25 Most Beautiful Mountains in Idaho
As one of the Rocky Mountain states, Idaho boasts an astonishing array of truly beautiful peaks. With hundreds of mountains spread out over more than 110 named mountain ranges, the state offers endless opportunities to hike, climb, and camp. Outdoor enthusiasts can visit the rugged Boulder Mountains, marvel at the photogenic Sawtooth Range, or admire the many high peaks of the Pioneer Mountains. The state is also home to 9 mountains with an elevation of more than 12,000 feet, which are colloquially known as the “Idaho 12ers.” Here are 25 of the most beautiful mountains in Idaho. Photo: Ronnie Howard/Fotolia
Known to the locals as 'Baldy', Bald Mountain is where the first ski resort in North America was opened. The mountain boasts approximately 2,000 acres of skiable terrain, more than 60 runs, and 13 ski lifts. Some of the lifts run in the summer as well as in the winter, giving hikers the opportunity to take a free chairlift ride down to the bottom of the mountain. There are plenty of hiking trails on the mountain, but the most popular is the 4.5-mile Bald Mountain Trail. The mountain is also a popular destination for rock climbers, mountain bikers, and paragliders.
With a height of 12,662 ft., Borah Peak is the highest mountain in the state of Idaho. The standard route up the mountain is a class 3 scramble known as Chickenout Ridge; it begins in Birch Springs, requires hikers to ascend 5,262 vertical feet in 4.1 miles, and includes a narrow ridge-walk that can intimidate less experienced mountaineers. The easiest and most popular time to climb the mountain is during the late summer. The trails are open early in the season and during the winter as well, but special equipment such as crampons, snowshoes, and an ice ax might be needed.
Located not far from the City of Rocks National Reserve, a popular rock climbing destination, the 10,339-foot. Cache Peak offers stunning views of the Teton Mountain Range. A forest service road on the southwest side of the mountain leads to a saddle where a trail begins. The trail does not lead all the way to the summit, but it can easily be reached if you have a map and a compass. Campsites are available for a fee in the City of Rocks area, and campers should also be able to find a place to pitch their tent further up the mountain.
Photo: robert cicchetti/Fotolia
Known for its challenging routes, Castle Peak is part of the White Cloud Mountain Range. The easiest and most popular route up the mountain is a class 3 scramble that begins in the Chamberlain Basin. More than 25 lakes can be seen from the summit, as can the Lost River Range, the Sawtooth Range, and the Smoky Mountains. A Sawtooth Recreation Area permit is needed to access the mountain; both annual and 3-day passes are available. Most visitors come to the mountain between June and September, as avalanches and road conditions are a concern during the winter months.
One of the three legs of the Pioneer Triumvirate, Cobb Peak is often considered to be among the most beautiful mountains in the state. The summit sits at 11,650 feet, making the mountain the 35th highest in Idaho, and the summit is exposed enough to be uncomfortable to stand on. The mountain's most distinctive feature is its multi-colored southwest face, but the north face has the honor of being one of the most challenging snow climbs in the area. The approach is quite long, and hikers may wish to camp in Hyndman, Big Basins, or at the trailhead.
»Devil's Bedstead East
Not to be confused with Devil's Bedstead West, Devil's Bedstead East is an interesting peak that has a pyramidal shape when viewed from the north and a block-like shape when viewed from the east. The most popular routes on the mountain are the Boulder Lake and Kane Creek trails, both of which lead to a scramble on the north face. Late summer is the best time to go; the mountain can be quite difficult to climb when covered with snow, as it is during the rest of the year. Several campgrounds are available, and camping on the mountain is permitted as well.
Shaped like a large pyramid, Diamond Peak is the highest mountain in Idaho outside of the Lost River Range. The peak attracts plenty of hikers and climbers thanks to its height of 12,197 feet, and the most popular route to the top is a class 3 scramble. Camping is available at the base of the mountain on the east side, by Badger Creek on the west side, and in the campground next to Birch Creek. Lucky visitors might spot antelope on the drive to the mountain; the valleys on the east and west sides are home to the largest herds in Idaho.
Part of the Lost River Range, Doublespring Peak consists of a complicated series of ridges that make it difficult to see the true 11,611-foot summit. Although not nearly as popular with hikers and climbers as the nearby Mount Borah, Doublespring Peak can be climbed from late June through October. The mountain is located solidly in the backcountry, so visitors should go prepared with all necessary equipment. There are no campgrounds in the area, and car camping is recommended as much of the terrain is extremely exposed and will put campers at the mercy of the elements.
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Photo: robert cicchetti/Fotolia
Goat Mountain has two distinct summits, although the southern peak is slightly higher and thus considered to be the true summit. The remote peak is located in the Beaverhead Mountain Range, and it offers a class 2 scramble that begins in the parking area, leads along the southwest ridge, and allows hikers to access both peaks. The mountain can be climbed at any time of the year, although snowshoes and trekking poles are recommended for anyone planning to make the ascent during the winter. Hikers should also be aware that there is no water to be found along the trail.
