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  • Hiking across a bridge in the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge near Bonners Ferry, Idaho
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    Scenic Drives to Natural Gems in and around Bonners Ferry

  • Cruising in a rental pontoon boat with mountain and forest views on Idaho’s Priest Lake
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    Priest Lake: Pristine Waters and Ultimate Relaxation

  • Taking an e-bike tour on Schweitzer Mountain near Sandpoint, Idaho
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    Sandpoint: More Lakefront Fun and Small-Town Charm

  • Stand-up paddleboarding on Spirit Lake in Northern Idaho
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    Spirit Lake: Quaint Lake Town Boasting Big Fun

  • Rock climbing in Q’emiln Park in Post Falls, Idaho
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    Post Falls: Waterfalls, Rock Climbing and Craft Beer

  • ATV riding with Northwest Outdoor Rental Company near Harrison and St. Maries, Idaho
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    Harrison and St. Maries: Fast-paced Excitement on Wheels

  • Zip lining on the Silver Streak Zipline in the Silver Valley, Idaho
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    Mountain Adventures in The Silver Valley

A summertime chairlift ride at Silver Mountain Resort in Silver Valley, Idaho
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7 Adventure-Packed Days in Northern Idaho

By Kristin Trummer

  • Route distance:
    805 km
  • Suggested Time:
    1-2 weeks

Follow along on this unforgettable outdoor lover’s route across the wilds of Northern Idaho.

Pack in as much outdoor adventure as possible on this seven-day road trip filled with lush forests, winding rivers, pristine lakes and authentic Americana. With its rustic and unspoiled landscape, Northern Idaho is the perfect springboard for those who love to explore. Quaint mountain towns with charming accommodations and more trails than you could possibly trek make this once-in-a-lifetime trip one you’ll remember forever. Fly into Spokane International Airport, the nearest airport to Bonners Ferry, Idaho, and drive approximately two hours northeast by car to begin your trip.

01
Hiking across a bridge in the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge near Bonners Ferry, Idaho
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Scenic Drives to Natural Gems in and around Bonners Ferry

Begin your journey in lovely Bonners Ferry, located in the heart of the Kootenai Valley. The Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge is just a 15-minute drive away but feels a world apart. With more than 300 species of wildlife and numerous trails to explore, this 1,100-hectare wonderland is a nature lover’s paradise and the perfect place to meander the morning away. In the afternoon, travel approximately 40 kilometers into the Kootenai National Forest and hike the short, but impressive loop trail to Copper Creek Falls, where you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous woodland scenery and a nearly 70-meter-tall waterfall. Finish your first day driving a portion of the International Selkirk Loop, a 450-kilometer scenic drive through the Selkirk Mountains of Washington, Idaho and British Columbia, Canada. Enjoy an evening picnic and vista after vista of gorgeous mountain and river views before you settle for the night back in Bonners Ferry.

156 km
2 hours by car
02
Cruising in a rental pontoon boat with mountain and forest views on Idaho’s Priest Lake
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Priest Lake: Pristine Waters and Ultimate Relaxation

From Bonners Ferry, take a relaxing two-hour drive southwest through the idyllic countryside to sparkling Priest Lake. It’s been called Idaho’s “Crown Jewel,” for its stunning blue waters surrounded by lush forests, rolling hills and Selkirk Mountains. From pristine sandy beaches to kilometers of trails, Priest Lake is a hidden gem with a laid-back vibe and plenty of space to explore. One way to get acquainted is to rent a boat from one of several companies in the area. In the afternoon, enjoy a leisurely lunch at the lakefront Hill’s Resort. Savor delicious menu options including classics like nachos and chicken wings, plus more creative fare, while kicking back in a cozy spot and enjoying the water views indoors and out. The resort has plenty of activities year-round including kayak and canoe rentals, beach volleyball, pickleball and more, to round out your day before settling into a beautiful lakefront cabin for the evening.

