Thursday, July 23, 2015

Payette River Scenic Byway

It's our last day in Idaho and we decided to take a drive. We started west of Boise in Eagle and took ID55 north which is the Payette River Scenic Byway. The byway is about 111 miles going from Eagle to New Meadows. The drive goes through Horseshoe Bend, Banks, Smith's Ferry, Cascade, Donnelly, McCall and New Meadows. The road is sometimes narrow, mostly two lane with passing lanes and pull offs, and has lots of incredible views. I had read that this road could get pretty busy during the summer months but even though there was some traffic it wasn't bad. It seems that there are lots of things to do along this drive. Things like riding the Thunder Mountain Rail, white water rafting, hiking, kayaking, snowmobiling, cross country skiing and zip lining.
We started our drive somewhere around 7:30am but we didn't get far before we decided to stop for some breakfast before getting on ID55. Thomas spotted a diner so we turned off and stopped at Eddie's Diner between Boise and Eagle. The place is decorated in 50's style and the staff was very friendly. We enjoyed a great breakfast and then started our drive. The first bit was a little bland but quickly turned into rolling hills where we climbed and went over a pass and then down into a valley where we drove through Horseshoe Bend. We passed the depot for the Thunder Mountain Rail and contemplated taking a ride but then decided we just wanted to drive - maybe next visit we can take the train. As we left Horseshoe Bend we eventually entered more mountainous terrain with tall pines all around us. The road curved its way along the Payette River offering us incredible views. We drove through Banks and Smiths Ferry - both of which are very small and you miss them if you blink. Then just north of Smiths Ferry we came upon Rainbow Bridge. A beautiful single arch concrete bridge spanning the river. I made Thomas stop before the bridge so I could take a few pictures. We continued our drive up to Cascade where we stopped at Lake Cascade State Park for a chance to get out of the car and stretch our legs. After 30 minutes or so we were back in the car and driving north. Leaving Cascade the landscape changed to more flat land with mountains in the distance. Here we were greeted with fields of either wheat, hay or alfalfa (I am really not sure what it was) and a plethora of cows. The just before we entered McCall the scenery changed back into mountains and pine trees. We drove through the town just to get a feel for how it was laid out. At the far end we turned around and stopped at Rotary Park. This is a small park with a tiny beach on the shore of Payette Lake. We only were here for 10 minutes or so and we headed back into town. After finding a parking spot we stopped at the Chamber of Commerce for maps and suggestions for where to get some lunch. We then spent some time walking around and window shopping before stopping for lunch at My Father's Place. We stopped here because we noticed when we first drove through town that there was a line waiting to get in - so we thought it must be a pretty good place. It is a small little burger place and we waited in line about 20 minutes. We ordered hamburgers and onion rings with extremely thick shakes. We sat outside and enjoyed our food and people watched. Once done with the food we walked around a little more before returning to the car and heading back to Boise.
The drive back was a little quicker because we didn't stop as much. I really enjoyed this drive. Very peaceful and relaxing and fantastic scenery. Back at the hotel we started packing things up since we leave for home tomorrow morning. It has been a nice trip but I will be glad to be back in  Santa Fe.

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