Naturalist Guided Hiking Trip and More: Sawtooth Mountains -
The Heart of The Idaho Rockies
Trails Less Traveled Series

July 26 –  August 2, 2020

Welcome to the heart of the Idaho Rockies and to Trails Less Traveled! Nearly 15 miles wide and 30 miles long, the Sawtooth Mountains are one of America's unknown and less-trammeled treasures. Our journey will take us into the 754,000-acre Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA) and its centerpiece, the 217,000-acre Sawtooth Wilderness, which was one of the first landscapes designated under the Wilderness Act of 1964. This awe-inspiring landscape encompasses hundreds of jagged peaks (more than 40 over 10,000’), tranquil basins, 750 miles of trails, 100 miles of streams, and more than 300 alpine lakes.

One of the best things about the Sawtooth Wilderness is invisible – it boasts the clearest air in the continental United States!

The glacially carved Sawtooth Mountains and Sawtooth Valley provide habitat for abundant wildlife including pronghorn antelope, beaver, deer, elk, blackbear, woodpeckers (10 species, including Three-toed Woodpeckers and Red-naped Sapsuckers) and many other birds, mountain goats, moose, and wolves. Gray wolves were reintroduced in the 1990s!

Referred to as “Idaho’s gift to America” – the Sawtooth Valley represents what America once was. It is the headwaters of the famous Salmon River (the River of No Return), the longest undammed river in the lower 48 states, and lies in the center of a unique landscape surrounded by the Sawtooth Wilderness, the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, vast roadless areas, and waters specially protected as Wild and Scenic Rivers. No place like this exists anywhere else in the lower 48 states.

We will enjoy an incredible week of hiking and naturalist interpretation in theSawtooth and White Cloud Mountains with many opportunities to be entranced by exceptional vistas, abundant wildlife, and a myriad of wildflowers as we attempt to absorb all that this truly special, wild ecosystem has to offer. In addition, we will enjoy rafting on the Salmon River, driving on Idaho’s Scenic Byways and exploring the geologically fascinating Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.

Each day will bring us new experiences in this magnificent region as we hike the trails investigating whatever crosses our path and catches our interest. We’ll be on the lookout for wildlife, from elk to pikas and everything in between, as well as the summer display of wildflowers. And, I promise, there will be no lack of awesome scenery to view throughout the week. How fortunate for us to have the opportunity to explore Trails Less Traveled in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, the first national monument in Idaho, was established on May 2, 1924, to protect some of the unusual landscape of the Craters of the Moon Lava Field. This "lunar" landscape was thought to resemble that of the moon and was described in the proclamation as "a weird and scenic landscape peculiar to itself." We will take a driving tour through this one-of-a-kind, photogenic landscape, stopping along the way to learn about volcanic geology and to take short walks to explore these remarkable features!

And each evening we’ll return to our accommodations on the banks of the Salmon River, in the “Old West” town of Lower Stanley, situated in the scenic Sawtooth Valley with the Sawtooth Mountains rising to the west and the White Cloud Mountains to the east. This trip will refresh your spirit with all the beauty that Central Idaho has to offer.

Summer in the Sawtooth Mountains
Optimal hiking conditions in the Sawtooth Mountains typically exist mid-July
through early September. Snow is usually off all but the highest trails by sometime in July, and by the end of June the run-off that swells the Salmon River and area streams has typically subsided, making late July/early August a premier time to explore these mountains and surrounds.

We should be treated to a nice variety of wildflowers at various elevations – the heart of wildflower season is in July and August. We will share the trails with other visitors; however, overall visitation to this National Recreation Area is quite low, allowing us to enjoy many trails less traveled. As is typical in meadows and mountains, mosquitoes can be prevalent on some trails, so keep insect repellent handy!


Because mountain weather is unpredictable and prone to sudden changes, you must be prepared for a wide range of weather conditions. Though May through October experiences the lowest average precipitation, summer storms are possible, so always be prepared for a day of r
ain and wind. Warm layers and waterproof clothing are all but required year-round. During the summer, when temperatures can occasionally scrape the upper 90s you may wake up to a chilly surprise of morning temperatures below freezing. In fact, Stanley frequently boasts the coldest temperature in the nation every day throughout the summer. Snow can fall in every month in Idaho’s mountains. But typically, in summer the Sawtooth area experiences long, warm days. The average humidity here is about 30 percent (making it a necessity to stay well hydrated), and the average temperature in summer months ranges from highs in the 70's to lows in the 30’s.

Sawtooth Mountains

Trip Length: 8 days, 7 nights

Trip Dates: July 26 – August 2 (Sunday to Sunday), 2020

Trip Cost: $2990 

Single Supplement: $735

Trip Highlights and Activities:    Professional Naturalist Guide; Exploring and hiking in one of the most beautiful but little-known protected natural areas in the nation; a wilderness experience; natural history interpretation; stunning, dramatic, incomparable scenery; photography; birding; wildlife viewing; botanizing; alpine wildflowers; rafting on the Salmon River; exploring Craters of The Moon National Monument & Preserve; riverside lodging in the heart of the Sawtooth Mountains; traveling Idaho’s Scenic Byways

Group Size: 5 (min) – 10(max) participants



Accommodations      lodging


Trip Rating
moderate to Challanging