Geography of Lewis County, Idaho

Geography of Lewis County, Idaho

Lewis County, located in the north-central part of the state of Idaho, is a region characterized by its rugged mountains, pristine rivers, and abundant wildlife. Encompassing an area of approximately 4800 square miles, Lewis County is known for its diverse geography, including mountainous terrain, dense forests, and fertile valleys.

Location and Borders

According to Educationvv, Lewis County is situated in the north-central part of Idaho, bordered by several other counties and the Nez Perce Indian Reservation. To the north, the county is bordered by Clearwater County, while to the east lies Idaho County. To the south, Lewis County is bordered by Nez Perce County, while to the west lies Shoshone County.

The county seat of Lewis County is the city of Nezperce, while other significant communities include Kamiah, Craigmont, and Winchester. Lewis County is part of the North Central Idaho region and is known for its remote wilderness areas, outdoor recreation opportunities, and scenic beauty.

Topography and Terrain

The topography of Lewis County is characterized by its rugged mountains, deep river canyons, and fertile valleys. The region lies within the Rocky Mountains and is part of the larger Clearwater Mountains range.

The landscape of Lewis County is shaped by its proximity to the Clearwater River and its tributaries, which have carved deep valleys and gorges into the surrounding terrain. The county is also home to several other rivers, including the Salmon River, the South Fork of the Clearwater River, and the Middle Fork of the Clearwater River.

In addition to its mountainous terrain, Lewis County also features dense forests of pine, fir, and cedar trees, which provide habitat for a variety of wildlife species, including deer, elk, bear, and mountain lions. The county’s forests are managed by the U.S. Forest Service and provide opportunities for logging, hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation.


Lewis County experiences a diverse climate, with temperatures and precipitation varying depending on elevation and location within the county. The region’s climate is influenced by its mountainous terrain and its proximity to the Pacific Ocean.

In general, Lewis County has a continental climate, characterized by cold, snowy winters and warm, dry summers. However, temperatures can vary significantly depending on elevation, with higher elevations experiencing cooler temperatures and more precipitation than lower elevations.

Winter temperatures in Lewis County typically range from below freezing to the 30s Fahrenheit (around -1 to 4°C), with occasional periods of extreme cold and heavy snowfall. Snowfall is common in the mountains and higher elevations, while lower elevations may receive less snowfall and experience milder temperatures.

Summer temperatures in Lewis County are warmer, with average highs ranging from the 70s to 90s Fahrenheit (around 21-32°C). However, temperatures can exceed 100°F (38°C) during heatwaves, especially in the valleys and lower elevations. Summer days are generally sunny and dry, with low humidity levels.

Rivers and Waterways

Lewis County is traversed by several rivers and waterways, which play a vital role in shaping the region’s landscape and providing habitat for wildlife. The most significant river in the county is the Clearwater River, which flows from its headwaters in the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana through the heart of Lewis County and into the Snake River.

Other notable rivers in Lewis County include the Salmon River, the Middle Fork of the Clearwater River, and the South Fork of the Clearwater River. These rivers and their tributaries provide habitat for fish, including salmon and steelhead, and support a variety of recreational activities, including fishing, boating, and whitewater rafting.

Lakes and Reservoirs

While Lewis County does not have any large natural lakes, the region is home to several reservoirs and lakes created by dams on the Clearwater River and its tributaries. Notable lakes and reservoirs in the county include Dworshak Reservoir, which is the largest reservoir in Idaho, as well as Winchester Lake and Freeman Lake.

Dworshak Reservoir, located on the North Fork of the Clearwater River, is a popular destination for boating, fishing, and camping. The reservoir is surrounded by scenic forests and offers amenities such as boat ramps, campgrounds, and picnic areas for visitors to enjoy.

Parks and Recreation Areas

Lewis County is home to several parks, wildlife management areas, and recreation areas that showcase the region’s natural beauty and provide opportunities for outdoor recreation. Notable parks in the county include Winchester Lake State Park, Nez Perce National Forest, and Craig Mountain Wildlife Management Area.

Winchester Lake State Park, located near the town of Winchester, is a 104-acre park with a 104-acre lake. The park offers camping, fishing, boating, and picnicking opportunities for visitors, as well as hiking trails and interpretive programs.

Nez Perce National Forest, located in the northeastern part of Lewis County, encompasses over 2.2 million acres of diverse landscapes, including mountains, forests, and rivers. The forest offers a wide range of recreational activities, including hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, and wildlife viewing.

Craig Mountain Wildlife Management Area, located near the town of Craigmont, is a 39,000-acre area managed by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. The area provides habitat for deer, elk, moose, and a variety of bird species, as well as opportunities for hunting, fishing, and wildlife watching.

Economy and Industry

The economy of Lewis County is primarily based on agriculture, forestry, mining, and tourism. The region is known for its production of wheat, barley, oats, and other grains, as well as its timber industry, which harvests timber from the county’s forests for lumber, pulp, and paper products.

In addition to agriculture and forestry, mining is also an important industry in Lewis County, with deposits of gold, silver, lead, and zinc found in the region’s mountains and river valleys. The county is home to several active mines and mineral exploration projects, which contribute to the local economy and provide employment opportunities for residents.

Tourism is another important sector of the economy in Lewis County, with thousands of visitors flocking to the region each year to experience its natural beauty, outdoor recreation opportunities, and cultural attractions. The county’s parks, forests, rivers, and lakes offer a wide range of activities for visitors to enjoy, including hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, and wildlife viewing.


Lewis County, Idaho, is a region of rugged beauty, abundant natural resources, and outdoor recreation opportunities. From its towering mountains and pristine rivers to its fertile valleys and dense forests, the county offers something for everyone to enjoy.

Whether exploring the wilderness of Nez Perce National Forest, fishing on Dworshak Reservoir, or hiking along the Clearwater River, visitors to Lewis County are sure to be captivated by its charm and natural splendor. With its diverse geography, mild climate, and abundant recreational opportunities, Lewis County is a hidden gem of the Gem State, inviting travelers to discover its wonders and create lasting memories.