Post Summary: 25 of the best things to do in North Idaho for every kind of traveler.
The Idaho Panhandle is bursting at its forest-lined seams with adventurous and outdoorsy things to do. Reclusive and untouched, it’s one of the last places in the US that still feels uncharted and wild. We’re lucky to call Idaho our home, and after exploring its fertile landscape, we want to show you 25 breathtaking, unique, and fun things to do in North Idaho.
Our list of what to do in North Idaho represents a cross-section of activities that will satisfy different kinds of travelers. Whether you want to hike the Cabinet Mountains, fish the abundant rivers, or swim in crystal clear lakes, North Idaho attractions will not disappoint. That being said, North Idaho is for someone who craves fresh air, ample nature, and fewer crowds.
Residents of Northern Idaho refer to their home as North Idaho. While, technically, Northern Idaho is the grammatically correct choice, it’s not how locals say it. If you want to feel like a local, you’ll want to refer to it as North Idaho.
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INTRODUCTION TO NORTH IDAHO
Before we jump into things to do in Northern Idaho, let’s dive into some good things to know about the region.
Main North Idaho Cities: Coeur d’Alene, Lewiston, Moscow, Post Falls, Hayden, Sandpoint, Priest River, Bonners Ferry
North Idaho Population: 355,638
Time Zone: Pacific (GMT-7)
How To Get To North Idaho
The biggest airport for arriving into the North Idaho region is the Spokane Airport (GEG), located in Spokane, Washington. It’s 20 miles from the border of Idaho and about a 40-minute drive from Coeur D’Alene.
If you don’t have a car, you’ll need to rent a car to get around. Car rentals can be found at the Spokane airport or in Coeur d’Alene.
Leave No Trace
Since many of the things to see in Northern Idaho center around outdoor activities, we invite you to be good stewards of the land by practicing the tenets of Leave No Trace. The leave no trace movement is rooted in backcountry exploration, but the basic principles of respecting wildlife and proper disposal of your trash applies to everyone. We want to leave Idaho beautiful so everyone can enjoy its incredible landscape.
25 FUN AND UNIQUE THINGS TO DO IN NORTH IDAHO
THE INTERNATIONAL SELKIRK LOOP
Anyone who wants an overview of why North Idaho is the true gem of Idaho needs to hit the road on the International Selkirk Loop, a 280-mile scenic drive that winds you through Idaho, Canada and Washington. Considered one of the best scenic drives in the Northern Rockies, the loop includes towering snow-capped mountains, crystal clear lakes, charming small towns, and numerous side trips that will delight any outdoors lover. If you want to do the entire drive, it’s recommended that you take 3-7 days to make the loop.
READ NEXT: 8 Epic Cross Country Road Trips In The USA
FARRAGUT STATE PARK
Farragut State Park is a gem in North Idaho and is touted as the best state park in Idaho. Located on the southern tip of Lake Pend Oreille, what was once a World War II-era naval training station is now 4000 acres of land to hike, bike, fish, kayak, swim, camp, and explore. In addition, they have an aerial adventure course from Tree To Tree Adventure Park that features zip lines, Tarzan swings, and ladders. You can also check out the 18 hole disc golf course for all skill levels. It’s a fantastic state park and highly recommended. The views of the water are incredible!
ROUTE OF THE HIAWATHA
The route of the Hiawatha is one of the top Northern Idaho attractions. The 15 mile Hiawatha bike trail near Wallace, Idaho might seem like it’s best left to serious bikers, but in actuality, it’s one of the most tourist-friendly things to do in North Idaho. For one, you can easily rent bikes from Lookout Pass or e-bikes from Smokehouse E-Bike Rentals. Secondly, it’s all downhill!! That’s right, the 15-mile bike ride takes you on a downhill journey through the scenic Bitterroot Mountains and includes biking through pitch dark train tunnels and sky-high trestles. You’ll want to be sure to have headlamps and warm clothing that you don’t mind getting a little muddy. The best part…if you don’t want to go back uphill, there’s a shuttle that will take you and your bike back to the top. It’s a fantastic choice for adventurous travelers and families. The trail is typically open from May to September.
