Pioneer Historic Byway
Length: 127 miles / 203.2 km
Time to Allow: Allow 2.5 hours
At 127 miles, the Pioneer Historic Byway can be enjoyed in just a few hours. It’s a great byway as its starts at the border of Utah and ends at the border of Wyoming, making it an easy to access route for a few states. The area encompasses the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, Bear River, and Bear Lake. Moving north, the trail leads to Blackfoot River and Reservoir. A few other byways sit nearby so you can extend your trip into a few other states and enjoy more family time.
Begin near the Utah border by the river in the town of Preston. If you want, take a short side trip to Red Rock Pass, an ancient dam near the end of former Lake Bonneville. Impressive landscapes with cascading landscapes make this a memorable location. Nearby is the Bear River Massacre site if you want to learn a little history.
Back on the byway, the town of Preston began its journey back in 1886 with early Mormon Pioneer settlers. Take a picture of the school where the movie Napoleon Dynamite was filmed. Visit the village of Franklin nearby for the Franklin Relic Hall, then head to the Glendale Reservoir for a little fishing. Another must is the Willow Flat Springs Trail, with a beautiful waterfront and a campground.
Continue north to Grace after passing a few smaller idyllic towns, including Thatcher, Lago, and Niter Bench. In the distance, you can see the Sedgwick peak filling your car window with thick trees. Find the Black Canyon Gorge a mile west of town with displays of basalt lava flow. It’s also home to the Niter Ice Cave, a volcanic eruption that formed a huge lava tube that cooled into a cave. It’s a unique location for hunting and fishing as it’s close to the Last Chance Canal that runs parallel with the main street. Otherwise, the small town only offers a golf course; then it’s time to move on to the next location.
Soda Springs offers a ton to do, including a Geyser Park connected to the ones in Yellowstone. A few springs are in the area too, and it’s a small drive into the forest or a short walk to Bear River. Head to Henry next right off the Blackfoot River Reservoir, not to be confused with Henry’s Lake State Park five hours north.
In Wayan, Idaho, sits the Tincup Canyon, a heavily forested area with camping, recreation, and wildlife. It’s located in the Caribou-Targhee National Park. The entire area is surrounded by mountains, including Caribou and Big Elk. End your trip at the Wyoming border near the town of Freedom.
A section of the byway between Soda Springs and the Wyoming border closes in the winter occasionally for safety. It’s a serene byway with very little blocking you from nature, making it an oasis for those who want to commune with the forest and water. While you can do the byway in only a couple of hours, a few days will help you to see everything.
More Idaho Byways
You can check out additional Byways in Idaho by clicking on the list of byways below, or by going to the Idaho Byways home section. To find even more of scenic byways in the United States, visit our scenic byways map.