Water Holes and Beaches
North Idaho is abundant with swimming beaches and water holes.
Independence Point Park at Coeur d’Alene’s City Beach has life guards, a water fountain and a nice sandy strip of beach between the docks and the Coeur d’Alene Resort that’s perfect for wading and splashing without the larger crowds on the park side beach.
Hayden Lake’s Honeysuckle Beach is open 11am – 6pm and has lifeguards on duty during summer months. From US 95 (between Hayden Ave. and Prairie Ave.) take Honeysuckle eastbound right to the lake.
Q’emiln Riverside Park in Post Falls features a beautiful beach with lifeguards, just 4 blocks south from the Spokane Street Exit off of I-90.
Beaver Bay Beach at Farragut State Park is a horseshoe shaped sandy beach that is one of the few places on Lake Pend Oreille where the water warms enough in the summer for a swim. From US 95, head east on Hwy 54 to the park. Entrance fee is $5 per vehicle or use your Idaho State Parks Passport.
City Beach in Sandpoint is surrounded on three sides by Sand Creek and Lake Pend Oreille. Take Bridge St. from downtown.
On the east side of Priest Lake, both Indian Creek and Lionhead have excellent day use areas on large sandy beaches with designated swimming areas.
Approximentaly 40 miles south of Coeur d’Alene is Heyburn State Park which offers many opportunities to enjoy a dip in one of it’s three lakes.
Cruise or Live Aboard
Experience the true beauty of the lakes and rivers of North Idaho by taking a summer cruise on Lake Coeur d’Alene, Lake Pend Oreille, Spokane River and St. Joe River. Daily, dinner, brunch and charter cruises are available. Cruises depart from various locations several times each day during the summer season, May – October. Winter eagle watching and holiday cruises are also available.
For schedules call:
- Lake Coeur d’Alene Cruises - (208) 765-4000
- Westcoast River Queen - (208) 773-1611
- Lake Pend Oreille Cruises - (208) 255-LAKE
- River Cove Dinner Cruises - (208) 773-1014
- The Boardwalk Marina - (208) 415-5600
- JAWS in Coeur d’Alene rents pontoon boats and jet skis plus the toys to expand the fun. They deliver, launch and pick up at local lakes. (208) 765-8333
- Hi Water Adventures in Harrison on Lake Coeur d’Alene offers power boat, pontoon, waverunner and kayak rentals. (208) 582-0177
- North Idaho College’s Outdoor Pursuits rents kayaks, canoes and whitewater rafting equipment from NIC Beach on Lake Coeur d’Alene and also offers classes and group trips. (208) 769-3290.
- Sandpoint Marine and Motor Sports offers boat, watercraft, kayak, canoe and paddle board rentals for Lake Pend Oreille. They also have RV and Motor Sport rentals. (208) 263-1535
- For a quick trip, paddle boats are available to rent by the hour at Independence Point in Coeur d’Alene or the city beach in Sandpoint.
- If vacationing on the waterfront is more your speed, Coeur d’Alene Property Management has four season getaway rentals featuring houses and cabins on Lake Coeur d’Alene, Hayden Lake, Spirit Lake and Twin Lakes. (208) 765-0777
Ride White Water
North Idaho is a whitewater and paddler’s Mecca. Whether you’re looking for wild rapids, a family whitewater trip, gentle floats or lake paddling you’ll find it all. Both the Moyie and St. Joe rivers offer raft-bashing fun in spectacular forested canyons. Near the Idaho/Montana border, the Alberton Gorge of the Clark Fork is a summer favorite with warm water and intermediate rapids. ROW Adventures offers guided whitewater rafting, multi-sport and fishing trips for all ages. 765-0841 or www.ROWadventures.com. Guided trips of one to six days are available, including adventures on the Salmon, Snake and Lochsa rivers. Coeur d’Alene Adventures offers guided whitewater rafting on summer time favorites; Clark Fork River, Spokane River and the Lochsa River. Enjoy fresh garden produce served on full day river trips. 918-2082. Hell’s Canyon, near Lewiston, Idaho, is North America’s deepest canyon. In the basin, the Snake River runs for 70 miles. You can walk along the river, take boat tours, experience world-class white water rafting, fish or jet boat. Riverquest Excursions features fishing and sighseeing tours departing from Hell’s Canyon State Park. www.riverquestexcursions.com or 800-589-1129. Killgore Adventures offers a Wild River Tour from Pittsburg Landing Marina at the heart of Hell’s Canyon to the dam. They have also have lodging and RV sites available. www.killgoreadventures.com or 800-469-8757. The Spokane River from the Post Falls dam to Stateline has quick and short white water rapids for the truly adventurous. Kayaking off North Idaho College Beach has become a favorite past time of students and locals. N.I.C.’s Outdoor Pursuits rents kayaks, canoes and whitewater rafting equipment and also offers classes and group trips, (208) 769-3290. Hi Water Adventures out of Harrison offers guided, flat water kayak tours of most North Idaho lakes and the Coeur d’Alene River. (208) 582-0177.
