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Old West Routes

Use the Route tab to explore options by desired time and pace on the trail.  

Our Scouting Reports & GPS Tracklogs retrace the paths blazed to old west frontiers by early pioneers and prospectors. They left an ideal overland explores playground in their wake; remote pack trails, wagon roads, water routes, ghost towns, boom camp survivors, mine relics, colorful history and a spirit for adventure that inspires. 

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North American Overland Journeys

Location tabs are the fastest way to find geographic regions of interest and interconnected trails.

All of our Scout Reports and GPS Tracklogs flow continuously from one interesting region to another, state-to-state, province-to-province, nation-to-nation using as little pavement as possible, and when we do, it tends to be byways versus freeways.

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Go Deeper: Foot, Bike, Horseback & Watercraft

For many, self-reliant vehicle overlanding is the adventure. Others Go Deeper. 

All our Scouting Expeditions provide opportunity to hike, bike and backpack. Many routes also provide equestrian and watercraft journey extensions. We’ve flagged some favorites to inspire you to take your overland adventure to another level.

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Explore what fascinates you the most.

Every Scouting Expedition is researched to travel through Old West Frontiers rich with interesting trails, tales and relics. 

The roar of the rush has subsided, but imprints linger; ghost towns, abandoned rails turned to trails, surviving boomtowns that retain the charm of yesteryear continue to outfit today’s adventurers with supplies, historical lodging and spirits. Look deeper, and you will find signs of Native America.

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Choose Your Pace & Challenge

As most of our Scouting Expedition GPS Tracklogs are interlinked, the base route is most often Easy or Moderate, but we explore Difficult options along the way. Some can be overgrown and sometimes barley visible, making them that much more appealing for those looking to build that into thier own adventure. Three broad categories are used but beware, what is Easy today can be Difficult tommorow, due to environmental conditions (see Go Prepared). 

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Get Lost in the Journey

One of the greatest pleasures associated with 4WD vehicle overlanding is the ability to wander at will, as one trail leads to another in a maze of options. However, advance research can help you explore routes that fascinate you the most and can make the most of your time.

There is nothing wrong with using a map and compass for guidance. In fact, you should always have them with you. But GPS technology and affordable mapping software really empower you to free-flow and always have a sense of where you are, at all times.

Trek Stage A : 'River of No Return' Wilderness, Idaho Trail Series  

'River of No Return' Wilderness, Idaho Trail Series


Trek series travels over old stage and freight wagon roads through classic ghost towns, mine sites that border the Salmon River Scenic Byway before moving up Panther Creek ranchlands to the 8,800-foot Bighorn Crags of Frank Church ‘River of No Return’ Wilderness, ideal for avid hikers, backpackers and rafters; a gateway to the longest unsettled and road-less wilderness river in lower 48. The Salmon zig-zags over 400 miles in canyons that man has traveled for 8,000 years, leaving pictographs along the way. Lewis & Clark journals in 1805 show this route to be “impossible” for passage to the Pacific. Today’s Overlanders can go deeper via whitewater rafts or kayaks and enjoy sandy beach campgrounds and natural hot springs baths along the way. 


Trek Series:
Trek Stage:
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Trek Leg 1 : Bonanza to Bayhorse Mine  

Topance and Co., builders of the toll road, also operated a stagecoach service between Yankee Forks, Challis and the transcontinental railway. During the 1930’s a civilian make-work project made some improvements to the route and renamed it the Custer Motorway

Bonanza to Bayhorse Mine

IDAHO The 1876 mining camp was named Custer, in honor of the flamboyant general that met his end at Little Big Horn the same year. Route retraces toll road built from Yankee Forks to Challis, a supply center linked to the Union Pacific Railway by freight wagons. Starting in the ghost town of Bonanza, the old wagon road travels past the fully intact Yankee Forks Gold Dredge, through the stabilized and restored ghost town of Custer, up and over 8,800-foot summit passing stagecoach relay/tollgate stations along the way.  Route follows Challis supply line west to the outstanding relics of Bayhorse ghost town and the white-knuckle ledge road to Skylark Mine. Rating: Easy with a Difficult Skylark Mine Road option. Roads are 70% gravel and unimproved dirt.

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Scout Report
Trek Leg 2 : Bayhorse Mine to Yellowjacket  

Classic ghost town structures, charcoal kilns, tramline buildings & optional ‘white-knuckle’ ledge roads to reach the mines above make Bayhorse a rewarding target, as do the remote Crags of Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness

Bayhorse Mine to Yellowjacket

IDAHO For years the Bayhorse ghost town was fenced off Private Property. The Idaho Parks & Recreation purchased the property and has opened it and a series of off-road vehicle trails that celebrate the regions mining history. Gold was first discovered in 1864, but Silver and Lead hard rock mines worked in the 1880’s are responsible for the trails and relics that remain. Up the road from Bayhorse Ghost Town are charcoal kilns, the tram house to the Ramshorn and Skylark mines, and a recently opened one-lane ledge road to the mines themselves. Double back to Challis and head northwest to the 8,450-foot Crags in remote Frank Church 'River of No Return' Wilderness before ending Trek Leg at Yellowjacket Mine. Rating: Easy with a Difficult Skylark Mine Road option. Roads are over 75% gravel and unimproved dirt.

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Scout Report
Trek Leg 3 : Yellowjacket to Shoup  

Lewis & Clark Journals 1805
"The water is so rapid and the bed of the river so rocky, that going by water appeared impracticable; and the mountains so amazingly high, steep and rocky, that it seemed impossible to go along the river by land."

Yellowjacket to Shoup

IDAHO Climb from Yellowjacket Mine to edge of Frank Church ‘River of No Return’ Wilderness at 8,450-feet, home of the Bighorn Crags, ideal for those looking for remote camping, hiking and backpacking in vast and pristine mountains. Drop back down to Panther Creek valley and explore Leesburg Ghost Town, named in honor of Robert E. Lee, in 1866 by Civil War Southern Sympathizers. Route travels up rolling valley ranchlands to the old mining town of Shoup and a stretch of the Salmon North Fork abandoned by Lewis & Clark as a possible route to the Pacific. Today, rafts navigate the largest contiguous wilderness in the lower 48. Rating: Easy on gravel and unimproved dirt except for Moderate shortcut option to Leesburg.

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Scout Report
Trek Leg 4 : Bayhorse to Shoup Byway  

The nicest section of one of America’ most scenic byways - North Fork to Challis along the Salmon River Valley

Bayhorse to Shoup Byway

IDAHO As with most of our routes, we look for unpaved roads in favor of less traveled backroads that provide deeper access to wilderness regions. As a result, we have only traveled on short bits of the Scenic Salmon River Byway in the other three Trek Legs in this series. This misses the nicest section of one of America’ most scenic byways - North Fork to Challis along the Salmon River Valley. Even in peak summer this Scenic Byway is not overwhelmed although we prefer it in off-peak, when even less traffic is encountered and the valley is most photogenic with spring/fall colors.  The Bypass Leg provides a shorter option, if time is of the essence on a longer Journey or a loop-return option. Rating: Easy paved Byway. 

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Scout Report
           Must Come To An End

It is with a heavy heart that we must advise our supporters that we are forced to close the Overland Frontier website. While the site was only open for one year, we started development many years earlier. Since that time the importance of a mobile friendly website has increased. We hope we can be back one day, with a new and improved resource for overland routes. We have so many more Treks, Journeys and Expeditions that we did not have time to showcase. We are anxious to find a new mobile-friendly channel to share these routes with other enthusiasts and we are open to ideas and partners; contact

In the meantime follow our expeditions on Facebook