Welcome to Idaho’s Highway 12, better known as The Northwest Scenic Passage, where road trip dreams come true. Around every bend, you will find a plethora of outdoor adventures waiting for you. From fly fishing, hiking, river rafting, secluded hot springs, breathtaking views and wildlife viewing, a trip down Hwy 12 will leave you in awe of Mother Nature’s glorious work.

Our trip begins near the small town of Syringa at the River Dance Lodge, where we have a float trip planned on the Clearwater River. As we pull onto the perfectly manicured property, we have no problem parking our rig as there is plenty of space. In addition to the quaint cabins and glamping tents, limited RV parking is also offered for the dry camping enthusiast (read: no hookups, this is dry camping at its finest).

After our Clearwater River float trip, we say goodbye to the fine folks at the River Dance Lodge and continue along Hwy 12 to the small community of Lowell, where we refuel and stock up on groceries. We cross a bridge over the confluence of the Lochsa, Selway, and Clearwater rivers that takes us onto the Selway River Road with the destination of the Johnson Bar Campground up ahead.

This great campground sits along the Selway River, and we could hardly wait to get to fishing.

After a while, we decided to hop into the truck to explore the Selway River Corridor but not before stopping at the Fenn Ranger Station to get some information about the area. We learned that the corridor was 20 miles in with a reward of Selway Falls at the end. Activities such as mushroom foraging, hiking, fly fishing, picnicking and swimming were only a few of the many activities mentioned. Truly one can spend a lifetime here with never-ending outdoor adventures.

As we drove along the corridor, I couldn’t help but notice the beauty of the Selway River and how it flowed through the heart of this wild and rugged land that we were so lucky to be in.

Road following the bends in the river.
Selway River along the Selway River Corridor. Photo credit: J5MM.

There were also campgrounds scattered along the river, and as the ranger mentioned, great little swimming beaches and sandbars to visit. Several campgrounds are located near hiking and horse trails which wind through spectacular backcountry and deeper into the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness for the adventurous backpacker. We pull over and decide to take a swim and explore and relax in the beauty of our surroundings.

Continuing down the corridor, we are tempted with each turn with amazing spots to fish. We finally decide upon a spot and we fish (and release) to our heart’s content. We still can’t get over the beauty found here.

We pulled over to take a look at Selway Falls. Back at the Fenn Ranger Station, we were told that the falls are most spectacular during the spring melt from April through June. For the remainder of the year, the water flow drops to a fairly low level, such was the case during our visit here, but nonetheless still beautiful to look at.

The next morning our Hwy 12 adventure continued on. We pulled over to read this sign that was welcoming us into the One Million Acres of the Selway – Bitterroot Wilderness, where Lewis and Clark traveled and mapped the area. Their purpose was to explore the land, communicate with Native Americans and establish the claim of the United States to the vast Pacific Northwest. To stand here in the same area where Lewis and Clark explored was a very humbling experience.

Shortly down the road from this sign, we found the perfect pullout to camp for the night. There are scores of these types of pullouts along the way, and we had this riverfront spot all to ourselves. We swam in the river, and fished some more, enjoying every moment we had.

As if that secluded pullout campsite wasn’t the most beautiful site ever, we found another perfect and scenic spot at the Wilderness Gateway Campground just down the road. The river, this time, was mere steps from our campsite and offered up some of the most glorious morning sunrises.

After a leisurely morning, we decided to drive to the nearby Jerry Johnson Hot Springs. We cross a bridge and hike through a lush old-growth forest along Warm Springs Creek. There are a series of hot spring pools here along the creek, and some of them are a mix of the hot water from the springs and the cool water from the creek making for a perfect temperature to soak in. We had an incredible time observing the wildlife around us (eagles soaring above) while soaking in these therapeutic pools.

Eventually, it was time to head back to camp to enjoy our riverside campground. While I cook dinner, hubby and our son, B, swim in the river, and B builds a river rock tower that he is so very proud of. At that moment, I wonder, how is it that our road trip along Hwy 12 is almost over? My mind immediately starts reeling towards the future and plans to return.

If you have never had the opportunity to visit this stretch of roadway in Idaho, I encourage you to put it on your list. This road trip along Hwy 12 has further solidified the fact in our minds that Idaho is a true paradise for the outdoor enthusiast. There won’t be a moment where you will not be in awe of Mother Nature’s work.

Airstream on the road home with mountain views.
Northwest Passage Scenic Byway. Photo credit: J5MM.
This is a sponsored post.

Together with her husband and young son, Monica Bennett seeks out non-stop RVing adventures and culinary discoveries in the Pacific Northwest. Her travels on the road inspire her work as a photographer and writer for her blog, “Just 5 More Minutes,” where she shares her passion for cooking in her RV, demonstrates creative DIY crafting projects, and writes about mastering the art of RVing domesticity. The RVing lifestyle is Monica’s escape from her 9-5 as a graphic designer in busy corporate America. Travel with Monica and her family to their blog: J5MM.com.  All photos, including feature image, provided by J5MM.com.

Published on October 20, 2015