Majestic Idaho Road Trips


(Sponsored by Elmore County Press & El-Wyhee Hi-Lites)


Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway


   The turbulent South Fork of the Payette River Canyon is the attraction along this route. Rafting, fishing, watching for wildlife and soaking in hot springs are highlights of this drive between Banks and Lowman.


Whitewater Kayaking & Rafting

On The Popular Payette River



      Whitewater kayaking is the sport of paddling a kayak on a moving body of water, typically a whitewater river. Whitewater kayaking can range from simple, carefree gently moving water, to demanding, dangerous whitewater. River rapids are graded like ski runs according to the difficulty, danger or severity of the rapid. Whitewater grades (or classes) range from I or 1 (the easiest) to VI or 6 (the most difficult/dangerous). Grade/Class I can be described as slightly moving water with ripples but for that reason is not considered 'Whitewater.' Grade/Class II/2 can be described as moving water providing some small degree of challenge. Grade/Class VI can be described as extremely severe or almost unrunnable whitewater.



   The whitewater kayak is typically rotomoulded from a tough plastic that is slightly flexible and very durable, if easily scratched. Boats can range in size from barely long enough to hold the paddler (around 5 ft  long (or even smaller for children), up to 12 ft or longer.



   Rafting or white water rafting is a challenging recreational activity using an inflatable raft to navigate a river or other bodies of water. This is usually done on white water or different degrees of rough water, in order to thrill and excite the raft passengers. The development of this activity as a leisure sport has become popular since the mid-1970s.



   The modern raft is an inflatable boat, consisting of very durable, multi-layered rubberized or vinyl fabrics with several independent air chambers. The length varies between 11 ft and 20 ft, the width between 6 ft and 8 ft. The exception to this size rule is usually the packraft, which is designed as a portable single-person raft and may be as small as 4.9 ft long and weigh as little as 4 pounds. Rafts are usually propelled with ordinary paddles and typically hold 4 to 12 persons.



   An all-around family favorite, the popular Payette River offers every kind of experience from placid Class I and II water to thundering Class V+.



   Some have compared the Payette and its tributaries to the public school system: the Main Payette provides a basic education in whitewater technique; the Cabarton stretch of the North Fork is high school material; sections of the South Fork will will earn you a college degree in whitewater; and if you can master the daunting Class V+ waters of the North Fork below Smith’s Ferry, you’ve got yourself a Ph.D. in whitewater rafting!

   On a hot summer day, the nine mile stretch of the Main Payette beginning at Banks will be filled with dozens of rafters and kayakers, eager to challenge the Class III rapids of Mike’s Hole, Mixmaster, and AMF.



   For intermediate boaters, the Payette’s best whitewater lies in the South Fork Canyon; there you will find several Class IV rapids, including a mandatory portage around the 40 foot Class VI Big Falls. You will also enjoy a wilderness experience (at least for a few miles) complete with hot springs!



   Further downstream, near the South Fork’s confluence with the main Payette, boaters can challenge themselves on Staircase Rapid, a long Class III – IV rapid, which has taught many boaters the value of staying in their rafts.

   On the North Fork of the Payette lies the popular Cabarton run which features a real sense of solitude, as well as several Class III – IV rapids near the end of the run.

   The North Fork below Smith’s Ferry provides 16 miles of non-stop, Class V rapids. This stretch was first kayaked in the 1970’s and first rafted in the late 1980’s. With a gradient of 105 feet per mile, it is certainly understandable.


Classifications of Rivers For White Water Rafting:

   Class I: Very small rough areas, might require slight maneuvering. (Skill Level: Very Basic)

   Class II: Some rough water, maybe some rocks, might require some maneuvering.(Skill Level: Basic Paddling Skill)

   Class III: Whitewater, small waves, maybe a small drop, but no considerable danger. May require significant maneuvering.(Skill Level: Experienced paddling skills)

   Class IV: Whitewater, medium waves, maybe rocks, maybe a considerable drop, sharp maneuvers may be needed. (Skill Level: Whitewater Experience)

   Class V: Whitewater, large waves, large volume, possibility of large rocks and hazards, possibility of a large drop, requires precise maneuvering (Skill Level: Advanced Whitewater Experience)

   Class VI: Class 6 rapids are considered to be so dangerous as to be effectively unnavigable on a reliably safe basis. Rafters can expect to encounter substantial whitewater, huge waves, huge rocks and hazards, and/or substantial drops that will impart severe impacts beyond the structural capacities and impact ratings of almost all rafting equipment. Traversing a Class 6 rapid has a dramatically increased likelihood of ending in serious injury or death compared to lesser classes. (Skill Level: Successful completion of a Class 6 rapid without serious injury or death is widely considered to be a matter of great luck or extreme skill)

   The North Fork of the Payette parralls Highway 55 (Payette River Scenic Byway) from Banks northward. This riverside drive takes you through Smiths Ferry, Cascade and to the popular resort town of McCall and shimmering Payette Lake.

 The South Fork parallels Highway 21 (Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway) from Banks through Garden Valley to Lowman. Rafting, fishing, watching for wildlife (like the fox pictured below) and soaking in hot springs are highlights of this scenic drive.



  The drive alongside the Main, North and South Fork  of the Payette River is quite beautiful, especially this time of year.


Payette River & Black Canyon Dam


   History: In the 19th century, white settlers began moving into western Idaho and established trading posts, towns and farms in the area. One of these early pioneers was Francois Payette, for whom the river is named. A French-Canadian fur trapper who worked for the North West Company, he was one of the first people of European descent to settle in the Payette River area. Payette ventured east from Fort Astoria in 1818. From 1835 to 1844, he headed the Hudson's Bay Company's Fort Boise trading post near Parma, on the Snake River some distance south of the Payette River. In 1844, Payette retired to Montreal, still over twenty years before emigrants began to arrive in great numbers. One of the first settlements was on Clear Creek, a tributary of the South Fork Payette River. Many of the Native Americans were unhappy with the new settlers and the great numbers of pioneers traveling through the area bound for the West Coast for causing damage to their lands, leading to the Nez Perce War of 1877 and many small conflicts with miners, ranchers, farmers, homesteaders, and soldiers.

   Logging in the basin began soon after the arrival of settlers, but did not reach large scale until the early 20th century. Demand for wooden railroad ties for the Oregon Short Line (OSL) in the 1880s helped to kick off the logging industry in the area. From then on, heavy logging commenced along the North Fork Payette River in Long Valley, downriver of present-day Cascade Lake. A splash dam was built in 1902 by the Minnesota-based Payette Lumber and Manufacturing Company on the North Fork in order to better facilitate the transportation of logs downstream. Logging helped to spur even more people to move into the area, and in 1911, the Idaho Northern Railroad was constructed by the OSL, running from Emmett near the mouth of the Payette along the river, past present-day Black Canyon Reservoir, up into the North Fork watershed and ending in Long Valley at Smith's Ferry on the river, named for a settler who bought the operation in 1891. The ferry's primary purpose was to transport livestock and agricultural products between Long Valley and the Snake River.

