As mentioned in an earlier post, Idaho has over thirty designated by-ways throughout the state; some historical, some scenic, and some back country routes. We realized there were two quite close to Boise and made them our destination to explore today. And, it was a gorgeous day!
The first route was on the Western Heritage Historic By-way via Kuna (pronounced Q-na), a little more than seven miles south of Boise in the bedroom community of Meridian. Kuna is considered “the last outpost of civilization before the desolate sage-covered expanse of the Birds of Prey National Conservation Area just to the south”. There definitely was NOT much to the town, but they did have a nice tourist/chamber of commerce office we stopped by to collect information about the by-way and surrounding area.
To drive the Western Heritage Historic By-way is to experience “wild” Idaho. The Birds of Prey National Conservation Area is home to the largest population of nesting raptors in the world along with home to multiple varieties of owls, harriers, kestrels, hawks, falcons and the largest nesting populations in the country. Driving down into the Snake River Canyon is like traveling back in time – at the bottom of the canyon, imagine the volcano which created today’s Yellowstone National Park passing underneath your feet nearly 14 million years ago. There are fields of hundred-ton boulders that were deposited by one of the largest floods in geologic history.
Idaho was a vast territory for gold and silver discoveries in the Owyhee Mountains brought miners and homesteaders. At the beginning of the 20th century, Swan Falls Dam was the first powerhouse on the Snake River and the birthplace of modern electricity and is the same standard used throughout the world today. The drive was as described – sage-covered expanses with the Owyhee Mountain range off in the distance along with the beauty of the Snake River Canyon. It was quite a steep descent down to the Swan Falls Dam, but well worth the drive. It was like Idaho has their own mini Grand Canyon; just beautiful. Naturally, we took the dirt road off to the end of the trail following the Snake River and actually did spy some large bird nests with activity! We both talked about bringing our lawn chairs and a picnic lunch back to this tranquil area one afternoon.
From the Western Heritage Historic By-way, we followed it until we reached the Snake River Canyon Scenic By-way and turned onto it. This route is more a drive right along the Snake River and seeing the farmlands and orchards. “Dating back nearly 4.5 million years, the rich agricultural land found today along the byway was born of fire when volcanoes dominated the land. Nearly 15,000 years ago water reshaped the land as the Bonneville Flood, the same one mentioned above, flooded the entire valley. Over the millenniums, nature continued to define the land creating a unique ecosystem of wildlife and plants that are only found in southwestern Idaho”.
We definitely saw our fair share of interesting sights along the by-ways today and have included them in the picture portion of the post. Think our favorite was seeing Chicken Dinner Road and two side roads off this major artery were Drumstick Lane and Wishbone Alley! Another delightful outing to see and experience more of Idaho! Glad we still have two more weeks to get to see and do more while here as well as spend more time with our friends here.
Till the next time. . .