Farragut State Park sits on the southern tip of Lake Pend Oreille in North Idaho and has earned the achievement of being touted by Conde Nast as the best state park in Idaho.
What makes Farragut such an incredible and esteemed state park?
Besides boasting over 4000 acres of pristine wilderness and Idaho’s largest and deepest lake, it’s also a fascinating piece of land that was once a naval training station from 1942 to 1946.
This unique historical park manages to be a state park that offers a little bit of history and outstanding nature…and don’t forget the aerial obstacle course!
We love Farragut State Park and make it a mission to camp at the park every year to enjoy this gem of a state park near our hometown. We think, hands down, it’s one of the best day trips from Couer d’Alene.
Read on for our complete guide to Farragut State Park, including details on the best things to do in the park and the lowdown on camping at Farragut.
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A GUIDE TO FARRAGUT STATE PARK
How To Get To Farragut State Park
Farragut State Park is located in Athol, Idaho. It is off Highway 95 on ID-54, north of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Here are driving distances and times from nearby destinations:
- Sandpoint: 29.5 miles, 32 minutes
- Coeur d’Alene: 24.5 miles, 35 minutes
- Spokane: 51 miles, 58 minutes
- Motor Entrance Fee: $14 per vehicle for non-residents and $7 for Idaho residents.
- Hours of Operation: 7 am to 10 pm daily, winter hours are 9 am to 4 pm daily.
- Official Website: Farragut State Park
Map of Farragut State Park
You can purchase a map from the visitors center, or you can check their website here for the various maps they offer.
While in Farragut State Park, please practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace. The Leave No Trace movement is rooted in backcountry exploration, but the basic principles of respecting wildlife and proper trash disposal apply to everyone. We want to leave Idaho beautiful so everyone can enjoy its incredible landscape.
Farragut State Park Camping
Farragut State Park offers over 200 campsites and is particularly appealing for RV campers and families due to its abundance of amenities and family-friendly activities.
There are four campgrounds, and they all are lovely with little difference between them. Unlike other state parks on lakes, none of the campsites have water views or direct access to the water. You’ll have to walk, bike, or drive to get to the water, no matter which campsite you stay at.
Due to the state park being a former naval base, the sites are pretty spacious, with most sites offering a good amount of tree coverage to create privacy.
TIP: Reserve early! Farragut is popular in the summer and fills up quickly. Reservations open nine months in advance and can be challenging if you do it last minute. For perspective, we tried to book a campsite in March, and nearly everything was gone for the summer. You can make reservations at Reserve America.
Gilmore, Snowberry, and Waldron are all RV-friendly campsites with parking pads that range from 18- 60 feet in length. All have water and electric hookups, with many offering sewer hookups. All sites have a picnic table and campfire grill. Gilmore and Waldron offer companion-style sites, making it an excellent choice for group travel.
Whitetail Campground is for tent camping and comprises 61 non-hookup campsites. The parking pads range from 14-28 feet in length, and each site has a picnic table and a campfire ring. Restrooms and showers are available.
If you like to research and find out the BEST camping site and campground (I’m that person!) I have to say the campgrounds are pretty comparable. We have only camped at Gilmore Campground and have loved our time there. No matter which campground you’re at, you’ll need to get on your bike or drive in your car to access most activities.
THINGS TO DO AT FARRAGUT STATE PARK
Lake Pend Oreille
Take in the beauty of Lake Pend Oreille by boat, SUP, or kayak. Lake Pend Oreille is Idaho’s biggest and deepest lake, and while we’ve explored many different areas of the lake, there’s something spectacular about the southern tip.
In the summertime, when the weather is sublime, the lake sometimes looks like it’s straight out of the Caribbean. You can launch your boat or kayak at the Farragut public boat launch, and if you’re bringing your own SUP, you can hike the Beaver Bay Shoreline trail for several different access points or drive to Beaver Bay Beach.
Boat and Kayak rentals can be found at Bayview, the town right next to Farragut. SUP rentals can be found at Beaver Bay Beach.
