This area of Idaho was not considered to be very friendly for human inhabitants so it wasn't developed until the late 1800's. Although Native Americans such as the Northern Shoshone and Banncock did live in this area the Europeans came through and didn't stay. This area of land became part of the Oregon Trail after Robert Stuart was successful in leading an expedition from Astoria, Oregon to St. Louis, Missouri.
Many acts of Congress had to be passed before the Sawtooth National Forest was actually protected. Although Congress tried to pass acts as early as 1799 it wasn't until much later that the preservation of the forests was really instituted. President Theodore Roosevelt created the Sawtooth National Forest in May of 1905, preserving 1,947,520 acres.
The Sawtooth National Forest has many activities for visitors to enjoy. Some of the areas are very primitive while others have recreation sites with campgrounds and lakes. Because of the heritage of this area there are almost fifteen hundred heritage sites in this forest.
Preservation of this heritage is one of the reasons the forest is here so there are teaching and interpretive talks about the archaeology of the forest. School children can come to the forest on field trips and visitors can learn about the forest when they tour it.
There are three types of fees charges for using the Sawtooth National Forest. There is an entrance fee for using the designated federal recreation areas. The second type is a Use fees. This includes visitor areas such as campgrounds, swimming areas, boat launches and parking. It can also include water fowl blinds, specialized interpretive services, or cave tours.
The third fee is for Special Recreation Permit Fees. These specialized fees would be for a group activity permit, recreational events, and using motorized vehicles in the federal recreation areas.
An Interagency Annual Pass costs eighty dollars and is good for one year from the date of purchase. It will allow entrance to the following: national parks, national wildlife refuges, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Reclamation, National Park Service and Bureau of Land Managementsites that charge fees. This pass only covers the entrance fee.
There is an Interagency Senior Pass that gets visitors over 62 into the same recreational areas. It is good for the lifetime of the purchaser and costs ten dollars. This pass also gives a fifty percent discount on federal recreation use fees for most facilities and services. It does exclude concessions and special recreation permits. An Interagency Access Pass for blind and permanently disabled citizens is available for free and lasts a lifetime. It has the same benefits as the Senior Pass.
There are permits that are needed for firewood. Citizens can take two cords of wood from the forest for twenty five dollarswith a maximum of ten cords per year. Christmas Trees can be cut from the forest with a permit. It costs five dollars for a single tree no taller than eight feet and ten dollars for a tree that is larger than eight feet.