Forest Service NEZ PERCE AND BITTERROOT FORESTS
A guide to the
historic Magruder Road
To Grangeville 285
Elk City 3
14 µ 5 1
r Red River
Ranger Station 4 µ 11c
1 2 c 6 10c
FRANK CHURCH-RIVER OF NO
er To Hamilton
r West Fork
c14 c21 473
To Shoup, ID
c c17 224
How to Use This Brochure
16 This brochure is designed to encourage
travelers to stop and visit, or read about the
19 sites along the corridor. The numbered sites
on pages 3 through 12 correspond with this
µ locator map. Pages 13 and 14 are for notes.
A forest visitor map is a useful tool to ac-
company this brochure and can be purchased
at your local Forest Service office.
Introduction enjoy will remain intact for fu-
The 101-mile primitive ture generations.
Magruder Corridor Road winds Another safeguard is the use
through a vast undeveloped area, of weed-seed-free-feed prod-
offering solitude and pristine ucts. Since 1996, all feed used
beauty as well as expansive on national forest lands in Idaho
mountain views. and Montana must be certified
The landscape is much the weed-seed-free. It is encouraged
same as when the Nez Perce to feed weed-seed-free feed to
Indians and other early travelers stock at least 72 hours before
visiting a national forest.
crossed the area.
Remember the use of motor-
The road has changed little ized or mechanized equipment
since its construction by the or vehicles is not permitted in a
Civilian Conservation Corps designated wilderness.
(CCC) in the 1930s. It has also
been known as the Southern Nez Fire on the Landscape
Perce Trail, Elk City to Darby Throughout the Magruder
Corridor you will see effects
Road, Montana Road and the of natural fire, some from very
Parker Trail. large fires and some from small
creeping fires. The larger fires
Wilderness occurred in 1996 in the upper
The corridor was created in Selway drainage, in 2000 most
19801when the Central Idaho
Page visibly through the Observation
Wilderness Act was passed, leav- Point/Salmon Mountain area,
ing a unique road that enables in 2005 in the Horse Heaven
a traveler to drive between two area, in 2007 in the Magruder
wildernesses: the 1.2- million- Mountain area and many more
acre Selway-Bitterroot Wil- smaller fires.
derness to the north, and the In 1973, the Bitterroot
2.3-million-acre Frank Church- National Forest began testing
River of No Return Wilderness the Wilderness Fire Policy when
to the south. a lightning-caused fire was
allowed to burn naturally in the
Together, they represent the White Cap drainage. Over 30
largest unroaded block of land years of successful wilderness
in the lower 48 states and are fire management in the Selway-
nearly twice as large as the Bitterroot Wilderness followed,
combined states of Delaware and leading the way for wildland
Rhode Island. fire management. By carefully
To help safeguard the natural- choosing which fires to suppress
ness of wilderness, practice and which to actively manage for
“leave no trace” techniques to resource benefit, managers can
ensure the country you came to return forests to a more natural,
resilient and healthy condition.
Fire experts and research Travel time varies, but it takes
findings agree that fire has eight to ten hours to travel from
played a crucial role in shaping Red River to Darby without rest
our wildlands for thousands of stops. The average speed will be
years and is vital for the survival 12-15 miles per hour. A two-day
of many plants and animals. trip is ideal with an overnight
Road Conditions stay at one of the dispersed or
This primitive one-lane road is primitive campsite locations.
rough, steep and winding, with Take your time, absorb the sol-
few turnouts for passing oncom- itude and enjoy the remoteness
ing vehicles. It is suitable for far from the hassles of crowded
high clearance vehicles, pickup highways.
trucks, motorcycles and moun-
tain bikes. The Forest Service Camping
does not recommend towing When camping at primitive
trailers because there are several locations, please follow these
hairpin turns along the route. guidelines:
Motor homes with low clearance • Choose a site 200 feet from
trails and water.
should not travel the road.