   Agriculture, however, became the primary mainstay in the lower valley of the Payette River. Following from 1874, irrigated farmland surrounded much of the main stem of the Payette River. The Last Chance Canal and Nobel Canal were among the first irrigation ditches constructed, but did not provide a firm yield because of the lack of water regulation. Black Canyon Dam was constructed on the Payette in 1824 not as a storage facility, but to divert water into the Emmett and Black Canyon Canals, which vastly increased the irrigated acreage in the valley. Deadwood Dam on the Deadwood River, a tributary of the South Fork Payette River, was built in 1929 to provide some degree of flow regulation, though much more effective was the Cascade Dam, constructed on the North Fork in 1948 to form Cascade Lake.


Payette River





   The Payette River is a 62-mile river in southwestern Idaho, and is a major tributary of the Snake River.

   Its headwaters originate in the Sawtooth and Salmon River mountains at elevations over 10,000 feet. Including the North Fork Payette River, the drainage flows in a westerly direction for over 175 miles, while with the South Fork, the cumulative length exceeds 182 miles, through an agricultural valley then empties into the Snake River near the city of Payette at an elevation of 2,125 feet. The Payette River's drainage basin comprises about 3,240 square miles. It is a physiographic section of the Columbia Plateau province, which in turn is part of the larger Intermontane Plateaus physiographic division. The South Fork of the Payette has its headwaters in the Sawtooth Wilderness, which is part of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.




   The river's watershed was originally settled by the Shoshone, Nez Perce, Paiute and Bannock Native American tribes. Before white contact, many of these indigenous peoples had no permanent villages or settlements. For hundreds of years, in the fall and winter, they would camp in the arid grasslands along the main stem of the Payette River, while in spring and summer, they temporarily moved to the lusher upper basin of the North Fork to hunt and fish in preparation for the coming winter. Camas bulbs, coming from a widespread flowering plant in the basin, was their primary staple throughout the year. In order to maintain the naturally occurring fields of camas, they would set controlled fires whenever they left their camps for the biyearly move through the river basin. The seasonal burning came with added benefits, including clearing unwanted vegetation and protecting their campsites from overgrowth.

   Due to the wide range in elevation, the Payette River has a variety of fish and fish habitats. Salmon and steelhead were eliminated in the drainage by Black Canyon Dam, which was first completed in 1924. From its mouth upstream to Black Canyon Dam, the river supports a mixed fishery for coldwater and warmwater species. Mountain whitefish make up the bulk of game fish in this section of river, with smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, channel catfish, black crappie, rainbow trout, and brown trout making significant contributions. Upstream from Black Canyon Dam, the gradient of the river increases with coldwater species increasing in abundance. The South Fork of the Payette River supports excellent populations of wild rainbow trout. The North Fork of the Payette River has been severely altered by railroad and highway construction and provides only a marginal fishery for salmonids. However, in unaltered sections such as the Cabarton reach, the North Fork is very productive for salmonids.

   There are five major impoundments in the Payette basin: Black Canyon, Sage Hen, Paddock, Cascade, and Deadwood reservoirs. There are also several small impoundments and natural lakes with increased storage, such as the three Payette Lakes. Black Canyon, on the mainstem, provides only marginal fish habitat. Sand from upstream land disturbances has covered most of the habitat. Paddock Reservoir, on Big Willow Creek, has one of the better populations of black crappie in the state and a good fishery for largemouth bass. Cascade Reservoir on the North Fork is one of the most heavily fished waters in the state. Cascade has an abundance of yellow perch, coho salmon, and rainbow trout. Deadwood Reservoir, completed in 1931, contains kokanee and cutthroat trout.

   Alpine lakes within the Payette River drainage are stocked with rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, cutbow (rainbow-cutthroat hybrids), golden trout, and arctic grayling. Brook trout are also present in a number of lakes.


Black Canyon Reservoir




   Black Canyon Reservoir, near Emmett, is formed by Black Canyon Diversion Dam and managed by the Bureau of Reclamation. This 1,100-acre reservoir offers 12 miles of shoreline; boating and fishing are the major recreational activities. Anglers fish for largemouth bass, rainbow trout, crappie, white fish, bullhead and channel catfish. The canyon sits amid the gently rolling prairie between Emmett and Horseshoe Bend. The area is a know winter feeding ground for deer and elk. Its remote location provides ample animal and bird watching opportunities. Come and enjoy the quiet solitude this scenic location offers.



   Black Canyon Diversion Dam, on the Payette River near Emmett, Idaho, is a concrete gravity type dam with an ogee overflow spillway. The dam has a structural height of 183 feet and serves to divert water to the Payette Division through Black Canyon Canal. The original capacity was 44,700 acre-feet but heavy siltation has reduced the capacity. At full pool there is now a volume of 29,600 acre-feet. Water is diverted at Black Canyon Diversion Dam by gravity into the Black Canyon Main Canal on the south side of the Payette River and by two direct connected turbine-driven pumps, located in the powerhouse, to serve the Emmett Irrigation District Canal on the north side of the river. The two unit powerplant had an initial total capacity of 8,000 kilowatts. The unit’s electrical components were upgraded to 5,100 kilowatts each in 1995 to provide the capability of generating 10,200 kilowatts with further upgrade of the turbines. Present generating capacity however, is limited to about 10,000 kilowatts. The plant supplies power to the Southern Idaho Federal Power System for Bureau of Reclamation project uses and for non-project purposes.



   In 1988, a six-inch raise in Black Canyon Reservoir water surface was implemented by modifying the spillway drumgate and the radial gate at the Black Canyon Main Canal headworks. This was done to improve regulation of irrigation diversions from Black Canyon Reservoir to the Black Canyon Main Canal and to conserve the amount of stored water released from upstream reservoirs to meet fluctuating irrigation demands.


   There are three day-use parks located at or near Black Canyon Dam — Black Canyon Park, Wild Rose Park, and Cobblestone Park. Triangle Park offers both day-use and overnight camping.

   There is a $5 per car daily fee at Black Canyon Park. Newly issued season passes are available for $25. Previously issued season passes can be renewed for $20. You must swipe your electronic season pass at the card reader each time you enter or exit the park. If you do not swipe your card when you exit the park, you will need to contact Reclamation staff to have it reset.

