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Custer County is a rural mountain county located in the center of the state. Established in 1881, it was named for the General Custer Mine, where gold was discovered five years earlier (shortly after Custer's death at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in eastern Montana). The county seat is Challis. The landscape of Custer County consists of arid desert, flat green valleys, and rugged rocky peaks and contains the highest mountain in Idaho, Mount Borah at 12,662 ft. Custer County relies on ranching, mining, and tourism as its main resources. Custer County contains much of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness and the famous Salmon River as well as the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.
The Salmon River and the Middle Fork are perfect destinations for river lovers. With crystal clear flowing water from rugged glaciated terrain, these rivers have exciting whitewater rapids that will wake you with a splash in the face. On more placid sections, relax and enjoy the scenery and wildlife watching you from the banks of the river.
The crystal clear Salmon River and its tributaries are home to rainbow, cutthroat and brook trout and whitefish. Fall migration of steelhead from the Pacific begins a long fishing season which lasts through spring. Pristine high mountain lakes guarded by mountain peaks require some hiking to reach, but the trip is well worth your effort.
Wildlife is plentiful with big game species such as elk, deer, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, moose, antelope, black bear and cougar. Whether you are a big game hunter or photographer, make this area your destination. Watch for bighorn sheep along the highway near Challis or mountain goats along the Yankee Fork. You may even spot the elusive cougar or wolf.
Off highway travel on motorcycles and ATVs will take you to special places. Miles and miles of gravel roads traverse open sagebrush country and forested areas. Off-road explorers can reach high ridge tops on roads such as the Spar Canyon Road south of Challis or historic areas such as the Custer Motorway.