- 161.7 miles (260 km)
- Allow 3.5 hours
- Entrance fees at campsites and campgrounds.
With strip malls, suburbs, and golf courses encroaching into many western places, you may find it difficult to picture the wild, virtually untouched landscape first discovered by European descendants in the early 1800s. Traveling the Salmon River Scenic Byway, however, doesn't require the same stretch of imagination. You'll visit locales discovered during Lewis and Clark's legendary expedition and walk in their footsteps through stunning mountain environments untrammeled by human development. Tread lightly as you encounter history, scenery and outdoor adventure.
Originally home to the Lemhi Shoshone, the region testifies of some the Lewis and Clark expedition's most trying moments. In 1805, the party entered into Idaho through Lemhi Pass and plunged into a forbidding landscape filled with jagged rock formations, deep gorges, and wild animals. Lewis and a handful of trusted scouts depended on the help of local natives, including Sacagawea, to navigate the region outside of U.S. territory. Visit the Lemhi County Historical Museum to learn about these original inhabitants, their lifestyle, and the story of their fateful meeting with early explorers. Finally, retrace the perilous late fall journey of Clark and the Corps of Discovery through Lost Trail Pass on the northern end of the byway.
On the Lost Trail expedition, Clark and a handful of explorers hoped to find a water route for an easy safe passage to the Columbia River or the Pacific Ocean. Instead he found the Salmon River, or "The River of No Return." This foreboding title, though discouraging for subsequent travelers, only encourages modern hard-core kayakers, rafters, jet boat pilots, and fishermen to conquer its sheer cliffs and dangerous rapids. Take a guided tour through the river's bends below soaring granite cliffs, paddle through Class I to IV whitewater, and sleep on smooth sandy beaches. Strap on waders at dawn and flick your fly across the sun-reflected surface of the Salmon's waters to tempt trout, sturgeon, salmon, and more.
Lewis and Clark sought an easy passage West and found this rugged region a serious obstacle, but today's visitors delight in its challenges and adventures. Whether in the Salmon National Recreation area or the National Forest, trails, climbing routes, wildlife viewing areas, and camping areas abound. Whatever your outdoor passion, you'll find endless expanses of pristine forest to explore. Capture on film the unmatched palette of deep green conifer stands or a rare glimpse at a roving wolf pack.
Discover for yourself a truly wild place as you follow in the tracks of early explorers as they pushed farther into an unruly and exciting new frontier. With campgrounds and resort towns available along the byway, your own adventure along Salmon River Scenic Byway promises to be as wild or tame as you make it.
Points of Interest
Points of Interest Along The Way
Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest (ID)
This largest of the national forests in Montana covers 3.32 million acres, and offers breath-taking scenery for a wide variety of recreational pursuits.
Bitterroot National Forest (ID)
Half of the forest is dedicated to the largest expanse of continuous pristine wilderness in the lower 48 states -- the Selway Bitterroot, Frank Church River of No Return, and the Anaconda Pintler.
Boise National Forest (ID)
Created in 1908, this national forest contains ponderosa pines, Douglas firs, and plenty of opportunity for recreation.
Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area (ID)
It is a land of clear rivers, deep canyons, and rugged mountains. Two white-water rivers draw many visitors: the Main Salmon River and the Middle Fork of the Salmon.
Nez Perce National Forest (ID)
This vast, diverse area is managed to provide a variety of goods and services including breathtaking scenery, wilderness, wildlife, fisheries, timber harvest, livestock grazing, mining, pristine water quality and a wide array of recreation opportunities.
Payette National Forest (ID)
The Payette National Forest spans over 2.3 million acres of some of west-central Idaho's most beautiful and diverse country. In one day you can travel from hot desert grasslands through cool conifer forests to snow-capped peaks.
Salmon National Forest (ID)
The Salmon-Challis National Forest covers over 4.3 million acres in east-central Idaho. Rugged and remote, this country offers adventure, solitude and breathtaking scenery. The area is a highly desired destination for hunting, fishing, white-water rafting
Sawtooth National Recreation Area (ID)
Located at the northern most end of the Sawtooth National Forest, it comprises one of the largest and most magnificent National Recreation Areas in the United States.