Photo: robert cicchetti/Fotolia
Located at the head of the Hyndman basin, Hyndman Peak is a majestic pyramid-shaped mountain with a height of 12,009 feet. The ascent to the top is the easiest of all the Idaho 12ers, but the route to the summit still requires hikers to climb 5,000 feet over a distance of 12 miles. There are no fees to access the area, and visitors can camp for free at the trailhead or at Hyndman Basin, which offers water and trees for shelter. Late summer and fall are the best times to visit the mountain, although hiking in the winter is sometimes possible.
Photo: David LEVEQUE/Fotolia
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Towering over the Leatherman Pass, Leatherman Peak has a summit of 12,228 feet, making it the second highest mountain in Idaho. There are two main routes to the top: One that begins in Leatherman Pass and goes up the west ridge of the peak, and another easier route that takes hikers along the west side of the north ridge. Plenty of camping spots are available near this trailhead, and there are even several picnic tables and an outhouse. No permits or passes are required to visit the mountain, and mid-June until mid-September is the best time to go.
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»Lost River Peak
Not far from the town of Mackay, Lost River Peak is part of the Lost River Range. The mountain can be climbed beginning in mid-May, but it's easier to climb and thus most popular during the late summer months. There is a campsite at the nearby Mackay Reservoir and camping is also permitted at the trailhead, where water is available in the spring and early summer. There are no fees to access the area, but visitors will have to pass through private property on the way to the trailhead and are asked to leave all gates on the road as they were found.
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The remote Mount Breitenbach is tucked away out of view of the nearby highways, and it's believed that it was not climbed until the early 1960s. At 12,140 feet, the mountain is the fifth highest in Idaho and is one of the famous Idaho 12ers. There are no marked trails to the summit, but hikers typically begin at Pete Creek. The view from the summit is excellent, and all eight of the other 12ers can be seen from here. Camping is permitted at the trailhead near Pete Creek, but there are no facilities for campers to use aside from a small fire ring.
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Mount Church has never been officially named or measured, but its summit is slightly above 12,200 feet and it is unofficially named after former Idaho senator Frank Church. The climb to the top is quite intense, but it offers stunning views of the surrounding Lost River Range mountains. The easiest route up the mountain involves climbing Donaldson Ridge to the southeast; from here, it's possible to cross along the ridgeline to the peak of Mount Church. There are no fees or required permits for the area, and limited camping is available at the base of the mountain.
Photo: robert cicchetti/Fotolia
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Situated in the Sawtooth Wilderness of Idaho, Mount Cramer is surrounded by beautiful alpine lakes and has an elevation of 10,716 feet. The summit can be reached in a day if you begin from the Hell Roaring upper trailhead, but it can also be accessed from the north and south. A Sawtooth National Recreation Area permit is required for visitors who park at the trailhead; these can be obtained right at the trailhead, and both 3-day and annual passes are available. There are plenty of campgrounds in the Sawtooth area, but wilderness camping is also allowed with the correct Sawtooth Wilderness Permit.
Photo: Krzysztof Wiktor/Fotolia
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Although not officially named, this peak is referred to as Mount Morrison in honor of the surveyor who determined that Mount Borah is the highest peak in Idaho. There are plenty of possible routes up the mountain, but two stand out: the 7.8-mile East Ridge, which is ideal for climbing in dry conditions, and the more difficult West Bowl, which is best done as a snow climb. Both routes take between 8 and 12 hours. Not many flat spots suitable for camping can be found at the base of the mountain, but there is a campground at the nearby Mackay Reservoir.
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One of the Centennial Mountains on the border of Idaho and Montana, Mount Jefferson is 10,203 feet high. The peak can be reached by a trail that begins just off the Sawtell Mountain Road; the trail is approximately 4.5 miles in length and has an elevation gain of 1,200 feet. The mountain is best climbed during the summer, but the south side of the ridge is suited to winter hiking. The access road is not open to the public during the winter months, so visitors will have to walk, ski, or snowshoe several miles from the gate to the trailhead.
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Towering over beautiful Sawtooth Lake, Mount Regan is one of the most photogenic peaks in the Sawtooth Range. A well-maintained hiking trail begins on the east side of the lake and brings hikers around the east and south sides of the mountain, but the peak can only be reached by a class 4 scramble. There are no fees to hike, climb, or camp in the backcountry, but there are several fee-based drive-in campsites at the Iron Creek trailhead. Visitors should be aware that backcountry campfires are not allowed in many areas around the mountain, including Sawtooth Lake.
Photo: Krzysztof Wiktor/Fotolia
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»Old Hyndman Peak
Located 1 mile away from the slightly higher Hyndman Peak, Old Hyndman Peak is another leg of the Pioneer Triumvirate. The most popular route up the mountain is a class 3 scramble on the east ridge and east face, but there is also class 5 climbing available on the northwest ridge and the north face. The best time to visit the mountain is from June to September, and there are plenty of spots to camp at the trailhead and around the two lakes in Big Basin, which is located to the east of the nearby Cobb Peak.
