Payette River National Scenic Byway

From the junction of Idaho 44 and Idaho 55 west of Idaho’s capital city of Boise, this byway heads north on Idaho 55 to Horseshoe Bend where it meets the Payette River. From there, it passes through the Boise and Payette National Forests and the popular resort towns of Cascade and McCall before reaching the northern end of the byway at New Meadows.

For motorists, it can be a distracting drive as the river crashes and tumbles its way over the rocks through this narrow river valley. Depending on where you are on the river, it can be a mild ripple or a wild torrent. There are occasional pull-offs where you can view the wilder parts and treat your senses to the sight, sound, smell, and rhythm of Idaho’s famous whitewater.

Along this byway are some great locations for camping, hiking, boating, fishing, and guided float trips. Outfitters offer river excursions that range from half-day to three-day outings in rafts or kayaks.

The mountain resort town of McCall sits next to Payette Lake and is a great year-round getaway. It is particularly famous for the annual Winter Carnival, when the streets are lined with ice sculptures.

The byway follows a narrow, winding, two-lane road with occasional passing lanes and slow vehicle turnouts. The byway can be viewed year-round, and travelers should allow at least 2 hours and 15 minutes for this 111.7-mile trip.

Reprinted from Idaho Department of Transportation Brochure

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