   Triangle Park, located just upstream of Black Canyon Park, is available for group overnight camping for a fee of $125.00. Water and power are not available at this park.

   Gazebos at Black Canyon Park and Wild Rose Park can be rented for a daily non-refundable fee of $125.00. Only the gazebos can be rented, not the entire park. The shelter at Cobblestone Park can be rented for a daily non-refundable fee of $125.00.

   Montour Park, located in the Montour Wildlife Management Area, has overnight camping at $8.00 a day. There are 18 spaces which are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Potable water and bathrooms are available.





Sawtooth Scenic Byway


   Climb 115 miles up Highway 93 and 75 into the heart of central Idaho, from the high desert to the Sawtooth Mountains at Stanley. Highlights include Sun Valley Ski Resort (founded in 1936), Galena Summit, and Redfish Lake.


Sawtooth Mountains Near Stanley



    The Sawtooth Scenic Byway has the distinction of being the 100th National Forest Scenic Byway. Beginning in Shoshone, the southern leg of the byway features the new Black Magic Canyon geological attraction. The route then rolls north through fertile agricultural land to the resort towns of Hailey, Ketchum, and Sun Valley.

   From there, the road carves its way through the Boulder Mountains to Galena Pass, showcasing the ridge of the Sawtooth Mountains. Beyond, the rocks and woodlands of the rugged Sawtooth National Recreation Area are packed with rivers, streams, and 300 alpine lakes, providing top-notch venues for a variety of year-round activities. Wildlife watchers should stay alert; the 756,000-acre recreational area is home to many species of wildlife, including pronghorn antelope, deer, elk, bear and wolves.

   The northern tip of the byway terminates in Stanley, where the Sawtooth meets the Ponderosa Pine and Salmon River Scenic Byways. So no matter which way you drive in or out, you’re in for a treat.


Western Heritage Historic Byway



   Wagons loaded with gold mined in the Owyhee Mountains took this route to Fort Boise over desert trails and across the Snake River. Today it includes southern Idaho farmland, the rugged Snake River Canyon, Swan Falls Dam and the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area.

   When President Lincoln turned his attention from the Civil War to proclaim Idaho a U.S. 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.

   Kuna is the Gateway City to the Birds of Prey National Habitat Area and is the forefront of the Western Heritage Byways Project. 


Historic Kuna, Idaho


   First Pioneer Settlement along the Silver Trail - The year was 1881 when 100 laborers arrived to build the westward portion of the Oregon short Line Railroad. With an Indian language dictionary in hand, E.P. Vining of the Union Pacific Railroad named the location “Kuna” from what is believed to be a Shoshone word.

   The first train arrived in Kuna in 1883. Kuna became the valley’s transportation hub shipping goods to Boise and Silver City in the Owyhee Mountains along the old stage route known today as the Silver Trail.

   Four years later in 1887, rail service arrived in Boise. Kuna’s depot closed, and the tiny settlement vanished. The first breath of life was given to Kuna when in November of 1903 Fremont H. Teed, an early settler from Iowa applied for the Desert Land Grant. With $50 in hand as the initial payment, Teed acquired 200 acres which included the dusty remains of old town Kuna.

   Kuna once again began to thrive as F. H. Teed and D. R. Hubbard worked tirelessly to encourage settlement. Kuna’s town folks celebrated on February 22, 1909 when the first irrigation water flowed-giving life to 50,000 acres of new farmland.

   Today, Kuna holds strong to its pioneer heritage-a heritage built upon the early settlers who pushed back the sagebrush covered desert to build a thriving community.







   The growth Kuna has experienced the last several years extends its boundaries to just 4 miles from the city limits of Boise. Kuna is a community of approximately 16,100 residents, rooted as an agricultural area that is a rapidly growing progressive community, supported by an active Chamber of Commerce, a sense of community pride, and a high level of citizen involvement. Kuna prides itself in good schools, responsive businesses, and fine churches. The city is proud of its heritage, and past accomplishments.

Kuna Chamber of Commerce.


   I would like to mention that this great road trip started after a fantastic lunch at Pizza Hut, located at 251 Avenue D in Kuna.





Kuna Visitor Center


The Kuna Visitor Center features information about the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area. Open seasonally, the center has information about Kuna and the Western Heritage Historic Byway. Visitor information is available for pick up 24 hours a day.


Colonel Bernard Fisher Veteran's Memorial Park


   In the city center is Colonel Bernard Fisher Veteran's Memorial Park, named after one of the city's most famous residents. Bernard Francis "Bernie" Fisher (born January 11, 1927) is a retired United States Air Force officer and a recipient of the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor. He was the first living Air Force recipient of the medal (all previous awards to USAF personnel had been posthumous), and the first USAF member to receive the medal in the Vietnam War.




  The Kuna Farmers Market is held at the Colonel Bernard Fisher Veteran's Memorial Park from the first Saturday in May 7 (9 a.m. to noon every Saturday) through Oct. 1.

   From Kuna, 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.


Pioneer Cemetery


   Pioneer Cemetery is all that remains of Ten Mile community, a tiny pioneer settlement. The year was 1863; President Lincoln signed the act organizing Idaho Territory establishing the capital at Lewiston. That same year, with the discovery of gold in the Owyhee Mountains, a stage and freight wagon route soon followed hauling supplies between Silver City in the Owyhee Mountains and Boise.



   During 1880 a small group of Ten Mile Community citizens cleared a plot of land overlooking Indian Creek and modestly established “Cemetery Hill.” Legend has it that 20 people are interred in this cemetery. Early during Kuna's history, a diphtheria epidemic swept through the community. Descendents of the early settlers believe that the cemetery is the resting place for six adults and six children. More than70 years later, in 1961, Kuna Grange volunteers-while restoring the cemetery, located 11 graves.




   The cemetery is located near the original route of the Silver Trail along Stage Coach Road. Pioneer Cemetery honors the early pioneers who settled the region.

   The early pioneers of Ten Mile Community endured many hardships to carve a living from the sagebrush covered desert. All that remains now are faded memories and a small plot of land-the resting place for early settlers who gave rise to Kuna’s birthplace.

      15 Mile House, a stage station, was built near Ten Mile Community to provide travelers with a rest stop, a hot meal, and a watering hole for horses.


Silver Trail


  When silver was discovered in the Owyhee Mountains during 1863, a stage and freight wagon trail was constructed linking Idaho City and Silver City with the newly established town of Boise. Fifteen-mile Station located near Indian Creek was built to provide travelers with fresh horses and a meal. Over time, the trail came to be known as the Silver Trail. To learn more about Idaho's southwestern mining history visit the Owyhee County Museum located in Murphy on Idaho 78.


