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Boise County is a rural mountain county and the county seat is Idaho City, while Horseshoe Bend is its largest city. The city of Boise is located in neighboring Ada County. The county's two primary routes are scenic byways. For the majority of their length in the county, both are two-lane undivided highways. The Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway on State Highway 21 climbs northeast from Boise to Idaho City and Lowman, and ends at Stanley in Custer County, at the junction with State Highway 75. The Payette River Scenic Byway on State Highway 55 is a designated national scenic byway. It heads north from Eagle to Horseshoe Bend and climbs the whitewater of the Payette River to Cascade and McCall in Valley County, and ends at New Meadows in Adams County, at the junction with U.S. Route 95.
The adventurous can take side trips to nearby "ghost towns", such as Placerville, Pioneerville, and Centerville for an overview of the huge mining operations that once existed. Hikers will enjoy the many trails which allow glimpses of the abundant flora and fauna. Equestrian trails present breathtaking vistas. Fishing, particularly for rainbow and brook trout, is especially good. There are ideal spots for camping and picnicking everywhere.
Fall and winter present the area in an entirely different light and permit a wide new range of activities: Hunters will find such quarry as elk, deer, and blue grouse plentiful. Snow blankets the Basin by Thanksgiving, signaling the start of winter sports. Just outside Idaho city are 15 cross-country trails criss-crossing the Basin. Skiers from novice to expert will have a field day. Nor are snowmobilers forgotten -- they can roam more than 150 miles of Forest Service roads. Snow campers and snowshoers will look forward to winter, too.