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Backpacker Magazine – August 2008

Track Caribou in the Salmo-Priest Wilderness

Glimpse these rare mammals in Idaho's Salmo-Priest Wilderness.

by: Kip Keen

Scan the Shedroof Divide for woodland caribou. (Alan L. Bauer)
Scan the Shedroof Divide for woodland caribou. (Alan L. Bauer)
(Photo by Alan L. Bauer)
(Photo by Alan L. Bauer)

Here's your chance to see something truly rare in the Lower 48: woodland caribou, the most endangered mammal in the contiguous United States. Idaho's 42,000-acre Salmo-Priest Wilderness, just two hours from Coeur D'Alene, harbors the last 32 of these animals. The tiny Selkirk herd is a remnant from an era when caribou ranged the northern U.S. from coast to coast. After the snow melts (July) and before it dumps again (October) is the perfect time to get a glimpse of the caribou. And the best way to see them is on this 16- to 32-mile traverse.




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In reality, you probably have a better chance of getting struck by lightning than seeing these animals on a trip to this area. I would plan my visit for other reasons, like the remoteness and the scenery. The possibility of seeing caribou, although remote, does exist as a bonus to exploring this beautiful area.

Seariously, if viewing and observing caribou is a serious goal, drive the Alaska highway through northern B.C. and into the Yukon, go to Denali NP, or drive another remote northern road like the Dalton Highway.

Dennis
Jul 20, 2009

Good article except it's in Washington, not Idaho.

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This hike\drive to the high country is well worth the trip. The road up to the old lookout tower is nearly a jeep trail but SUV's amd Pick-ups should make it if there is no snow.
Great hunting and berry picking too.

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