85 km
1 hour by car
03
Taking an e-bike tour on Schweitzer Mountain near Sandpoint, Idaho
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Sandpoint: More Lakefront Fun and Small-Town Charm

Your next stop is just an hour away in Sandpoint, dubbed “The Most Beautiful Town in America” by USA Today. Here, you’ll find an authentic, small-town feel, a thriving arts community and booming culinary scene. Grab breakfast and plan to spend a tranquil morning on Lake Pend Oreille at City Beach. Laze by the crystalline waters with a book and watch the boats come in against the backdrop of the mountains. Or, get out on the lake yourself with a sightseeing cruise on the classically styled Shawnodese, departing multiple times daily from the beach docks. Next, head downtown to explore the many shops, cafes and galleries. You’ll find great grub and craft brews at MickDuff’s Brewing Company, an easy-going local favorite featuring an extensive beer list full of crowd pleasers. After lunch, head up to Schweitzer Mountain and bike the trails with a little help from an E-bike and tour guide. Allow two hours to explore the loop trail with its big lake and mountain views. For those who prefer four legs to two wheels, nearby Western Pleasure Guest Ranch offers outstanding horseback rides.

55 km
0.75 hour by car
04
Stand-up paddleboarding on Spirit Lake in Northern Idaho
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Spirit Lake: Quaint Lake Town Boasting Big Fun

On Day 4, get ready to rise and shine for another adventure. Pack a backpack and picnic for the 45-minute drive to Spirit Lake, which you can explore atop a stand-up paddleboard. Mornings are the perfect time to rent a board and take a calm paddle around the tree-lined lake before crowds arrive for the day. Leave yourself plenty of time to dock and enjoy your picnic on the pier or under a gazebo at Fireside Park. After lunch, wander adorable and historic downtown Spirit Lake. It feels like a throwback to a different era, reminiscent of Old West logging towns, complete with a saloon and buildings out of a movie set. Finish the day hiking or biking amid lush, green forests with peak-throughs of surrounding cerulean blue waters on the Empire Trails. Then, head back downtown for the evening, full of natural inspiration and wonder.

32 km
0.5 hour by car
05
Rock climbing in Q’emiln Park in Post Falls, Idaho
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Post Falls: Waterfalls, Rock Climbing and Craft Beer

Continue 30 minutes south today to Post Falls, a popular jumping off point for much of Northern Idaho’s outdoor adventure options. Learn more about this scenic town with a morning hike on the Old Wagon Trail loop around the Spokane River and Post Falls Community Forest. Nearby, spend more time outdoors in Q’emiln Park, featuring a swimming beach and more hiking trails to explore. Take a break from sightseeing to get vertical on a guided rock-climbing session. The park offers rock routes for all experience levels. After all that exertion, you’ll want to refuel. Have a late lunch or early dinner at the Republic Kitchen and Taphouse, a European-style Gasthaus with big-city pub vibes housed in a historic home. Finish the day sampling beers by sunset at Post Falls Brewing situated above the banks of the Spokane River. You’ll find it easy to kick back in this chill atmosphere featuring rotating food trucks and live music every Saturday.

69 km
1.5 hour by car
06
ATV riding with Northwest Outdoor Rental Company near Harrison and St. Maries, Idaho
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Harrison and St. Maries: Fast-paced Excitement on Wheels

After a 1.5-hour drive south, start your day with an adrenaline-pumping excursion in St. Maries. Go ATV riding with Northwest Outdoor Rental Company (NORC) for an unforgettable off-road experience along the St. Joe River to the charming mountain town of Avery. Along the way, you’ll discover historic waypoints and hidden waterfalls. If you’re searching for something more relaxed, try boating on the St. Joe River with ROW Adventures based in Coeur d’Alene, offering guided trips upstream. From St. Maries, make your way back north to Harrison to The Cycle Haus Bikes and Brews, where you can rent a bike to explore the town and the world-renowned Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes. This unique rail-trail network consists of more than 117 kilometers of smooth asphalt trails tracing the former Union Pacific Railroad. Highlights include the swing-span Chatcolet Bridge featuring scenic vistas of Lake Coeur d’Alene below. Back in Harrison, get some rest for your last day on the road, which will take you deeper into mountain wilderness.

103 km