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From the winter swish of snow under a pair of skis to a summertime tromp through meadows, forests, and streams, North Idaho is an outdoor lover's dream. The panhandle area of the state is all about scenery, wildlife, and outdoor adventures. This is a land where people make their own huckleberry jam, tell stories about the fish that got away, and prefer to spend their time out on the trail rather than indoors. No matter what your outdoor passion, you'll find the perfect place to enjoy it in North Idaho.
Things to Do
This region has a remarkable array of natural and man-made outdoor attractions. You'll find exquisite rock climbing walls, trails that go on forever, and plenty of bodies of water that offer everything from white water rafting to water skiing. There are also outstanding golf courses and amusement parks, shopping centers, ranches, restaurants, and museums.
North Idaho has dozens of recreational lakes and rivers for canoeing, rowing, sailing, kayaking, and rafting. You'll find glass-smooth lakes for water skiing or paddling, plus amazing white-water rivers. There are even beaches for volley ball, strolling, sunbathing, and parasailing opportunities. Don't miss the chance to go lake kayaking on beautiful Lake Coeur d'Alene.
Skiing and Snowshoeing
Sun Valley Trekking in Hailey operates six backcountry yurts in the Sawtooth National Forest that are ideal destinations for snowshoers. Rentals and multi-day, guided trips are available. Also, the entire Upper Big Wood River area surrounding the Galena Summit is a snowshoer's playground and is closed to motorized traffic.
The Coeur d'Alene area boasts three ski resorts. Silver Mountain in Kellogg has two peaks, 50 runs, 2,200 vertical feet of fun, and the world's longest, single-staged gondola. Lookout Pass Ski area in Mullan is also nearby for alpine exploring with 540 ski-able acres, vertical drop of 1,150 on 23 named runs plus two glade areas and acres of tree skiing. Or skiers can head north to Schweitzer Mountain Resort with 58 runs across 2,500 acres and Stella, its 6-passenger high-speed chairlift.
Since Idaho has more groomed snowmobile trails than any other Western state, it's no wonder that residents and visitors to Kootenai County find snowmobiling one of their favorite winter activities.
Click here for more information about snowmobiling and other snow sports in Northern Idaho.
Hiking and Biking
This region has thousands of acres of trailed wilderness that are just waiting to be explored. Stop by any forest ranger station to pick up a map and suggestions for the best local trails. Road bikers should be sure to pedal down the scenic Centennial Trail that runs from the Washington border through the east end of Lake Coeur d'Alene. For mountain biking, just head tone of the area ski resorts and speed down one of their alpine trails.
This area is famous for its superb fishing as well as its gorgeous streams and mountain lakes. You'll reach the best fishing holes by hiking up a trail and stopping off at a secluded lake. Most local fishers find great success with a fly rod and regular tackle.
Idaho is silver and gold mining country, so it's no wonder the area boasts a number of fun mines to explore. At the Crystal Gold Mine, you can head underground into an authentic 1880s gold mine. This Silver Valley mine is open year round, winter and summer. At Coeur d'Alene's Sierra Silver Mine Tour, you can take a one-hour tour through an underground mine. Tours depart daily every half hour (kids must be age for and above). You'll learn all about the techniques and skills involved in hard-rock mining at this attraction that's open from May to September every year.
Whether you're looking for a quiet camping trip near a shining lake or a rousing Old West ranch adventure, you'll find what you're looking for in North Idaho. This is a place where wilderness is truly right outside your front door, and trailheads are more plentiful than people. So pack up your binoculars and your hiking boots, and get ready for some North Idaho beauty!