Central Idaho, specifically the area stretching from Boise east to Sun Valley north to Salmon, is simply incredible. There are several scenic highways and all of them are amazing. This essay is the first of four starring the Salmon River Scenic Byway: two stories going south and two heading back north. This one begins just south of Salmon, an historic town with a western feel not far from the Montana border. Traveling on a gorgeous summer morning, the route comes alive with vibrant green farmland and sunlit mountains. The road parallels the Salmon River, following a canyon the waterway has been carving for millions of years. More than 200 years ago, this area was explored by Lewis and Clark. And Sacagawea, the famous Shoshone interpreter and only woman on the expedition, was born nearby. Today, the river feeds irrigation systems and is a prime rafting and fishing destination. In fact, Idaho is the only inland western state with ocean-run salmon and steelhead trout.
Best Time to Visit
The byway is open year-round and well-maintained although winter driving conditions can be treacherous. And keep an eye out for wildlife and rockslides.
Route & Map
Though it meanders through remote terrain, the towns on either end, Salmon and Challis, provide all travel services. In particular, Salmon makes a great destination with restaurants, a brew pub and several outdoor outfitters. The Sacajawea Interpretive, Cultural & Educational Center is also worth checking out but you’ll need to make an appointment.