Driving on the Lower Payette River Heritage Byway is walking in the footsteps of settlers traveling west hoping for land and a new life; those coming east were seeking riches in gold and silver fields. This tri-county byway allows its visitors to meander along the pristine Lower Payette River. They will see wagon ruts from those traveling on the Goodale Trail in Gem and Payette Counties. The Falk community site was the only stage stop between Boise and Umatilla, Ore.

The byway starts near the confluence of the Snake and Payette River in Payette where native tribes gathered winter food stuffs. It leads through the City of Payette which boasts several statues and buildings including the 1904 Payette County Historical Museum.

Emmett also boast many turn of the century buildings along with the Gem County Historical Museum and Gem Island State Park. Heading out of Emmett, the Picket Corral site reminds all of us that our society has those folks try to reap the rewards of other’s hard labor.

All along the highway going east, the Black Canyon Dam and Reservoir provides a number of recreational sites. Side trips to Sweet, Ola and Montour areas are well worth the drive. Stopping at the Triangle Restaurant and visiting the Roystone Hot Springs are also a must. As you continue on into Boise County, visit the site of the Boise-Payette Electric Company which provided electricity to both Boise and the old mining town of Pearl. During the summer months visitors can ride the Thunder Mountain Railroad along the Payette River or fly high on the Zip Idaho line.


Highway 52 is a two lane paved secondary highway with occasional passing lanes. Speed is restricted through the cities.

When to go

Throughout the year.

Special attractions

Each community has a variety of events; Apple Blossom in Payette and Cherry Blossom & Emmett. River Though Time in Emmett. “Cruise Night” is offered in each community. Gem and Payette County Museums, Black Canyon Reservoir and Dam, Roystone Hot Springs, Montour Wildlife Refuge, historic sites of Picket Corral and Falk Store and numerous sportsman accesses to the Payette River. Clay Peak and Little Gem Motorcycle Parks have no fees for use. Each community has downtowns with beautiful turn-of-the century buildings and numerous parks for family activities. All along the river there are sites for photography and bird watching.


Emmett; Gem County Fairgrounds, RV Park off Washington St., 12th St. Hopple RV Park; Montour Historic Site, Horseshoe Bend RV Park, Curtis Trailer Park on Highway 95 on the outskirts of Fruitland.