Initial Point


   Initial Point looms out to the desert and presents panoramic views of the Owyhee Mountains and Boise Front. A one-mile gravel road connects to the base of the butte. A short walk up the rocky steep access trail brings visitors to an observation deck.





   Established in 1867, a US Geological Survey brass marker on the top of this prominent lava butte is the starting survey point in the State of Idaho. The view from the top is astounding.


Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area


   The Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area (NCA) encompasses 600,000 acres. Established by Congress in 1993, the NCA is the largest concentration of nesting birds of prey in North America. The conservation area is used by 24 species of birds of prey including hawks, eagles, falcons, harriers, osprey, and owls. The NCA provides an excellent opportunity to see raptors as they hunt for Paiute ground squirrels and black-tailed jackrabbits.





Snake River Canyon Overlook


   The Snake River begins its thousand mile journey to the Columbia River in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. Volcanic activity dating back about 17 million years ago created the canyon. About 15,000 years ago a natural dam on Lake Bonneville, a glacial lake larger in size than today's Lake Michigan, failed releasing a torrent of water that reshaped the entire canyon. The Canyon River Trail, a 12-mile hiking trail between Swan Falls Dam and Celebration Park follows the Snake River.


Dedication Point


   This scenic point provides a spectacular overview of the Snake River Canyon with an excellent view of birds of prey in action. There is a quarter-mile trail with interpretive signs providing insightful information about birds, geology and wildlife. Located south of Kuna on Swan Falls Road


Swan Falls Dam




  Swan Falls Dam is on the Snake River about 40 miles south of Boise. Built in 1901 to provide electricity to nearby (Silver City) mines, it is a historical point of interest because it’s the oldest hydroelectric generating site on the Snake River.

  A new power plant was built in the mid-1990s. The old plant was decommissioned and converted into a historical display. Tours of the facilities may be available by appointment only by calling 208-736-3458.

  Swan Falls lies within the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation area and is home to falcons, eagles, owls, and hawks to name a few.

  No overnight camping facilities are available within the park but there are multiple free camping areas above and below the dam. No water is available at these sites and there are restrooms available only at the day-use park along with a picnic area and portage trail around the dam for boaters. Below the dam is a ramp for whitewater boater access to the river. Above the dam waterskiing, fishing and duck hunting are popular seasonal activities.


Guffey Railroad Bridge


   The historic Guffey Railroad Bridge, built in 1897, has been revamped into a walking bridge providing access to the south side of the Snake River. The park has a visitor center, campground, and boat launch.

   The Guffey Bridge is the only Parker-Through-Truss Railroad Bridge in Idaho. It was designed to facilitate the hauling of gold and silver ore from Silver City mines at the turn of the century. The 450-ton steel structure is 70 feet tall and spans 500 feet over the Snake River. The bridge was abandoned in 1947, saved from demolition in the1970s and purchased and restored by Canyon County in 1989.



   The historic Guffey Railroad Bridge, built in 1897, has been revamped into a walking bridge providing access to the south side of the Snake River.


Guffey, Idaho


   Guffey was established in 1897 at the railroad bridge across the Snake River. The first building was built there on 27 May 1897.

   In 1898, Guffey had a population of over 100 and several businesses including a general store, express office, post office, hotel, saloon, blacksmith shop, livery stables, stage barns, boarding houses, etc.

   The town was the terminus for the Boise, Nampa & Owyhee Railroad. The railroad was planned to extend to Dewey, in the mining district near Silver City, but it was never completed. It was extended to the present site of Murphy, however, which caused the town of Guffey to pass out of existence.


Celebration Park


   Celebration Park is Idaho's first archeological park. Ancient peoples along with recent Native and Euro-Americans created petroglyphs that date between 100 and 10,000 years old.

   The park's trails weave among large boulders deposited by the Bonneville flood, the second largest flood in geologic history. The park has a visitor center, campground, and boat launch.




Melba, Idaho


   Nestled in the center of the byway is the small town of Melba. It is not a part of the main byway, but well worth the little side trip. There are several historic buildings and fascinating murals.




                                          Buck's Saloon & Steakhouse                                 Melba Valley Market



    Melba was founded in 1912 by Clayton C. Todd. He named it after his four-year-old daughter.

   According to the information from the Melba website (, Clayton C. Todd was passing through the area on his way to Alaska to search for gold. He stopped over in Weiser to visit a friend, Mr. Fuller. Fuller told him about the new sale of state land going on. So, in August of 1912, Mr. Todd purchased 160 acres of land at Rock Spur, a siding on the railroad, and laid out the town.

    Melba is surrounded by vast agricultural lands growing a diverse variety of crops which include potatoes, beans, sugar beets, onions, corn and grain. Known as The Seed Heart of America, Melba area farmers excel in growing seeds crops for onions, carrots, peas, beans and sweet corn seed as well as alfalfa and clover.


Article and photos by Ed Walter.

Source of information: Idaho Scenic, Historic and Back Country Byways; Wikipedia, Kuna Chamber of Commerce, and Melba Chamber of Commerce.


Hells Canyon Scenic Byway - A Majestic Trip Along North America’s Deepest River Gorge



   Hells Canyon is a 10-mile wide canyon located along the border of eastern Oregon and western Idaho. It is North America’s deepest river gorge at 7,993 feet and part of the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.

   The canyon was carved by the waters of the Snake River, which flows more than 1 mile below the canyon’s west rim on the Oregon side and 8,000 feet below the peaks of Idaho’s Seven Devils Mountains range to the east. Most of the area is inaccessible by road.

   The earliest known settlers in Hells Canyon were the Nez Percé tribe. Others tribes visiting the area were the Shoshone-Bannock, Northern Paiute and Cayuse Indians. The mild winters, and ample plant and wildlife attracted human habitation. Pictographs and petroglyphs on the walls of the canyon are a record of the Indian settlements.

   In 1806, three members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition entered the Hells Canyon region along the Salmon River. They turned back without seeing the deep parts of the canyon. It was not until 1811 that the Wilson Price Hunt expedition explored Hells Canyon while seeking a shortcut to the Columbia River. Hunger and cold forced them to turn back, as did many explorers who were defeated by the canyon’s inaccessibility. There remains no evidence in the canyon of their attempts; their expedition journals are the only documentation.

   The early miners were next to follow. In the 1860s gold was discovered in river bars near present-day Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, and miners soon penetrated Hells Canyon. Gold mining was not profitable here. Evidence of their endeavors remains visible along the corridor of the Snake River. Later efforts concentrated on hard-rock mining, requiring complex facilities. Evidence of these developments is visible today, especially near the mouth of the Imnaha River.

