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Routes in The Elephant's Perch

Astro Elephant T 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
Boomers Story T 5.13- 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E7 6c
Chasing the Dragon T 5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a A0
Direct Beckey T 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
Divine Guidance T 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c R
Fine Line, The T 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a
Mojo T 5.12b/c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b PG13
Mountaineer's Route T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Myopia T 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Original Beckey T 5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a
Sideline T 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
Splittgerber-March Direct T 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
Sunrise Book T 5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
Thorn Bush, The T 5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b
Trunkline T 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b
Unknown T 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Wendy T 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b
Order Wrong? Sort Routes
Elevation: 9,870 ft
GPS: 44.069, -114.974 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 136,283 total · 943/month
Shared By: Brad Brandewie on Jan 7, 2007
Admins: Mike Engle
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From a climber’s perspective, the Elephant’s Perch is possibly Idaho’s best piece of stone. Not just because of the quality lines and solid granite though, it’s the whole experience.

You start with a nice, 5-mile boat ride across Redfish Lake. As the miles pass on the water, you’ll be glad you paid the $10 for the ride. From the far end of the lake it’s a steep and pristine, 3-mile hike to the camping below the Perch. If you’re out of shape, you will know it in the last mile.

It would be difficult to overstate the beauty of this camp. You’re between the lip of the hanging valley and the first of the Saddleback Lakes, with the Elephant's Perch on one side and the multi-towered massif of the Goat’s Perch on the other. Great stuff by any standard. Trout live in the Saddleback Lakes so get a license and pack a rod if you will be taking any rest days.

The Perch itself is a photogenic, golden granite with vertical fractures covering its flanks. It soars roughly 1000 feet for much of its width and hosts around 30 routes. You won’t find many fixed anchors, so be prepared to build your own. The rock quality is excellent, but loose rock does exist, especially on the less-traveled routes.

The easiest and most popular route on the Perch is the 5.9 Mountaineer’s Route. Other popular classics include The Direct Beckey, Astro-Elephant, the Sunrise Book, and Myopia.

To descend there are two options:

1. Descend the gully to the climber’s right of the Perch. This involves some loose rock and some rappelling.

2. When you top out, go to climber's left and work your way down and left around the bulk of the Perch to eventually meet up with the trail you took to the base. This involves some short downclimbs and may require some scouting around if it’s your first time.

Getting There

Take the boat across (or hike around) Redfish Lake and begin hiking up the main drainage. You’re heading for the second drainage on the left after the Grand Mogul.

After roughly 2 miles, you leave the main trail and follow a smaller trail up to the base of the Perch. It can be hard to spot the trail junction where you leave the main trail so be alert. You will cross two foot-bridges close to one another and then another one a little farther up the trail. After the third bridge, look for the creek on the left. You want to leave the main trail at its point nearest the creek. You should cross the creek (on logs) within a couple rope lengths of leaving the main trail.

This trail becomes easy to follow after crossing the creek and leads up and right into the valley below the Perch.

17 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at The Elephant's Perch

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Mountaineer's Route
Trad, Alpine 7 pitches
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
Trad, Alpine 10 pitches
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
Splittgerber-March Direct
Trad, Alpine 7 pitches
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
Astro Elephant
Trad, Alpine 10 pitches
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Trad, Alpine 9 pitches
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c R
Divine Guidance
Trad, Alpine 9 pitches
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
Direct Beckey
Trad, Alpine 12 pitches
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a
The Fine Line
Trad, Alpine 10 pitches
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a
Original Beckey
Trad, Alpine 12 pitches
5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
Sunrise Book
Trad, Alpine 4 pitches
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Mountaineer's Route
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad, Alpine 7 pitches
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a Trad, Alpine 10 pitches
Splittgerber-March Direct
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad, Alpine 7 pitches
Astro Elephant
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad, Alpine 10 pitches
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Trad, Alpine 9 pitches
Divine Guidance
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c R Trad, Alpine 9 pitches
Direct Beckey
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c Trad, Alpine 12 pitches
The Fine Line
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a Trad, Alpine 10 pitches
Original Beckey
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a Trad, Alpine 12 pitches
Sunrise Book
5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Trad, Alpine 4 pitches
More Classic Climbs in The Elephant's Perch »

