The White Cloud-Boulder Mountains roadless area

Updated last on Sunday, January 7, 2007 12:31 PM

Latest news-

The Boulder Mountains rise just to the north of the sky-popping, Pioneer Range, and the White Cloud Peaks rise immediately north of the Boulders. No road separates the Boulders from the White Clouds, so they are one large roadless area. For years, conservationists have fought for not just wilderness protection, but a unified wilderness. It looks like this will not happen, although it is doubtful a road will ever be built between the Boulder and White Clouds, but an ATV trail or two, YES.

Castle Peak, in the White Clouds, elev. 11,815 ft., is one of Idaho's most famous mountains even though it is not visible from any highway. In the early 1970s, a giant mining company proposed a huge open pit molybdenum mine on the flank of Castle Peak. The controversy led to the creation of the Sawtooth National Recreation area and some protection for the White Cloud/Boulder mountains roadless area, but wilderness designation efforts for this large and scenic area have always failed due to political infighting and generic anti-wilderness sentiment in parts of Idaho.
Now, Idaho's second district congressman Mike Simpson, has introduced a bill (CIEDRA) in the House to designate some of the beautiful area Wilderness, create a Boulder-White Clouds Recreation Management Area and try to accomplish some economic objectives which some like, and others do not. Here is a link to the current July 28, 2005 version of his bill.

Land cession Map- The land cession map seems to be uptodate as of mid-March 2006.

Map of the proposed wilderness areas-

The Boulder-White Clouds roadless area apparently is the largest unprotected roadless area on the National Forests of the Western United States -- 450,000 acres.

Frog Lake with Castle Peak in the background
White Cloud Mountains
Copyright © Ralph Maughan

Wet meadow below Born Lakes, at the very top of Warm Springs Creek.
A wet meadow below Born Lakes, at the very top of Warm Springs Creek.
Copyright © Ralph Maughan











The photo below shows the view of the Boulder Mountains from Idaho Highway 75 in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.

The Boulder Mountains, at least their bold west-facing front along Idaho highway 75 north of Ketchum, are highly visible to the traveling public.

Copyright © Ralph Maughan

The Boulder Mountains are deep, however, and extend beyond the photo far to the NE, east, and SE. A beautiful, and little-known portion of the Boulders extends far to the east -- the Herd Peak Highlands. It is a land of high, nearly treeless mountains and many elk. Despite the efforts of conservationists, its open countryside is being torn apart by ATV jockeys and a Forest Service district ranger who seems indifferent to their fate.

herdpk.jpg (21815 bytes)
In the Herd Peak highlands of the Boulder Mountains on a lichen-covered patch of Challis volcanics.
Copyright © Ralph Maughan
An unnamed peak seen from the pass between Four Lakes Basin and the Born Lakes Basin.

 Copyright © Peter L. Schmunk.


The photo below is of the big peaks of the Boulder Mountains that rise at the head of North Fork of the Big Lost River in the southeastern portion of that range.

Copyright © Ralph Maughan

West Fork, North Fork of the Big Wood River
A number of pristine, scenic areas are left out of the Wilderness bill such as this, this West Fork of the North Fork
of the Big Wood River in the Boulder Mountains. Copyright © Ralph Maughan

If you want to help protect this wonderful area, contact the Boulder/White Clouds Council.

PO Box 6313
Ketchum, ID 83340 

A book on the history of conservation efforts in the White Cloud Mountains was published March 2005
To the White Clouds: Idaho's Conservation Saga, 1900-1970. By J.N. Neil, and J. Meredity Neil. Washington State University Press.


More information on the Boulder and White Cloud mountains. Photos, etc.

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