   In the 1880s there was a short-lived homesteading boom, but the weather was unsuited to farming and ranching, and settlers soon gave up. However, some ranchers still operate within the boundaries of the National Recreation Area.

   After completion of large hydropower dams on the Columbia River in the 1930s through the 1950s, several entities sought approval from the Federal Power Commission to build dams on the Snake River, including a high dam in Hells Canyon.

   The Hells Canyon Scenic Byway winds its way along the east side of this massive rift that separates Idaho from neighboring Oregon. According to Nez Perce folklore, Coyote dug Hells Canyon with a big stick to protect ancestors in Oregon’s Blue Mountains from the Seven Devils mountain range across the gorge in what is now Idaho. Geologists believe that Hells Canyon was formed by normal stream erosion as the Snake River cut its way through rocks of a rising mountain range, beginning 6 million years ago. It is still being cut and is probably deeper and more rugged today than at any other time in its history. The 652,488-acre Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, (designated in 1975), encompasses a 71-mile stretch of the Snake River and contains some of the country’s most unique scenery, plants, wildlife and geology. Relatively mild winters and abundant deer, elk, and bighorn sheep drew native peoples to the canyon; signs of human habitation date back over 11,000 years. Pictographs and petroglyphs, as well as winter pithouse villages, are scattered along the river, documenting the presence of those early inhabitants.

     The Hells Canyon Scenic Byway from Cambridge to the Hells Canyon Creek Visitors Center is approximately 51 miles.



   Cambridge is a small farming, ranching, and logging community situated in a sheltered valley approximately 100 miles northwest of Boise, Idaho on U.S. Highway 95. The community was founded in 1900 following the construction of the Pacific and Idaho Northern Railway’s line enroute to the mining and logging fields further to the north. The population of Cambridge is around 360 inside the city limits.


   The elevation of Cambridge is 2,650 feet above sea level with the surrounding mountains reaching elevations around 8000 feet, plummeting to around 1500 feet in Hells Canyon.





   Brownlee dam is a hydroelectric earth fill embankment dam on the Snake River on the Idaho/Oregon border, in Hells Canyon. It impounds the Snake River in the 58-mile long Brownlee Reservoir. It is part of the Hells Canyon Project that also includes Hells Canyon Dam and Oxbow dam, built and operated by Idaho Power Company. The dam’s powerhouse contains five generating units with a total nameplate capacity of 584.4 megawatts.

   Located about 20 miles northwest of Cambridge on Highway 71 is Brownlee Dam, a hydroelectric earth fill embankment dam on the Snake River on the Idaho-Oregon border, in Hells Canyon. It impounds the Snake River in the 58-mile long Brownlee Reservoir. It is part of the Hells Canyon Project that also includes Hells Canyon Dam and Oxbow Dam, built and operated by Idaho Power Company. The dam’s powerhouse contains five generating units with a total nameplate capacity of 585.4 megawatts.

   From Brownlee Dam the byway takes you across the Snake River into Oregon and down along the Snake River to Oxbow Village.



   Oxbow Village (Baker County, Oregon) is just south of the site of the former mining town of Copperfield. There was once a station named Oxbow on a portion of the Oregon Short Line Railroad now inundated by Oxbow Reservoir. It was named for The Oxbow, a U-shaped bend in the Snake River named for the agricultural implement. The present-day community of Oxbow was established in the early 1960s near the former site of Copperfield, Oregon’s most notorious “Bad” town.


   According to the historian Lewis McArthur, Copperfield was formed in the late 1890s as "Copper Camp", and was inhabited by prospectors of the local copper ore; However, the Oregon writer Stewart Holbrook asserted that "there was no copper in Copperfield", and that the community "had one purpose; namely, to cater to the uninhibited appetites of more than two thousand men who were engaged on two nearby construction projects."

   Copperfield was platted around 1898, along a Northwest Railway Company line that never developed. Soon the locality was known as "Copperfield" and a post office established in 1899. The population grew to 1,000 by 1910 because two tunnels were being dug near The Oxbow by the local railroad company and by the predecessor of the Idaho Power Company. This railroad activity was described as a "brawling railroad construction camp" during this period by Barbara Ruth Bailey.

   As Holbrook describes it, "early in 1913 the construction jobs began to peter out. Fewer men were employed. Competition for the remaining trade became stiff. The saloon keepers began feuding." With stories of arson, the town acquired a reputation for being lawless. When the county authorities failed to get control of the situation, Governor Oswald West sent his secretary, Fern Hobbs, with a signed declaration of martial law to clean up the place. A few months after Hobbs' intervention, a fire "of unknown origin destroyed a block or two of the jerry-built structures. No saloon ever reopened."

  There were two more fires, and then the post office closed in 1927, essentially turning Copperfield into a ghost town. In 1965, however, the community of Oxbow was founded just south of the site of Copperfield when the Idaho Power Company was building the Oxbow Dam. The former site of Copperfield is now a park run by Idaho Power.


   Fern Hobbs (May 8, 1883–April 10, 1964) was an American attorney in the U.S. state of Oregon, and a private secretary to Oregon Governor Oswald West. She was noted for her ambition and several accomplishments as a young woman, and became the highest-paid woman in public service in America in her mid-twenties.

   Hobbs made international news when Governor West sent her to implement martial law in the small Eastern Oregon town of Copperfield. The event was considered a strategic coup for West, establishing the State's authority over a remote rural community and cementing his reputation as a proponent of prohibition.

   Hobbs later worked for the American Red Cross in Europe and at the Oregon Journal newspaper. She died in Portland in 1964.


Oxbow Power Plant

   From Oxbow Village you continue on across the bridge back into Idaho where the byway takes you on down the Snake River to Hells Canyon Dam and Hells Canyon Creek Visitor Center.

   Along the way you will see a sign marking the remains of Big Bar and the Fruit Merchants of Hells Canyon.




   Big Bar was settled in the 1890’s and the land was used for farming and fruit growing. The fruit and vegetables were carried by pack horses to the Seven Devils mining area.



   John Eckels and Archibald Ritchie first settled and farmed the area. Their grave sites overlook the area they called home, 25 acres and over 500 tree orchard. Most of Big Bar is now flooded by the backwaters of Hells Canyon Reservoir.


   Hells Canyon dam was the last of three dams of the Hells Canyon Project to be constructed. With two of its three units, it began generating electricity in 1967. The third unit was put into full power production in 1968, for a total nameplate capacity of 391,500 kilowatts, or 391.5 megawatts (MW). The height of this concrete dam is 328 feet.


