ID-34 | Tincup Canyon

  • Distance: 60.9 Miles (98.01 km)
  • Rating: 3-A, Mostly fairly gentle but with a smattering of tricky corners. Resurfaced in 2006 so the asphalt is awesome. Ratings Explained »
  • Travel: Either direction for best results
  • Start: Soda Springs, Idaho
  • End: Etna, Wyoming
  • Fuel: Available in Soda Springs, Idaho and Alpine Junction, Wyoming
  • Along the Way: The old historic Henry Store (built in 1908 when the area was a major center of livestock operations) has closed its doors to the public but we've stopped here for canyonchasers photos since we started riding past it in 1994.
  • Highlights: Another empty and lonely western highway that has been forgotten by travelers looking for the shortest distance between two points. As a result, don't expect to see many people in the area. This is one of our most beloved canyon roads.
  • Advisories: Be on the lookout for some crazy blind corners - blind from hillsides or some unexpected elevation changes. Range cattle can be expected on the Soda Springs side and sheep can be expected on the Wyoming side.

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Summary

TinCup Canyon (AKA Pioneer Historic Byway) has been a CanyonChasers staple since the very beginnings. We've only ever known it as Tin Cup Canyon, but its recently been renamed "Pioneer Historic Byway" by the fine folks of Idaho Tourism.

Leaving Soda Springs, you'll think you're on the wrong road. Its a lonely straight section that bobs up and down through swaying wheat fields, but only for about 12 miles where the road makes a gentle turn to the east and the fun begins.

The road follows the apron of scrubby, rocky, small mountains that were too harsh to plow. It bops up and down and through a series of blind corners with unpredictable apexes. Look to the west for a quick glimpse of Blackfoot Reservoir before the riding gets kicked up a notch. Short sections of tight corners are placed in between long empty straights, great for passing if you ever see anybody else.

A really nasty 270 degree corner dumps you out into an empty valley and you'll think the fun is over, but as you enter into the dollop of a town, Wayan, Idaho, the road will start to climb and changes in character dramatically. Soon you'll be strafing stands of aspen trees through long sweeping corners until you drop back down into a narrow canyon where the road finds the least direct route between here and there and you'll be tossing the bike from side to side like a 50's be-bop song; only without the poodle skirt and saddle shoes.

The road will end at a T-intersection telling you to turn right if you want to go to Jackson Hole. Ignore the sign and turn left onto State Line Road (it follows the state line between Idaho and Wyoming). When you reach a stop sign, turn right and it'll take you out to Highway 89 that will take you up towards Yellowstone National Park.


Ratings Explained

The first part of our rating describes how technical we feel that road is. Numbers one through five with five being the most technical and one being a more mellow road with few challenging corners. The second half of the rating is a letter grade. A rating of "A" would be a road that is in great condition and a grade-F would be a crumbly, slippery or degraded surface.