Idaho: Six Scenic Byways in Two Days

Text: Michelle Baird • Photography: Michelle Baird, Peter Fischer, Idaho Tourism

Idaho has around 30 routes that are officially designated scenic byways. I spend a weekend in late September to take on a half dozen of these with a group of riders led by some 
avid motorcyclists from the Idaho Tourism Department.

After landing at Boise Airport, I’m just 20 minutes away from High Desert Harley-Davidson where I pick up my rental Road King Classic. I stuff the saddlebags and take a quick ride through downtown to the Marriot SpringHill Suites Hotel. Eventually, our assortment of Japanese and American cruisers takes over a corner of the parking lot. We toss our jackets and helmets in our rooms and head to Boise for our first group ride—on the Cycle Pub.

This giant bicycle-like contraption with seating for about a dozen folks (who provide the pedal power for this eco-friendly machine) is controlled by a hired driver who steers, brakes, and provides tunes from his iPod. Our navigator explains as we sign waivers that there is to be no drinking while pedaling on public roads, and he then takes us on a pub crawl and tour of Idaho’s capital city.

We stop at Huddle Sports Grill on 10th Street to sample a variety of local brews made by the Crooked Fence Brewery. Idaho has one of the largest contiguous hops farms in the world, and Boise has a thriving microbrew scene. We then pedal our way to the adjoining Red Feather Lounge and Bittercreek Alehouse restaurants. The owners of these establishments are adamant about serving only locally sourced food, and they take recycling to an extreme level. They even have a vermiculture operation in the basement. We go downstairs to tour their farm and peek into the large vats of worms that are busy composting waste from the venues, which includes the paper menus.

Back on the Cycle Pub, we are cheered by onlookers as we furiously pedal. Someone in our party pulls out a GPS and calculates our top speed at around 7 mph; admittedly, it was downhill.

This works up an appetite, so we park and head to the latest hot-spot eatery, The Fork. This restaurant is housed inside one of Boise’s oldest buildings, built in 1891. It originally was a bank, and its 15-ton vault is still in the basement. We pedal back to the starting point and return to the hotel to rest up for our two-wheeled ride in the morning.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the July/August 2013 back issue.