Pioneer Mountains, Idaho

Pioneer Mountains


Because Sun Valley is primarily a ski resort there is actually quite a lot of winter activity in the Pioneers, especially in the areas closest to the resort.

  • The Pioneer Mountain Range stretches from west to east between Ketchum and Arco, Idaho covering a distance of nearly 50 miles.
  • Situated on the western slope of the Pioneer Mountain Range is the Sun Valley Ski Resort.
  • The Pioneers are a popular summer and winter spot for all types of outdoor recreation.

Overview

The Pioneer Mountains is Idaho's premier mountain range. The peaks of this range are high and varied. The scenic vistas are terrific. The lakes are pristine.

Location & Information

The Pioneer Mountain Range stretches from west to east between Ketchum and Arco, Idaho covering a distance of nearly 50 miles. At its widest, the range is nearly 25 miles wide. The Pioneers lie between the Big Wood River Valley to their west (Hailey, Ketchum), the headwaters of the Big Lost River on their east, and Summit Creek/Trail Creek on their north.

Despite their high altitude which results in heavy snow and great variations in elevation, there is very little timber in these mountains. The countryside is open, and distant views are easy to find. Pronghorn antelope range from the valley floors to timberline and above.

Because of the range's proximity to Sun Valley there are some areas of the range that see a lot of traffic year-round. Because Sun Valley is, of course, primarily a ski resort there is actually quite a lot of winter activity in the Pioneers, especially in the areas closest to the resort.

Wildhorse Canyon is a popular destination in the summer as there is a nice campground located there and the scenery is astounding. The more remote sections of the range are near Copper Basin in the Eastern section of the Range, where there are many high, but seldom visited mountains.

This area is administrated by Sawtooth National Recreation Area (800) 260-5970.

Activities

Situated on the western slope is the Sun Valley Ski Resort, the Pioneer Mountains area perfect for skiing and boarding in winter, and hiking and biking in the summer.

The Pioneer Mountain Traverse (26 miles)
The mountains have spectacular, jagged peaks and sparkling cirque lakes that will remind you of the popular Sawtooth Mountains. But unlike in the Sawtooths, the trails here are little traveled, so backpackers can enjoy solitude comparable to the much more remote Lemhi and Lost River ranges. The road access to most trailheads in the Pioneers is fairly reasonable. Currently none of this magnificent range is protected as wilderness (a situation that should, someday, be corrected), you can still find many trails that are closed to motorbikes by local forest rules, so you can hike free of the noise, fumes, and badly eroded trails that plague the Bear River and Snake River ranges. This short, rough, and very scenic traverse is equally good in either direction.

Biking
Corral Creek is just one of the many popular and fun mountain bike rides that you can enjoy in the Pioneer Mountains.

Corral Creek Trail
The corral creek trail ascends to and descends from the base of the Pioneer Mountains to Trail creek. This is a non technical road ride which is all dirt. The ride is about 12 miles and has spectacular scenery of the surrounding Mountains.


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