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Western Heritage Historic Byway
The Western Heritage Historic Byway begins in Meridian, Idaho and heads south for almost fifty miles. Less than ten miles down Highway 69 travelers reach historic Kuna. This area was first used by Native Americans who camped along what's now called Indian Creek. In 1882 the Oregon Short Line Railroad arrived, paving the way for later development. The town's Pioneer Cemetery honors the early settlers in the region.
South of Kuna is the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area. In fact, almost half of the byway runs through the Birds of Prey NCA. It was established in 1993 and protects 600,000 acres of high desert and canyon. The area is home to the largest concentration of nesting birds of prey in North America, including hawks, eagles, falcons, osprey and owls.
As they work their way to the Snake River Canyon, drivers can stop at Initial Point. This volcanic butte was the starting point for surveyors who mapped the entire state in 1867. Every location in Idaho is measured by its distance and direction from a marker on the butte. You can hike to the top for a great view of the Snake River Plain.
Another great vista is available at Dedication Point further down the byway. This point provides a great view of the Snake River Canyon. It's also a good place to look for birds of prey, especially in the spring. Just around the corner the Snake River Canyon Overlook gives visitors another dramatic view of this impressive area. Incredible volcanic activity and the massive Lake Bonneville flood shaped the canyon you see today.
From the overlook you can drive down to the Swan Falls dam, the oldest hydroelectric project on the Snake River. The old dam power plant built in 1901 was replaced in the 1990s but is still in use as a museum. If you want to do some hiking through this area, the 12 mile long Canyon River Trail runs between Swan Falls Dam and Celebration Park along the Snake River.