Each month we highlight an airstrip with hopes that you will get out and enjoy these special places. This month, we’re featuring Moose Creek, Idaho.

What makes Moose Creek, Idaho one of the incredible gems that we’re allowed to visit by airplane?

“It’s 50 miles to the nearest lightbulb and civilization,” RAF President Bill McGlynn likes to say. Of all the spectacular places Bill has flown into, Moose Creek US Forest Service Airport, 1U1 is his favorite, and he and his wife Julie have invested years of their stewardship efforts to keep it that way as seasonal volunteer caretakers.

In 1931, the Forest Service cleared the woods for the original 2,300-foot turf runway. A longer runway, at 4,100 feet was built 27 years later. The historic 1920s ranger station log buildings are situated at the end of the original runway and remain in use.

The field lies at 2,454 elevation, near the confluence of Moose Creek and the Selway River in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. Both waters attract seasonal fishing, and a trail leads from the SW end of the airfield to bridges across both waters. Potable water and toilets are available near the Ranger Station. Volunteers from the Idaho Aviation Association were instrumental in preserving the campground, and helped relocate it away from diseased cedar trees. Visitors and campers use adjectives like “pristine,” the very essence of Wilderness.

Since the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964, no significant maintenance had occurred on either runway, “mostly due to its fine construction and the light impact of airplane wheels on the land,” Bill says. But uneven areas had developed over time. As part of a Challenge Cost Share Agreement with the USFS/Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests, the RAF participated this summer in the beginning stage of runway restoration. Being in the Wilderness, there are no roads nor mechanized equipment, and logistics are a challenge. Daher-Kodiak provided the use of the Kodiak 900. “Daher-Kodiak made the project possible because of the savings in transportation time for work crew and tools,” Bill emphasized. Working under USFS direction, RAF and IAA volunteers, the Selway Bitterroot Foundation, and AmeriCorp volunteers joined McGlynn and leveled uneven areas of the runway, and put in an erosion bar by the cabin to redirect runoff. More work is scheduled.

“This is one of those places that deserves a few days’ visit to truly soak in what Wilderness is about, not to mention an incredible view of the Milky Way,” Bill says.

See the Airfield Guide for safety and other information about Moose Creek.

By Carmine Mowbray
Submitted on August 31, 2023.


  1. Glenn Mathis on September 24, 2023 at 5:47 am

    One of our favorite camping spots while flying the Idaho back country. And the author is not joking about the star gazing there. Quite an amazing view at night!

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