• Use existing fire grates and
Snow begins to fall in early Oc- fire rings when building camp-
tober and persists into July; how- fires.
ever, snowstorms are possible at
• When going to the bathroom,
any time. Four-wheel-drive is do as a cat: dig a hole and
recommended when the road is bury human waste. Maintain a
snow covered or muddy. distance of 200 feet from water
Remember you are traveling and trails.
through an extensive undevel- • Make sure your campfire is
oped area with no services for dead out when you leave.
117 miles. Be sure you start • Pack out all trash, both yours
with a vehicle in good operat- and that of others.
ing condition, a full tank of gas • Leave no trace of your stay.
and a spare tire. At all times be
alert for other traffic, washouts, Drinking Water
fallen trees and other debris on Water from springs, lakes,
the road. ponds and streams should not be
The road is becoming more consumed without proper treat-
popular for ATV travel during ment (boiling for more than five
the summer months and can minutes or using a water filter)
be very busy during the Idaho as giardia could be present. It is
hunting season (mid-September a good idea to carry extra water.
Red River Ranger Station to Granite Springs
Elk City Ranger Station #2 - Granite Springs Campground
Visitors are encouraged to Granite Springs Campground
stop at the Elk City Ranger Sta- lies on both sides of the road. It
tion on the Red River Ranger has drinking water, pit toilets,
District in Elk City and ask picnic tables, stock facilities and
questions about maps, road con- water for stock.
ditions, weather and any other The Southern Nez Perce
concerns. After office hours, Trail parallels a portion of the
visitors can obtain limited Magruder Corridor Road. The
information at an interpretive Nez Perce Indians found a practi-
sign at the old Red River Rang- cal hunting/gathering route that
er Station (now closed) that followed the South Fork of the
briefly describes the southern Clearwater River to the rolling
Nez Perce Trail. It is located country and lush meadows near
just south of the ranger station Elk City and the upper Red River
along with an RV dump station. drainage. The trail went south
Magruder Road #468 begins on of the extremely difficult terrain
the left side of Road #222. The of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilder-
first eight miles are a steady ness, and also avoided the more
climb. Oregon Butte Lookout rugged portion of the deep, nar-
and Buffalo Hump are visible to row Salmon River canyon.
#1 - Mountain Meadows
The headwaters of Meadow
Creek lie directly north of the
road. Visitors will find the
Mountain Meadows campsite in
At 14-Mile Tree, the trail-
head begins for Trails 501 and
580, which lead into the Frank
Church-River of No Return
Wilderness. There is an infor-
mation board, registration box
Green Mountain Lookout
and toilet. Stock facilities in-
clude a feeding rack and hitch-
Elk Mountain Road to Burnt Knob Lookout
#3 - Elk Mountain Road #285 There are many smaller mam-
The road continues to climb mals, such as badger, wolverine,
from the Granite Springs pine marten, mink and weasels,
Campground. Elk Mountain but count yourself lucky if you
Road #285 branches to the see one.
northeast, a driveable 4-miles to However, you’ll see ground
the Green Mountain Lookout, squirrels, golden-mantle squir-
with views of the Red River rels, red squirrels and two kinds
drainage. From the #285 junc- of chipmunks. You can dif-
tion, the Magruder Road winds ferentiate between chipmunks
steeply down into Bargamin and golden-mantle squirrels, as
Creek. Drive slowly and watch the chipmunk’s white stripes
for brakes heating up. extend onto its head. Be alert
while traveling to increase your
#4 - Poet Creek Campground chances of seeing wildlife.
Poet Creek Campground lies
north of the Magruder Road.
It has four camping units with
tables, fireplaces, parking spurs,
and pit toilets. There is no de-
veloped water source. Because
stock is not permitted in the
campground, four mangers are
located south of the road.
