Salmon Scenic Byway
Lost Trail Pass to North Fork
Highway 93 winds 25 beautiful miles along the Salmon River between Lost Trail Pass and North Fork. Lewis and Clark were bound this way in 1805 when their Indian guide lost the trail. Here, Idaho meets Montana at 6,995 feet, and the views from several spots along the route are spectacular. Look for deer, elk, and moose grazing along the hills or in meadows nearby. Follow the historical markers noting the journey of Lewis and Clark. There's not a nicer place on earth in which to get lost.
To the west, the Salmon Mountains. To the east, the Lemhi Range. The Bitterroots jut up to the north. And in a small valley smack dab in the middle of all this majesty, sits scenic Salmon. Some of the last wild rivers are accessed from here, where the Salmon River meets the Lemhi. Lodging and restaurants are available. And the folks at the Chamber of Commerce on Main Street will be happy to tell you all about their spectacular area.
For miners working the Yankee Fork, Bayhorse, or Clayton mines in 1876, Challis was the place to stock up on groceries, pick axes, and another month's supply of stories. You'll still see a lot of that mining past in the buildings and the town of Challis, though cattle ranching is the livelihood of choice today.
Land of the Yankee Fork/Sunbeam
Where Scenic Byways 75 and 93 converge you'll find the Land of the Yankee Fork Interpretive Center, a terrific introduction to the region's mining legacy. (The Center itself is even modeled after the old mining buildings.) Forty-six miles farther west is Sunbeam Dam, the power plant built in 1909 for the mine and mill just up Yankee Fork Road, to the north. It's a 10-mile drive up the gravel road to ghost towns with names like Bonanza and Custer. And, of course, to the celebrated Yankee Fork Gold Dredge. From 1940 to 1952, miners watched 6 million cubic yards of stream gravel turn into 1 million dollars' worth of gold and silver, thanks to the dredge.
Sunbeam Hot Springs is located just past the Yankee Fork turnoff and makes a nice place for a dip or a spring-side picnic.
Special thanks to Steve Wilson for providing these photos.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication