Thursday, October 17, 2019

Fall colors are bursting in the mountains! Time for a scenic drive in Idaho!

The tamarack trees are peaking in Smith's Ferry and Valley County! This photo was taken Wed., Oct. 16. 
Hi all,

I've been burning up the highways in Idaho lately, mostly for work, but I can tell you that the colors are really starting to peak along Idaho 55 between Boise and McCall.

The same is true in North Idaho on scenic U.S. 12 between Lewiston and Missoula, and I'm sure the colors are peaking on the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway between Boise and Stanley, and on the Sawtooth Scenic Byway as well. The colors along the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway between Hagerman and Twin Falls are happening, too!

Along Idaho 55, the tamarack trees are peaking this week! The shrubs are going wild as well with lots of brilliant yellows, crimson reds and bright orange hues as well.   

Even if the weather is crummy this weekend, particularly on Saturday, I'd recommend you take a scenic drive when you get a chance to enjoy the brilliant fall colors Idaho-style! Plus, you can bet that the big front moving through on Saturday is going to blow a lot of the leaves off the trees, so there's a bit of an imperative to get out to see the colors when you can!

Here are my recommendations - click on the links to see the scenic byway detailed descriptions via VisitIdaho:

North Fork Payette River near Banks 
1. Payette River Scenic Byway - Take Idaho 55 north to McCall to enjoy fall colors along the North Fork of the Payette River and in the Boise and Payette National Forests. Even making a shorter drive from Boise to Smith's Ferry would yield big dividends right now. The colors are magnificent around Banks and the North Fork, and in Smith's Ferry, there are lots of tamarack trees to view.

2. Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway - Idaho 21 and the Banks-to-Lowman Highway should be promising, but you don't have to go all the way to Stanley. You could take an out-and-back cruise to Idaho City, or maybe make a reservation at The Springs to take a leisurely hot springs soak. You also could drive a big loop by taking ID 55 to Banks, take the Banks to Lowman road to Lowman, and then circle back to Boise via Idaho City on Idaho 21. Might be a little snow at Beaver Creek Summit!

Fall colors bursting from trees near Lowell, Idaho 
3. Sawtooth Scenic Byway - Take U.S. 20 to Fairfield and head for Sun Valley when the weather gets better. The colors in the Wood River Valley and the Sawooth Valley should be fantastic, but you may not have that much time left, particularly after the weather hits this weekend! Stop for lunch in Ketchum. There are many great restaurants to choose from. I personally like the Pioneer, Whiskey Jacques, and Lefty's.

Selway River, near Lowell 
4. If it might work for your schedule, try the scenic drive on U.S. 12 from Lewiston to Missoula, the Northwest Passage Scenic Byway. It roughly follows the historic route of Lewis & Clark and the Corps of Discovery. I was up there last weekend, and the colors were brilliant along the Clearwater River and along the Lochsa River.

Fall colors lighting up Box Canyon (courtesy Southern Idaho Tourism) 
5. Thousand Springs Scenic Byway - Follow U.S. 30 from Hagerman to Twin Falls. Potential side trips include Hagerman fishing ponds, Miracle Hot Springs, Hagerman Fossil Beds museum, Snake River Grill and more! Click here for details. Here's a post about three other scenic drives in the Magic Valley.

Have fun!
- SS

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