Here in the Magruder Cor-
ridor and adjacent wildernesses,
diverse plant communities fill
habitat needs for a variety of Ground Squirrel
mammals, birds, reptiles and
amphibians. #5 - Burnt Knob Lookout Road
Large mammals include black From Poet Creek Camp-
bear, sheep, goats and four deer ground, the road climbs steeply
family members - whitetail for eight miles with a few sharp
and mule deer, elk and moose. curves. Burnt Knob #468-
Deer are the most commonly C branches off to the north.
seen animals. This road is recommended for
Wolves were introduced into 4-wheel-drive only and ends at
Idaho in 1995 and may be seen the historic Burnt Knob Look-
or heard throughout the corri- out. Three Prong Trail #539,
dor. This is also mountain lion which starts in the saddle below
territory and they could possi- the lookout, accesses McArthur,
bly be sighted. Stillman and Burnt Knob lakes.
Dry Saddle Trailhead to Horse Heaven Saddle
#6 - Dry Saddle Trailhead #8 - Horse Heaven Saddle
Dry Saddle Trailhead lies Horse Heaven is named for its
both north and south of the road lush grazing grasses. Elevation
and has pit toilets, a loading at the saddle is 7070 feet.
ramp and graveled parking Horse Heaven Cabin was built
area. Elevation at the trailhead in 1939 at a CCC Camp near
is 7920 feet. It provides access Darby, MT. It was then dissas-
to many high mountain lakes sembled and transported more
along Sheep Hill Trail #575. It than 60 miles west where it
is a ten-mile hike to Sheep Hill once functioned as a firefighter's
fire lookout tower. cabin.
#7 - Sabe Vista The cabin is south of the road
From Dry Saddle, the rough on the spur road marked for
and winding road drops down Trail #028. The one-room log
to Sabe Saddle and then climbs cabin is on the Forest Service
back up again to Sabe Vista, cabin rental program and will
which offers many scenic accommodate four people.
views. Elevation is 7490 feet Reservations are made through
at the vista. This portion of the www.recreation.gov. Informa-
road is very narrow and some- tion is available at the West
times very steep. There are few Fork Ranger Station.
places to pass another vehicle.
A large burn, which was part
of the Ladder Creek
Fire complex, is vis-
ible at Sabe Vista. In
1988, three lightning
strikes started three
different fires, which
into one fire. Nearly
70,000 acres were
burned in three Na-
tional Forests (Nez
Perce, Bitterroot and
Payette). Fire is a
natural force which
rejuvenates the envi- Horse Heaven Cabin
Salmon Mountain Area to Observation Point
#9 - Salmon Mountain Area
The Old Salmon Mountain
Ranger Station site was estab-
lished in 1911. Nearby is the
Salmon Mountain base camp,
a very popular trailhead during
hunting season. It has stock
facilities. A one-mile trail leads
to the Salmon Mountain lookout
tower which is staffed by vol-
unteers during fire season. The
elevation is 8944 feet. Moun-
tain goats are often seen on the
rocky crags and talus slopes of
This area is one of the few
places in America where you
can see the subalpine larch. Fireweed is abundant on the
The larch is the only deciduous landscape after a wildfire
coniferous tree, meaning that its
needles turn yellow and drop off
in the fall. Near the peak of the mountain
"Ribbon forests" are visible are “banner” or “flag” trees and
on the slopes in this area. These stunted trees called “krumm-
are elongated narrow forest holz,” which are often hundreds
strips growing perpendicular to of years old and only two feet
prevailing wind directions and high.
alternating with narrow bands #10 - Observation Point
of moist-wet subalpine mead- Observation Point Camp-
ows called “snow glades.” ground has nice camping spots
Also, you can find good and toilet. The elevation is 7620
examples of “ghost” trees on feet and visitors can view the
the mountain. These whitebark southern portion of the Bitterroot
pines were killed by a combi- Mountain Range, especially El
nation of mountain pine beetle Capitan. The point also offers
and blister rust attacks. They breathtaking vistas of subalpine/
became bleached from the sum- alpine wilderness.
mer sun, giving them a ghost-
#11 - Magruder Crossing Bridge
A few days later, the travelers
The only place in the upper attacked, murdered and robbed
Selway drainage you can drive Magruder and his companions in
across the Selway River is at the dark of the night.
