Woman in orange shirt stands at the trunk of a wide and tall old cedar tree. She touches it with one hand and looks up to he top of the tree.

A Walk Among Giants: A Guide To The Roosevelt Grove Of Ancient Cedars

Post Summary: A straightforward guide to visiting the Roosevelt Grove of Ancient Cedars.

Did you know that tucked into the far reaches of the Idaho Panhandle is an ancient old-growth cedar forest with trees that date back 800- 2000 years? These primordial giants are some of the oldest and tallest cedar trees in the Pacific Northwest, reaching up to 150 feet tall and spanning 12 feet wide.

On a recent visit to Priest Lake, we knew we had to make the drive and see these staggering trees for ourselves. Not only for the splendor of the cedars but also because there’s an amazing waterfall, Granite Falls!

Because of its difficult-to-reach status, Roosevelt Grove is a wonderful day trip for anyone looking for peaceful solitude with nature. While it’s a drive to get there, it’s an easy hike that means families of all ages can enjoy the sights.

In our guide to the Roosevelt Grove of Ancient Cedars, we’ll cover how to get there, what to do in the park, and helpful tips for your time there.

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A Brief History of the Roosevelt Grove

On April 15, 1943, The Roosevelt Grove was officially designated as a Scenic Area, a crucial step in preserving its unique ecological and historical value. This designation came after a devastating fire in 1926 ravaged the area, destroying nearly 75 percent of the original grove. This catastrophe left behind only two small remnants of the once vast forest. The Lower Grove now covers approximately 2 acres, and the Upper Grove spans about 20 acres.

It is estimated that the trees are around 800 years old, with a few ancient ones that are over 2000 years old!

The grove is named after Theodore Roosevelt as a tribute to his enduring legacy in environmental conservation.

Where is the Roosevelt Grove of Ancient Cedars?

The Roosevelt Grove of Ancient Cedars is in the Panhandle National Forest. It’s located northwest of Priest Lake, Idaho, and 14 miles from Nordman, Idaho. While the cedar grove is in eastern Washington, it is most easily accessed through Idaho.

Driving Distances:
Coeur D’Alene, ID 94 miles (2.12 hour drive)
Sandpoint, ID: 72. 2 miles (1.5 hour drive)
Priest Lake State Park: 44 miles (1.05 hour drive)
Newport, WA: 55.8 miles (1.14 hour drive)
Spokane, WA: 103 miles (2.19 hour drive)

How to get to the Roosevelt Grove of Ancient Cedars

We suggest using these written directions rather than relying on GPS. We used GPS to get us in the general direction, but once you’re on Road 302, GPS is unreliable and does not take you to the parking lot. Instead, rely on signs on the road pointing you to Roosevelt Grove.

Here are driving directions to the Roosevelt Grove of Ancient Cedars:

  • From Priest Rive, go north on Highway 57.
  • At the Dickensheet Junction at the southern end of Priest Lake, bear left to stay on Highway 57 to Nordman.
  • At Nordman, continue north on Road 302 (an extension of Highway 57) for 14 miles.
  • A sign on the left will direct you to the parking area for Granite Falls & Roosevelt Grove of Ancient Cedars.

The parking area is decently sized and can hold roughly 12 cars. The parking area has one vault toilet.

The Best Time to Visit the Roosevelt Grove of Ancient Cedars

Little boy stands against a massive cedar tree. His body takes up a tiny portion of the tree.

Generally, the best times to visit will be from late spring to early fall, roughly June to October. Northern Idaho has a prolonged winter and higher elevation; therefore, the area could be inaccessible, snowy, wet, and muddy with washed-out roads. It’s hard to know what each year will be like because some years it will be clear and open in May, and other years it will be snowy and hard to access.

I always advise checking out road conditions before you go. You can use this site to put in your route, and it will tell you about current conditions. It also includes photos of the road to give you a better idea. The last nine miles are a gravel road.

We visited in early June, and the roads were clear, and all the snow had vanished. The road had some decent-sized potholes, but our small sedan took it like a champ! Generally, a high-clearance vehicle is always best when traveling the more remote areas of Idaho.

Because we visited in June, the waterfall was at full blast. Late June is a great time to visit because there will be fewer people, and the waterfall will be at full blast from the snowmelt.

