Get Above it All
Get a bird’s-eye view of North Idaho on a high-flying tour. Brooks Seaplane Service at the city dock on Lake Coeur d’Alene has sightseeing and charter flights over North Idaho waterways. (208) 664-2842 or www.brooks-seaplane.com
For the more adventuresome, parasailing on Lake Coeur d’Alene and Lake Pend Oreille provides a unique view.
Ride the Gondola
Take your vacation (or visitors) to new heights aboard the Silver Mountain Gondola. Stretching 3.1 miles and rising 3,400 vertical feet, the gondola transports passengers in 16 minutes from the base village in Kellogg to the Mountain Haus. During the summer, riders can enjoy mountaintop dining, hiking, mountain bike riding and outdoor concerts. Skiing, snowboarding, tubing and fun weekly events highlight the winter months. (800) 204-6428 or www.silvermt.com
Sierra Silver Mine Tours, located in Historic Wallace, takes you on a 1,000 foot guided walking tour through an actual depleted silver mine. A retired miner is your guide as you walk through the main drift of a real underground silver mine. Your guide will share his own mining stories and will demonstrate the operation of real mining machinery while you experience and learn about historical and modern methods of hard-rock silver mining.
Your tour begins aboard a classic 18 passenger trolley. On the short trip to and from the mine you will be treated to a narrative of the colorful 125 year history of Historic Wallace, “The Silver Capital of the World.” Bring your camera and a light sweater, the temperature in the mine stays at about 50° all year. (208) 752-5151 or www.silverminetour.org
Crystal Gold Mine in Kellogg is the only authentic gold mine in the Northwest, dating back to the 1880s. Lost for nearly 100 years, it was rediscovered and rejuvinated in 1996. Feel like a prospector with seasonal panning for gold! Bring your camera and a sweater, the mine temperature stays at 48° all year. Easy walking and no climbing makes this guided tour fun for the whole family. The mine is open all year and offers free RV parking. Take Exit 54 off I-90 by the Sunshine Miner’s Memorial and travel two miles west on Silver Valley Road. (208) 783-4653 or www.goldmine-idaho.com
Hop aboard the Sierra Silver Trolley in Historic Wallace and go back in time for a truly unique history lesson as characters from a bygone era share their stories while retracing the significant historical events of Wallace and the ghost town of Burke, Idaho. The 50-minute Ghost Town Trolley tours run July and August, 11am to 4pm, Wednesday through Saturday. Tours leave every hour. 752-5151 or www.silverminetour.org
Walk the Boardwalk
The Boardwalk at The Coeur d’Alene Resort rims the hotel’s 372-slip marina and at 12 feet wide and 3,300 feet long, it is recognized as the world’s longest floating boardwalk. It was constructed in 1986 using 1,600 float logs (each 32 feet long), 28,000 pounds of spikes, 16,000 lag screws and 8,000 pounds of bolts to complete. The boardwalk and marina are anchored by 150 tons of concrete and a series of strategically placed pilings. The boardwalk is the ideal place to view the 4th of July fireworks or the Fantasy in Lights Thanksgiving weekend kickoff to the holiday season. Rest your feet on a boardwalk bench or view watercraft of all sizes which are moored at the marina. Open daily to the public.
Dig it! Garnets or Fossils
Idaho and India are the only two places in the world where the rare Star Garnet can be found. The garnets are called “star garnets” because of a unique property that causes some of them to display a reflection like a four or six pointed star. They range in size from sand particles to golf-ball or larger size.
The Forest Service has developed the Emerald Creek Garnet Area near Clarkia, Idaho where the public may collect these unique gems in a safe and environmentally friendly way. Visitors take garnet-bearing gravel from a stockpile to one of two sluices where they wash and screen for garnets. The site is open the Friday before Memorial Day through Labor Day, Friday-Tuesday, 9am – 5pm. Permits are available at the site and cost $10 for adults and $5 for children age 6-12. The permit is valid for one day and includes equipment. This trip is recommended for the active, curious and those fearless of getting dirty. Bring your own drinking water. Pets are not allowed at the garnet site. 245-2531 or 245-1134
Find fossils at Clarkia Miocene Lake at the Fossil Bowl dig site. Clarkia has some of the best preserved and oldest leaf, insect and fish fossils. Over 125 specimens can be found including Bald cypress, Chinese Pine, fir, and Dawn redwood. The Fossil Bowl is open to the public for digging from 8am – 7pm daily in summer months. Fee is $10 per person, under 5 is free. Bring butter knives and pulaski to dig with and newspaper to preserve your fossil. 245-3608 or www.fossilbowl.com
Pan for Gold
A few miles up the road from Wallace you’ll discover Murray, North Idaho’s living ghost town. A.J. Prichard first discovered gold in Murray in 1881 with more than 10,000 prospectors seeking their fortunes on the Coeur d’Alene River by 1885. While in Murray, enjoy lunch in the shadow of Molly b’Damn at the Sprag Pole Inn & Museum, look over the famous Bedroom Goldmine Bar and try your hand at gold panning (with gold guaranteed every time). Do not pan local streams without permission. 682-3901
Located in the Coeur d’Alene National Forest between Prichard and Murray is the 35-acre, privately owned, Eagle City Park (25 miles from I-90 via the Coeur d’Alene River Road – Exit 43), site of the first gold rush to the Coeur d’Alenes. Search for gold in 2000 feet of gold bearing gravels in and along Eagle Creek and keep what you find! Open Wednesday – Sunday or Monday – Tuesday by appointment from June – October. Fee is $20 per day per family or $40 per weekend per family. 699-8128 or 682-4661