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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)

The trek ends with a relatively easy nine-mile stroll through bear grass meadows and old forest burns to your car at Pass Creek Pass. In two miles, angle southwest along the ridgeline between Thunder and Helmer Mountains. On the north slope of Helmer, there are three tricky junctions. Stay on Pass Creek Trail, making a left, a right, and another right. Then cut up switchbacks to the southwest and climb up into an alpine basin where the path wends through weathered and blackened conifers charred by a 1994 forest fire. From here, gain just one hundred feet as you roll over Mankato Mountain, then head downhill to FR 22.

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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.

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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