Western Heritage Historic Byway

When President Lincoln turned his attention from the Civil War to proclaim Idaho a US Territory, migration south from Fort Boise had already begun. Huge silver and gold discoveries had been made in the Owyhees. Emigrants trudged trails south and twenty-horse teams moved mine machinery over rattlesnake-infested volcanic rifts and down the steep sides of the Snake River Canyon.

Today, where trails once existed, a broad new highway passes through farmlands to Indian Creek and the town of Kuna. This historic place was first an Indian crossing – then a traveler’s way-station – then the Shortline railhead, and finally, the growing farm community it is today.

Here, the byway turns south down Swan Falls Road. Just a few miles past Kuna, the scene moves abruptly from gold and green fields stitched together by silver irrigation canals, to rugged terrain unchanged since wild horse herds roamed and the great hoards of jack rabbits made settlers’ lives miserable.

Now, thousands of folks visit the Birds of Prey National Conservation Area, Initial Point, Snake River Canyon, Dedication Point, and Swan Falls Dam each year.

From Meridian, Idaho Highway 69 begins on the southbound road from exit 44 off I-84 and runs for 8 miles to East Avalon Avenue in Kuna. Turn south on Swan Falls Road and continue for 21 miles through the National Conservation Area Birds of Prey to Swan Falls Dam. Idaho 69 is a new 5-lane roadway to Kuna. Swan Falls Road is a two-lane highway to the Swan Falls Dam. The final mile is a steep grade from the Snake River Canyon rim to the dam site. Ice patches occur infrequently during winter weather. The byway can be seen year-round, but birds of prey migrate in and are active March to late June. Travelers should allow at least 1 hour for this 30-mile trip.

Reprinted from Idaho Department of Transportation Brochure.

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