About Elk City, ID
Welcome to Elk City, Idaho
Our community is located in the heart of the Nez Perce National Forest where thousands of acres of public lands and wilderness areas are there to embrace your pioneering spirit!
On foot, by horse, ATV, UTV, Jeep, Snowmobile, or by air – the fresh mountain air and distant vistas, the wildlife and its treasures are all within your reach.
If the backcountry is where you love to be, this is a great place to fish in rivers and lakes, hike, camp, snowmobile, horseback ride, experience the wildlife, the flora and fauna, the history. Explore ATV trails (especially the MacGruder Corridor Wilderness Road, popularly referred to as The Darby Road, that connects Elk City Idaho and Darby Montana) during summer, do some hunting or just enjoy quiet time.
LEARN ABOUT GOLD MINING HISTORY
Since gold was discovered here by John Newsome in 1861, the Elk City area abounds in gold mining history and maybe a little treasure too! Dip your pan in almost any creek and come up with some gold. Elk City Hotel Gift Shop features remnants of gold mines, dredging operations, miles of hand dug ditches that brought water to the mine sites, a soon-to-be restored complete ball mill that processed the ore, mining equipment and an extensive historic photo project to view that bygone era.
In the midst of the Bitterroot Mountains, you’ll find pristine country where the past blends with the present. Among some signs of modern life, you’ll find a land that hasn’t changed much. This area holds abundant reminders of times gone by, when mountain men hunted its primitive forests and miners rushed in with dreams of striking it rich.
The community of Elk City Idaho is well known for it’s beautiful summer weather and year-round recreation. Make sure you bring an ATV, horse, hiking boots, fishing and hunting gear, or 4-wheel drive vehicle with high clearance to access mountain lake areas.
Trout are plentiful in the nearby rivers and lakes. Old lookout towers, ridge top roads and trails provide scenic vistas. In winter, miles and miles of groomed trails are available for snowmobiling and cross-country skiin. Carolyn’s Pond at Red River Fish Hathery is a favorite place for the kids and older folks and is just off the paved road at the old Red River Ranger Station.
The Gold Loop Tour
Take a drive through Idaho’s history down the Gold Rush Loop Adventure Road. Join us on a trip through time to explore the rich and colorful mining history of the Elk City area. This trip is 62 miles of backcountry roads. Part of this road is paved and part forest graded roads. The best time to travel higher elevations is between the end of June through mid-September. Lower elevation areas can be driven year-round. Most of this loop is groomed in the winter for snowmobiling.
Stops on the Gold Loop Tour: (Crooked River Mill Site, Dredging, Crooked River Reclamation, Gnome Mill Site, Walker Cabin, Hydraulic Mining, Old Orogrande, Buffalo Hump, Prospector’s Interpretive Sign, Elk Calving, Dixie Guard Station, Dixie Cemetery, Dixie Town Site, Southern Nezp Perce Trail, Chinese Miners Ditch Sites, Elk City Town Site.
Magruder Corridor Trip
Travel the 101-mile primitive Magruder Corridor Road, which winds through a vast undeveloped wilderness, offering solitude and beauty as well as expansive mountain views. The road has changed little since its construction in the 1930s. Take your time and do some hiking in the wilderness. There are some lakes to hike into for trout fishing. The road is only open from July to mid-September. The rest of the year you may encounter snow.
We typically have 300 miles of groomed trails. Elevations range from 3000 feet down by rivers to over 6000 feet on ridges and mountains. For groomed trail information call 208-842-2557. Prime Season: December – March.
Elk City Wagon Road
The Elk City Wagon Road closely follows the southern Nez Perce Trail used by Native Americans and later, miners. It can be toured as part of the annual summer adventure held the 3rd Sunday of July or as a self-guided tour during the months of June-September, weather permitting. A brochure may be downloaded here. This road is still an unpaved passage of days gone by. No gass stations or other services are available until you reach Elk City. Total distance: 45 miles. Suggested time: 4-6 hours.
Elk City Idaho by Air
Come see our Gateway to Idaho’s Backcountry Airport located in Elk City, Idaho. The airport is summer access only, not maintained for winter use. For more information, please contact the airport manager and AMP licensed mechanic, Curtis Jones, for pilot and guest camping spots during summer months.
Elk City Airstrip (S90)
American Indians traveled through the prseent day South Fork of the Clearwater River corridor on their seasonal migration from the Camas Prairie in Grangeville to the Bitterroot Valley near Montana. Gold miners and homesteaders who flocked to the area in the 1860’s later used the route, known as the southern Nez Perce Trail. Today, State Highway 14, which follows the South Fork of the Clearwater River, is the primary travel route through the corridor. On the south side of Highway 14, you can often spot mountain goats on the rugged cliffs above the river near mile marker 22.