Clearwater National Forest
Forest Overview
The Clearwater National Forest is nestled on the west side of the Bitterroot Mountains in north central Idaho. The high mountains on the east descend to the fertile Palouse prairie to the west. Several major tributaries to the Columbia River flow through the forest including the North Fork of the Clearwater, the Lochsa, the Potlatch and the Palouse Rivers. The Clearwater River runs through deep canyons, dramatic "slashes" cut through the mountains. The North Fork of the Clearwater and the Lochsa rivers provide miles of tumbling white water interspersed with quiet pools for migratory and resident fish.

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.
Written and compiled by Jacqueline Harvey 1999.
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