Idaho Highway 17 Driver’s Guide

Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway

Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway
Photo Credit: Visit Idaho

Water, wildlife, and views for miles

The Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway (Idaho Highway 17) is a great way to take in views of Southwest Idaho’s rugged scenery and the wildlife that call it home.

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Travel Details

Distance: ~35 miles

Time: allow a minimum of a couple of hours for this stretch, but it is easily extendable to a half or full day drive.

When to visit: year-round, but take caution from late fall to early spring — conditions change quickly in the mountains.

Highlights: canyon and river views, whitewater rafter watching, wildlife sightings include elk, raptors, and more.

Services: most services — including gas — are available in Crouch and Lowman.

Accommodations: available nearby in Garden Valley, Crouch, Lowman, and Idaho City. Also an easy drive from Eagle and Boise.

Getting here: the Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway connects Banks to Lowman. It can be driven as a loop from Boise by following Highway 55 to Banks, turning east at Banks, then turning south on Highway 21 at Lowman.

Local’s Tip: Start early or end late for dramatic light and an increased chance of spotting wildlife.

The Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway follows the stunning South Fork of the Payette River along the Banks-Lowman road, also known as Highway 17. It’s a gorgeous, well-maintained road that provides non-stop views.

If you want to make this more than a one day trip, camping and backpacking are available along this route.

Most visitors start this drive at Banks and head up river to Lowman. This allows you to grab breakfast or lunch in Crouch and then cap the day with dinner either in Lowman or in Idaho City on the return trip to the more populated parts of Southwest Idaho.
As you head east out of Banks, the South Fork of the Payette River will be on your right. Pullouts provide viewing of the river and the rafters and kayakers below. Even if you have no interest in getting wet, watching others enjoy the thrill of the rapids is great fun. (Learn more about booking your own whitewater adventure here.)

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Scenic Byways

Get out and go. Southwest Idaho’s scenic byways (both official and unofficial) make for unforgettable road trips.

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About 10 miles into the trip, you’ll hit the lovely mountain town of Crouch in scenic Garden Valley. All critical services, including lunch and ice cream, are here.

Continue on through Garden Valley and up and over Grimes Pass. In this area you will see large pullouts, complete with telescopes for viewing elk, turkeys, and other wildlife.

Eventually, the road climbs above the river to the top of the canyon. Additional pullouts provide outstanding views of the river below.

As you travel on past Pine Flats and Deadwood Campgrounds (both worth a quick stop) toward Lowman, the river takes a couple final sharp bends. Look for quiet spots to stop, smell the pines, and find your own private piece of mountain paradise.

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