Beaver Bay Beach
Spend a day lazing in the sand or dipping into the cool waters of Beaver Bay Beach. A hotspot for kids and families, this shallow roped-off swimming is often filled with visitors lazing around on tubes and sipping a cold one. Hard-bottomed boats such as canoes and kayaks are prohibited at Beaver Bay Beach.
You can get to Beaver Bay Beach by walking the Beaver Bay Shoreline Trail from the nearby Whitetail Campground or by road from the Gilmore Campground. The beach area has a parking lot with restroom facilities.
Farragut State Park’s Buttonhook Bay is a quiet, secluded place at the southwest corner of Lake Pend Oreille. It’s a short walk from Beaver Bay Beach, a popular swimming and fishing spot. The water is cooler, so unless it’s the height of summer, most people are only dipping their toes or skipping rocks with their kids. We loved it there and enjoyed the simplicity of the spot.
There’s also a lovely short hike that, as far as we know, has no proper name. Over a rickety bridge is a moderate-sized hill ( I guess it’s an island?) with a trail that circles the mound. It gives you lovely views of Buttonhook Bay and Lake Pend Oreille, with a few spots to sit out and enjoy the view. It has a short but steep incline that might be hard for people with limited mobility.
You can get to Buttonhook Bay by walking a short trail from Beaver Bay Beach, from Whitetail Campground, or the Beaver Bay Shoreline trail.
Beaver Bay Shoreline Trail
The quintessential trail for anyone visiting Farragut is the Beaver Bay Shoreline Trail. This easy and flat trail connects Whitetail Campground with Beaver Bay Beach. It’s four-miles round trip and is comprised of a wider upper section that is treed in and allows peep-through views of the lake. The lower trail is thin and narrow and runs right along the water offering beautiful viewing points of the lake. I think the lower trail is superior and offers many different spots to stop and sit on the rocks or take a swim. A great walk for families.
If you want a more challenging trail than the serene Beaver Bay Trail, the High Point Trail is a 3-mile loop trail that takes you away from the shoreline of Lake Pend Oreille and up a rocky ridge to give you great views of the area and Lake Pend Oreille. Though it’s a shorter hike with a 530-foot elevation gain, it does require scrambling and navigating through scree, making it a more moderate hike. Families with older kids can handle the hike, but if it feels like too much, you can always turn around and find another hike.
For anyone who wants more of a challenge, you can opt not to circle back but continue on another 6 miles on the Scout Trail to Bernard Peak Trail. If you’re lucky, you might spot mountain goats at the top of Bernard Peak.
Squirrel Cache Loop Trail
The Squirrel Cache Trail is an easy short trail perfect for families or anyone who wants a peaceful walk through the woods with informative plaques along the way. The 1.2-mile loop trail doesn’t offer views of the water, so it’s a nice change if you’re looking for different scenery.
You could also opt for the Extended Squirrel Cache Loop Trail, a 2.2-mile loop trail that takes you out to the water along Buttonhook Bay—a fun way to get forest and lakeside hiking.
Museum At The Brig
Explore the history of this park by visiting The Museum At The Brig. The museum tells the history of the Farragut Naval Training Station and Idaho’s role in World War II. From 1942 to 1946, Farragut served as a temporary home to almost 300,000 naval recruits. The museum includes fantastic memorabilia, including two restored military vehicles. The base also served as a prisoner-of-war camp where 900 German prisoners were jailed and worked as maintenance workers. You can tour the jail cells and imagine what it must have been like for the young men who were prisoners and the young men and women who served in that era. The museum is a must-do for history buffs.
While museums can be boring for kids, our four-year-old had a delightful time touring the museum and looking at the old military outfits and regalia. They also offer a fun activity where kids look for certain things in the museum. If they turn in the paper and find everything, they can ring the bell in the museum.
Tree To Tree Aerial Adventure Course
Take to the trees and swing, zipline, climb, crawl, and jump through the fantastic aerial adventure course from Tree to Tree Adventure Park. The aerial park is AMAZING, and we highly recommend it for the young and young at heart. The course is a physical challenge, but it’s also designed to stimulate the mind making it a fun all-around adventure. At heights of 65 feet, it’s safe to say this is a course that adults will find just as fun as kids.
They offer two courses, one designed for kids six and up and a more challenging course for ages ten and up. From what I understand, the age requirements are loose, and it’s more about the child reaching specific height requirements. You can check out the height requirements on their website.