Magruder crossing. This steel
pony-truss bridge was built by The murderers rolled the dead
CCCs in 1935. men over a cliff, burned and
The campground has picnic buried the remaining evidence
tables, a toilet, stock facilities of their crime and fled to San
and water for stock. Francisco with their stolen
booty. Hill Beachey, Magrud-
#12 - Magruder Massacre Site er’s friend, pursued the murder-
Gold was discovered near Elk ers and brought them back to
City, Idaho, in 1861 and near stand trial in Lewiston, Idaho.
Bannack, Montana, in 1862. Three of the men were found
Many miners and traders used guilty and were hung on the 4th
the Southern Nez Perce Trail of March, 1864.
as the most direct route from Lloyd Magruder had been a
Elk City, Idaho, to Bannack or successful California merchant.
Virginia City, Montana. He was a well respected man
In 1863 Lloyd Magruder and and had many friends. Prior to
companions were returning his ill-fated trip, he had agreed to
along this route from Virginia represent the Idaho Territory in
City after making a handsome Congress.
profit of gold dust from selling As a result of this event, many
supplies to miners. Four other places bear the name “Magrud-
travelers joined the Magruder er,” among them the road on
group. which you are traveling.
Beargrass along the corridor
Paradise Road to Paradise
Paradise Road #6223 in the Selway River. Chinook
Travelers on this narrow one- salmon are found throughout
lane road will enjoy a pleasant the Selway River, however,
12-mile drive along the Wild they are usually seen during
and Scenic Selway River. The peak spawning activity in late
river flows through a deep, August and early September.
beautiful canyon with some
stands of western red cedar #15 - Paradise
along its banks. There is a The elevation at Paradise is
pack bridge for the trail to Spot 3067 feet. A launch site for
Mountain Lookout. river rafting is located near the
#13 - Raven Creek Campground end of Paradise Road. Permits
Raven Creek is a primitive are required from May 15 to
campground with two sites and July 31 to float the 47-mile sec-
a pit toilet right along the road. tion of the Selway River from
Paradise to Selway Falls. Infor-
#14 - Indian Creek Hatchery mation can be obtained from the
Visitors at the primitive In- West Fork Ranger Station.
dian Creek Campground may Paradise Campground is 1/4
walk to the Indian Creek Hatch- mile up White Cap Creek road.
ery site. The campground has eleven
The Indian Creek hatching sites, with toilets, picnic tables,
channel was constructed in stock facilities and meat racks.
1964 so that spring chinook This is a very heavily used trail-
salmon eggs could be planted head during hunting season.
in the Selway River drainage. A Forest Service administra-
Fish had been unable to reach tive site is adjacent to the Para-
the Selway since the construc- dise Campground with a cabin,
tion of the Lewiston Dam in barn and corrals.
A total of approximately two
million eggs were planted each
year from 1965 to 1981 and
again in 1985. In the spring the
emerging fry were trapped and
distributed in the upper Selway
by vehicle, stock and aircraft.
This supplemented the natu-
rally spawning chinook salmon
Rafters at Paradise
Magruder Ranger Station to Hells Half Acre
#16 -Magruder Ranger Station ployee. The CCC constructed
The Magruder Ranger Station the barn, corral and woodshed.
is located 1/2 mile from Road The station is eligible for
#468. The elevation is 4100 nomination to the National
Register of Historic Places.
The structures are excel-
lent examples of rustic log
construction and interior
The Ranger's House is
on the Forest Service cabin
rental program. More infor-
mation about the house can
be obtained from the West
Fork Ranger Station, with
reservations being made
Magruder Ranger Station Office
Deep Creek Bridge
feet. Potable water is avail-
able here, but no other services The Deep Creek bridge is a
are available at the unstaffed beautiful example of arched na-
remote station. Feel free to take tive cut-stone construction. It
photos and imagine yourself was built by Lithuanian stone
living at this beautiful remote masons who were assisted by
location, but leave everything as CCC enrollees in the 1930’s.
you find it.