Wallace is the gateway town to the Hiawatha Trail and a must-do if you like small, quirky towns that claim to be “the center of the universe.” That’s right; there’s a plaque in the middle of town that makes the bold claim that Wallace, Idaho, is indeed the center of the universe. Grab a selfie by the manhole cover and then grab a craft beer at the Wallace Brewing Company. Since Wallace, Idaho is famous for being the world’s largest silver producer in the world; there are a handful of interesting activities that educate and celebrate its mining history. You can visit the Mining Museum or go on a mine tour to see a true silver mine.
IDAHO CENTENNIAL TRAIL
Another fantastic biking trail is the 1,311 mile Centennial Trail that starts in Washington, crosses the state line, and meanders down to Southern Idaho. The North Idaho Centennial Trail is 23 miles and is a multi-use trail for pedestrians and non-motorized vehicles. With views of the Spokane River and Lake Coeur d’Alene, it’s a great way to take in the lush scenery North Idaho is famous for. If you need bikes, you can rent from the Coeur d’Alene Bike Company.
SILVERWOOD THEME PARK
Located in Athol, Idaho, in-between Coeur d’Alene and Sandpoint, is North Idaho’s biggest and best theme park, Silverwood Theme Park. With more than 70 rides, four roller coasters, live shows, and a steam engine train, families and the young at heart will enjoy letting loose in an old-fashioned theme park. 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 kids splash area, and multiple water slides.
ROOSEVELT GROVE OF ANCIENT CEDARS
North of Nordman, Idaho, is the Roosevelt Grove of Ancient Cedars, a magical grove of giant cedar trees. While the age of the cedars is unknown, it is estimated that the average tree is 800 years old, with a few trees ranging in age from 2000-3000 years old. With the cedar trees reaching heights of 150 feet and spanning 12 feet wide, these impressive trees are for anyone who wants to revel in the beauty of an ancient forest. There are a few different walking trails to choose from, including an easy, family-friendly hike that takes you to various viewings of Granite Falls waterfall. You can get directions to the trailhead here. While technically located in Washington, the grove is accessed in Idaho.
When trying to decide which Northern Idaho lake town to visit, high on the list needs to be Priest Lake. Crystal clear water and abundant outdoor activities make visiting Priest Lake a perfect spot for outdoor lovers and families. Of the three lake towns in North Idaho, Priest Lake is the least developed making it ideal for camping. Many choose to camp in Priest Lake State Park or various campgrounds that surround the lake. Priest Lake can be enjoyed year round with ample activities like fishing, hunting, cross country skiing, kayaking, boating, and hiking.
SLIDE DOWN A NATURAL ROCK SLIDE
Located in Priest Lake State Park, near the Lionshead Campground, is a 100-foot granite waterslide that shoots you down into a small pool of water. This is a fun, family-friendly activity, but there are a few key things to know before you go. At the entrance to the Lionshead campground, you’ll take the road opposite it for five miles up a gravel road. The road is quite bumpy and is best left to a high clearance vehicle. Once you get to the small parking area (a shoulder pull-out area), you’ll take an easy 1.5-mile trail to the slide. The slide is safe IF you follow these basic rules. First, STAY TO THE RIGHT when going down the slide. On the left are exposed roots, and we personally witnessed a young man break his arm. Second, have a catch person at the bottom of the slide. There is a rope at the end, but a person is an even better safety method, especially for young kids. Third, bring a foam pad with a trash bag so you can have a smooth ride.
This is such a fun summertime activity, but it does require being smart! Due to its remote nature, they have had to airlift people who have seriously injured themselves. Be smart, don’t go down the slide headfirst, and keep the area clean so everyone can enjoy it!
You can see video of the slide on our Instagram Reel. Give us a follow while you are there!
