The Snake Rivers mild fall and winter climate has attracted people for eons, and it still does. You can see great scenery and learn about the history the 47-mile Western Heritage Historic Byway from Kuna to Celebration Park.
The route also passes through the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area.
It starts at the Kuna Chamber of Commerce visitor center at 123 S. Swan Falls Road. Theres a kiosk with a big map showing the byway route and points of interest along the way.
Here are four places worth checking out:
Initial Point: Drive south 8.5 miles of Kuna on Swan Falls Road, turn left and go a mile.
Its a short hike uphill to a high point at 3,240 feet. Look for the brass survey marker at the top of the butte and admire the 360-degree view of the Treasure Valley to the North, the Owyhee Mountains to the south and the Snake River plain to the east and west.
Surveyors used this location starting in 1867 as a distance and direction reference point for mapping Idaho.
Dedication Point: Another must-do is the interpretive trail overlook, 16 miles south of Kuna along the right side of Swan Falls Road.
Take an easy, short stroll to the wide-open views of the steep basalt cliffs and the Snake River.
The chart at the trailhead indicates that in November, long-eared owls and ferruginous hawks are nesting in the area. Migrating birds include Coopers hawks, merlins, northern goshawks and rough-legged hawks.
Other raptors, such as the red-tailed hawk and American kestrel, use the area year-round.
Swan Falls Power Plant: Continue south another 5 miles and descend to Swan Falls Dam. The power plant built in 1901 was the first powerhouse on the Snake River. It supplied electricity to mining towns and is now a historic spot. Theres a park at the dam where waterfowl gather on the calm water, providing convenient and close bird watching from the grass yard along the waters edge. You can also access trails on the other side of the river.
Celebration Park: Driving to the park requires backtracking to Victory Lane and turning west. Continue to McDermott Road and turn right. Stay on McDermott Road to Warren Spur Road and turn left. Continue to Sinker Road. Turn left on Sinker Road and follow it to the parks entrance.
Celebration Park is Idahos only archeological park. Grab a Petroglyphs Trail map from the visitor center, or look at the large posted map, and locate petroglyphs on the basalt rocks that look like huge melons.
The rock art was etched by Native Americans as long as 10,000 years ago, and the water-polished boulders were deposited during the Bonneville Flood 15,000 years ago.
Tom Bicak, director of Canyon County Parks, said there are 238 species of migratory birds using the Snake River corridor. He suggests watching for raptors, shorebirds and waterfowl.
Songbirds also feed in the riparian zones along the river in preparation for their long flights to Mexico and South America.
Take time to walk across the historic Guffey Railroad Bridge and snap a few photos of this well-known Canyon County icon.
You can also hike upstream about a mile to Halverson Lake.
Plan on about two hours of driving round-trip and a full day if you stop and visit each site.
Bring binoculars, a bird identification book and a camera.
After you leave Kuna, there are no services along the way. Bring what you need.
This area typically remains snow-free year-round, but you can still encounter frost and icy roads, especially in the morning.
For more details, go to idahobyways.gov.
Natalie Bartley email@example.com.