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The highest of the rugged Boulder Mountains in central Idaho, Ryan Peak is composed of notoriously loose rock, which makes it a challenge to climb. The primary trailhead can be found at the end of National Forest Road 146; it brings hikers to the ridge located just southwest of the mountain's summit. Once here, it’s a beautiful and fairly easy walk to the top of the mountain. Designated camping spots can be found beside the North Fork Road, just before the trailhead, and there is also plenty of accommodation in the nearby town of Ketchum.
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Known to many as simply the Spitzl, Salzburg Spitzl is one of the Pioneer Mountains in the center of the state and it gets its name from a large spire, or spitzl, that can be seen from the south. The nature of the rock means that the mountain is not suitable for technical climbing, but it is possible to hike or scramble to the summit. The large south face of the mountain is a popular destination for backcountry skiers in the winter, although all of the local dirt roads are closed to the public during the winter months.
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Located near the town of Fairfield, Smoky Dome is part of the Soldier Mountain Range and is known to the locals simply as Soldier Mountain. There are two main trails that hikers can take: one that begins on the east side and one that starts on the south side. No developed campgrounds can be found around the mountain, but camping is quite popular here and there are plenty of informal campsites near both the east and south side trailheads. The mountain is most popular during the late summer months, but it's possible to ascend during the winter and ski or snowboard down.
Photo: Andriy Solovyov/Fotolia
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With a summit of 11,878 feet, Standhope Peak is the fourth highest of the Pioneer Mountains. The mountain is surrounded by beautiful alpine lakes, including the turquoise Betty Lake and Goat Lake, the highest elevation lake in the state. The easiest route to the summit is a class 3 scramble along the southeast ridge, and hikers who reach the top will be rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and alpine lakes. The Pioneers are typically more snowy than other Idaho mountains, so the best time to climb Standhope is between late July and September.
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With an elevation of 10,751 feet, Thompson Peak is the highest mountain in the Sawtooth Range. There are four different routes up the mountain, the easiest of which is the class 3 South Couloir and the most difficult being the class 5.8 Northeast Face. A Sawtooth National Forest Pass is required if you'd like to park in the parking lot, and anyone who hikes or climbs the mountain will need to fill out a free self-issued wilderness permit. There are plenty of campgrounds around the trailhead, some of which require reservations, and wilderness camping is allowed on the mountain as well.
Photo: Gregory Johnston/Fotolia
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As the tallest mountain in the area with a lookout tower, Trinity Mountain is one of the most popular peaks in the Boise Mountain Range and is notably surrounded by more than 15 lakes. Several different routes wind their way up the mountain, including a well-marked 4.9-mile trail that begins at the Big Trinity Lake campground and another 7-mile trail that allows hikers to completely traverse and summit the mountain. The area is typically snowy well into the month of June, and visitors should be aware that the road to the campground doesn't open until July most years.
Photo: Gregory Johnston/Fotolia
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25 Most Beautiful Mountains in Idaho
- Bald Mountain, Photo: Courtesy of John - Fotolia.com
- Borah Peak, Photo: Courtesy of larson755 - Fotolia.com
- Cache Peak, Photo: Courtesy of robert cicchetti - Fotolia.com
- Castle Peak, Photo: Courtesy of fredlyfish4 - Fotolia.com
- Cobb Peak, Photo: Courtesy of Audrey - Fotolia.com
- Devil's Bedstead East, Photo: Courtesy of larson755 - Fotolia.com
- Diamond Peak, Photo: Courtesy of larson755 - Fotolia.com
- Doublespring Peak, Photo: Courtesy of robert cicchetti - Fotolia.com
- Goat Mountain, Photo: Courtesy of robert cicchetti - Fotolia.com
- Hyndman Peak, Photo: Courtesy of David LEVEQUE - Fotolia.com
- Leatherman Peak, Photo: Courtesy of larson755 - Fotolia.com
- Lost River Peak, Photo: Courtesy of svariophoto - Fotolia.com
- Mount Breitenbach, Photo: Courtesy of wollertz - Fotolia.com
- Mount Church, Photo: Courtesy of robert cicchetti - Fotolia.com
- Mount Cramer, Photo: Courtesy of Krzysztof Wiktor - Fotolia.com
- Mount Morrison, Photo: Courtesy of hotforphotog - Fotolia.com
- Mount Jefferson, Photo: Courtesy of knowlesgallery - Fotolia.com
- Mount Regan, Photo: Courtesy of Krzysztof Wiktor - Fotolia.com
- Old Hyndman Peak, Photo: Courtesy of larson755 - Fotolia.com
- Ryan Peak, Photo: Courtesy of larson755 - Fotolia.com
- Salzburg Spitzl, Photo: Courtesy of rck - Fotolia.com
- Smoky Dome, Photo: Courtesy of Andriy Solovyov - Fotolia.com
- Standhope Peak, Photo: Courtesy of LiviuConstantin - Fotolia.com
- Thompson Peak, Photo: Courtesy of Gregory Johnston - Fotolia.com
- Trinity Mountain, Photo: Courtesy of Gregory Johnston - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Ronnie Howard - Fotolia.com
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