WESTERN PLEASURE GUEST RANCH
Tucked into the farmlands of Sandpoint, Idaho is one of the best dude ranches in the country. Whether you want a summer getaway or a winter retreat, Western Pleasure Guest Ranch offers a wide variety of events and experiences. While many choose to do an extended all-inclusive stay at the ranch, you can also do day-only events like horseback riding, nordic skiing, and photography workshops. If visiting in the winter, booking a 2-mile horse-drawn sleigh ride with hot cocoa at the end is a treat you’ll never forget.
HIKE SCOTCHMAN PEAK
Scotchman Peak is a must-do for outdoorsy adventurers looking to check off items on their hiking North Idaho bucket list. Famous for the herd of mountain goats that live at the top, this intense hike is an 8.7 mile out and back hike with a 3,364-foot elevation gain. Bring plenty of water and layers for the cooler temperatures at the top. It’s a popular trail, so getting to the trail early is recommended if you’re looking for solitude. Also, to keep the trail open for everyone to enjoy, it’s advised to never feed the mountain goats and maintain 100 feet of distance from them.
VISIT AN ALPACA RANCH
Outside of Coeur d’Alene is Seven Stars Alpaca Ranch a family-run alpaca ranch that welcomes visitors to meet with their alpacas, goats, and mini horses. They offer a daily guided tour that includes insight into what they do and plenty of interaction with the animals. It’s a great option for animal lovers and families.
ZIPLINE OVER THE TREES
Thrill-seekers looking for things to do in North Idaho will want to book an experience at Timberline Adventures in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho. With seven zip lines, two sky bridges, and heights of 400 feet, you’ll be sure to feel your cortisol levels spike. You can choose from four different tours, including a S’mores tour and a treehouse lunch adventure.
Located near Bonners Ferry are two stunning waterfalls. Falling nearly 225 feet, Copper Falls Waterfall is located in the Kootenai National Forest and is a leisurely 1.4-mile loop trail. Myrtle Falls Trail is a .9 mile out and back hike with a beautiful observation point to see the falls. While you’re there, you can explore the small town of Bonners Ferry or do another hike in the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge. The leisurely ease of the two trails makes it an excellent choice for anyone looking for things to do in North Idaho with kids.
WHITE WATER RAFTING
Come spring, when the ice melts and the water starts gushing, white water enthusiasts in Idaho flock to the riverways to experience some of the best white water rafting in the country. Northern Idaho offers a great variety, whether you’re a beginner or a serial adrenaline seeker. ROW Adventure Center located in Coeur d’Alene, is a premier adventure company that can take you out for the day and assure your safety. The St. Joe River near CDA is an excellent choice for beginners who want light thrills for their first time, The Moyie River near Sandpoint is lush and remote with playful waves, and the Lochsa River is ideal for experienced rafters who are looking for big thrills.
HIT THE SLOPES
Northern Idaho’s lush mountains make for incredible skiing come wintertime. From tubing, downhill skiing to nordic skiing, the ski resorts of North Idaho offer a variety of fun winter recreation. North Idaho has three fantastic ski resorts that each have their own appeal. Schweitzer in Sandpoint is the biggest ski hill in Idaho, with over 2900 acres of skiable land. The views from Schweitzer are out of this world beautiful. Silver Mountain Resort in Kellogg is great for seasoned skiers and families looking for a resort with fun things to do with kids. Kids will love the indoor waterpark. Lookout Pass, located near Wallace, is famous for getting the most snowfall of any ski resort in Idaho. While not well known, it’s a fantastic spot for intermediate skiers who just want to ski and don’t need a lot of amenities.
VISIT COEUR D’ALENE
Coeur D’Alene (pronounced core-da-lane) is located on the sparkling waters of Lake Coeur D’Alene. A vibrant downtown, stunning scenery, and luxury amenities make this city on a lake a powerhouse of activities for the outdoorsy traveler who also craves creature comforts. Its close location to Spokane Airport makes it an excellent choice for anyone wanting a central location to explore Northern Idaho. You could spend a day hiking Tubbs Hill, playing in McEuen Park, chartering a boat, or trying your luck at the CDA Casino Resort. There’s a wealth of fun activities in this elegant small-town city.
