When Congress created the Idaho Territory in 1863, it covered an area 25% larger than Texas. Still today, to travel from Bonner’s Ferry to Montpelier is over 800 miles (it’s still larger than all six New England states combined with New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware) through rugged, mountainous and thick forest covered land. This rugged territory left Idaho as one of the last areas in the 48 states to be explored with the first Europeans not arriving until 1811. They began exploring the geography that was the result of the events of some 200 million years ago, when great upheavals occurred in the Northwest United States. Rock melted into magma, cooling into a mammoth granite mas. Millions of years later, more molten magna broke through the earth’s crust, leaving a series of super volcanoes and large calderas in their wake. With molten magna comes precious metals, minerals and gems. In the 1800s, lured by the promise of gold and silver, thousands of prospectors and miners, arrived by wagon, horseback, and stagecoach seeking to cash in on the riches found in the land and build new towns. Ultimately the state rendered more than $2.88 Billion in minerals and gems. Soon after mining began in more than 20 mining districts, English and German farmers began moving in to settle and Irish immigrants arrived to work in the railroad centers. Today, even though mining is still in progress, the forests and scarring have all been restored, delivering a landscape that is blanketed with astounding mountain views and deep forests enveloping hundreds of miles of Scenic Byways and scenic drives that traverse all areas of the state. Couple this with the heritage found along the way, and you have the ideal place for great road trips.

Highlighted Scenic Byway

Peaks to Craters Scenic Byway

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Idaho Scenic Byways