Hell’s Canyon Scenic Byway, Idaho – Hwy 71


Hell's Canyon Scenic Byway, 25 miles of snaking 2-lane.  Hell's Canyon Dam is at the end of the road and well worth the drive

Hell’s Canyon Scenic Byway, 22 miles of snaking 2-lane. Hell’s Canyon Dam is at the end of the road and well worth the drive

We got lost.  Driving from Oregon near the hamlet of Homestead on the Snake River, we crossed the state line into Idaho.

A large sign announces the road (shown above) is owned by the Idaho Power Company.  We discovered this road (not numbered on Idaho maps, but it seems to be an extension of Idaho #71) is the Hell’s Canyon Scenic Byway, and it’s 22 miles of the twistiest piece of 2-lane pavement you’ll likely encounter in North America.

This narrow road hugs the east side of the Snake River through the massive Hell’s Canyon that divides Idaho and Oregon.

Information centre at Hell's Canyon Dam

Information centre at Hell’s Canyon Dam

The road ends at the Hell’s Canyon Dam where there’s an information centre.  There, the U.S. Forestry Service information staffer told us she lives in Homestead at the other end of the road, and drives the 22 miles to work and home, each day.

I couldn’t imagine having to make that drive twice a day.  It would be a demanding ride on a motorcycle.  OK, on a sunny day, maybe the twice daily trip would be fun in a Mazda MX-5 with the top down, or Mustang GT.

Hell's Canyon Dam, Idaho

Hell’s Canyon Dam, Idaho

The information centre has a small theatre showing a film on the dam and area.  It’s worth the drive.  I’m glad we got lost and found this place.  It’s stunning scenery.


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