Tubbs Hill in Coeur D’Alene is a 120-acre park with various hiking trails that lead to stunning views of Lake Coeur d’Alene. Hiking trails vary from easy to moderately difficult, so there’s something in the park for every visitor. If you’re visiting the park in summer, you’ll want to bring your bathing suit so you can try your hand at jumping off rocks or wading in the water in the pebble beach areas.
CAMP AT A FIRE LOOKOUT TOWER
Camping in a fire lookout has started to gain popularity in Idaho, with the Forest Service offering a handful of reclusive lookouts. With Northern Idaho’s dense forests, most of the lookouts can be found in the Idaho panhandle. While Instagram can make it seem like a dreamy getaway, the reality is most of the lookouts require a hike to access the lookout as well as carrying in all of your supplies, including bedding, food, water, cleaning supplies, and more. If you’re up for the work and preparation, it’s a truly unique experience that promises solitude and stunning views. You can read this article to find ten amazing lookouts in Idaho.
SMALL TOWN CHARM IN SANDPOINT
Famous for its lake views and mountain vistas, Sandpoint, Idaho, is a boon for outdoorsy adventurers and creative artsy types. You could spend a day at City Beach admiring Lake Pend Oreille and then stroll through downtown for its art galleries and locally-owned clothing shops. Or you could easily spend a week skiing or hiking Schweitzer Mountain and diving deeper into what has been dubbed by USA Today as the most beautiful small town in America.
READ NEXT: 25 Amazing Things To Do in Sandpoint, Idaho
CANOE, KAYAK, OR SUP
Northern Idaho is gushing with sparkling waterways that are the perfect summertime activity. Whether you want to kayak, canoe, or try stand-up paddleboarding, you’re guaranteed to find a waterway not far from where you are. Fun options include a remote, quiet kayaking expedition on the Clark Fork Delta, canoeing from Priest Lake to Upper Priest Lake, or stand-up paddleboarding on Lake Pend Oreille. Rentals can easily be found in Coeur D’Alene, Sandpoint, and some state parks.
Huckleberries are the state fruit of Idaho and a beloved summertime activity. If you’re in North Idaho in the summer months of July and August, you’ll want to try your hand at foraging for wild huckleberries. Locals and visitors to the area love scouring hiking trails and mountain slopes to find a patch bursting with sweet-tart berries. If searching for your own huckleberry patch isn’t your idea of fun, you can do a huckleberry shuttle or an e-Bike tour through Schweitzer Resort in Sandpoint, Idaho. They’ll take you right to the huckleberry patches so you can get straight to picking.
If you don’t feel like picking it yourself, almost every restaurant, bar, or winery is going to have something featuring the beloved huckleberry.
STAY IN A LAKESIDE TREEHOUSE
Fulfill your childhood fantasies of having your own treehouse by staying at a three-story treehouse overlooking Lake Pend Oreille. This stunning property in Sandpoint, Idaho, has its own dock and is a short drive to downtown Sandpoint. The treehouse is best suited for couples looking for a whimsical, romantic getaway. This popular Airbnb is often booked out for months in advance, so if you see an open spot, grab it while you can.
CRAFT BEER TOUR
Idaho is the #1 barley grower in the US and the #2 producer of hops, with a few varieties of hops being grown in the fertile soil of Northern Idaho. If you’re a lover of well-crafted unique beer, some time spent exploring the breweries of Northern Idaho is a must-do. Laughing Dog Brewing in Ponderay, Idaho, is famous for its Huckleberry Cream Ale, and Selkirk Abbey Brewing Company is lauded for its tasty Belgian beers. There are countless breweries, so whether you’re in Moscow, Bonners Ferry, CDA, or Wallace, you’ll be sure to find a brewery whipping up the best in Idaho craft beer.
READ NEXT: WHERE TO FIND THE BEST BEER IN BOISE, IDAHO
That’s our round-up of 25 adventurous and fun things to do in North Idaho. Here’s to creating an epic northern Idaho itinerary! Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below.
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