Western Trips

Western Trips

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Idaho's Sawtooth Scenic Byway

National Scenic Byways are a collection of diverse roads where adventure awaits. These scenic Byways are found all over the United States and offer some of the best scenery, geology and historic travels you'll find anywhere. The Sawtooth Scenic Byway in the beautiful mountainous state of Idaho is one such trail you'll want to add to your western trip planner.

sawtooth mountains idaho
Idaho's Sawtooth Mountains and Redfish Lake
The Sawtooth Scenic Byway

This 115 mile Idaho journey covers diverse terrain. Everything from the desert to the mountains. Start your trip in the town of Shoshone and take a picturesque drive to Stanley Idaho. The Sawtooth Scenic Byway is the 100th National Forest Scenic Byway in America and is in an area east of Boise and north of Twin Falls Idaho.

Black Magic Canyon

Along your journey on the Sawtooth Scenic Byway heading just a short way north from Shoshone you'll come to the Black Magic Canyon geological area. Managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the entrance to this area is off Hwy 75 by both paved and gravel roads. Here you'll enjoy the sculptured rock and the black basalt. The Black Magic Canyon, carved by the Big Wood River, offers one of the finest examples of eroded river bedrock in the U.S. All of this is the result of thousands of years of erosion and a protected area today due to the efforts of the BLM during the 1990's to keep these historic rocks away from mining claims.

Hailey, Ketchum and Sun Valley

Your drive on the Sawtooth Scenic Byway will take you through the towns of Hailey, Ketchum and Sun Valley Idaho.

Hailey is a four seasons destination in the Rocky Mountains. Located in central Idaho, Hailey is in the Wood River Valley. It's a hiking, biking and skiing destination and is surrounded by the Sawtooth National Forest.

american falls dam in idaho
Sawtooth American Falls Dam
Located in central Idaho about eleven miles north of Hailey on Hwy 75 is the town of Ketchum Idaho. Here you'll find art galleries, great scenery and you're just a couple of miles away from Sun Valley.

Among things other than great outdoor recreation, Sun Valley Idaho was the residence of author Ernest Hemingway. On Trail Creek Road just north of Sun Valley and one mile east of the lodge is the Ernest Hemingway Memorial. The memorial was built in 1966 by Hemingway's family and friends and features a bronze bust of the author. The memorial is open year round.

Redfish Lake

The alpine Redfish Lake is located in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area in Custer County Idaho. The lake got it's name after the Sockeye Salmon that at one time returned there from the Pacific Ocean and in such enormous numbers that the lake took on a red glow. While the Sockete salmon is now an endangered specie, this beautiful mountain lake is home to great recreational opportunities with lodging, boat rentals and camping being large tourist draws. Redfish Lake is located west of Hwy 75 and just about seven miles south of Stanley Idaho, the northern terminus of the Sawtooth Scenic Byway.

idaho salmon river canyon
A 1945 view of Sawtooth's Salmon River Canyon
Stanley Idaho

Stanley Idaho, located between the Salmon River and the Sawtooth Mountains, is at the northern end of the 115 mile long Sawtooth Scenic Byway. The town sits in a very picturesque part of Idaho with the Sawtooth Mountains as a background. The area was first visited in the early 1800's by fur trappers from the Hudson's Bay Company. The town is named after a Civil war veteran named John Stanley who led a group of gold prospectors through the area.

Stanley and the surrounding area offer unique shops and restaurants, hiking and biking opportunities as well as fun river rafting adventures. If you travel to Stanley you'll want to see the Sawtooth Hotel that was established in 1931. The hotel features old country style mountain lodging and dining and has been doing this ever since it's opening over eighty years ago.

Two additional scenic drives are featured on the Western Trips articles linked below...

The Beartooth National Scenic Byway

A Drive Along the Columbia River Gorge

boise state capital
State Capitol, Boise Idaho
More Idaho Scenic Byways

At the northern end of the Sawtooth Scenic Byway at Stanley Idaho, adventurers have the opportunity to enjoy additional scenic and historic drives. Going east and northeast out of Stanley is the Salmon River Scenic Byway. The northern end of this drive is at the Montana border. This was an area visited by the Lewis and Clark expedition in the early 1800's.This route follows the Salmon River through the Salmon-Challis National Forest.

Going west and southwest out of Stanley Idaho is the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway. The route runs between Stanley and the state capital of Boise. On this route you'll have a chance to pan for gold in Idaho City. The Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway cuts through two Idaho wilderness areas, the Sawtooth Wilderness Area and the Salmon-Challis National Forest. You'll find plenty of campgrounds and have excellent fishing opportunities along this Scenic Byway.

(Article copyright 2013 Western Trips. Photos and images are in the public domain)

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