The Gold Rush Historic Byway, Idaho

It’s been said that if you flatten all of the hills in Idaho it would be bigger than Texas.  It’s a good statement, but then you would also be obliged to flatten all of the hills in Texas too, so it would still remain bigger, but the image of a flat Idaho is one way to remind us that it is a big state.

One of the best ways to explore Idaho is via its historic byways.  These are routes that are designed to show you the best of the Idaho countryside, and each byway normally has some good historic, cultural or scenic merit.

The Gold Rush Historic Byway follows a route which takes you into the town of Pierce, where gold was found.  This byway also intercepts part of the historic Lewis and Clark route, and passes through some very scenic country.

The route along Idaho 11 begins in Greer at the junction of U.S. 12 with an easy climb up the Greer Grade, providing a breathtaking, panoramic view of the Clearwater Valley. At the crest of the mountain lie the beautiful rolling fields of grains and grasses cultivated by local farmers. Just down the road is the historic town of Weippe, not far from where members of the Nez Perce Tribe met and fed starving members of Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery in 1805.    

Minutes later, the scenery changes again, as the vast fields transform into a lush forest thick with wildlife. Nestled among the trees is the town of Pierce, where early pioneers discovered gold in Idaho for the first time. It also boasts the state’s inaugural government building, the old Shoshone County Courthouse. Other attractions include a logging museum, the city library’s artefact collection from the adventures of Chinese miners in the area, and five more historical sites featured along the byway.

Twelve miles north of Pierce is the village of Headquarters, marking the end of the Gold Rush Historic Byway

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