The Middleton Valley is home to one of the state’s largest natural freshwater lakes, the unique and beautiful Jefferson Basin, and numerous parks and recreational campgrounds. Middleton Valley has many convenient and quality visitor attractions and facilities, including a variety of lodging options to fit any budget. The Middleton Valley and surrounding area is renowned for its beautiful scenery, wildlife, and outdoor recreational opportunities. In the 1860s, silver was discovered in the Middleton Valley area and fortune seekers flocked to the area hoping to strike it rich at the massive Milestone Lode discovered in 1860. Would-be miners rushed to the Middleton Valley over Culver Pass from the north and Myers Pass and Gulliver Pass from the south. The influx of pioneers to the valley was so great that Northridge Road was forged across the mountains. Silver wasn’t the only valuable commodity early settlers found in the area. Middleton Valley’s timber-rich forests became a necessary resource for the increasing number of people needing fuel and to support the labyrinth of mines being constructed. The easy availability of timber soon led to the devastation of the valley forests, which were heavily logged between 1860 and 1890. The decline of the Milestone Lode probably rescued the valley’s diminishing forests. Although the development of the Middleton Valley has come far, modern planners today use the ancient wisdom of the Native people when building in the area. Realizing the need to preserve the valley’s beauty in the face of progress, the state formed the Middleton Valley Regional Planning Department in 1965 to oversee environmentally responsible development. The department’s approach has enabled limitations to construction while devising a redevelopment plan that will improve the economy, tourist access, and the environment well into the next century. Today, the Middleton Valley retains its pioneer charm while displaying an ancient respect for nature. While hotels, casinos, and ski resorts draw millions of guests each year, the valley’s main attraction continues to be the restful silence of the wilderness and the awe-inspiring beauty of the area.
The geology of Middleton Valley accounts for its compatibility with both agriculture and