- 115.7 miles (186 km)
- 3 hours to drive the entire byway, longer if you plan on stopping along the way.
- Expect to pay entrance fees at the various attractions along the way.
Enjoy a day exploring the backwoods of Idaho as you drive along the Sawtooth Scenic Byway. Taking you along the path of the Sawtooth Mountains and rolling through fertile agricultural lands, the byway carves its way through the rocks and woodlands of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.
Walk down smooth paths and timeworn stairs and explore the depths of the Shoshone Indian Ice Caves. The length of three city blocks, the caves hold a wealth of unique formations, created with a combination of volcanic heat and glacial ice. A natural refrigerator, the ice caves were used as a local source of ice and refrigeration as late as 1930.
As you continue north, you'll pass the borders of the Sawtooth National Forest, where you'll remain for the rest of the trip. Camp beneath the spiny leaves of a pine tree or cool off trail-worn feet in the rushing waters of a snow-fed stream. Enjoy a day of biking along curving mountain trails or explore the surrounding area on wooded pathways.
Set within the forest is the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, an endless playground. Start your journey with a hike up to the top of Galena Summit. Take in the full spread of the entire Sawtooth Valley as you reach the top. To the west of the National Recreation Area is the Sawtooth Wilderness Area. Named for the jagged skyline of its mountains, the Sawtooth Wilderness Area holds deep gorges, lake-filled glacial basins and outstanding scenic beauty.
The byway curves along long established pathways to end in the town of Stanley, headquarters to whitewater rafting in central Idaho. Take a day or three out to enjoy the full range of recreational possibilities offered on the Salmon River, such as fishing or just drifting along the waters. Amid the splendor of the Sawtooth Mountains, Stanley is perfect to visit anytime of the year.
The peaks of Boulder, White Cloud and Sawtooth mountains dominate the skies for sixty miles in any direction. Come see for yourself why hundreds of people come each year to explore "America's Alps" and the wilds of Idaho.
Points of Interest
Points of Interest Along The Way
Boise National Forest (ID)
Created in 1908, this national forest contains ponderosa pines, Douglas firs, and plenty of opportunity for recreation.
Central to many different recreational activities, Challis provides information and supplies to exploring the outdoors of Idaho.
The monument is a geologic wonder cast in a wild and remote landscape. Its central focus is the Great Rift, a 62-mile long crack in the earth's crust.
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.
Continue north just past the end of the byway in Stanley.
Salmon-Challis National Forest (ID)
The Salmon-Challis National Forest covers over 4.3 million acres in east-central Idaho. Included within the boundaries of the Forest is 1.3 million acres of the Frank Church-- River of No Return Wilderness Area.
Sawtooth National Forest (ID)
The Sawtooth Forest has archaeological and historical sites which reflect our heritage for the past 10,000 years.
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.
Sawtooth Wilderness Area (ID)
Named for the jagged skyline of its mountains, the Sawtooth Wilderness Area holds deep gorges, lake-filled glacial basins and outstanding scenic beauty.
Trained guides take you on a tour of the largest Lava Ice Caveknown, describe and explain the geologic, volcanic, and historicbackground of this recreational area.
You descend gradually on a smooth path and stairs to a depth of90 feet under the lava into a world of volcanic wonder and ice. TheCave is three blocks long, 30 feet wide and 40 feet in height. Itis well lighted so one may see all the points of interest.
The most unusual feature of the Ice Cave is that it is a naturalrefrigerator, creating a living glacier in an arid lava desert. Theice block is 1,000 feet long and varies from 8 to 30 feet in depth.No matter how hot it is outside, you step into a freezingtemperature as soon as you enter the cave. Temperatures vary from28 to 33 degrees. The cave works on an expansion principle that weuse in modern refrigeration. The cave has been used as arefrigerator and as a source of ice for the towns in thesurrounding area as late as 1930.
(Information taken from tourism pamphlet)
A small museum, bookstore and staff greet visitors coming from southern Idaho to the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.