A twisting road in Idaho overlooks a thundering river, evergreen forests, and abundant wildlife.
You could easily cover the stretch of road in under an hour, but that’s hardly the point. Getting the most out of the Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway, a 33-mile Idaho route between Banks and Lowman, means putting your feet on the ground.
Along the byway, conifer-covered slopes and rocky outcroppings border the rushing waters of the Payette River’s enchanting south fork. Must-stop spots include Staircase Rapids, where kayakers dance down heavy water two miles east of Highway 55, and the viewpoint for a 40-foot-tall cascade aptly named Big Falls.
Late afternoon and the hours right after dawn are the busiest times for wildlife. White-tailed and mule deer are plentiful, bald eagles circle above, and otters and ospreys hang out near the river.
Native elk are seasonal visitors. As the snows of winter recede, the elk migrate to higher elevations in large herds that are easy to watch through the telescopes at Gallagher Flat Wildlife Viewpoint. A patient observer might even hear a wolf or sight a fox, moose, or bear. All you need to do is stop and look around. (208) 4625003, gvchamber.org.
Photography courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
This article was first published in March 2014. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.