Salmon River Scenic Byway

Challis, Idaho
Challis, Idaho
Salmon River Canyon

One end of the Salmon River Scenic Byway is in Stanley, at the junction with the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway and the Sawtooth Scenic Byway. The other end is 162 miles away at the summit of Lost Trail Pass (6,995') on the Montana State line (and if you're up here in the winter you need to check out the trails at Lost Trail Ski Area, right at the top of the pass). In between are former logging and mining towns like Salmon and Challis, right near the edge of some big wilderness (Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness - 2,366,757 acres). In Salmon is the Sacajawea Monument and the intersection with the Sacajawea Historic Byway.

Near Challis you'll find the Visitor/Interpretive Center for the Land of the Yankee Fork State Park and Recreation Area, a historic and recreational area/project jointly managed by the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, the National Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. The Land of the Yankee Fork area was once one of Idaho's biggest and most famous mining areas.

Lewis & Clark and their Corps of Discovery almost went through this area in 1805 when their guides got lost. They made their way to the Lemhi River and started looking for a way west. Clark headed north to the Salmon River and started down that. About 5 days and 12 miles later, he realized the error of this route and headed back to the camp on the Lemhi River. Then the Corps of Discovery made their way north to Lost Trail Pass and returned over that top ridge of the Bitterroots into Montana, then continued north until they found the trail heading west over Lolo Pass.

Various mountain men and fur trappers came into the area over the next 50 years but it wasn't until the Idaho gold rushes began that folks really tried to scratch a dent in the wilderness aspects of the area. Between 1876 and 1879, the towns at Custer and Bonanza were established to support mining operations at the Charles Dickens, General Custer, Lucky Boy and other mines in the area. These towns are now part of Land of the Yankee Fork State Park and are open in the summer for visitors, however, you might really wish you had higher clearance on your vehicle as you make that 35-mile drive over the Custer Motor Way to get there...

Custer, Idaho
Custer, Idaho
Fishing in the Salmon River
Fishing in the Salmon River
Horseback riding in the Challis area
Horseback riding in the Twin Peaks area near Challis
Salmon River Scenic Byway area mapLost Trail Powder MountainLand of the Yankee Fork State ParkLewis and Clark Back Country BywaySelway-Bitterroot WildernessSawtooth WildernessSawtooth Scenic BywayPonderosa Pine Scenic BywayPeaks to Craters Scenic BywaySacajawea Historic BywayFrank Church-River of No Return Wilderness
Salmon River Scenic Byway area map
Some photos courtesy of the Idaho Transportation Department.
Some photos courtesy of the Idaho Department of Tourism.
Area map courtesy of National Geographic Topo!
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