   Located below Hells Canyon Dam, the Hells Canyon Creek Visitor Center which has indoor interpretive exhibits and programs, is open seasonally from Spring through late Summer; however the outdoor displays are available year-round. The visitor center and Hells Canyon Boat Launch are managed in partnership with Idaho Power Corporation.


Above and below are the photos I took of the canyon down river past the Hells Canyon Creek Visitor Center.


   The sights along the way are spectacular and trying to make it only a one-day-trip was very hard. A friend of mine told me to check out the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center.

   Taking Oregon Route 86 back at Oxbow Village will put you on Oregon’s Hells Canyon Byway.

   There are many sights to take in along this route, unfortunately time was not on my side so it was pretty much a direct trip into Baker City and then back to Mountain Home.

   The National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center was closed and almost everything else of interest was as well.


   This 23,000 square-foot interpretive center atop Flagstaff Hill overlooks nearly seven miles of well-preserved Oregon Trail ruts that extend across Virtue Flat southeast of Flagstaff Hill. This arid trail segment, where emigrants fought their way through shoulder-tall sagebrush, tested weary emigrants who had endured four or five difficult days ascending Burnt River. In places, several ruts run parallel, suggesting some teams pulled alongside or ahead of others in the push to reach the Powder River.

   But travelers were also greeted with their first site of the Promised Land beyond. From atop Flagstaff Hill, the Blue Mountains beckoned in the distance, assuring emigrants that their long journey from the Missouri would soon end in the long awaited Willamette Valley.

   The Bureau of Land Management operates the interpretive center. Living history programs, life-sized dioramas, an amphitheater, and an interpretive trail system support the center's theme of describing life along the trail.

   I did make it to Sumpter Junction Restaurant, home to the “World Famous Operating Train” which runs throughout the restaurant.


   The food and service was excellent. Even though I was a bit pressed for time, I was in no hurry to leave this place.

   I enjoyed a “prime” Prime Rib dinner and the entertainment rolled along....

   Not for certain when, but I would like to go back to Baker City and take Oregon Route 86 and the Hells Canyon Byway to Oxbow Village again. This time take in the many sights I missed such as Halfway, Richland, Hells Canyon Overlook, Wallowa Mountains, Joseph and Wallowa Lake.


Photos in this article were taken by Ed Walter or provided by Wikipedia.

# # #


“Main Oregon Trail Back Country Byway”




   The Oregon Trail was one of the main overland migration routes on the North American continent, leading from locations on the Missouri River to the Oregon Country.

   Between 1841 and 1869 the Oregon Trail was used by settlers, ranchers, farmers, miners, and business men migrating to the Pacific Northwest. The eastern half of the trail was also used by travelers on the California Trail, Bozeman Trail, and Mormon Trail which used much of the same trail before turning off to their separate destinations. Once the first transcontinental railroad by the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific was completed in 1869, the use of this trail by long distance travelers rapidly diminished as the railroad traffic replaced most need for it. By 1883 the Northern Pacific Railroad had reached Portland, Oregon, and most of the reason for the trail disappeared. Roads were built over or near most of the trail as local travelers traveled to cities originally established along the Oregon Trail.

   The Idaho Chapter of the Oregon-California Trails Association (IOCTA) has submitted an application for designation of an Idaho State Back country Byway called the “Main Oregon Trail Back Country Byway’. This Back Country Byway will follow the main Oregon Trail from three Island Crossing of the Snake River near Glenns Ferry to Bonneville Point southeast of Boise. The route provides access to the ruts and swales of the Oregon Trail as it stretches northwest across the desert and farmland of Elmore and Ada Counties.

   The proposed backcountry byway will have a variety of educational and interpretive signage to identify historical sites and public access points to the Oregon Trail.


   The start of the Main Oregon Trail Back Country Byway takes you over the Snake River, named for the people who once lived in the high desert surrounding it. The story is that they marked sticks with the image of a snake and posted them to mark their territory. When they greeted people, they made a motion with their hand imitating the gliding motion of a snake.

   Today, an affectionate name for the Snake River, the longest river in Idaho at 1,056 miles, is the “Mighty Snake.”


  The byway route starts at Exit 121 of Interstate 84 and takes Frontage Road to the left and over the Snake River to Pasadena Valley Road. The trail then takes a right onto Rosevear Road and on up over the top of the hill onto Slick Ranch Road to the Three Island Crossing Overlook.



   "Roosevear Gulch—the wagon train came down through the gulch, then up toward a peak, and then drops toward the three islands. There were two trails: one crossed at the islands to the north side of the river and the other followed the river along the rim on the south side to a point and on around. If they crossed here, they went up a draw toward Teapot Dome. Some did try to float from Glenns Ferry to Boise! If you chose to cross, then you crossed the Snake River twice; if you crossed the landscape to bypass the water crossing risk, the route was dusty and long, and offered little grass." (These markers are located on the hill overlooking the crossing.)


   Approaching Three Island Crossing (of the Snake River) meant the emigrants had a difficult choice. Oregon Trail emigrants knew this spot well. It was one of the most dangerous river crossings on the historic trail.

  They could make a dangerous river crossing here for a direct route to Ft. Boise or stay on the south side of the Snake and follow the river around the bend. About half made the decision to cross using the three islands in the Snake as stepping stones. It would not be easy.

   The trail played a significant role in the exploration and settlement of western America. The original course of the Oregon Trail was from Independence, Missouri to Oregon City in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Oregon Trail emigrants traveled the trail from the late 1830s throughout the 1860s. From the early 1800s, explorers and fur trappers had traveled this Native American hunting and trading corridor.

  The Oregon Trail entered Idaho in the southeast corner of the state. At Fort Hall, it joined the Snake River. Many followed the south bank until this crossing was reached near Glenns Ferry. The route left Idaho near the site of old Fort Boise, near Parma, after winding through 500 miles of the state.



   This photo was taken on the hillside off of Sailor Creek Road. Three Island State Park is located center-right in the photo. Modern travelers will find a stay at Three Island State Park much more hospitable than did the pioneers. The park offers a full-service campground, cabins, picnic areas, historical interpretive programs and a fascinating interpretive center.


   The Main Oregon Trail Back Country Byway, continues on Slick Ranch Road above the Three Island Crossing and down to Slick Bridge and then onto Highway 30. From there you will head east to the City of Glenns Ferry.

   Glenns Ferry is truly a unique place, besides the step back into what feels like the old West with the architecture left from a time long ago, it’s one of the friendliest most welcoming places still around. Located halfway between Boise and Twin Falls just off I-84 you should stop into this little gem and experience some of the unique shops and places to visit, promising of a time well spent. There you can find the Three Island State Park which is one of the most serene and well-maintained parks in the state. The Oregon Trail History and Education Center is a special treat located inside the state park which both commemorate the history there. Construction of The Oregon Trail History & Education Center was completed in 2000. Both park and center have a gorgeous view of the Snake River which is also good for fishing.

