5 Breathtaking Scenic Drives in Idaho

Ready to hit the road?

By: Visit Idaho
October 17, 2016

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In Idaho, taking the road less traveled is a wonderful way to explore the state. Some of Idaho’s scenic byways have historic significance, while others provide access to natural attractions and outdoor recreation. Roll down the windows and feel the fresh air and true wilderness as you sweep through the mountains and valleys of Idaho’s vast landscapes.

1. Thousand Springs Scenic Byway


Photo: Josh Packer

  • Location: Begins at Interstate 84 near Bliss and follows US 30 southeast through Twin Falls to Idaho 50, then north on Idaho 50 to I-84.  Also US 93 from Twin Falls north to I-84.
  • The best time to see Shoshone Falls is spring through mid-July.
  • Attractions include Thousand Springs State Park Complex–a series of five parks; Hagerman Valley; the Snake River; Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument; Thousand Springs; Herrett Center Planetarium, Museum & Observatory in Twin Falls; Perrine Bridge & Canyon Rim Trail System; Shoshone Falls; and historic downtown Twin Falls.
  • Drive Time:  67.8 miles.  Allow 1.5 hours.
  • Full services available in Bliss, Hagerman, Buhl, Kimberly, and Twin Falls; partial services in Filer.


2. Sawtooth Scenic Byway


Photo: Madison Sankovitz

3. Mesa Falls Scenic Byway


Photo: Josh Packer

  • Location: Beginning at Idaho 47 in Ashton, the route travels northeast 12.4 miles to the old Bear Gulch Ski Area site, then northwest along Forest Service Route 294 ending at US 20.
  • Attractions include Upper and Lower Mesa Falls and Harriman State Park.
  • Drive Time: 28.7 miles. Allow 1 hour.


4. US 26 E through Palisades Reservoir


Photo: Josh Packer

  • Location: Beginning at the northwest end of Palisades Reservoir, the road winds about 20 miles along the edge of the water.
  • Amazing foliage in the fall and makes for a perfect pit stop between Idaho Falls and Grand Teton National Park
  • Drive Time: 20 miles. Allow about 1 hour.
  • There is a gas station just before you reach the reservoir and lots of restaurants and places to stock up on snacks between Idaho Falls and the reservoir.


5. Lake Coeur D’Alene Scenic Byway


Photo: Rose Freeman

  • Location: Beginning at the junction of Interstate 90 and Idaho 97, the route travels south along the eastern shoreline of Lake Coeur d’Alene, and ends at Idaho 3, where it meets the White Pine Scenic Byway and its southern route to the Palouse.
  • Wildlife is expansive and diverse, with eagle watching at its peak in December and January.
  • Attractions include Lake Coeur d'Alene, Blackwell Island, and the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes.
  • Drive Time: 35.8 miles. Allow 1.5 hours.


Discover more adventures in Idaho at Visit Idaho.

Cover photo: Josh Packer

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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.