By Michael Lanza
Picture a chain of peaks rising to over 11,000 feet, some composed of chalk-like rock that looks like snow from a distance. Scores of crystal-clear lakes above 9,000 feet, and creeks running with trout and salmon. Mountain goats, elk, bighorn sheep, black bears, even gray wolves. And the kind of solitude you can’t find in most wild lands. That’s the White Cloud Mountains of central Idaho. Put this brand-new American wilderness on your radar—and get there before every other backpacker discovers how gorgeous and quiet it still is, as you’ll see in this photo gallery.
The photos below are from the handful of backpacking trips and one long dayhike I’ve made in the White Clouds, including to Quiet Lake, below the range’s highest peak, 11,815-foot Castle Peak (lead photo, above). I plan to explore them much more; watch for more stories coming up at The Big Outside.
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Meanwhile, see all of my stories about Idaho’s White Cloud Mountains, including one about backpacking with my son into the Big Boulder Lakes, and my story about a 28-mile dayhike two friends and I took through the heart of the range.
If you’re spending an extended period of time in the area, consider back-to-back trips in the White Clouds and neighboring Sawtooth Mountains.
Do you like The Big Outside? I’m Michael Lanza, the creator of The Big Outside, recognized as a top outdoors blog by a USA Today Readers Choice poll and others. Get email updates about new stories and free gear giveaways by entering your email address in the box at the bottom of this story, at the top of the left sidebar, or on my About page, and follow my adventures on Facebook and Twitter.
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