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ADV Ride: Boise to Idaho City, Via Cottonwood

Who said there aren't any good ADV rides near Boise. Sure there are and this is just one of them.

From Boise, stay off the freeway and take Gowen road around the back side of the airport before picking up the beautiful highway 21. Crossing the bridge over the Boise River lets you know that you are on the right track, with Diversion dam and the New York Canal just to your right.

Staying on Highway 21 begin your climb to Hilltop before descending back down to the reservoir and crossing Robie Creek via the High Bridge. Take an immediate right turn to NF268, which runs along the Lucky Peak Reservoir.

At the top of Lucky Peak, the road changes to dirt as you start your ascent toward Arrowrock Dam. When it first opened in 1915,standing 348 feet, Arrowrock was the largest concrete arch dam in the world (an honor that now goes to the 1001 foot, Jinping-I dam in China) and represented some of the finest engineering to date. The road along arrowrock is windy with a significant amount of oncoming traffic so caution is advised.

After about 16 miles on NF268 turn left onto FS NF377 and head north up the canyon.

Next, you'll hit the Cottonwood Ranger station area. Cottonwood is a typical Forest Service Community with houses for residences, a shower house, barn, storage buildings, lube rack and other structures. A great time for a break, take a moment to walk around and remember yesteryear (a true treasure).

Back on the bike and approaching the summit on NF377 , the route hangs a right onto FS 203 and closes to 4WD vehicles, but ATVers & 2 wheelers make it through just fine. And once you are on the ridge the vistas are unbelievable!

Survey the area and plan your ride down into Idaho City by heading north up FS 304. In Idaho City you'll find some great restaurants and fun places to enjoy a beverage. The information Center is also worth some time, featuring displays of past mining and logging.

To finish off the loop, 42 miles on twisty highway 21 will take you back to Boise and Happy Trails.


This 114 mile ride was contributed by long time Adventure Motorcyclist and Happy Trails CEO Tim Bernard. When starting out in Idaho, be sure to swing by the Happy Trails Factory and showroom to share a story and pick up any last minute ADV gear.


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