Touring the Byway
140 Miles | 6 Days/ 5 Nights | Gateway City: Idaho Falls, Idaho

We recommend starting your journey in Idaho Falls, where you can begin exploring geologic phenomena along with the region’s heritage. Begin your visit at the Riverwalk, followed by a walking tour of downtown. You can also visit the Museum of Idaho, before enjoying Art Museum of East Idaho. Spend the night at Destinations Inn.

On Day Two, on you way to begin your journey on the Peaks to Craters Byway, visit the EBR-1 Atomic Museum located on US 26 between Arco and Idaho Falls. An overnight at the Mackay Mansion Bed and Breakfast will position you to begin following the remainder of the Peaks to Craters Scenic Byway in the morning,

The next morning you can tour the Lost River Museum and take the Mackay Mine Tour. And then, Mt. Borah, the highest mountain in Idaho. When you reach Challis, stretch your legs on the Challis Historic District Walking Tour and relax in the Challis Hot Springs before an overnight at the Creekside Bed and Breakfast.

View the Detailed Itinerary below to see the full route, which is complete with dining, shopping,  and lodging recommendations!

Highlighted Attractions

Craters of the Moon

For an authentic Idaho mining town experience, explore this stage and freight wagon toll road that was used by mining supply trains running from Custer and Bonanza delivering gold bullion to Challis. The only access for a decade, tollkeepers charged $4.00 a wagon and a team of four animals, plus 50 cents for each additional animal. Initially, the stage fare was $11.00, dropping to $8.00 by April 1880. The trip on backcountry Forest Road 070 is scattered with several stagecoach stations, old barns, mining equipment, deteriorating log cabins, and weathered grave markers. Explore the ghost towns of Bonanza, Custer, and Bayhorse and the old tollgate. Interpretive signs provide more information. From start to finish the loop drive is 98 miles with 46 miles of dirt/gravel road with no services and 52 miles of paved highway. Get a map at the Land of the Yankee Fork Interpretive Center. Stop at the Custer Cemetery, the McGowan Museum at Custer, the Yankee Fork Gold Dredge, and the Sunbeam Dan Interpretive Site.

EBR-1 Atomic Museum

Visit Experimental Breeder Reactor No. 1 (EBR-I) for colorful, interactive displays that also tell the story of EBR-I’s sibling, Experimental Breeder Reactor No. 2 (EBR-II), which once powered much of the site and operated with a novel closed fuel cycle. The museum also has two aircraft nuclear propulsion prototypes, a reactor control room, remote handling devices for radioactive materials, radiation detection equipment, and more. You can walk through the museum using the self-guided tour instructions or take a guided tour.

Mackay Mine Hill Tour

Relics, structures, small mines, and remnants of houses in “copper city” dot the wild back country of Mine Hill, dating from 1879 when ore was discovered. Almost a million tons of ore has been removed from the mountain over the years. Interpretive Sites along the 20 mile route include: the Smelter Site and Hardrock Mining Exhibit, Cossack Tunnel and Compressor Building, Horseshoe Mine and Taylor Sawmill, Anderson Cabin, White Knob Townsite, Aerial Tramway Headhouse, Ausich Cabin Site, Cliff City Town Site, Cliff City Cabin, Cliff City Smelter, Shay Railroad Trestle, and the Empire Mine Ore Bin Location. Three color-coded routes for ATVs, Cars, and 4WDs graded by difficulty are available at the Mackay City Hall. 

Land of the Yankee Fork State Park and Interpretive Center

Yankee Fork preserves a mining camp established on the Salmon River, named because everyone in the party was a Yankee. Even though no gold was discovered immediately, prospectors stayed on and finally found gold in 1870. Soon after, the Yankee Fork Mining District was organized and after the discovery of the General Custer Mine in 1876, the area began to flood with miners. By 1910, the three popular sites, Bonanza, Custer, and Bayhorse, were all but deserted. The interpretive center illustrates the mining heritage of the area through exhibits, a gold panning station, and audiovisual programs. The grounds also feature a ¼ mile trail detailing the archeological finds of a nearby Challis Bison Jump Site.

Custer Motorway Adventure Road

For an authentic Idaho mining town experience, explore this stage and freight wagon toll road that was used by mining supply trains running from Custer and Bonanza delivering gold bullion to Challis. The only access for a decade, tollkeepers charged $4.00 a wagon and a team of four animals, plus 50 cents for each additional animal. Initially, the stage fare was $11.00, dropping to $8.00 by April 1880. The trip on backcountry Forest Road 070 is scattered with several stagecoach stations, old barns, mining equipment, deteriorating log cabins, and weathered grave markers. Explore the ghost towns of Bonanza, Custer, and Bayhorse and the old tollgate. Interpretive signs provide more information. From start to finish the loop drive is 98 miles with 46 miles of dirt/gravel road with no services and 52 miles of paved highway. Get a map at the Land of the Yankee Fork Interpretive Center. Stop at the Custer Cemetery, the McGowan Museum at Custer, the Yankee Fork Gold Dredge, and the Sunbeam Dam Interpretive Site.

To experience all that A Billion Years in the Making has to offer, download the complete itinerary!

The detailed itinerary includes: