It is no secret that North Idaho is one of the most beautiful places in the country. With beautiful mountain ranges and tranquil lakes, we are surrounded by numerous opportunities to enjoy all that nature has to offer.One of the best ways to take it all in is to take a weekend or day drive on one of the many Scenic Byways that we have in the area. Here is a list of where you can find them and their routes.
The Lake Coeur d’Alene Scenic Byway travels an area where the lakes, mountains and beautiful summer weather have made it one of the most famous summer playgrounds and resort destinations in the Pacific Northwest. It’s also home to a variety of wildlife including moose, deer, elk, bear and several bird species, still roaming the pristine forests of northern Idaho.
The Panhandle Historic Rivers Passage, part of the International Selkirk Loop, begins at the Washington state line and follows the northern shore of the Pend Oreille River through Oldtown and Priest River, ending in Sandpoint. This byway is the southern leg of the International Selkirk Loop, which extends into Washington on the west and heads into British Columbia on the Wild Horse Trail Scenic Byway from Sandpoint on the east.
The Pend Oreille Scenic Byway offers travelers some of Idaho’s most spectacular water views. Beginning at the intersection with U.S. 95, Idaho 200 meanders east to the Montana state line across farmlands, through river deltas, and along the rocky northern shores of Lake Pend Oreille, all sculpted by the massive force of glaciers and the floodwaters of Glacial Lake Missoula. Pullouts along the byway allow visitors to stop and enjoy breathtaking vistas of mountainous horizons framing miles of open water.
St. Joe River Scenic Byway begins in the town of St. Maries where tugboats still ply the water. Heading east you travel along the shadowy St. Joe River so named for the towering cottonwoods that adorn the shorelines. Among these trees are bald eagles and osprey, which use the trees as nesting sites and perches where they launch themselves to pick up dinner from the feast provided by “The Joe.” As you travel the first half of the byway, the river is deep and still with picturesque mountain landscapes that are captured on the watery canvas.
The White Pine Scenic Byway begins on Idaho 3 at Interstate 90 near Cataldo, home to Old Mission of the Sacred Heart. Built in the mid-1800s, the mission itself is the oldest building still standing in Idaho; travelers can also visit the nearby Parish House and two historic cemeteries on the grounds, and enjoy the visitor center, walking trails, and picnic areas.
The Wild Horse Trail Scenic Byway, part of the International Selkirk Loop, starts on the northwestern shores of Lake Pend Oreille in the resort community of Sandpoint. Heading north along the eastern side of the Selkirk Mountains, the roadway follows the Kootenai Tribe’s historic path to fishing grounds at Lake Pend Oreille. In 1808 the first white explorer, David Thompson, also utilized this trail. The Wild Horse Trail became more than a path in 1863 when gold was discovered in Wild Horse Creek, 120 miles to the north of Bonners Ferry in British Columbia. There was a large movement of men and pack animals along the Wild Horse Trail until the gold rush ceased circa 1880. Upon arrival of the Northern Pacific railroad to this region, David Thompson’s old route became a main freight line for the railroad.
Plan a day or a weekend and enjoy the beauty of North Idaho!