SOUTHEASTERN IDAHO BYWAYS
Southeastern Idaho is a gateway to miles of alpine mountain ranges, turquoise-hued lakes, and gold-colored farmland. Tour through numerous backcountry communities full of history and capture 360-panoramic views of wildflower painted landscapes. Scenic byways are a great way to spend half a day and provide convenient access to significant landmarks, endless outdoor recreation possibilities and the opportunity to learn about Idaho's geography through interpretive signs and centers along the way.
Fort Henry Historic Byway
This beautiful scenic Byway travels through 97+/- miles of incredible 360-degree panoramic views and lush landscapes. The route continues to head north from Rexburg towards the western entrance of Yellowstone and comes to an end in the charming town of Island Park. The Byway travels alongside the sparkling waters of Henry's Fork and winds through a largely high-altitude desert and prominent sheepherding country. The road eventually turns into gravel for a few miles, following the Lost Gold Trails Loop, and connects back up with U.S. Highway 20 to reveal unbelievably stunning stretches of lush fields and unique native wildflowers that highlight the natural landscape.
Length: 97+/- miles
Average Travel Time: 2.5+/- hours
Approx. Start & End: North Rexburg onto Salem Highway to Island Park
Best Time to Visit: Mid-April to Mid-November, before snowfall
Nearby Attractions: St. Anthony Sand Dunes, Juniper Mountain Ranch, Nez Perce National Historical Park, Mesa Falls, Ashton Reservoir, Harriman State Park, Bishop Mountain, Caribu Targhee National Forest, Fort Henry Monument
Lewis and Clark Back Country Byway
Take the opportunity to drive through 36+/- miles of stunning and historic landscape on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and Continental Divide National Scenic Trail.
Surrounded by alpine mountains, lush evergreen forests, high desert canyons, and grassy foothills, capture some of the most majestic views in Idaho from numerous spectacular vistas along the Lewis and Clark Backcountry Byway. The route begins in Tendoy, just 20+/- miles south of Salmon off Highway 28, and continues east into sagebrush-painted hills. The path eventually turns into a gravel road heading towards Lemhi Pass to include views of Lemhi Valley and the encompassing mountain ranges that are worth the trip alone.
The route can be divided into three sections, the "Lemhi back road," which makes its way through Lemhi Valley to connect to "Warm Springs Wood Road," carving its path into the Beaverhead Mountains towards Lemhi Pass. The last portion is the roadway that travels along Agency Creek road from Lemhi Pass, connecting back to Tendoy. Along the way, find multiple opportunities to pull off and enjoy scenic views of river valleys, sagebrush grasslands, alpine forests, wildflower-covered meadows full of buttercups, glacier lilies, and syringas, as well as high-altitude desert canyons. The terrain is ideal for numerous outdoor recreation opportunities, including hiking, wildlife viewing, mountain biking, and more.
Length: 36+/- miles
Average Travel Time: 3+/- hours
Approx. Start & End: Tendoy, Idaho (loop-road)
Best Time to Visit: Early June through October, before snowfall
Nearby Attractions: Sharkey Hotsprings, Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, Lemhi Pass National Historic Landmark, The Sacajawea Memorial Area
Lost Gold Trails Loop
Drive through 47.8+/- miles of beautiful backcountry that ventures off the Fort Henry Historic Byway and onto Country Road A-2. Full of breathtaking scenery and a host of mining towns, this pleasant loop travels southwest past desert-lava rolling hills and down what used to be a popular gold mining route. The road is excellent for viewing native wildlife, including the Sandhill Cranes, Sage Grouse, and beautiful camas fields. Find plenty of opportunities to pull off the main road to access private opal mines and numerous outdoor recreation activities that lie in the Caribou Targhee National Forest. The adventure ends by connecting back to the Fort Henry Historic Byway and can make for a great day trip from Island Park. Come late spring and early fall, enjoy mild temperatures, and spot wildlife peacefully grazing along the lush grassy hills.
