach, Lost River Mountain, Mount Idaho, Donaldson Peak, and two unnamed peaks. There are scores of peaks topping 11,500 feet. 

Surrounding these summits is a roadless area of about 150,000 acres.

Four of the highest peaks in Idaho.

From the left: Leatherman Peak , the second highest mountain in Idaho, elev. 12,228 ft. (3727 meters). Bad Rock Peak, elev. 11,953 ft. (3643 meters). Mt. Church, 12,200+ ft., Donaldson Peak (right), 12,023 feet. Donaldson looks quite a bit lower, but that is due to perspective - the peak curves back at an angle.

Copyright © Ralph Maughan

Mt McCaleb. Lost River Range Mt McCaleb.

Photo from near Mackay Reservoir
July 2006

Copyright © Ralph Maughan


The Forest Service recommended 120,000 acres to Congress for wilderness designation, but the Lost River Ranger District has done poor job of protecting the acreage from intrusions by off-road vehicles. They aren't very good managing the livestock either.

Most of the Borah Peak roadless area is on the Challis National Forest, but the backcountry area also includes interesting BLM country encompassing many of the foothills on the east side of the range. Foothills of Challis volcanics in Wet Creek. Lost River Range These foothills (actually mountains, foothills only in comparison to the core of the Lost River Range) are composed of the often multi-colored rocks of the Challis volcanic formation. As such they are quite a contrast with the relentlessly sedimentary limestone in the core of the range.

Colorful Lost River foothills
near Wet Creek.
Copyright © Ralph Maughan

The Borah Peak roadless area includes most of the middle section of the 75-mile long Lost River mountain range. Almost all of the core of the Lost River Range is an area of fantastic cliffs, rock folds, spires, huge peaks and vast vistas. Elk and pronghorn antelope abound. The bighorn sheep population is expanding. Cougar prowl the many cliffs, clefts, crevices, and canyons.

In 1983, the fault at the base of Mt. Borah produced one of the largest earthquakes in a half century in the United States. It registered 7.3 in the Richter scale. A 20-mile long fault scarp from the quake is still visible along the base of Mt. Borah and for 10 ten miles to the north and south of the quake's epicenter. In some places the scarp was 12 feet high right after the quake. Since then erosion has modified this long break in the earth, but it is still clearly visible. Minor tremblers still shake the area today.

Canyons on the west side of the range (Lost River Front) are mostly short, steep, trailess, and all very difficult to traverse. Three are named "cedar" -- Cedar Creek (near Mt. Borah), Upper Cedar Creek, and Lower Cedar Creek. The last two are the longest canyons on the Lost River Front.

Mahogany Gulch. Lost River Range. Idaho


Mahogany Gulch near Mackay, Idaho is but one example of the rugged west side canyons. Photo copyright © Ralph Maughan

The canyons on the east side of the mountain range are longer, and they are bounded by increasingly high and rugged peaks as the hiker walks up the canyon.







Sacagawea Peak. Lost River Range.
Up Cedar Cr. canyon to Sacagawea Peak 11,936 ft.
Notice the earthquake scarp
Copyright © Ralph Maughan

Borah Peak lake 10,204
Unnamed lake 10,204 on the east side of Borah Peak
Copyright © Ralph Maughan

Other roadless areas of the Lost River Range (my pages)

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