Ponderosa Scenic Byway - Colorado Scenic Drives


The "City of Trees." The state capital. And a perfect place to begin the drive. Stop by the Boise Ranger District Office (5493 Warm Springs Ave.) for a cassette tape tour of the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway. The Old Penitentiary, one of only four U.S. territorial prisons still in existence, offers daily tours and exhibits. And just outside the city is Bogus Basin, with skiing in the winter, picnic areas in the summer, and views that are stunning, no matter what season you make the trip.

Idaho City
Settlers came here in 1848 looking for gold. They found it. In fact, Idaho City and Boise Basin were the West's biggest strikes. Today, parts of the town have been restored so you can see what the Rush was all about. Try panning for gold in a local stream bed. Belly up to the bar of an authentic saloon. Cool off in a hot spring. And while you're at it, be sure to visit the Information Center (on the left as you enter town) for more details on what to see and do.

Located at mile marker #73 is the Lowman Ranger District Office. In July 1989, it was a mighty busy place. A lightning storm blasted the Boise National Forest, and when the smoke cleared, 46,100 acres were burned. Stop in to the Ranger Office for a free map of "The Lowman Fire," then follow the burn via interpretive signs along the road. And just a few miles past Lowman, another hot spot—140 Fahrenheit, to be exact. That's Kirkham Hot Springs and Campground, one of more than 200 hot springs in the state.

The Sawtooth Wilderness/Stanley
Continue north, and on the right the western peaks of the Sawtooth Mountains come into view. Welcome to the Sawtooth Wilderness, 217,000 pristine acres of ponderosa pine, steelhead, and remote places to camp. The Challis National Forest, on your left, is the gateway to the Frank Church River of No Return. Another 2.3 million acres of wilderness. All told, there are more acres of roadless wilderness here than any place else in the lower 48 states. Backcountry, as few will ever experience it.

Coming into Stanley at mile #125, you'll see the first signs of civilization: a fence. Twenty miles of rustic pine fencing, in fact, between you and the grazing cattle. Stanley Lake Overlook and its breathtaking views are next. And then, it's on to Stanley, where the three Scenic Byways converge. Stanley boasts an historical museum, a Visitor Information Center (open summers), lodging, restaurants, camping, and recreation, not to mention some of the prettiest scenery around.

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 18 May 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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