Length: 47.8+/- miles
Average Travel Time: 1.5+/- hours
Approx. Start & End: Dubois to Island Park
Best Time to Visit: Early June through November, before snowfall
Nearby Attractions: Nez Perce Trail, Heritage Hall Museum, Beaver Canyon
Mesa Falls Scenic Byway
Beginning at the intersection of U.S. 20 and Idaho 47, on the southern edge of the Yellowstone Caldera in Ashton, Mesa Falls Scenic Byway is a gateway to some of the most impressive landmarks in Idaho. Travel through miles of wide-open spaces and rolling farmland surrounded by towering Tetons to the east and the dense woods of Targhee National Forest off into the distance. The road continues to head north and eventually descends into a gorge, making its way through two canyons; the Warm River Canyon on the east and the Henrys Fork Canyon to the west. Find conveniently located overlooks for picturesque views of the rocky canyons, sparkling waters of the Warm River, and glacier-carved Tetons trailing off into the horizon. The area is a hub for outdoor recreation with access to excellent fishing, whitewater rafting opportunities, and scenic picnic areas.
Around approximately 14+/- miles in, the Byway approaches Lower Mesa Falls, created by the gushing waters of the Snake River, forcing their way through a gorge that drops 65+/- feet over a basalt cliff. The site is complete with a paved trail that makes its way to the rim and an additional 1+/- mile trail that connects to Upper Mesa Falls. Considered one of the biggest waterfalls in the Pacific Northwest, Upper Mesa Falls stands even taller at 114+/- feet high with viewing platforms that come close enough to the falls to feel the water spray. Both waterfalls are within the Targhee National Forest, surrounded by untouched wilderness and native wildflowers. For an all-inclusive experience, check out the renovated Big Falls interpretive center and take advantage of the opportunity to learn about the geology and history of the area.
As the scenic drive comes to a close, the road approaches US-20 near Island Park. Consider making a final stop at the Harriman State Park, home to a wildlife refuge just outside Yellowstone; excellent for spotting elk, moose, and sandhill cranes. Make the most of the trip and explore one of the countless destinations along the way open to camping, hiking, fishing, and more! At only an hour or so drive, this incredible scenic Byway provides plenty of stunning detours, including viewing the falls, touring the interpretive center, and enjoying a picnic lunch at Harriman State Park to make for an unforgettable trip.
Length: 28.7+/- miles
Average Travel Time: 1+/- hours
Approx. Start & End: Ashton to Island Park
Best Time to Visit: Year-round, Winter is only accessible to snowmobiles & cross country skiing
Nearby Attractions: Upper & Lower Mesa Falls, Harriman State Park, Targhee National Forest, Tetons
Oregon Trail-Bear Lake Scenic Byway
Venture one of the most historic pathways in the nation and tour the Oregon Trail Bear Lake Scenic Byway, running for 110+/- miles along the U.S. 30 to the Utah border. Beginning in Soda Springs, the road travels past popular destinations, including Bear Lake and Minnetonka Cave. Previously traveled by Oregon Trail settlers, the rural setting has kept much of its timeless beauty and is home to several small communities and miles of wheat fields that make their way towards the base of the mountains. Located at the end of the Byway, along the Idaho-Utah border, Bear Lake is worth the trip alone. The gem-colored waters of the Lake are referred to as the Caribbean of the Rockies and are encompassed by Bear Lake State Park. Consider turning the stop into a full-day excursion and enjoy sandy beaches, a plethora of water sports, fishing, and more!
Length: 110+/- miles
Average Travel Time: 2+/- hours
Approx. Start & End: Ashton to Island Park
Best Time to Visit: Year-round
Nearby Attractions: Bear Lake & Bear Lake State Park, Minnetonka Cave, Soda Springs Geyser, Lava Hot Springs, Sheep Rock Oregon Trail