Float the Rivers
Canoe, kayak and inner tube enthusiasts will find varying currents and conditions on North Idaho rivers, depending on the time of year and which section of the river they choose. Float down the upper Coeur d’Alene River in a raft or canoe. The trip takes you past beautiful scenery, rock formations and wildlife. The river is 55 miles long between Senator Creek and Cataldo. For information on water levels call 752-1221.
Floating the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River is a family adventure for even the most inexperienced or novice floaters. Put in your raft or inner tube and enjoy a meandering pace traveling about one mile of river in an hour. Take the Kingston exit off of I-90 and head up to Bumble Bee Bridge or to Albert’s Landing campground. This favorite summer activity is best between June and late July as in August the water levels lower considerably making for a bit bumpier and slower float. Glass containers are prohibited on the river. End the day with Rocky Mountain oysters at the famous Enaville Resort, also known as The Snake Pit, in Kingston.
Take a long, 6-hour trip on the rapid Lower Priest River. The course offers a challenge for the experienced inner-tuber, kayaker or rafter. Put in point is about three miles north of the town of Priest River off Highway 57. This is a tough course and is recommended for strong swimmers. Always wear a life-vest!
Pack River is a scenic and meandering ride past beautiful scenery and wildlife. Inner-tubes, canoes, rafts and kayaks are all good for this river. There are several entrance points off Highway 95 and Highway 200.
Fall for the Rock
Built on the Spokane River in 1906 by The Washington Water Power Company (now Avista Utilities) the Post Falls Dam initially supplied power to six mining companies in Wallace via a 100-mile, 60,000 volt transmission line. The dam also controls the water flow of Lake Coeur d’Alene and can raise or lower the lake level by 12 feet. The dam is accessible from Exit 5 or 6 off Interstate 90, then south on Spokane Street. Albeni Falls (all-ban-e) located near Priest River, produces 200 kilowatt hours of energy annually. Construction on it began in 1951 and completed in 1955. A short hike on a paved trail and a vista on Hwy 2 allow for viewing. For information on a powerhouse tour and visitor center hours of operation call (208) 437-3133. North of Sandpoint on Hwy 2, the Moyie River Bridge, one of the highest in Idaho, spans a 450’ canyon. Stop at the overlook for a bird’s eye view of the Bonners Ferry Dam and power generating plant as well as the Moyie River Canyon and Falls. Take in the view at Myrtle Creek Falls just northwest of the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge visitor center in Bonners Ferry. A short, but steep, ADA compliant trail takes you to an observation point halfway up. Falling water has eroded brown quartzites creating a spectacular view. A 15-minute hike from Forest Service maintained Copper Creek Campground is Copper Creek Falls. Just south of the Canadian border, the 150’ falls is fed by the Moyie River. (208) 267-5561
On the Pend Oreille
The Pend Oreille River is a fickle patriot. It begins at the west of Lake Pend Oreille near Sandpoint in Bonner County. Receiving the Priest River from the north it then flows into southern Pend Oreille County in northeastern Washington at Newport. In Washington the Pend Oreille River turns north, flowing along the eastern side of the Selkirk Mountains. It flows roughly parallel to the Idaho border for nearly 50 miles, through the Colville National Forest and Metaline Falls. The river crosses the international border into southeastern British Columbia, looping west for about 15 miles and joining the Columbia from the east, approximately two miles north of the Canadian border.
Dive the Steamboats
Join local divers in exploring the wreckage of the early-day steamers that rest beneath the waters of Lake Coeur d’Alene. Guided tours take you to the site of the Georgie Oaks, a sternwheeler with a 100-ton capacity that carried passengers and freight on the lake until 1917, or The Idaho, one of the largest steamers on the lake with twin side wheels and a capacity of 1,000 passengers. Scuba divers may also spot Model Ts in the waters of Lake Coeur d’Alene. In the early 1900s, winter drivers wanting to save time attempted to cross the frozen lake instead of driving around and most often failed. Divers West 664-0751 and Tom’s Diving 664-0852 are full service dive shops in Coeur d’Alene offering lessons, certification and equipment sales and rentals.