The Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway (Idaho State Road 21) runs from the city of Boise northeast to the Sawtooth Mountains, so as can be imagined, this scenic drive certainly offers a world of adventure! This travel route passes through the Boise National Forest which protects a vast portion of the Idaho Rocky Mountain Range wilderness. All along this travel rout are deep lush pine forests and mountain meadows where a wide variety of wildlife can be seen. There are old gold rush relics of the past to experience in Idaho City, while most of the rest of this road passes through classic old west mountain man territory. The scenic byway also follows the Boise River and Payette River, which are both famous for trout fishing. There are natural hot springs to relax in along the way too, so the six hours that it takes to drive the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway can easily turn into a week long vacation!
Idaho has the most Public Lands of any state in the nation and there are several dispersed camping areas along Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway where the road parallels the rivers. Most of these dispersed campgrounds are designed to cater to anglers and river rafters, while a few are poular with the RV camper crowd. One such camping spot is nestled under towering ponderosa pines on a high river bank meadow, which is pictured in the photographs.
There are wild blueberry and blackberry bushes all over these woods, so this is a late summer berry picker haven, as well as being a prime fly fishing destination. With so much food and water available, the wildlife certainly abounds in this region and it is best to be bear aware. The 100% pack it in-pack it out rules apply at the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway roadside dispersed camping areas, so be sure to pack a portable toilet to satisfy regulations. Bear safe food storage is also required and carrying bear spray while fishing is highly recommended. As long as common sense is applied, a dispersed camping venture along Highway 21 can be a great experience. With all the scenic beauty there is to discover, it will be difficult to pack it up and head back home!
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