Begins in Orofino at State Hwy 7 and junction of Wells Bench Road Begins in Bovill at junction of SH 3 and 8
This is an all natural, no frills, individualistic and unpretentious pathway through rural North Central Idaho. It is a 57 mile route to rugged backcountry adventure for travelers of all types. The route can be accessed from the Northwest Passage (US 12) at Orofino or from the west at Bovill, ID at the junction of State Highway (SH) 8 and SH 3.
Travelers quickly enter a series of dips and turns along a rough route that reveals the physical diversity of landscapes in this rural region. The Clearwater Mountain range sets a back drop along the horizon that draws one deeper into the crests and canyons.
From Orofino the route begins with a climb up and along Wells Bench where ranchettes and farmsteads are scattered along the benches and between timber patches. As the forested areas get more prevalent travelers will drop down towards Dworshak Reservoir, crossing Dent Bridge, which is a suspension bridge that provides a link to western Clearwater County and vast forestlands that built the local economy. Along the path there are many opportunities to observe wildlife of many types: bear, bobcats, cougar, deer, elk, osprey, songbirds, wild turkeys, possibly wolves and a wide variety of the forests small woodland creatures. Thirty-four miles from Orofino lies Elk River a quaint community that has gone full circle: established as a remote hunting and recreation camp, developed by Potlatch as a mill town (site of the first electric powered mill), only to return to a recreational community in the twenty first century. Elk River Historical Museum, the Morris Cedar grove and Elk River Falls are featured along the byway.
Wells Bench is a two lane county road paved to one mile beyond Dent Bridge; at Dent the road surface is gravel; at Elk River the roadway is again a paved 2 lane road with passing lanes and turnouts. The route is well maintained year-round but can be icy in winter.
When to go
Year round. Summer offers camping, boating, fishing, hiking, and touring. Winter provides snowmobiling on 300 miles and skiing on 20 miles of regularly maintained groomed trails.
1) City of Orofino; 2) Dent Bridge; 3) Scenic Viewpoint — Confluence of Elk Creek & North Fork Clearwater River (Dworshak Reservoir); 4) Loop Road to USFS Campground & town; 5) Mill Pond & Mill Site; 6) Clearwater Potlatch Timber Protective Association; 7) Elk River downtown; 8) Giant Western Redcedar & Morris Cedar Grove; 9) Elk Creek Falls; 10) City of Bovill
Three RV Parks in Orofino, Campgrounds along Dworshak Reservoir (Canyon Creek & Dent), Camping in Elk River (64 sites along Elk Creek Pond, 23 improved sites at a Forest Service campground); an RV Park with 24 sites; in Bovill there is an RV Park with 15 sites. The forestlands along the byway are open to off road unimproved camping so visitors can choose their own spot off the beaten path.