If you’ve never tried disc golf, Farragut is the place to learn! They offer five 18-hole disc golf courses for all levels, and they are completely FREE! As someone who has never tried disc golf, I was pleasantly surprised to see how fun it was. The courses are beautiful and fantastic ways to spend an afternoon playing with your family and friends in the trees. Since we visited with a young child, we went to Little Black Bear, a course for beginners and children. We liked it so much we did the course twice!
You can bring your own discs or buy some at the Farragut Gift Shop. The day we attended, the rangers were having a “teach you how to disc golf” course, so we were able to use their discs for free.
Ranger Led Tour
The park offers several Ranger-led activities throughout the year. There is a calendar that is routinely updated, but you can also check their Facebook for updated events. When we visit the park, we head to the visitors center, where they typically have a printout with activities listed for the week. We’ve seen programs like informative talks, guided hikes, and disc golf lessons.
Mountain Biking + Cruising
Biking through the park is a pleasant way to explore the state park. They don’t have any paved trails, so for families looking to bike with their kids; it’s mostly biking around the campgrounds and the quiet streets of the park.
For mountain bikers, there are a handful of trails ranging from easy to very difficult. Check out this site for recommendations on the best trails.
Day Use Area + Playground
Farragut has a lovely day-use area where you can picnic, run around, or play on their small playground set that has swings and a tiny rock climbing setup. With ample parking, bathrooms, and trees to climb on, most families visiting the park will start there. You can access the water there from the Willow Lakeview Loop Trail.
THINGS TO DO NEAR FARRAGUT STATE PARK
When you’re ready to explore beyond Farragut, the area has a wealth of activities for anyone looking to explore North Idaho. Here are some great things to do near Farragut State Park:
Silverwood Theme Park is 15 minutes away from Farragut State Park and is a must-do for roller coaster lovers and family travelers. It’s North Idaho’s biggest theme park, with more than 70 rides, four roller coasters, live shows, and a steam engine train. In the summer months, you can also visit the adjacent water park Boulder Beach Water Park. A fun, family-friendly waterpark that includes a lazy river, two wave pools, a kid’s splash area, and multiple water slides. We LOVE it there and make it a point to go every year.
Famous for its lake views and mountain vistas, Sandpoint is a boon for outdoorsy adventurers and creative artsy types. Located 30 minutes north, you could easily spend a day at City Beach admiring Lake Pend Oreille or stroll through downtown Sandpoint for its art galleries and locally-owned clothing shops. In the summer, Schweitzer Mountain has glorious hiking trails and adventure-ready mountain biking. See why this small charming enclave has been dubbed by USA Today as the most beautiful small town in America.
**Read our in-depth post on the best things to do in Sandpoint.
Coeur d’Alene, located on the sparkling waters of Lake Coeur d’Alene, is a bigger town than Sandpoint that offers stunning scenery and a vibrant downtown. Located 35 minutes south of Farragut, you could spend a day hiking Tubbs Hill, playing in McEuen Park, chartering a boat, or trying your luck at the CDA Casino Resort.
For more ideas on what to do in North Idaho, check out our article on fun adventures to have in North Idaho.
Farragut In Winter
While most visitors come to the park from late spring to early fall, Farragut is open all year and offers fun activities in the off-season. The most popular are snowshoeing and skiing.
Since North Idaho has a big long winter, you can typically enjoy the groomed trails at Farragut from December to March. Starting at the visitor center, there are five groomed ski trails that start from .5 miles to 6 miles.
For snowshoers, Thimbleberry Loop is a fun and simple 1.6-mile hike. For advanced snowshoers, the 3.7-mile Highpoint Trail is ungroomed with fantastic views of Lake Pend Oreille and the snow-capped mountains.
How Much Time Do You Need in Farragut State Park?
Farragut State Park is a place that can be explored in one day if you’re coming in for a day or a whole week if you’re looking to sit around and enjoy the quiet simplicity of nature. For us, three to four days of camping is enough for us to enjoy a hike, hang out at the lake, and do some extra excursions.
We hope you enjoyed our guide to Farragut State Park! Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below!
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