Is there really any better feeling than jumping in the car with some good music and great company, and embarking on a no-place-to-be, summertime road trip?
No, indeed there is not.
Or, cruise down one of the following byways that we here at the Idaho Division of Tourism highly recommend.
1. Pack the bikes, roll through the Palouse via the White Pine Scenic Byway.
Spend the night in Coeur d’Alene then head down this 82.8 mile scenic byway, which begins on Idaho Hwy 3 at Interstate 90 and cruises through the endless rolling hills of the Palouse. Give homage at the Cataldo Mission, a church built in 1853 and now the oldest standing building in the state.
If families have bikes in-tow, they can stop at the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes and ride on the 73-mile long bike trail that was built on the original Union Pacific Railroad grade.
Feast your eyes on the 400 year-old trees along White Pine Drive, the 12-mile stretch of highway that’s bordered on both sides by old growth forest.
Families can camp and recreate in historic Laird Park, where remnants of early gold mining activity remain along the banks of the Palouse River. Or, they can continue on to historic Potlatch, the old logging and mill town with the funny name where Frederick Weyerhaeuser opened the largest white pine mill in the world in 1905.
2. Channel Hemingway and Escape in the Rockies via the Sawtooth Scenic Byway.
This scenic byway begins in Shoshone at the intersections of U.S. Highways 26 and 93. Driving north on Idaho Highway 75, pit stops should include the Shoshone Ice Caves, an underground ice cave, and Sculptured Canyon, a centuries-old lava field that was carved out by melting glaciers – hours of fun that will let the kids burn right through all that energy.
Further north, travelers can stop in Ketchum and visit the Ernest Hemingway Memorial and gravesite. Hemingway spent the last years of his life amidst the scenic Sawtooth Mountains, fishing the area’s many lakes and streams.
Weary travelers can find posh accommodations in the resort town Sun Valley, or continue north, over Galena Pass and find a camping spot in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. With more than 300 alpine lakes and 756,000 federally protected acres, this area has everything from camping to water activities to wildlife viewing.
Northwest of Galena Summit, Stanley’s Redfish Lake is Idaho’s largest alpine lake, more than 300 ft. deep at some points. Families can camp, hike, fish, and splash around in the lakes.
3. See Mesa Falls and Fish Henry’s Fork on the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway.
If you’re in eastern Idaho, travel northeast from Idaho Falls to where the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway begins in Ashton, at the junction of U.S. Hwy 20 and Idaho 47. On the way to Mesa Falls, travelers can stop for photo-ops and mind-blowing scenery at the Teton Overlook, a perfect view of the Teton Mountain Range, some 40 miles away.
This scenic byway only takes about an hour to drive, so spend half a day at the spectacular Mesa Falls. At 110 feet and 85 feet, both the Upper and Lower Falls can be seen from the Grandview Overlook, which was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930’s. Next to the overlook, Grandview Campground has 9 campsites for a little outdoor lodging.
Further north, travelers can find lodging, camping, and recreation in Island Park. Eagle Ridge Adventures is a local dude ranch that puts guests up in a grand lodge or private cabins. Horseback rides, fishing, canoeing, hiking, horseshoes and Dutch oven cookouts are just a few of the activities guests get to partake in. If families simply come to camp but still want some recreation, local outfitters like the Henry’s Fork Anglers offer guided fly-fishing trips along the infamous waters of Henry’s Fork.
Yellowstone National Park is approximately 35 miles from Island Park, offering even more scenery and adventure for freedom-seekers who just don’t want the road trip to end.
4. Take a history lesson on the Sacajawea Historic Byway.
This historic byway rolls through Lemhi Valley, where Sacajawea was born and raised until she was 12, and where she returned with Lewis and Clark on their historic western voyage.
Travelers should pack their hiking boots. This 132-mile scenic byway parallels three national trails: The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, the Nez Perce National Historic Trail, and the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. The Leadore Ranger Station has information and maps for accessing all three trails. Further north, the Sacajawea Interpretive, Cultural, and Educational Museum is a must see.
5. Realize that geology rocks and tour the City of Rocks Scenic Byway.
For those of you who really want to get away, this byway begins on Idaho Hwy 77 in the pioneer town of Albion. Then it climbs into Mount Harrison and the Sawtooth National Forest.
Visit Idaho’s newest state park, Castle Rock State Park, a 1,240 historic ranch. With towering granite spikes that hover over wildflower-filled meadows, the park offers world-class rock climbing along with hiking, horseback riding, and birding.