National Scenic Byways and Other Recreational Drives


There are Idaho roads that wind through country so lovely they achieve a special status. They pass through breathtaking scenery, historic places, and intriguing landscapes. And though they offer incomparable glimpses of wilderness, they are easily and safely traveled by most vehicles. They are called Scenic Byways and Idaho has named such routes part of its State Byways system.

Clearwater Scenic Drives

Drive along the route used by Indians and explorers, including the historic Lewis and Clark Expedition. Beautiful scenery, camping and picnicking areas, and wildlife views make this a truly scenic drive.

Crater of the Moon Loop Road

Stop at the Visitors Center for a description of the park's lava phenomena, life, history, and the Earth processes creating them. The Park is suitable for exploring by car or foot.

Custer Motorway

Experience history by driving through the Yankee Fork Mining District. The original toll road was built in 1879, and was reconstructed in 1933. It was then designated the Custer Motorway.

Lake Coeur d'Alene Scenic Byway

(Thirty-one miles east of Spokane, WA on I-90.)Coeur d'Alene is an international resort destination. The World's Longest Floating Boardwalk surrounds the Coeur d'Alene Resort Marina. Golfers enjoy local courses, including a floating golf green on the Resort's famous golf course designed by Scott Miller. See the Museum of North Idaho, Fort Sherman Powder House and the Coeur d'Alene District Mining Museum.

Lake Pend Oreille Scenic Byway

(Forty-three miles north of Coeur d'Alene on U.S. 95.)Lake Pend Oreille is the largest of Idaho's northern lakes and stretches more than 43 miles long and over a thousand feet deep. The Pend Oreille Scenic Byway, Highway 200, edges the northern shores of Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho's largest lake. Sandpoint itself is a picturesque small town complete with lively visual and performing arts, first-class restaurants, lodging and nightlife.

Lemhi Mountain Range Loop

To begin the loop around the beautiful Lemhi Mountain Range, travel 40 miles south (upriver) on Highway 93 to the town of Ellis. This loop takes you along 300 miles of the beautiful Lemhi Mountain Range via the Pahsimeroi, Little Lost River, Birch Creek, and Lemhi River valleys. The trip is made on a paved two-lane road with the exception of 26 miles of well-maintained gravel roads. The Lemhi, Lost River and Bitterroot Mountain Ranges offer some of the most picturesque mountain scenery in Idaho.Visit the area's historical sites, including the ruins of Fort Lemhi (1835), Sacajawea Historical Area, Lemhi and Bannock Pass, Lewis and Clark Trail into Horse Prairie, Nez Perce Trail, Pittsburg and Gilmore Railroad, and Railroad Canyon Winter Wildlife.

Lewis and Clark Trail

A two-week family outing following in the footsteps of America's two greatest adventurers.

Mesa Falls Scenic Byway

Mesa Falls Scenic Loop, on the Targhee National Forest in eastern Idaho, travels from open farmland through forested canyon to the lip of the largest volcanic caldera in the U.S. Winding throughout the Greater Yellowstone Area, it offers glimpses of the Grand Teton Mountain Range, Mesa Falls on the Henrys Fork of the Snake River, and a multitude of wildlife such as elk, moose, and deer.

Payette Scenic Drives

The scenic backroads of Idaho's Heartland are worth experiencing. These country drives are well signed and traveled and make for a relaxing drive.

Pioneer Historic Byway

This southeast Idaho Byway gives motorists a nostalgic glimpse, through rustic ranches and roadside communities, of a west long past. Along the way are numerous attractions - Bear Lake State Park, the Paris Museum, the Cache National Forest, the Caribou Forest, the carbonated waters and spouting geysers of Soda Springs and the Blackfoot Reservoir. The Pioneer Historic Byway and Bear Lake Scenic Byway combine historic sights and scenic splendor for a truly memorable experience.

Ponderosa Scenic Byway

This drive takes you through Boise, the"city of trees." You can also see what the gold rush was about in Idaho City or feel the hot springs in Lowman. The Sawtooth Wilderness includes backcountry as few will ever see it.

Salmon Scenic Byway

This beautiful route along the Salmon River takes you through historical expeditions, wildlife viewing, hot springs and ghost towns.

Sawtooth Scenic Byway

The Sawtooth Byway provides a wide variety of nature experiences. The Ice Caves in Shoshone are glaciers in a lava desert. Sun Valley is known for skiing. The Sawtooth Valley area offers spectacular views, fishing and hiking.

Sawtooth NRA

Detailed description of the Sawtooth Scenic Byway as it passes through the National Recreation Area.

Teton Scenic Byway

This route's scenery ranges from valley ranchlands to narrow river gorges to a high mountain pass. Starting the drive from Swan Valley on State Highway 31 you will drive through farmland and then enter a deep, narrow gorge which winds through a canyon emerging into a narrow, flat canyon bottom. The route begins to climb steeply around Tie Canyon until it reaches Pine Creek Pass at 6,800 feet. There are several good viewing spots along the way to the pass. The highway descends from the pass back to farmland, ending at the town of Victor.

Thousand Springs Scenic Byway

(Between Twin Falls and Bliss on U.S. 30) Known as 1000 Springs, this area is drenched with artesian water from the Snake River Plain Aquifier, a 10,000-square-mile underground reservoir.

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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