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Weather Averages

Days w Precip
Prime Climbing Season


Ft. Collins, CO
beavs   Ft. Collins, CO
This is without a doubt one of the prime alpine areas in the country. My time there was limited so my partner and I only climbed the Beckey Direct, but this climb alone is well worth the trip up there. There are also many stellar boulders scattered about in the trees below the Perch. We started climbing on them and were blown away by the quantity and quality of problems. Apr 8, 2007
My last trip to the Perch was, as always, amazing except for the climbers and their trash. A group of dread-headed posers wearing typical 'modern-hippie' shirts tented up proximate to the trail. They had an obnoxious dog that loved to bark AND bite. "Relax, man, our dog is chill" as it whipped is chain leash to reach it's assumed target (my leg!). What a bunch of douche-bags. Maybe they climbed hard. Anyways...

Just be courteous to fellow users of the Sawtooths -- don't be an asshole, people. This place, more importantly than an austerely beautiful cliff, is a even more beautiful mountain range. Respect it. Know the rules!

When I was there last, trash was scattered about: beer cans, wrappers, and human shit and tp poorly covered by rocks. Climbers have a reputation among the land management agencies that is similar to that of Boy Scouts -- bad! I have family who work in the USFS in the Sawtooths. They tell me these things.

Just because climb the Perch doesn't mean you own the place. Feel free to dirty your carpet or leave beer out at your place, but in the Sawtooths you're a GUEST. This place is a palace. Treat it like one. Let's leave it pristine and clean for future climbers and patrons to enjoy.
May 13, 2011
Canada Mofuga
hanshan   Canada Mofuga
I pulled a 'fixed' nut and whipped (past my belayer) on the 12a corner of sunrise book this week. Kinda got scared since that belay sucks- small nuts behind a flake, and bailed off a green camalot and a grey c4. They are there if you want them. Jul 30, 2011
Boulder, CO
claytown   Boulder, CO
The Elephant's Perch is not to be missed. This amazing cirque is great for both climbers and non-climbers, so bring your non-climber friends for some excellent alpine backpacking, fishing and beautiful scenery as you climb.

Two things to note: 1) the right side of the wall (astro elephant, etc) gets sun much earlier than the left side of the wall and can get really hot. 2) when descending the gully and eventually reaching the chock-boulder, go out left to the tree on the other formation. Single 60 rap to the ground. Don't bother downclimbing around the boulder. Jul 9, 2012
Spencer Weiler
Salt Lake city
Spencer Weiler   Salt Lake city
FYI: the boat ride is $16 bucks round trip, or $10 one way. It leaves the Redfish Lodge Marina anytime as long as you have 2 people. It picks up from the inlet at 9,11,1,3,5,7 at the dock you get dropped off at, or anytime someone else is being dropped off. Jul 25, 2012
Jim D  
Is there a guidebook for this area worth getting? Or should I just go purely off what's on Mountain Project?

Is the road in to Finger of Fate passable with a regular old Durango or do I need some jeep with a lift to get in there? Aug 17, 2012
Cory Harelson
Boise, ID
Cory Harelson   Boise, ID
The road to Finger of Fate was a little rough, but not that bad. My Subaru didn't have any problems. Idaho, A Climber's Guide by Tom Lopez has some beta in it. Aug 19, 2012
Cool FA story from the 70's here on the Taco. Nov 14, 2012
Hey does anyone have any info on routes that go up the tusk? I've heard there's an 11 but not much else as far as description (possibly runout?). Any info would be great! Jul 17, 2013
There are a few routes up the tusk, but the best one is 3 pitches and goes up the side facing the lake, south side. It's worth going up just to do the second pitch.

P1-There is an obvious 5.7/5.8 crack that goes to a large ledge with a big tree.

