Geography of Adams County, Idaho

By | March 12, 2024

Adams County, located in west-central Idaho, is characterized by its diverse geography, including rugged mountains, pristine rivers, and fertile agricultural valleys. From its scenic landscapes to its outdoor recreational opportunities and rich cultural heritage, Adams County offers a unique blend of natural beauty and rural charm. See topschoolsintheusa for information about Post Falls, Idaho.


Adams County covers an area of approximately 1,370 square miles, making it one of the larger counties in Idaho by land area. It is situated in the western part of the state, bordered by Washington County to the north, Valley County to the east, Gem County to the south, and the state of Oregon to the west. The county seat is the city of Council, while other communities include New Meadows and the unincorporated town of Adams.

Mountains and Forests:

Adams County is dominated by the rugged peaks of the Salmon River Mountains and the West Mountains, which form part of the larger Rocky Mountain range. These mountains are characterized by steep slopes, deep valleys, and dense forests of pine, fir, and cedar, providing habitat for a variety of wildlife, including elk, deer, black bear, and mountain lion.

The Payette National Forest, which encompasses much of Adams County, offers opportunities for hiking, camping, hunting, and fishing amidst pristine wilderness areas and scenic landscapes. The forest is also home to several designated wilderness areas, including the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, the largest contiguous wilderness area in the lower 48 states.

Rivers and Streams:

Adams County is intersected by several rivers and streams, which originate in the surrounding mountains and flow down into the valleys below. The primary waterway in the county is the Little Salmon River, which flows southward from the Salmon River Mountains through the towns of New Meadows and Council before joining the Salmon River.

In addition to the Little Salmon River, Adams County is home to several smaller creeks and tributaries, including Hornet Creek, Rapid River, and Mill Creek. These waterways provide habitat for fish such as trout and salmon and support a variety of recreational activities, including fishing, boating, and whitewater rafting.

Agriculture and Farmland:

Despite its rugged terrain, Adams County is home to fertile agricultural valleys and productive farmland, particularly in the lower elevations along the Little Salmon River and its tributaries. The county’s agricultural economy is based primarily on cattle ranching, hay production, and small-scale farming, with crops such as alfalfa, wheat, and barley grown in abundance.

Farmers markets and roadside stands offer locally grown produce and agricultural products, including fresh fruits and vegetables, honey, and homemade crafts. Agritourism attractions, such as pumpkin patches and corn mazes, provide opportunities for visitors to experience farm life and support the local economy.


Adams County experiences a continental climate, characterized by hot, dry summers and cold, snowy winters. Average high temperatures in the summer months typically range from the 80s to low 90s Fahrenheit, while winter highs can dip below freezing.

Precipitation is highest during the winter and early spring, with snowfall accumulating in the higher elevations of the mountains. This snowpack serves as an important water source for the region, feeding rivers and streams that flow into reservoirs and provide irrigation for agricultural areas downstream.

Lakes and Reservoirs:

Adams County is home to several lakes and reservoirs, which provide recreational opportunities for fishing, boating, and water sports. Lake Cascade, located in neighboring Valley County, is one of the largest reservoirs in Idaho and is popular for fishing, swimming, and boating.

Other notable lakes in the area include Goose Lake, located near the town of New Meadows, and Council Lake, located in the mountains southeast of the town of Council. These lakes are stocked with trout and other fish species, making them popular destinations for anglers seeking a tranquil fishing experience amidst stunning mountain scenery.

Outdoor Recreation:

Adams County offers a wealth of outdoor recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike. In addition to fishing and boating on the area’s lakes and rivers, outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and wildlife viewing in the surrounding mountains and forests.

The county is home to several designated wilderness areas and national forest lands, including the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, which offer miles of trails and backcountry camping opportunities. Popular hiking destinations include Brundage Mountain, Council Mountain, and Granite Mountain, each offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.

Historical and Cultural Heritage:

Adams County has a rich history dating back to its early settlement by Native American tribes, followed by European explorers and fur trappers in the 19th century. The town of Council, founded in the late 19th century as a trading post and supply center for miners and settlers, retains much of its historic charm and pioneer spirit.

The Adams County Historical Society and Museum, located in Council, showcases artifacts and exhibits documenting the county’s history and cultural heritage. The museum also hosts educational programs, special events, and guided tours for visitors interested in learning more about the area’s past.


In conclusion, Adams County, Idaho, offers a diverse and captivating landscape, from its rugged mountains and pristine rivers to its fertile agricultural valleys and historic towns. With its abundant natural resources, outdoor recreational opportunities, and rich cultural heritage, the county provides a unique and rewarding experience for residents and visitors alike. Whether exploring the backcountry, fishing on a mountain lake, or learning about the area’s history at a local museum, there is something for everyone to discover in Adams County.