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North Central Idaho Scenic Drives

June 1, 2022

Scenic driving in North Central Idaho is as diverse as the region. Mountains, river valleys, rolling hills, and sweeping prairies are waiting for you to explore. 

Gold Rush Historic Byway

Camas Flowers on the Weippe Prairie

Rich in history, scenery, and wildlife, the route along Highway 11 begins with an easy climb up Greer Grade. At the top, a panoramic view of the Clearwater Valley, rolling farmland, and the Weippe Prairie. Not far from the historic town of Weippe, the Nez Perce saved the Lewis and Clark Expedition from starvation.

While in Weippe, visit the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.

Pierce is home to Idaho's oldest public building, the old Shoshone County Courthouse, and is on the Register of National Historic Places. This is also a jumping off point for numerable recreational opportunities. Hike, fly fish for trout, hunt, ATV or snowmobile, and camp in the majestic and seemingly endless Clearwater National Forest.

Old White Bird Grade

White Bird Grade

One of Idaho's oldest highways is also one of its most breathtaking! Sometimes referred to as the "old highway 95", it's one of the most beautiful drives you'll ever experience.

The curvy road runs past a Nez Perce National Historical, the White Bird Battlefield, which is the location of the first battle of the Nez Perce Flight of 1877.

Camas Prairie

Train Trestles near Winchester Idaho

Travel along Highway 95 from Lapwai to Grangeville and you'll experience miles of train trestles, rolling prairie and unmatched hospitality.

Take a slight detour to Winchester Lake State Park for a hike, canoe and fish the lake, or just take a breather under the pines.

Stop for lunch and a cold brew at Trestle Brewing in Ferdinand. While driving by Cottonwood, you won't be able to miss the World's Largest Beagle at Dog Bark Park. St. Gertrude's Monastery and Historical Museum are just up the road.

In Grangeville, the visitor center houses the replica of a life-size mammoth, whose remains were found at Tolo Lake.

Elk River Backcountry Byway

The route from Bovill to Orofino, from either direction, can be characterized as an all natural, no frills, individualistic and unpretentious pathway through rural North Central Idaho. It is a 57-mile route to adventure, fun and relaxation for travelers.

Huckleberry ice cream, and huckleberries in any other form, is a must when you travel through Elk River.

Elk Creek Falls National Recreational Area is home to the tallest waterfall in the state. Trails lead to three separate waterfalls with a pool that's perfect for a refreshing plunge.

Near the end of the byway, just before Orofino, you'll find the tallest, most impressive bridge in Idaho...a 500-foot-tall suspension bridge spanning the spectacular Dworshak Reservoir.

Northwest Passage Scenic Byway - Highways 12 & 13

Follow the route of the Lewis and Clark expedition all the way across Idaho. The All-American Road follows the rivers from Lolo Pass to Lewiston. From the wild and scenic Lochsa River to the peaceful, floatable Middle Fork of the Clearwater River, you'll be immersed in the beauty, history, and recreational opportunities.

Kooskia to Grangeville - Highway 13

This section is also part of the Northwest Passage Scenic Byway All-American Road. The road winds through small towns and along the scenic South Fork of the Clearwater River from Kooskia to Grangeville.

White Pine Scenic Byway - Highways 6 & 3

From farm land to forest, rivers, to mountains, drive through the largest stand of White Pine trees in North America. Begin your journey in the rolling hills of the Palouse Region at Potlatch and through the St. Joe National Forest and picturesque St. Joe River.

Moscow - Highway 95

Scenic near Moscow Idaho

The rolling hills of the Palouse region surrounding Moscow are unlike any other landscape you've ever seen. In the spring, the velvet green crops look like a never ending magic carpet. The patchwork yellow and green fields make this area a favorite for photographers. Moscow is a perfect stop for delicious restaurants in their historic downtown followed by retail therapy in the many extraordinary shops. Travel Highway 95 in one direction and take the Washington Highway 195 to make a roundtrip and include the Palouse Scenic Byway. Stop in Uniontown for a unique collection of local arts and crafts at the Artisans at the Dahmen Barn.

Riggins Salmon River of No Return & Seven Devils Mountains - Highway 95

Salmon River near Riggins Idaho

The route between White Bird and Riggins follows the famous Salmon River of No Return through steep canyon walls. During the summer months, book a whitewater rafting trip or a fishing trip any time of the year.

Take a detour in Riggins onto Forest Service Road 517 to climb over 7,000 feet to Heaven's Gate Lookout and the Seven Devils Mountain Range where you can see four states (this is a gravel road so low-clearance vehicles, RVs and trailers are advised to avoid this road).

Elk City Wagon Road

The Elk City Wagon Road begins in Harpster and travels 53 miles through the Nez Perce National Forest to Elk City. The first gold miners used this trail to reach Elk City in 1861 and in 2001 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This adventurous road takes you past forest service lookout towers (some of which you can stay in) and many historic sites. The wagon road intersects with the Southern Nez Perce Trail used by the Nimipuu to travel between the Camas Prairie and Montana. Most of this single-lane road is unpaved so choose your vehicle wisely. It takes 4-6 hours and fuel is available in Kooskia, Harpster, Grangeville, and Elk City. The return trip via Highway 14 takes only 1.5 hours.

Elk City & Red River - Highway 14

This picturesque route travels down the Harpster Grade from Grangeville and follows the South Fork of the Clearwater River through forested canyons with rugged granite outcroppings. Hiking, wildlife viewing, fishing, and picnicking opportunities are plentiful along the route. Stop in Red River for a plunge in the all natural hot springs and a bite to eat at the Hot Springs & Lodge Cafe.

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