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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.



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 (because there many active mining claims, make sure you aren't panning in someone else's stretch of water).  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 skiing. Carolyn’s Pond at Red River Fish Hatchery 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.  This self-guided trip takes you 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, Prospector’s Interpretive Sign, Elk Calving, Dixie Guard Station, Dixie Cemetery, Dixie Town Site, Southern Nez 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 208-842-2452 or the Elk City Ranger Station at 208-842-2245.  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. Check out FriendsOfTheElkCityWagon Road on Facebook for details.  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 Aviation – Debbie Taylor 208-842-2494.

Road Trips

American Indians traveled through the present 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.

Elk City Statistics

We are an unincorporated community so we have no mayor.  We do have a non-profit organization (Elk City Area Alliance) that holds community property such as the airport, community hall, medical clinic, and the park.

  1. Population – about 200ish which includes Dixie and surrounding areas.

  2. Elk City is in Idaho County.

  3. Elevation is 4200 ft.

  4. Elk City is located in north central Idaho on the South fork of the Clearwater River.  We are surrounded by wilderness area.  It is 50 miles to the nearest town of Grangeville.

  5. Gold was discovered here in 1861 and the town has been occupied ever since.  People still search for gold here and there is recreational dredging.

  6. We have a school that is K-8th grade.  The high school students board out either in Grangeville or Kooskia.  There are about 30 students and 2 teachers.

  7. Many people come here to hunt deer, elk, and moose, bear, cougar.

  8. There are many mountain lakes in which to fish.  Salmon and Steelhead come up the south fork so we see many fishermen along our windy road.

  9. Elk City Days- 2nd weekend in Aug.

  10. Elk City Wagon Road Days-3rd weekend in July

  11. Red River Hot Springs (supposed to reopen this summer)

  12. Check out our Elk City Idaho website.

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