The excellent wildlife habitat of these mountains provides for large herds of elk, moose and other big game.
The ridges between the deep canyons have provided travel corridors across the mountains for centuries of mankind, including Nez Perce Indians and, in 1805-1806, the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Today the main travel route is U.S. Highway 12 following the dramatic canyon of the Middle Fork of the Clearwater River and its tributary the Lochsa River.
The forest's 1.8 million acres of diverse and spectacular mountainous country provide recreation opportunities and an important stimulus to the area's economy.The forest is divided into three administrative units with ranger district headquarters in Potlatch, Kooskia and Orofino. There are also forest offices in Kamiah, Pierce and Powell near the Idaho-Montana border. In the summer work centers at Canyon and Kelly Creek along the North Fork Clearwater River are open.