Saint Joe River


This northern Idaho river features crystal clear water and offers outstanding scenery, excellent catch and release fishing, and plenty of wildlife. There are numerous small, rustic campgrounds along the shores of the roaded portion of the river (39.7 miles) and a trail along the entire wild portion (26.6 miles)of the river to its headwaters at St. Joe Lake. The river was originally named the “St. Joseph” by Father Pierre-Jean Desmet, a Catholic priest who established a mission nearby.

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Designated Reach

November 10, 1978. The segment above the confluence of the North Fork of the St. Joe River to St. Joe Lake.

Outstandingly Remarkable Values


The St. Joe River provides outstanding habitat for a diversity of fish species, including bull trout, a federally listed threatened fish species. In addition, this river supports an outstanding native westslope cutthroat trout fishery, one of the best in the state.


The St. Joe River provides an outstanding diversity of recreational opportunities, including whitewater rafting, floating, and fishing. Hunting and fishing along the St. Joe River is some of the best in the state, and the geology and natural scenery provides excellent sightseeing and wildlife viewing opportunities. Good access along a paved road takes visitors through the recreation river corridor with eight developed campgrounds and numerous dispersed sites and to the doorstop of the wild river section where a trail parallels the river for 17 miles to the headwaters at St. Joe Lake. Numerous trails originate from the recreational segment providing trails for both non-motorized and single-track motorcycle opportunities. Miles of loop trails radiating out from the 17 mile St. Joe River Trail provide great opportunities for overnight stock riding and backpacking trips in a primitive setting.


Outstanding scenery is characterized by a steep “V” shaped canyon with moss- and fern-covered cliffs to the water’s edge, views of timber covered slopes interspersed with grassy or brush covered openings, and crystal clear water with numerous pools, riffles, and small falls.

Water Quality

The St. Joe is renowned for its clear and clean waters. The water quality directly enhances fish populations and recreational activities on the river.


The variety and quality of habitat in the St. Joe drainage supports a high diversity of wildlife, including elk, deer, moose, bear, coyote, furbearers, hawks, and uncommon species such as bald eagles, wolves, and mountain goats.

Managing Partners And Contacts


Recreational Wild
Recreational — 39.7 miles; Wild — 26.6 miles; Total — 66.3 miles.
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