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Most of us go through life eventually figuring out just how much an acre is. Perhaps it’s when you buy your first home – or other property. The realtor’s description might say it is located on half an acre. And so you gather some knowledge as to what you think an acre means. Of course, in our lifetime, the internet has made it even easier to explain acreage and hectare sizes. 

So, with some help from the online world, and what we know about some of our favorite recreation places, here is acreage 101 to provide a little context and comparison.

First, a little history

Acre derived from the Latin term ager (field) that later evolved through Old/Middle English to aecer/aker to today’s acre. Its origin came from an area that could be plowed in one day by oxen. 


  • For the most common reference, we will use the football field. An acre is 43,560 square feet and a football field is 48,000 square feet. Not counting the end zones, a football field is close to one acre. 
  • We can also visualize approximately 210 feet by 210 feet (1.01 acre). 
  • There’s even an old-school way of walking out 70 steps on all sides to estimate an acre. 
  • And lastly, 1 square mile is 640 acres.

Taking it to another level

Enter the hectare. The hectare is about 2.47 acres and is equal to 100 meters by 100 meters. The SNRA is just shy of 306,000 hectares.

How other NRAs measure up

The Sawtooth National Recreation Area is 756,000 acres or 1,181.25 square miles. This area includes the Sawtooth Wilderness, the White Clouds, and Hemingway-Boulders Wilderness areas.

There are currently 40 National Recreation Areas in the United States. The National Park administers 18 of them, and another 22 are administered by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM). So how does the SNRA compare to some of the other areas?

  • Hells Canyon, Idaho/Oregon- 661,097 acres
  • Sawtooth National Recreation Area- 756,000 acres
  • Glen Canyon, Utah- 1.2+ million acres
  • Lake Mead, Arizona/NV – 1.5 million acres (and the first National Recreation Area)

No matter how you look at it- the Sawtooth NRA is an impressive space both in size and beauty. A place where acres equate to the very heart of Idaho.