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Salmon River Scenic Byway
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"When we are out together travelling along the byway, we hit a level of being relaxed and being a family that we don't experience in our everyday lives. And it's a good reminder to both Matt and I to slow down and to see the magic that is around us — because our kids see it so instantly — in throwing a rock in the river or just basking and looking for fish in the hot springs. We are so fortunate here in Idaho to have so much in our backyard to experience and to expose our children to. I feel really blessed that I was raised in this area and grew up on all of these things and I get to share them with my kids."
The Salmon River Scenic Byway runs for more than 160 miles along the remarkable Salmon River, all the way from Stanley to the communities of Challis and Salmon and then on to the Montana border.
There are plenty of things to see along the way. One nice stop is Sunbeam Hot Springs right along the shores of the river. And a great side trip is the Custer Motorway that follows the original 35 mile stage road between Challis and the old mining towns of Custer and Bonanza. In Challis you can learn about the rich mining history of the area at the Land of the Yankee Fork Interpretive Center.
When you reach the town of Salmon you can stop and learn about another historic era at the Sacajawea Interpretive Center. The center features Sacajawea and the Lemhi-Shoshone people who played a critical role in helping Lewis and Clark on the journey west. And as you continue following the Salmon River you are now retracing some of the route of the expedition. It's part of the Lewis and Clark National Historical Trail with sites like Tower Rock. At one time William Clark considered a water route through the mountains, but after scouting deemed the Salmon River impassable. It does run through some rough country.
West of the byway is the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. At over two million acres, it's the second largest protected wilderness in the contiguous United States. Continuing north on the byway travelers continue to follow the Corps of Discovery's route all the way to the Montana border. At the border is Lost Trail Pass where the expedition had to blaze a trail through thickets and stony hills in order to reach the Bitterroot Valley below.