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Caribou Targhee National Forest

Moose Creek Trail
Moose Creek Trail high in the Jedediah Smith Wilderness

The Caribou-Targhee National Forest occupies over 3 million acres and stretches across southeastern Idaho, from the Montana, Utah, and Wyoming borders. Most the Caribou-Targhee National Forest lies in eastern Idaho, western Wyoming, and northern Utah, with a significant portion situated adjacent to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks,

The Caribou-Targhee National Forest lies almost entirely within "the Greater Yellowstone Area" or "the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem," an area of over 12 million acres and is the largest block of relatively undisturbed plant and animal habitat in the contiguous United States. The area continues to gain prominence for its ecological integrity. The United Nations has identified the area as a Biosphere Reserve.

Alaske Basin
Alaska Basin high in the Jedediah Smith Wilderness

The Caribou-Targhee National Forest boasts rugged mountains, fertile valleys, rivers, varied wildlife, campgrounds, wilderness, sagebrush-dotted semi-desert, timbered highlands and peaks over 10,000 feet, an abundance of streams, lakes, waterfalls, rivers, and two wilderness areas,

Most of the major mega fauna associated with Yellowstone National Park can be found in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. Black bear, grizzlies, wolf, elk, moose, mule deer, bison mountain lion, and pronghorn all make their homes in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. An active peregrine falcon recovery program was begun to return this bird species to some of their ancestral range. Cutthroat trout, brook trout, and pike are found in the streams and lakes and the forest is considered one of the best fishing areas in the world for cutthroat trout.

Targhee Creek Trail
Targhee Creek Trail Close to the Montana border

While western sections of the forest have a mixture of sagebrush and grasses, the higher elevations in the east support lodgepole pine, and numerous species of spruce and fir. Topography ranges from rolling foothills and sagebrush plains to rugged, glaciated mountain peaks. Although most of the land is dry and semiarid, 190 stream headwaters situated on the Forest provide varied vegetation to support a multitude of uses. The area has cold, moist winters and hot dry summers. Wide temperature extremes exist, with summer temperatures at lower elevations exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit and winter temperatures at higher elevations dropping to 40 degrees below zero or worse.

A National Forest is more than trees and camping, hiking, fishing and hunting. You can enjoy the magnificence of the mountains; the serenity of the wilderness; the miracles of spring flowers, baby animals, and majestic big game; the sound of birds while horseback riding; a camping trip; and the fun of a summer picnic in your National Forest - the Land of Many Uses, or rent a rustic cabin.

Upper Mesa Falls - Island Park region
Upper Mesa Falls - Island Park region

All our national forests are multi use lands for the benefit of all and are administered by the Department of Agriculture. Mining, logging, public land ranching, and energy development are all a part of the multiple use charter. This seems repugnant to some, but we are all the beneficiaries. Logging gives us lumber to build our homes, energy provides a way to heat our homes and make our cars go forward, grazing lowers the price of our meat and keeps scenic ranches in our valley bottoms, and mining provides the minerals we need to produce the things we need - collectively.

There are 1200 miles of hiking trails, and 250 miles of streams for your enjoyment. Horseback riding, off-road vehicle touring, mountain bike riding, and rock climbing are just a few of the warm weather activities available to visitors on the Bridger-Teton.

There are several reservoirs on and near the Caribou-Targhee National Forest that provide excellent angling opportunities. Blackfoot Reservoir - Yellowstone cutthroat trout or rainbow trout. Chesterfield - Yellowstone cutthroat trout and rainbow trout fisheries. Daniels Reservoir - Bonneville cutthroat trout and rainbow trout. Stone Reservoir - rainbow trout, black crappie, largemouth bass, and yellow perch. Montpelier Reservoir - Bonneville cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, kokanee, or yellow perch. Alexander Reservoir - Bonneville cutthroat trout or yellow perch. Oneida Reservoir - Bonneville cutthroat trout, walleye, yellow perch, and small mouth bass. American Falls Reservoir - rainbow and brown trout, bullhead catfish, crappie and perch.

Fly fishermen Southfork Snake River waterfall Swan Valley Idaho
Fly fishermen Southfork Snake River waterfall Swan Valley Idaho

Caribou-Targhee National Forest fly-fishing is incomparable. "The Henry's Fork is the premier dry fly fishing stream in the entire world,” says John Randolph, editor of Fly Fishing Magazine. Both Henry's Fork and the South Fork of the Snake River offer unparalleled opportunities for fishing and the tributaries and reservoirs produce excellent rainbow, eastern brook, brown and cutthroat trout, kokanee salmon, and whitefish.

Caribou-Targhee National Forest has some of the best and most varied hunting in the west! From the trophy species of moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat to the more often hunted deer (mule deer and whitetails), elk and antelope, Idaho covers it all. We hunt black bear and mountain lions too, and a variety of upland game, turkeys and waterfowl. Licenses and tags are available over the counter for almost every species.

snowmobiler moon
Snowmobiling is popular and Island Park is a destination resort for it

Winter recreation is also abundant on the forest. Visitors can enjoy snowmobiling on groomed trails that network with the Continental Divide Trails. Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and ice climbing are a few of the more popular winter recreation activities

cowboy campfire
Camping is one of the more popular activities in the forest

There are 31 campgrounds on the forest, with a total 670 campsites. Most are adjacent to rivers or reservoirs. Fees for camping are based on the facilities provided in the campground. Most undeveloped areas within the forest are open to camping. There is a limit to the number of days you can spend in campgrounds and open forest areas. Throughout the Forest, camping is allowed in many undeveloped sites. Camping is free in these more remote areas as long as you select a site outside a developed campground. The dispersed camping limit in one spot is 16 days. These spots generally have no amenities. If you want to go farther from civilization, opportunities for backpacking are almost limitless. Please consult Forest Service maps and handouts for information on where to go and how to get there.

father son waterfall Darby Canyon Jedediah Smith Wilderness
Father Son waterfall Darby Canyon Jedediah Smith Wilderness

In October, 1984 the Wyoming Wilderness Bill was signed into law creating the Jedediah Smith Wilderness (123,451 acres) and the Winegar Hole Wilderness (10,721 acres) on the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. The Wilderness Act allows hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, skiing, and grazing in these areas. Campfires are allowed in most areas, but some areas are closed to open fires to protect resources. Motorized or mechanical equipment is prohibited year-round, and some additional regulations apply to protect the wilderness character. Horses can be used in both Wilderness areas; however, overnight camping with stock is not allowed in specified locations.

The Jedediah Smith Wilderness was designated because of the unique karst limestone geology. It lies on the west slope of the Teton Range, adjacent to Grand Teton National Park. The towns of Victor, Driggs, Tetonia, and Ashton, Idaho are 10 to 30 miles west of the Wilderness.

four grizzly bears
Four Grizzly Bears

The Winegar Hole Wilderness was designated to provide high quality habitat for grizzly bears. It is located 25 miles east of Ashton, Idaho, and adjacent to the southeast corner of Yellowstone National Park. The low rolling hills, numerous wetlands, meadows, and streams is volcanic in origin. A forest of lodgepole pine, Douglas fir, sub-alpine fir, and Engelmann spruce covers much of the area. The area is managed as a trailless area to provide maximum security for the grizzly bear except for one short trail that provides access to Yellowstone National Park.



Lower Palisades Lake Horseback trail riders Palisades Reservoir
Lower Palisades Lake Horseback trail riders Palisades Reservoir lies between Swan Valley Idaho and Star Valley Wyoming
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