Intermountain Region Viewing Area
View of Henry's Lake form Sawtell Peak. Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service.
Helianthella uniflora, little sunflower. Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service.
Sunflowers, Indian paintbrush, and sego lily. Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service.
Townsendia parryi, Parry's townsend daisy. Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service.
Sawtell Peak Road
Forest: Caribou-Targhee National Forest
District: Ashton-Island Park Ranger District
Description: The road up Sawtell Mountain provides an opportunity for many people to enjoy a drive up from valley sagebrush meadows to an alpine peak with a view of the Island Park caldera, Island Park Reservoir, and Henrys Lake. The peak is dominated by cushion plants, but the best wildflower viewing throughout the growing season tends to be the subalpine meadows along the way that are full of showy, flowering forbs. July and August provide visitors the best opportunities for wildflower viewing. A multitude of flowers can be seen: small sunflower (Helianthella uniflora) , Indian paintbrushes (Castilleja spp.), lupine (Lupinus spp.), western columbine (Aquilegia Formosa), sego lily (Calochortus sp.), sticky geranium (Geranium viscosissimum), and many others. The drive also takes you through a whitebark pine forest where the columbines (Aquilegia Formosa) are most abundant and the barren area before the peak is where to look for Parry’s townsend daisy (Townsendia parryi). The Sawtell Peak Trailhead is one mile down from the peak and is one of the best trails in the area for wildflower and landscape viewing, for those that would like to leave the car and do some hiking.
Directions: From Idaho Falls, Idaho head north on Highway 20 approximately 85 miles (about 1.5 miles north of Mack’s Inn) to a turn to the west on to Sawtell Peak Road. The road is approximately 13 miles to the top of the mountain and climbs 3,440 feet in elevation.
Safety First: The road is well maintained, but receives a lot of traffic and is a climb. Be sure that you safely park when stopping to view wildflowers along the way and stay mindful that other drivers are on the road. The Peak is at an elevation of 9,866 feet so be prepared for sudden changes in the weather and chilly, windy weather even during the summer months.
Ownership and Management: US Forest Service, Caribou-Targhee National Forest.
Closest Towns: Island Park, Idaho, Ashton, Idaho; and, West Yellowstone, Montana.
For More Information: For more information, contact the Ashton/Island Park District, 3726 N. Highway 20, Island Park, Idaho 83429, or call (208) 558-7301, or (208) 652-7863.