P2-11b From the ledge you will do some sporty 5.10 slab climbing clipping a few bolts to get to a small crack. You will be able to see the bolts from the ledge. Crux is up high and decently protected with thin cams. Follow this killer, thin crack pitch up to an old bolted anchor. This pitch is amazing, with great exposure climbing a crack on an arête. Optional to rap,off after this pitch.

P3- 5.9. Keep going up.

Rap beta: Rap Down to the big ledge, and for the last rap you will rap into the gulley on climbers left off of a tree. Once in the gully you will make another short rap off a tree. Single 70 gets you down. It's easy to figure out...

This is a great climb and worth doing before you head out, especially if you only have a few hours on your last day. Jan 26, 2015
The climbers trail to the Elephants Perch is not maintained by the Forest Service and can be very challenging. The log crossing at Redfish Lake Creek occasionally blows out during high water. This log crossing can be very sketchy, please use extreme caution, or consider crossing in the water if it is low enough. Remember, you are traveling in Wilderness!

Campfires are NEVER allowed at Saddleback Lakes. Campfires are illegal due to the high amount of use this area receives and the sensitivity of this beautiful high alpine environment.
Groups can be no larger than 12, all need to get a free wilderness permit at the trailhead.
If you replace webbing on a route please cut out the old, weathered webbing.

  • *Please recreate responsibly, its a privilege to have access to this area.**
Aug 14, 2015
Kat A
Bart and Lisa Ville, CO
Kat A   Bart and Lisa Ville, CO
Strongly recommend you stop at The Elephant's Perch gear shop in Ketchum/Sun Valley and pick up photocopies of the topos and any other supplies you may need. Great store. They also sell a nice color poster with the EP routes highlighted. Sep 3, 2015
Mr. Stevens
Boulder, CO
Mr. Stevens   Boulder, CO
I'm surprised this hasn't been mentioned yet, but watch out for the Mosquitos! Come prepared or suffer the consequences. I brought a full upper body mosquito suit for camp and it was not excessive at all. they bothered us a bit on the lower pitches of the routes we did (first 2 pitches, maybe), but we're non-existent higher up. Apr 6, 2016
bheller   SL UT
In my experience the skeeters have been worst around July 4th. Apr 7, 2016
Andy Novak
Golden, Co
Andy Novak   Golden, Co
Absolutely breathtaking! Mosquitos were pretty bad July 14-15, a face net might be useful. Make sure to practice leave no trace ethics and refrain from fires. Give yourself plenty of time for the descent and the walk back (there may or may not be cairns, making for a slow going) Lastly, the Sawtooths are not a place where you want to get injured. Its not like the NPS where they have a team and chopper ready to go. Make sure to have self-rescue skills dialed and its probably worth carrying a SPOT or similar device. The Redfish Lodge has a great happy hour! Jul 23, 2016
Please respect this special place.

I first visited the Elephants Perch in July of 2001 and did not see one other climber while there for a week. I went back in August of 2013 and was absolutely shocked at the amount of wear, tear, trash and crowds. In 2001 it was an untrammeled paradise, not so much anymore. I lost count of how many climbers showed up while I was there for the week. The amount of climbers this place now sees is unsustainable for such a fragile alpine environment and I fear that the forest service may soon impose restrictions so please, leave no trace and leave your dogs at home. Pack out all trash and even your shit if you can (wag bags). The camping area is slowly becoming a cesspool. Please use existing camping spots and again, leave no trace. Aug 15, 2016
Andy Laakmann
Bend, OR
Andy Laakmann   Bend, OR  
Was up here in July 2018 and there were dozens of backpackers and a handful of climbers. The place is getting hammered. I can't believe wag bags are not required. The directions above (about the 3 bridges) is spot on with where to leave the main trail. Right before the upper trail hits the first lake, cross the creek to pick up the trail on the other side of the creek. We didn't see a trail on the other side of the creek and ended up scrambling the easy slabs and it was more work than needed since it ended up in a talus field. It's a good trail on the other side. Jul 15, 2018

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