By Michael Lanza
I may be risking an impassioned debate here, but I think there are very few mountain ranges in America with as many drop-dead, gorgeous high mountain lakes as Idaho’s Sawtooths. In fact, the only ranges that arguably beat out the Sawtooths in that department may be the High Sierra and Wind River Range (and not coincidentally, the three share other similarities, including geology). In 20 years of wandering around Idaho’s best-known hills, I’ve seen many of those watery jewels. This gallery of photos from many of them may persuade you to agree with me.
I don’t make this claim about Sawtooth Mountains lakes lightly. I’ve hiked all over the country, and I’m a big fan of the Tetons, the Cascades (especially the North Cascades), the Winds, the White Mountains (where I started hiking), and other mountain ranges. Anyone reading my story “Tent Flap With a View: 25 Favorite Backcountry Campsites” or looking at my photo gallery of favorite backcountry lakes will see I’ve camped by a lot of nice lakes.
When you consider the beauty and the sheer numbers of clear, high mountain lakes tucked in granite basins ringed by soaring cliffs and jagged peaks, I just think Idaho’s Sawtooths have little competition.
Some, like Sawtooth and Alice lakes, are well known. Others are more remote and obscure; you may have never seen a photo of some of these lakes. All are only reached by hiking or riding a horse for miles into the wilderness. Seeing these incredible places requires time and effort.
I’ve helped many readers plan an unforgettable backpacking trip in Idaho’s Sawtooths.
Want my help with yours? Click here.
See all of my stories about Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, including “Jewels of the Sawtooths: Backpacking to Alice, Hell Roaring, and Imogene Lakes,” “Going After Goals: Backpacking in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains,” “Ask Me: The Best Long Backpacking Trip in Idaho’s Sawtooths,” and “Ask Me: What Are the Best Hikes in Idaho’s Sawtooths?”
If you think I’ve overlooked an outstanding lake in the Sawtooths, or if you believe you know of a range with prettier mountain lakes, please suggest it in the comments section below this story.
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