Welcome to Beautiful North Idaho - Your Free Guide
We are excited to welcome you to beautiful North Idaho. This is your personal Free Guide to our area. Here you will find some fun and unusual things to do and see, discover the best local dining, learn a bit of history and a few tips that will help you enjoy your new home.
History is abundant here. Clark Fork is named in honor of William Clark of the famous Lewis & Clark Expedition. William Clark and Meriweather Lewis headed the expedition to the west in 1804. It is thought that the Lewis & Clark party encountered present day Clark Fork river in October, 1805. Clark Fork sits on the banks of this historic river under the Cabinet Mountains. Still a picture of the American Old West. View some of the most breathtaking mountains in the North west.
The Clark Fork river empties into the beautiful Lake Pend Oreille. The Cabinet Gorge dam is just upstream and helps power our area. You will also find the Cabinet Gorge fish hatchery. The Clark Fork river is a major spawning tributary used by rainbow, cutthroat, mackinaw, the endangered bull trout, brown trout and a variety of perch & sunfish.
Clark Fork has everything for the nature lover--hiking, fishing, biking or hunting.
Things To Do!
Scotchman Peak is an excellent trail. It begins on a steep wooded hillside and takes you up, and up into breathtaking views of the Selkirks, the Cabinets and Lake Pend Oreille. Keep an eye out for the magnificent mountain goats and if you reach the very top, sign the visitor’s book! The distance is about six miles round trip & takes an average of 4 1/2 hours.
Our Area boasts four seasons. We have snow packed winters, gentle, green springs (although muddy during the break-up), pleasant summers, and radiant falls with the golden aspens and tammeraks.
Outdoor adventures include hiking, fishing, boating, kayaking, skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, backpacking, mountain biking, nature walking, wildlife watching, birding, and huckleberry picking. You will definitely want to spend a few days to fit in seeing all the sights.
If hiking is your thing, Scotchman Peak is just down the way. We have a link to Friends of Scotchman where you will find guided hiking dates or just go on your own. Make sure to bring your bottled water. You might even see some of our famous mountain goats.
Plenty of fishing opportunities are near by as well. Be sure to visit the Idaho Department of Fish and Game website for for specific wildlife policy and rules. idfg.idaho.gov. We are in the Panhandle Region. All waters are open all year, except as modified in the Panhandle Region Special Rule Waters. Near by fishing areas include Lightening Creek, Clark Fork River & tributaries, and Lake Pend Oreille. Fish in our region include: Bass, Brook Trout, Bull Trout, Burbot, Chinook Salmon, Kokanee, Sturgeon, Tiger Muskie, Trout (brown, cutthrout, golden, lake, rainbow, splake, hybrids & Arctic grayling), Whitefish. Tackle, bait and fishing licences can be obtained locally at the Cenex Fuel Station in Clark Fork. Tell Mark the Hutto’s sent you.
Fun on the water. If boating, sailing, water skiing or kayaking are your thing, Lake Pend Oreille and the Clark Fork River are just a 10 minute drive down the mountain. At 43 miles long, 6 miles wide and with 111 miles of shoreline, Lake Pend Oreille offers many great boat excursions. It is Idaho’s largest lake with over 90,000 surface acres and has depths up to 1,150 feet. It is the second largest fresh water lake west of the Mississippi. There are launch ramps available in Hope and marinas in East Hope and Hope. Here you can rent boats and aquatic toys. The lake also sports day cruises for afternoon scenic tours.
In North Idaho, your kayak or canoe is sure to spend more time in the water than on the roof of your car. One of the great pleasures of canoeing/kayaking the lakes and rivers is the opportunity to view the wildlife. Admire the feeding waterfowl, deer and moose that can be seen. Often, bald eagles can be spotted sitting majestically in a tree snag or flying over the lake.
The Clark Fork River Dams are another water feature worth visiting. The Cabinet Gorge dam and powerhouse are located on the Clark Fork River in northern Idaho, although much of the reservoir lies in Montana. To construct the concrete arch dam, 1,700 people worked around-the-clock in order to help solve the critical Northwest energy shortage of the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, completing it in just 21 months. The dam is 208 feet high. You will also find scenic views and excellent opportunities for bird watching.
Clark Fork Access Site (Avista Corp.)
This unique site is located one mile west of the Montana/Idaho border between the Cabinet Gorge Dam and Lake Pend Oreille. A day-use area, this recreation site offers a 1.5 mile hiking trail along the river and through an old growth forest. Other amenities include picnic tables, handicap accessible vault toilet, information signs, and a public launch for non-motorized crafts. Activities offered are hiking, fishing, boating, wildlife viewing, picnicking, snowshoeing, and Nordic Skiing. Swimming is not recommended because of the current.
Fish Hatcheries-- The Cabinet Gorge Fish Hatchery is just east of Clark Fork and hatches several million kokanee salmon eggs per year for release into Lake Pend Oreille. The Clark Fork Hatchery is on Spring Creak Rd. and produces rainbow and cutthroat trout. A team of fisheries biologists in the Noxon Natural Resources Office work year-round on bull trout passage projects, which focus on moving juvenile bull trout around our local dams so that they can properly migrate and spawn. State-of-the-art fisheries work includes habitat restoration, genetics and disease studies, and water quality improvement efforts.
