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Check Out These Teeth!! The Idaho Sawtooth Mountain Range

Thompson PeakMajestic peaks shooting high up in the sky making one wonder," Just how did these mountains come to be so beautiful?" The Sawtooth mountains are like no other mountain range in the U.S. A vacation journey through Idaho wouldn't be complete without adding the Sawtooths mountain range to the adventure.

Idaho residents and visitors alike marvel at the spectacular profile of the mountains rising up from the horizon.  There is nothing quite like a morning in the mountains when the air is fresh and the cool breeze in the tree-tops carries the scent of pine.  The Sawtooth Mountain Range stretches as far as the eye can see.


The Beginning of the Rockies and the Sawtooth Mountain Range
Periods of mountain building are called orogenies.  Two orogenies are responsible for the formation of the Rockies and the Sawtooth Mountain Range.  The mountains were formed when plate tectonics caused the Pacific Plate to collide with the North American Plate.  As the Pacific Plate continued its movement, crust was forced toward the earth’s core by the North American Plate.  The Pacific Plate contained two landmasses called Terranes.  The first Terrane collided and joined with North America 175 million years ago, triggering the Columbia Orogeny and forcing masses of rock to crack and fold over other rocks, resulting in the formation of the Rockies.  The second Terrane collided 85 million years ago causing the Laramie Orogeny to form the front range and foothills.  The Sawtooth Range began when a long ridge of mountains composed of vertical layers eroded into a jagged ridge that resembled the blade of a saw.
 
The Sawtooth Range of Idaho
Idahoans, especially those in nearby Stanley, have the opportunity to live just a bit closer to nature. Area residents have unmatched access to a pristine Idaho in the form of the Sawtooth Range which encompass an area of 678 square miles of the Sawtooth Wilderness and touches four counties: Custer, Boise, Blaine and Elmore.  According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the Sawtooth Wilderness has the best air quality in the lower forty-eight states.
 
Only a few miles from Redfish Lake and Little Redfish Lake standing at 10,751 feet, Thompson Peak has the highest elevation in the Sawtooth Range.  It is followed closely by Mount Cramer which welcomes mountain climbers to scale its heights at 10,716 feet.  Mount Cramer drains into two rivers: the Payette and the Salmon.  Williams Peak was named for Dave Williams who was part of the first team that ascended the 10,636 foot peak in 1934.  Standing at 10,299 feet, Mount Heyburn took its name from Weldon Heyburn who served as Idaho’s senator from 1903 to 1912.

Rafting FunThe Sawtooth National Recreation Area
The Sawtooth National Recreation Area is 750,000 acres of protected land that offers ample opportunities for Idaho visitors to spend quality time in outdoor recreation such as backpacking, biking, boating, horseback riding or skiing.  The lakes and rivers are teeming with fish, and the whitewater presents an alluring challenge to rafters of all skill levels.  There are also many opportunities for hiking and wildlife watching at the edge of the Sawtooth Wilderness.

 

Kevin Hughes

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