   The Oregon Trail History and Education Center will open Thursday, March 31, 2011.  Hours of operation are Thursday thru Sunday, 9:00am to 4:00pm.

   Admission to The Oregon Trail History & Education Center is free; however a $5 Day Use Vehicle Entry Fee is assessed per vehicle, per day at the park entrance for non campers.

   Idaho State Park Annual Passports offer tremendous savings for day visits for individuals or families planning to frequent their Idaho State Parks by providing unlimited vehicle access for the calendar year.  The $40 sticker can be purchased at any Idaho State Park, Regional Service Center (Boise, Idaho Falls and Coeur d'Alene) or by calling (208) 334-4199. A second pass can be purchased for just $15.

   Also in town, a great old theatre, registered on the national historic register, hosts weekend melodramas and dinner barbecues all summer long. So if you are lucky enough to be in town to catch a show it will be an experience to remember. For kids there is an immaculate community swimming pool, which is located in the local city park. Also a very nice boat dock area invites fishermen, water-skiers, and jet skies to take advantage of the cool water in the summer heat. And, if you are so inclined, an interesting old museum is situated in the middle of town and provides interesting historical facts concerning the area.

Glenns Ferry and their 100 years




   Long before there was anyone at a place called Glenns Ferry there were Native Americans using what was to become the Oregon Trail. The trail of Chief Buffalo Horn, the Shoshone Indians, the Bannocks and other Native American tribes was the link between the Indian cultures of the Plains and the Midwest who hunted buffalo, and the ways of the Northwest tribes whose dietary staple was salmon and other fish. At the Three Islands, these cultures met.

   The three island crossing of the Snake River by pioneers was more than just a test of will, stamina, and brute strength. The crossing was a transformation from one culture to another, from one country to another. The crossing was the place where you either committed to the new West or you went back. Those who crossed had clearly committed to their right of Manifest Destiny.

   In the spring of 1883, the locality was invaded by a force of tracklayers. It was at this time, when the construction crews laid the tracks of the Oregon Short Line Railroad, that the actual town of Glenns Ferry came into existence. The establishment of a post office, and O.S. Glenn having been appointed postmaster, the site required a formal name. And what more suitable a name than “Glenns Ferry” in recognition of the contributions made by the Glenn family. The railroad led to the eventual discontinuances of the ferry boat service around 1889.


   In 1886, W.M. Stockton platted the land that Glenns Ferry stands on. He owned the town site for several years and watched Glenns Ferry grow into a thriving and prosperous town.

   But the town was not without setbacks. Fire hit the town not only in 1893, but in 1897 and 1906.

   The devastating fire in 1893 destroyed the business portion of the town. The destruction included a drug store, post office, store and warehouse, saloon, meeting hall, lodging house, meat market and barber shop. Several residences were destroyed. But the buildings were soon replaced and Glenns Ferry continued to survive.

   But four years later (1987), another fire destroyed more businesses. Included in that fire was a hotel, restaurant, saloon, shoe shop and another restaurant that was vacant.

   By the time Glenns Ferry was incorporated in 1909, the latest fire had destroyed more buildings. But each time rebuilding was done. A year before it was incorporated, the town had the following businesses: a large general Merchandise store, Mercantile Co. that supplied staple goods to sheep camps every week, a bank, meat market, lumber company and hardware store, an economy store, drug store, two-chair barber shop, livery stable, lodging house, and a tailor shop. There was also a cigar store and a saloon.

   The proprietors of these businesses were the Commercial Club. They were responsible for many good things done in and for the community until the incorporation of Glenns Ferry in 1909.


      The Oregon Trail takes you on through Glenns Ferry to the Three Island State Park and back out to Bannock Avenue to the Old Oregon Trail Road near Exit 120 of Interstate 84. The Trail travels northwest as it follows the Oregon Trail via Old Oregon trail Road, Ryegrass Road, Ross Road, Wilson Road, and Teapot Road to Highway 20.

   Along the Trail you will see excellent undisturbed ruts of the main Oregon Trail.



   The opportunity to view and hike on the Oregon Trail in an environment very similar to that of the emigrants is an important benefit of this proposed byway. There are a number of access locations along the byway where the traveler may experience this opportunity. These photos above are perfect examples of the ruts of the main Oregon Trail; notice the marker in the above left picture, they are well displayed and easy to locate.



   Above right is one of the most famous of Oregon Trail sites in Idaho, the remains of the natural hot springs can be seen. This was the old bath house just off Teapot Road. To the right more of the well preserved ruts of the main Oregon Trail.



    Mountain Home originated as a stage stop (Rattlesnake Station, founded in 1864) for the famous Overland Stages eight miles from its present location. When the railroad (Oregon Short Line) came through in 1883 it brought with it a new mail delivery service. The postmaster and stage agent, Jule Hage, packed up the post office and moved it down the hill to the railroad. Along with him came the name and settlement of Mountain Home.

   Mountain Home was incorporated as a village in 1896. The initial village board consisted of A.B. Clark, R.F. Whitney, W.J. Turner and G.F. Mahoney.

   Mountain Home became a shipping and distribution center for the livestock, mining and logging business.

  Mountain Home Air Force Base, located 10 miles from Mountain Home, was established during the early stages of World War II. The Air Base would become one of the major life lines for Mountain Home.

  When irrigation systems were built, with the help of high-lift pumping and the construction of irrigation dams, the agricultural industry became stronger and much of the desert land was opened to farming. Thousands of acres of land could now produce grain, hay, sugar beets, potatoes, and beans.

  Livestock production and, more recently, the dairy industry have also made a considerable contribution to the local economy.

  Mountain Home has a current population of approximately 14,600 and is a community of diverse cultures. It sets at an elevation of 3,143 feet. The hottest month is July and the coldest is January. Average annual precipitation is 10.7 inches.

  Mountain Home is especially proud of its parks, visitor’s center, golf course, and museum.

   Being centrally located in Elmore County, Mountain Home is referred to as “The Hub of Elmore County”.


   From Rattlesnake Station the Main Oregon Trail Back Country Byway will travel south on Highway 20 and then right on Reservoir Road, west on 27th N., north on 18th E., west on 39th N., and then north on Canyon Creek Road. Near the foothills you will come to an intersection of Canyon Creek Road, Syrup Creek Road, and Immigrant Road. If you travel up Immigrant Road a ways you will come upon the Kelton Road and Main Oregon Trail crossing. This portion of the trail was noted for its rockiness. The desert is littered with lava rocks over which the wagons bounced for many miles.

