Nature August 04, 2017
The 10 Best Backroads In Idaho For A Long Scenic Drive
Maybe you’re not an outdoorsman/outdoorswoman. Well, that certainly doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy all the beauty that Idaho has to offer! In fact, these scenic drives make it pretty easy to see all of the Gem State’s gorgeous landscapes. There’s a lot to see here in Idaho, so go ahead and fuel up the car and start your engines because these backcountry drives are the perfect way of exploring our beautiful state.
Here are 10 of our favorite scenic drives. Be sure to put at least one of these on your bucket list!
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
1. Mesa Falls Scenic Byway
This scenic byway runs for approximately 30 miles, starting from Ashton, Idaho and leading into the gorgeous Targhee National Forest. The highlight of this drive is the spectacular view of some of the most impressive waterfalls in Idaho, the Upper and Lower Mesa Falls. The northern part of the byway contains the wildlife preserve Harriman State Park which has plenty of hiking trails and opportunities for fly-fishing.
2. Sacajawea Historic Scenic Byway
Along with breathtaking views, this byway offers up some truly incredible history from the days of the Lewis and Clark expedition along with the mining age of the 1800s. On this byway you'll see old mining communities and even the incredibly well preserved charcoal kilns that were used to process silver ore. This history-rich drive goes on for 120 miles.
3. Thousand Springs Scenic Byway
Beginning in Bliss, Idaho, the Thousand Springs drive is relatively short at less than 70 miles. However, it offers a lot to do and see. The byway starts off by going through the incredible Snake River Canyon and from there you have easy access to the historic Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, the pristine Thousand Springs, and the epic Shoshone Falls. This byway sure packs a punch!
4. Pioneer Historic Byway
The Pioneer Historic Byway begins in Franklin, the oldest town in Idaho, located on the Idaho and Utah border. Major stopping points on this byway are Soda Springs where you can check out the Soda Springs Geyser and the impressive Niter Ice Cave in Grace, Idaho.
5. Western Heritage Historic Byway
Starting in Meridian, Idaho, this byway goes south for about 50 miles. As you pass through Kuna, you'll find yourself at the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey Conservation Area. This is one of the most impressive areas in all of Idaho, with 600,000 acres of canyon that is home to hawks, falcons, eagles, osprey, etc. Further along the byway is Dedication Point which offers up some outstanding panoramic views of the Snake River Canyon.
6. St. Joe River Scenic Byway
The St. Joe River is one of the most majestic rivers in Idaho, and this byway is perfect for exploring it. This river has something for everyone since it starts out as a lazy river but gradually progresses into an intense whitewater river. Beside the St. Joe are many incredibly hiking trails and opportunities to view wildlife. The byway stretches along the river for nearly 90 miles.
7. Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway
The Ponderosa Pine byway begins in Boise on Highway 21 and goes through the dense Boise National Forest. It goes on for about 130 miles, passing Lucky Peak Lake and the historic mining town of Idaho City (this place makes a great day trip!). It eventually hits the spectacular Sawtooth wilderness which has plenty of opportunities for camping and fishing. Several hot springs line the byway including the highly trafficked Kirkham Hot Springs, as well.
8. Northwest Passage Scenic Byway
This is Idaho's longest byway, stretching for 202 long miles. As you drive along, you find yourself traveling along the same exact route that Lewis and Clark traveled through over two centuries ago! This incredibly scenic route begins in Lewiston and spans across expansive wilderness through the stunning Clearwater River Canyon. The route eventually splits, with one section heading south toward Grangeville and the other going along the Clearwater until it reaches Lolo Pass where you can stop at the Visitor Center to learn all about the history and geology of the beautiful Bitterroot Wilderness Area.
9. Hells Canyon Scenic Byway
This byway lets you travel one of the most magnificent landscapes in all of Idaho, the one and only Hells Canyon. This 22 mile drive begins near Copperfield, Oregon and continues on the Idaho side of the border along the side of the canyon. You'll likely feel very small among the giant black and green basalt cliffs!
10. Wild Horse Trail Scenic Byway
This 50-mile byway begins in Sandpoint and follows a historic path used by Native tribes. The road stretches north all the way to the Canadian border. Along the byway are the intense and beautiful Selkirk Mountains. Further along the road is the McArthur Lake Wildlife Management Area, which contains 1,200 acres of spectacular bird watching.
Have you done any of these? What’s your favorite scenic drive to take in Idaho? Let us know! And if you’re looking for more incredible scenic roads to explore, click
this link here.