Recognized for its outstanding scenic and historic attributes, the Payette River National Scenic Byway was designated an Idaho Scenic Byway in June 1977, and a National Scenic Byway in 2005. It extends 112 miles along Idaho 55 between Eagle and New Meadows, is one of the most beautiful and heavily-used roadways in Idaho. It accesses some of Idaho’s most beautiful scenic and recreational areas in and near the Payette and Boise National Forests. The route offers views of mountains, forests, lakes, valleys, and the famous whitewater rapids visited by rafters, canoeists, and kayakers from around the world.

Making the Connection

The Byway is an important link for tourist travel

The Byway is a primary link between the populated Boise/southwestern Idaho region to the sparsely populated mountains of central Idaho. It serves as one of only two highways that provide access between northern and southern Idaho—US 95 being the other. These two highways converge in New Meadows at the north junction of the byway.

Turnouts along the Byway offer picnicking, fishing, swimming, and sunbathing.

The northern half of the route passes through high, wide-open valleys surrounding the upper reaches of the North Fork of the Payette River, abundant with lakes, wildlife, and wildflowers. The mountains are densely forested with lodgepole pine, Engelmann spruce, and Douglas fir, all characteristic of cooler temperatures and greater precipitation.