#17 - Deep Creek Campground
After the widespread for- The campground has three
est fires of 1910 and 1919, the sites with picnic tables, toilets
Forest Service built many low-
standard roads into the area. and stock facilities.
The road along Deep Creek was
first surveyed in 1919-1920 and #18 - CCC Camp
the road was constructed to the This was a spike camp used by
newly established tent camp the CCC enrollees during con-
known as Deep Creek Ranger struction of the road. The stone
Station. The name was later water fountain, an incinerator
changed to Magruder. and several rock foundations,
remnants of the camp, are still
The CCC improved the origi- visible along both sides of Deep
nal road in 1936 and finished Creek.
constructing a one-lane road
from the station to Elk City. #19 - Hells Half Acre Rd.#224
The office and residence and The road to Hells Half Acre
ranger's house were built by Ole Lookout is 11 miles long and ex-
Tangen, a forest Service em- tremely steep, narrow and rocky.
Nez Perce Pass to West Fork Ranger Station
#21 - Fales Flat Campground
This campground is named
for Wesley Fales, a trapper,
woodsman and early Forest
Service employee, who located
a homestead on the flat around
1914. He built a cabin there
which burned about 1940.
Since he did not complete the
patent process on his home-
stead, the entry was cancelled in
Water Fountain Built by CCCs June, 1929. Fales Flat was also
The lookout is staffed during fire the site of a CCC camp in 1933.
season. The West Fork and Red #22-Little West Fk. Campground
River Districts can contact the
tower by radio for permission to The elevation is 4580 feet.
visit. Segments of the original CCC
road are often visible about 25
Paved Road feet north of the present day
Before the 1980 Central Idaho road. Remnants of the historic
Wilderness Act was passed, bridges are visible at Watchtow-
some of the area was prepared er Creek and Little West Fork
for timber sales. This 14-mile Creek. In the winter, this is a
section of the road was paved parking lot for snowmobilers.
in the 1970’s in anticipation of
those sales. If you are hiking in West Fork Ranger Station
the area, you may notice trees Visitors are encouraged to
marked for cutting. Timber har- stop and ask questions about
vest is not allowed in designated maps, road conditions, weather
wilderness areas. and any other concerns. After
#20 - Nez Perce Pass office hours, a map is available
The elevation at Nez Perce outside the office.
Pass is 6598 feet. An informa-
tion board at the pass interprets
the history of the area and
provides visitors with general
information about this spectacu-
lar area. There is a large parking
area, toilet and stock facilities.
A helicopter landing site is lo-
cated at the pass. Please do not
park on the landing zone. Castle Rock located east of Nez Perce Pass
For More Information
Nez Perce National Forest
104 Airport Road
Grangeville, ID 83530
Red River Ranger District
Elk City Ranger Station
300 American River Road
Elk City, ID 83525
The U. S. Department of
(208) 842-2245 Agriculture (USDA) pro-
hibits discrimination in all
its programs and activities
Bitterroot National Forest on the basis of race, color,
national origin, gender,
1801 North 1st Street religion, age, disability,
Hamilton, MT 59840 political beliefs, sexual
orientation and marital
(406) 363-7100 or family status. (Not all
prohibited bases apply to
Website: fs.usda.gov/bitterroot all programs.) Persons with
disabilities who require
alternative means for com-
West Fork Ranger District munication of program
information (Braille, large
6735 West Fork Road print, audiotape, etc.)
Darby, MT 59829 should contact USDA’s
TARGET Center at 202-
720-2600 (voice and TDD).
To file a complaint of
USDA, Director, Office of
Civil Rights, Room 326-W,
Whitten Building, 14th and
Independence Avenue, SW,
Washington, DC 20250-
9410, or call 202-720-5964
(voice and TDD). USDA is
an equal opportunity
provider and employer.