Skirting Lakes and Forests: Coeur d'Alene to Bonners Ferry, Idaho
Dozens of lakes—remnants of Ice Age glaciers—surround Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, but few compare to its namesake natural pool. Beyond the abundance of water sports, visitors can take to the skies on one of Timberline Adventures’ zipline tours for unparalleled views of Beauty Bay. Or glimpse similar terrain at the lake’s northwestern edge by hiking the easy 3.3-mile Mineral Ridge Scenic Area and National Recreation Trail.
Next, make the 56-mile drive up US-95 North to Sandpoint. Grab a spot at the laid-back Sandpoint City Beach Park before dipping your toes into Idahoe’s biggest swimming hole, Lake Pend Oreille. In the summer, up to 20 downtown venues transform into galleries for the self-guided Artwalk, but you can admire local artists’ work any time of year while sipping a pourover from Evans Brothers Coffee in downtown’s historic Granary Arts District. A free charger at Jeff Jones Town Square has two spots if you need to extend your range while you fill up on the pickled jalapeño cheddar burger at Baxters on Cedar or the pan-fried Idaho ruby rainbow trout fillet from Trinity at City Beach.
Continue another 30 miles or so up US-95 to the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge. Set at the feet of the Selkirk Mountains, the 2,774-acre refuge is home to more than 300 animal species, including elk, beavers, and tundra swans. Visitors can observe wildlife from their vehicles along a gravel touring road (closed to vehicles in the winter), through spotting scopes at the park’s headquarters, or the gazebo overlooking Cascade Pond. Hikers can choose from four paths, including the quarter-mile trail to a viewpoint of Myrtle Falls.
Cap off your excursion just five miles east in Bonners Ferry. While you recharge for the return trip at the Bonners Ferry Gateway Visitors Center downtown, pick up the perfect read at the charming Bonners Books.