Western Heritage Historic Byway

Details

  • DesignationNational Scenic Byway (2005)
  • Intrinsic QualitiesScenic
  • LocationID
  • Length40 miles
Byway Visitor Information
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A majestic golden eagle looks over the Snake River gorge at Swan Falls on the Western Heritage Historic Byway.
Aldis Garsvo Photo

Overview

Explore the Western Heritage Historic Byway's vast sagebrush lands and canyon rims of the Snake River. The panoramic, breathtaking view encompasses the snowcapped Owyhee Mountains, the Boise Front, and the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area. At Dedication Point enjoy an unforgettable sight overlooking the Snake River's cliffs.

Local Byway Partners

Story of the Byway

The Western Heritage Historic Byway is a 47-mile route that meanders through sagebrush and canyon along the Snake River in southwestern Idaho. A panoramic view of the Owyhee Mountains lends itself to bird watching—specifically, birds of prey that are protected in the area. These special avian species migrate into the deep canyon of the Snake River and are active March to late June. Managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area (NCA) aims to preserve the wildlife habitat not only for birds of prey, but also the hawks, owls, eagles and falcons that arrive each spring to mate and raise their young.

Originating in Wyoming, Snake River ambles across southern Idaho before turning north along the Idaho-Oregon border. Here it enters Washington and flows west to the Columbia River. At 1,078 miles long, Snake River is the largest tributary of the Columbia River, and the largest North American river that drains into the Pacific Ocean. An important source of agricultural irrigation, the river is also known for recreation, most notably for salmon fishing. The route lends itself to hiking and boating as well.

The Snake River Canyon rim is a scenic 10-mile stretch of developed trails throughout Twin Falls. Visitors can witness BASE jumpers take a plunge from the Perrine Bridge while kayakers navigate the river below. Constructed in 1901, Swan Falls Dam is the oldest hydroelectric dam on the Snake River. Visit the Swan Falls Dam Historic Powerhouse and Museum to learn about its history. Snake River is also home to Celebration Park, an archaeological park that reveals petroglyphs 100 to 1,000 years old, buried in huge basalt melon gravels deposited by the historic Bonneville flood. Stop for a walking tour of historic Guffey Railroad Bridge to hear early area mining and railroad stories.

The Owyhee County Museum in Murphy tells the life of miners, ranchers and farmers from early Southern Idaho. Eight miles south of Kuna is Initial Point, a small volcanic remnant known as the originating point for the first government survey of Idaho. The butte rises roughly 350 feet out of the Snake River Plain; once powerful enough to shift the river’s course from its lava flow. Also within Kuna is Indian Creek, offering small whitewater chutes and moderate waves for surfing. A trail system also extends from the creek.

Driving Directions

From exit 44 in Meridian, take Highway 69 south for 8 miles to East Avalon Avenue in Kuna. Turn south on Swan Falls Road and continue for 21 miles through the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area to Swan Falls Dam.

Points of Interest

  • The Kuna Visitor Center

    The Kuna Visitor Center features information about the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area.

  • Silver Trail at Indian Creek

    The Silver Trail crosses Kuna's Indian Creek at the south end of Orchard Street.

  • Pioneer Cemetery

    For over sixty years, the Idaho City Historical Foundation has pioneered restoration and preservation efforts in the Boise Basin, including the Pioneer Cemetery.

  • Initial Point

    Initial Point is a small volcanic remnant that rises roughly 350 feet out of the Snake River Plain, 8 miles south of Kuna, Idaho.

  • Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area
  • Dedication Point

    Dedication Point provides opportunities for visitors to witness the deep canyon of the Snake River, thermal updrafts, and a broad plateau rich in small wildlife.

  • Snake River Canyon Rim

    Ten miles of hiking and cycling trails with dramatic vistas over the Snake River Canyon.

  • Swan Falls Dam Historic Powerhouse and Museum

    Swan Falls Dam is a concrete gravity type hydroelectric dam on the Snake River in Idaho.

  • Celebration Park

    Celebration Park is an archaeological park in southwestern Idaho

  • Owyhee County Museum

    Step back in time and experince what it was like for miners, ranchers, farmers and families of early Southern Idaho.

Itinerary

  • Wine and Birds

    Starting in Kuna, pack a picnic before heading out for the day. Drive south on Swan Falls Road for 22 miles until you reach the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area. Throughout the year, birds of prey migrate in and are active March to late June. Hike or bike through the reserve and set up a spot to enjoy your picnic. Keep an eye out for raptors, and be mindful of their habitat. On your return to Kuna, visit the wineries peppered throughout the byway. At night, enjoy a show at the Kuna Performing Arts Center or country music at Cowgirls Kuna.

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