Lewis & Clark National Backcountry
Byway and Adventure

This is the place where the discovery of the Northwest began. The stands of fir and pine trees hugging the skyline, the high mountain meadows, and the rolling brown hills look much the same today as when Meriwether Lewis and William Clark journeyed to the crest of Lemhi Pass late in the summer of 1805.

It’s easy to imagine the presence of those early-day explorers as you travel the Lewis and Clark Backcountry Byway and Adventure Road. You’ll see the place where the expedition unfurled the flag of the United States for the first time west of the Rocky Mountains, laying claim to the Pacific Northwest for the young, expanding country.

At the top of Lemhi Pass is the Sacajawea Memorial, a place to learn more of this remarkable woman who served as a guide and interpreter for Lewis and Clark. It is also believed she was born in Lemhi Valley.

The route also follows portions of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and provides access to where the explorers reached the headwaters of the Missouri River. Not all the sights are tied to history. You’ll be treated to spectacular vistas of the river valleys below – the Salmon and the Lemhi – as your vehicle climbs more than 3,000 feet up to the Continental Divide.

Wildlife abounds. Pattee Creek, far from the valley floor, attracts many animals, particularly elk and deer. In spring, when the water is high and noisy, it’s possible to surprise these animals as they feed upon new growth or sip water from the roily creek.

Nature has left its mark in the area too. Forest fires through the years have left behind varying ages and sizes of trees in some areas. In places, lodgepole pines have been thinned to promote healthier, faster-growing trees for the future. Along the way, you’ll also see rangeland and watershed management projects and improvements.

The Lewis and Clark Backcountry Byway and Adventure Road offers a mix of the northern Continental Divide – history, scenery, wildlife, and other natural wonders. If you visit east-central Idaho, it’s a place you don’t want to miss.

The Lewis and Clark Backcountry Byway is a cooperative effort of the Bureau of Land Management, the US Forest Service, Lemhi County, and the Salmon Valley Chamber of Commerce. The byway is located in Lemhi County, about 20 miles south of Salmon, Idaho. It can be reached by turning east from State Highway 28 at the Tendoy intersection. The roads are single lane, with occasional pullouts for passing. They are a gravel surface which can be driven safely in an automobile. Grades in some areas exceed 5 percent. Roads are maintained by the county and the US Forest Service. Snow usually closes the roads from November until June. The route is groomed in the winter months and is used heavily by snowmobile enthusiasts. The byway is 39 miles long and takes about a half-day drive.

Reprinted from US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management Brochure

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