What to do at the Roosevelt Grove of Ancient Cedars

map of Roosevelt Grove of Ancient Cedars

When visiting the Roosevelt Grove, the main activity is exploring the Lower Grove of cedars and the trail (Granite Falls Trail #301) that takes you to Granite Falls and the Upper Grove of cedars. The area is also fantastic for nature photography. I’ll detail the three activities and the best order to explore them.

Walk to Granite Falls Waterfall

View of Granite Falls from the lower viewing area.

From the parking lot, you’ll walk toward the entrance road to the parking lot, where you’ll see the trailhead up a slight hill to the right. You’ll want to start by taking the short 365-foot path on the left that follows along the creek. This trail will take you to the viewing of the Lower Falls.

It’s an amazing waterfall, and if you’re viewing it in springtime, you will feel a mist from the rocky viewing point. The waterfall juts over a diagonal rock wall, making it a unique sideways waterfall.

READ NEXT: Top 10 Things To Do At Priest Lake, Idaho

Hike Granite Roosevelt Trail and Explore Upper Grove of Cedars

Waterfall as seen from a viewing platform on a cliff at Roosevelt Grove of Ancient Cedars.
View of Granite Falls from the upper platform.
woman stands between two towering cedar tress with a small two foot waterfall between the trees.

Walking back from the lower view of the Granite Falls waterfall, you’ll come to the trailhead for trail #301, named the Granite Roosevelt Trail. The lollipop hike takes you to the Upper Grove of cedars and the Upper Falls viewing platform. At the first divide in the trail, go left so you can see the views of the waterfall first. After a few switchbacks, you’ll get to a wooden viewing plank that juts out over the cliff wall. It felt a little sketchy to walk out on, but it seems to be holding up just fine. It has fantastic views of the waterfall.

The hike is lovely and mostly maintained, but a few fallen trees block the trail and require scrambling over. I’m pretty sure my son thought it was a fantastic addition to the trail! Depending on when you’re visiting, you can look out for huckleberries, mushrooms, and frogs.

Close up of small brown frog being held in the hands of a young boy.
Close up of long mushroom on the forest floor of Roosevelt Grove of Ancient Cedars.

From the upper view, continue until you reach the upper junction of the trail. If you take a left, you’ll hike half a mile to the Upper Grove. The Upper Grove is an undeveloped area, and you are permitted to leave the trail to explore the trees.

When you’re done at the Upper Grove, you’ll double back and return to the loop trail, taking the other side of the loop to return.

The trail is considered easy, with a small elevation gain of 450 feet. If you hike to the Upper Grove, the entire loop is roughly 2.5 miles. If you move at a leisurely pace and stop for photos, I’d estimate the entire loop to take an hour and a half.

Explore Lower Grove of Cedars

Woman touches the massive trunk of an ancient cedar tree.
Woman walking on hiking trail with ancient cedar trees.

Back at the trailhead, near the parking lot and vault toilet, is the Lower Grove of Cedars. It’s a small grove that’s enchanting and idyllic to walk around in. Our son loved hiding in the hollows of these gigantic trees. There are also picnic benches scattered around, so you can bring a lunch and enjoy the surroundings before you head back.

Camping and Lodging Near Roosevelt Grove of Ancient Cedars

Camping at Indian Creek Campground.

There are so many fun places to camp in Priest Lake that it’s impossible to list them all! We always camp at Priest Lake State Park at the Indian Creek Unit since it’s perfect for our vintage camper, but there are numerous other campsites that are quieter and closer to Roosevelt Grove.

Here’s a good resource to learn about the campgrounds on Priest Lake. The site also has a map of its locations so you can see if it is closer to Roosevelt Grove.

If you want to stay in a hotel, check out Elkins Resort and The Hills. Both are roughly 30-40 minutes from the Roosevelt Grove. It’s a nice place to stop for lunch or dinner, even if you don’t stay there.

Lastly, there are gorgeous rental homes all over the area. You can go cheap and simple or all-out lakefront luxury like this swoon-worthy cabin. If you want to be near the grove, look for rentals near Nordman, Idaho.

Tips For Visiting The Roosevelt Grove

Here are a few extra things before you head out on your day trip!

  • The mosquitos can be vicious depending on the time of the year. Wear bug spray!
  • There is one vault toilet at the trailhead.
  • Bring water, snacks, and food, and have a picnic at the Grove. There are a few picnic benches in the Lower Grove.
  • Don’t litter, and pack out ALL your trash. Leave the grove exactly as you found it.

We hope this article helps you to safely enjoy the Roosevelt Grove of Ancient Cedars. Happy adventures!

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