Highway 55 and 95; Going North in Idaho


There are some amazing roads in Idaho, some are short and some are long but two of the top roads that are a must drive are Highway 55 and highway 95. On both highways there is a breathtaking scenery and the most amazing history and industry in Idaho. 

We are going to start first with highway 95. Highway 95 start to finish is 538 miles. The highway goes from the Canada and United States border to Bonners Ferry, Idaho through Sand Point, Coeur d’Alene, Lewiston, Grangeville and to Payette. It also crosses into 3 other states. The highway 95 is a highway that has two lanes on each side of the highway most of the way, allowing for two way traffic to get through comfortably. Due to the popular use of the road the State of Idaho is working on turning the highway into a four lane road, there is a divider that divides North bound traffic from South bound traffic. This will be the part of the highway that is at the Oregon where Idaho and Oregon meet and continues to Eastport (going southwest) at the Canada border. The highway moves forward north-northeast just west of Marsing. Which is an ideal place to take a pit stop or exploring as there is a beautiful place called Lizard Butte. Lizard Butte is located on Sunny Slope Rd, Marsing, ID. To get there from highway 95 you would take highway 55. Highway 95 and highway 55 meet at Marsing. Once on highway 55 you will cross the bridge to go over the Snake River and in one mile northeast of the bridge will be Lizard Butte. Lizard Butte is a beautiful landscape that resembles a lizard laying in the summer sun and has been the site of the Lizard Butte Sunrise Service since 1938.

When leaving Lizard Butte and getting back on highway 95 it takes a slight turn to the west, and then a slight turn to the north to Homedale, crossing the Snake River prior to a junction that is concurrent with highway 20 and highway 26 going through Parma. Going forward north on highway 95 will lead you over Interstate 84 and highway 30 prior to passing through the towns of Payette and Weiser. You will then continue to the towns of Cambridge, Council, and Midvale. This area is another ideal place for a stop or even a overnight camping stay. If you are visiting during the Fourth of July you can see their porcupine race and other fun traditions. After Council the highway makes its way up the hill going into Payette National Forest, going through Tamarack sawmill location. Then goes to New Meadows by going east of the sawmill. At this point Highway 95 and Highway 55 meet and leads you to Boise by way of Cascade leading to Horseshoe Bend. New Meadows has an elevation of 3,865 above sea level.

The highway then goes north by way of Meadows Valley just north of where the two highways connect. At which point it is downhill 2,000 feet and follows the river call Little Salmon until you get to Riggins. Riggins is also a fantastic place to take in the scenery or to go camping. If you get a chance visit the seven devil mountains or loop. At this point on highway 95, you cross the bridge that takes you across the Salmon River, were you take the magical time through to Pacific Time from Mountain time. As you continue northbound you take a slight downhill along the river to White Bird at which point the road goes up to 2,700 feet for seven miles climbing the White Bird hill to the peak which at the highest point is 4,245 feet in elevation. The road just keeps getting straighter, steeper and faster and has multi-lane which opened for traffic in 1975 which took several years of challenging construction. Just east is a two lane road that was built in 1921 and received its first paving in 1938. When reaching the White Bird Creek the road verd away from Salmon River and continuing on to White Bird town. The road was very difficult and consisted of a gradual climb of double the distance going by way of many switchback curves. The arcs themselves if all added together would form 27 full 360 degree circles which would average about 950 degrees per mile. After the new bridge that was made of steel which was constructed over the Creek of White Bird was finished in 1975 the new route made for a much easier way north to Lewiston.

After you have reached the summit the highway continues its slight descent going very steep for a short way down to Grangeville at an elevation of 3,390 feet. Continuing on northwest is Cottonwood and then you enter the Nez Perce Indian Reservation. In the 1990s a new route was made to the lead the road above the nearby city Craigmont, as well as Ferdinand instead of taking traffic directly through the streets of the town. Continuing westward going traveling through high prairie close by the trestles of timber railroad and then goes northward to Lapwai Canyon.

After a couple bridges like Clearwater River crossing bridge and the arrow bridge the highway joins highway 12 for about seven miles going westward toward Lewiston. After leaving the reservation the highways split and highway 95 twists northeast for a bit and then westward to southern edge of Palouse region and onward to the Canada U.S. border.

Now onto highway 55, as we mentioned earlier in the article highway 55 in Marsing takes you on the adventure of exploring Lizard Butte. From Marsing hte highway 55 takes to the east towards Nampa, Meridian and Eagle. The highway then takes a turn to the north to Horseshoe Bend. Highway 55 continues on and takes an uphill course to the Payette River through the Cascade and McCall. At which point is a ideal place to explore and take a few days to enjoy beautiful Idaho. In McCall you can camp, relax by the lake(s), whitewater rafting, fish, climb, hike, shop, etc. After leaving McCall you continue downward to Meadows and that is the end of highway 55 as it ends when it meets up with highway 95 again.

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