  If you take a left at the intersection, you will come upon the old Canyon Creek Stage Station. The remains of the stage station are still standing.


   Canyon Creek Station was a popular camping location and later became a stage station on the Overland Road. Canyon Creek Station was homesteaded in the 1860’s and a stage station was built. The remains of the stage station are still standing.

  The station consisted of two buildings, one was the cooking building, and the other was the sleeping building. The mortar used deer hair to hold the rocks together. The area is private property.


   The Main Oregon Trail Back Country Byway continues on Mayfield Road to Ditto Creek overlook. An old Indian trail ran up Ditto Creek towards the Camas Prairie. Emigrant travelers found scarce grass along the creek.

  Next along the trail is Browns Creek. The remains of emigrant names written on the surrounding boulders with axle grease can still be seen in the area.

  On up the trail a ways you will come upon Mayfield Station, a rock stage station visible in the field to the north of the road. It was built in 1878.

  The Indians conducted horse races in the valley. The area was homesteaded and the small community of Mayfield developed. The old dance hall (community center), school house, and teacher’s house still remain.


   Mayfield Stage Station was built in 1878. This photo was taken on April 11, 2010. A cemetery sits on the ridge above the area.


     On down the trail you will come to Blacks Creek crossing. The Oregon Trail crosses the byway route and climbs the ridge to Bonneville Point. Excellent ruts remain in the area for hiking.

  Last place, but not the least point of interest, is Bonneville Point. Interpretive signs and monuments are located on the ridge overlooking the Boise valley. The trees along the Boise River in the valley below were the first trees the emigrants had seen in several weeks.


Bonneville Point

   Bonneville Point is one of the places closest to Boise where you can see the Oregon Trail ruts and view the entire Boise Valley area. This is the spot where Captain Benjamin Bonneville and his expedition party overlooked the valley he named Les Bois, site of the city that today bears the same name — Boise. This scenic vista sweeps the entire Treasure Valley. It features outstanding panoramic views of the Boise Valley and the Snake River Plain.  Bonneville Point is also an access point for the Oregon Trail and a place to hike, picnic, and view wildlife.

     Bonneville Point is ten miles east of Boise and 26 miles west of Mountain Home, Idaho.  Take the Blacks Creek exit (#64) off Interstate 84. Travel north on Blacks Creek Road four miles, then follow signs to Bonneville Point.



Les Bois Valley or as we now call it Boise.     Just over the rolling hills is the Boise River.



As you can see by the standing water, the snow in this area had melted not too long ago!





                   Bonneville Point Interpretative Kiosk                    Oregon Trail (photo ISSH)

Photos (unless otherwise noted) are by Ed Walter. Information compiled from Wikipedia, Idaho State Historical Society and the Idaho Chapter of the Oregon-California Trails Association.

   The byway is now prominently displayed on the IOCTA website.



Captain Benjamin Bonneville


   Benjamin Louis Eulalie de Bonneville (April 14, 1796 – June 12, 1878) was a French-born officer in the United States Army, fur trapper, and explorer in the American West. He is noted for his expeditions to the Oregon Country and the Great Basin, and in particular for blazing portions of the Oregon Trail.

   During his lifetime, Bonneville was made famous by an account of his explorations in the west written by Washington Irving.

   The expedition that would become the most famous accomplishment of his life began in May 1832, when he left Missouri with 110 men, including Nathaniel Jarvis Wyeth. The voyage was financed by John Jacob Astor, a rival of the Hudson's Bay Company. The expedition proceeded up to the Platte River and across present-day Wyoming. They reached the Green River in August and built a winter fort, which they named Fort Bonneville.

   In the spring of 1833 he explored along the Snake River in present-day Idaho. He also sent a party of men under Joseph Walker to explore the Great Salt Lake and to find an overland route to California. Walker discovered a route along the Humboldt River across present-day Nevada, as well as Walker Pass across the Sierra Nevada, a path that later became known as the California Trail, the primary route for the immigrants to the gold fields during the California Gold Rush. Much speculation has surrounded Bonneville's motivations for sending Walker to California. In particular some historians have speculated that Bonneville was attempting to lay the groundwork for an eventual invasion of California, then part of Mexico, by the United States Army.

   John McLoughlin, the director of the Columbia operations of the Hudson's Bay Company at Fort Vancouver on the Columbia River, heard of Bonneville's mission and forbade his traders from doing business with Bonneville and his men. Bonneville reported that many of the Native Americans he encountered in the Snake River were also reluctant to displease the Hudson's Bay Company by trading with the Americans.

   In the summer of 1833 Bonneville ventured into the Wind River Range in present-day Wyoming to trade with the Shoshone. By this time he realized that he would not be able to fulfill his obligation to return east by October. He wrote a lengthy letter to Macomb summarizing some of his findings and requesting more time, specifically in order to survey the Columbia and parts of the Southwest before his return.

   After spending the early winter at Fort Bonneville, he set out westward in January 1834 with the goal of reaching the Willamette Valley. He and his men traveled up the Snake River, through Hells Canyon, and into the Wallowa Mountains, where they found a hospitable welcome by the Nez Perces along the Imnaha River.

   On March 4, 1834, they reached Fort Nez Perces, the outpost of the Hudson's Bay Company at the confluence of the Walla Walla River with the Columbia. Pierre C. Pambrun, the HBC commander of the fort welcomed him but refused to do business with him. Empty handed, Bonneville and men retraced their course back to southeast Idaho and made camp on the Portneuf River.

   In July he made a second trip west, determined to trade with the Hudson's Bay Company. He followed an easier route across the Blue Mountains, where he met Nathaniel Wyeth once again and camped along the Grande Ronde River. By this time he and his men had become desperate for food and supplies. At Fort Nez Perces, they found the same rejection from Pabrun. Instead of returning immediately east he and men journeyed down the Columbia towards Fort Vancouver. Along the river, he attempted to trade with Sahaptins but without success. He came to realize that he would probably receive the same rejection from McLoughlin at Fort Vancouver and decided to turn back east.

   He spent the winter of 1834-1835 with the Shoshone along the upper Bear River and in April 1835 began the voyage back to Missouri. He reached Independence by August and discovered that although his letter requesting an extension had arrived, it had not been delivered to Macomb. In the meantime, his commission had been revoked.

     After leaving Bonneville Point, we decided to head on into Boise and take another aerial view from a little higher up. Now if you have never been up on Table Rock, you have been missing out on one fantastic view of Boise.