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CURIOUS MIND

Curious Mind: The Magic Valley’s high points.

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Q: What is the highest and lowest point in each county in the Magic Valley?

A: “The USGS has an old General Interest Publication which gives high/low points for states,” said Ken Dixon with the U.S. Geological Survey. “Our agency does have elevation data available through the National Map.”

Idaho’s highest point is Borah Peak in Custer County at 12,662 feet, and the lowest point is the Snake River in Nez Perce County at 710 feet above sea level.

“Well, I can certainly speak to the high points, as I am the sixth person in history to have visited the high points of every county in Idaho,” said Chris Anderson of Twin Falls.

“The best resource is the Idaho County Highpoint Trip Reports page: www.cohp.org,” he said. “Twin Falls County’s high points are two hills of identical height almost within a stones’ throw of one another in the extreme southwest corner of the county. Sadly, they are not named (talk about a missed opportunity! Twin Falls County’s high point is a twin!).”

Magic Valley’s highest point in each county is:

  • Blaine County- Hyndman Peak (12,009feet).
  • CamasCounty- Peak 10337 (10,337 feet) and one area 1,200 feet west.
  • Cassia County- Cache Peak (10,339 feet).
  • Gooding County- on north county boundary (6,360+ feet).
  • Jerome County- liner on east county boundary (4,760+/-feet).
  • Lincoln County- unnamed point (5,950 feet).
  • Minidoka County- Bear Den Butte (5,104 feet).
  • Twin Falls County- two unnamed points (7,840+ feet).

“I’m not aware of any single place you can go to find the low points of counties, but a good starting place is to look at where major rivers leave the county (i.e., I’d be very surprised if the low point of Twin Falls County isn’t at the extreme northwest corner where the Snake River crosses into Gooding/Elmore County,)” Anderson said.

“Back in the mid-90s, when I was living in Baltimore, Md., I decided I wanted to visit the highest points of each of the lower 48 states, which I completed in 2007 (atop Mt. Rainier, Wash.),” he said. “I later got Mauna Kea, Hawai’i in 2013, but I have no aspirations to get all 50 states, as that would require climbing Denali (AKA Mt. McKinley) in Alaska, which requires mountaineering skills beyond what I possess.”

“As I was finishing up the lower 48 (by which time I had been living in Idaho for over a decade), I decided that I needed a new goal, so I started doing Idaho county high points. My first was Mt. Borah (which, of course, I had done while bagging state high points, in 1995); my last was Garns Mountain in Teton County, in 2013. Finding most of them is a matter of basic backcountry navigating and finding your way to an obvious prominent peak, but many of the lower ones were made much easier with GPS. In some counties, there’s more than one mountain that could be the county high point, because they are so similar in elevation that the true highest point cannot be determined with certainty. In those cases, one must visit each of the contenders to claim the county (Idaho County has three high point contenders: an unnamed peak on the Continental Divide with Montana, He Devil, and She Devil (in the Seven Devils Range). That was, hands down, the most difficult Idaho county to complete),” Anderson said.

Have a question? Just ask and we’ll find an answer for you. Email your question to Kimberly Williams Brackett at timesnewscuriousmind@gmail.com with “Curious Mind” in the subject line.

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