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Gems of the Mountains
The south central portion of Idaho contains some of the state’s highest mountains, including the Sawtooths, White Clouds, Seven Devils and Lemhis. And in the Lost River Range you’ll find Idaho’s tallest peak, Mount Borah. You can also find some of the state’s lowest elevations in this part of Idaho, at the bottom of Hells Canyon along the Snake River. The canyon is part of a national recreation area where white water rafters take on the state’s biggest rapids and jet boaters battle huge waves.
The contrast between high peaks and canyons is also displayed along the Nevada and Idaho border where the ten thousand foot peaks of the Jarbidge Range drop off into the canyons of the Jarbidge and Bruneau Rivers. These and other desert rivers like the Owyhee have carved an incredible system of canyons that cover much of this remote southwest corner of the state. Their waters have cut through the rhyolite and basalt lavas that were strewn across this lonely country during the blasts of ancient volcanoes.
While some rafters do venture into the Owhyee country, the Payette River system is a much more popular venue in this part of the state. The main Payette and its south and north branches all contain popular rafting runs. And Payette Lake further north is another great destination that attracts visitors all year round.
Of course, many Idahoans favorite destination is the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Here you’ll find Castle Peak, Stanley Lake, Redfish Lake and a wilderness area with iconic peaks and dozens of high mountain lakes.
Idaho’s largest wild area lies just north of the Sawtooths, the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. It’s the largest forested wilderness is the lower forty-eight states and features the celebrated Middle Fork of the Salmon, the Main Salmon, and the Big Horn Crags.