For a more leisurely outdoor trip, why not plan a day to drive the Pend Oreille Scenic Byway? (Idaho 200) It follows the northeast shores of the lake meandering through Kootenai, Hope and Clark Fork. Part of the International Selkirk Loop, the Pend Oreille Scenic Byway offers travelers some of Idaho’s most spectacular water views. Pullouts along the byway allow visitors to stop and enjoy breathtaking vistas. It begins at US 95 north of Sandpoint and follows Idaho 200 through the charming community of Clark Fork to the Montana State Line. Allow 45 minutes to complete this part of the drive or 3 hours to drive the full Loop.
North Idaho is an enchantingly beautiful place. You may want to just drive some of the remote back country roads. But please be prepared. Here are some tips for driving off-the-beaten paths.
Make sure your vehicle is in good working order. 4 wheel drive is a good option some months of the year.
Drive with your headlights on.
Slow down and stay alert for wildlife. (There may not be any posted speed limits, but that does not mean you are on the Autobahn.)
Yield the right of way to downhill traffic
Stay to the right and drive each corner as if you'd expect to meet another vehicle.
Pull well off the road if you stop to pick berries or take a photo.
Do not leave a parked vehicle in front of a closed gate or other road that looks unused.
Swerving for animals can be dangerous.
Use lower gears when going downhill. Riding the brakes can result in no brakes.
Carry warm blankets or sleeping bags and enough food and water to last 2 days.
Bring a spare tire, a jack, chains (in winter), a shovel (in winter) and a flashlight.
Be aware that in the state of Idaho, an orange painted marker on a tree or post, is the same as a no trespassing sign.
The Ross Creek Giant Cedars is a less known site that you won’t want to miss. Libby, Montana is 68 miles from Clark Fork and will take you about an hour and 15 minutes to drive. Ross Creek Cedar is a grove of western red cedars, some of which are more than 8 feet in diameter. Visitors to northwest Montana often find the ancient forest rivaling the spectacular beauty of the giant sequoias of northern California. Some trees in the grove are more than 400 years old.
Another beautiful drive will take you to relaxing Hot Springs-- There are 340 geothermal hot-springs in the state of Idaho. More than any other state. Amusingly, the closest Hot Springs to us is actually in Montana. It is a beautiful drive and will take you about 2 hours to reach Symes Hot Springs. It is a resort and the day soak for an adult costs $7.00. The are open every day of the week and the average temp of the spring is 107 degrees. Going the other direction, you can spend an afternoon in B.C. Canada, a 2 hour and 30 min. drive from here. You will need your passport, but the drive is scenic and these springs are undeveloped and sits in the Whiteswan Lake Park. Imagine soaking in the middle of nowhere without any distractions.
If birding is your passion, the Hope Sub-loop is where you’ll want to visit. Sam Owen Park has a daily fee to access park. Denton Slough is off a gravel road to the drift yards, to the river and is free access. Johnson Creek has sportsman access and is free as well. These spots provide good viewing opportunities for Common Loon in Oct, as well as for many grebe species. Denton Slough is a Western Grebe nesting area (30+ nests) with courtship displays in June. Summer waterbirds also include Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Canada Goose, and Black Tern. Thousands of waterfowl (American Wigeon, Redhead, Lesser Scaup, Green-winged Teal, Mallard, Tundra Swan, Canada Goose) use Denton Slough during migration. At Johnson Creek, swallows, warblers, flycatchers, Eastern Kingbird, Bald Eagle, and Common Merganser can be seen in the spring and summer.
Huckleberries and the Huckleberry Festival-- The huckleberry, which grows wild in the high mountainous areas of the region, is a tasty purple fruit unlike any other. It is Idaho’s state fruit. Several huckleberry species are native to Idaho, all belonging to genus Vaccinium Myrtillus. It is a favorite of bears and Idahoans. We celebrate this purple berry at the annual Huckleberry Festival which is held on the the second full weekend in August Fri-Sun every year. It began and still continues to be a homemade craft festival with many events for families including a Huckleberry Festival Parade, Huckleberry Talent Show, Fun Run, Auction, Jam and Jelly Dessert Contests and over 100 vendors. Held in Trout Creek, Montana, just down 200 about 40 minutes away. (There are other festivals in Idaho, but this one is the closest)
If you enjoy skiing, North Idaho is a winter wonderland. Schweiter Mountain Ski resort is only about 35 miles away and is ranked among the largest resorts in North America. An adult full day ticket runs $73.00 and is good from 9:00 a.m. until close. Many of the locals will buy the Night Ticket for $15.00 per adult and can begin skiing at 3 p.m. until close. Schweiter boasts incredible bowls, chutes, groomed cruisers and some of the best tree skiing in America (over 1200 acres of trees!) Schweitzer claims to offers unmatched terrain and something for everyone. Check it out:
Clark Fork sports a fantastic deli and the town of Hope is close by. There are a few places to choose from to eat lunch or dinner. Sandpoint is about 25 miles west of Clark Fork and has many fine restaurants to choose from. We will list some below. (GF) signifies gluten-free options available
Clark Fork Pantry--204 4th Ave Clark Fork, ID (GF)
The Monarch Market--118 East 4th Ave Clark Fork, ID
Sweet Lou’s--46624 HWY 200 Hope, ID
The Floating Restaurant--47394 HWY 200 Hope, ID
Ivano’s Restorante--Beyond Hope, ID 208-264-5221 (GF)
Fiesta Bonita--700 Kootenai Cutoff Rd. Ponderay, ID
Trinity At City Beach-- 58 Bridge St. Sandpoint, ID
Joel’s Mexican Restaurant--229 Church St. Sandpoint, ID
Hydra Steakhouse--115 Lake St Sandpoint, ID
Winter Ridge Natural Foods--703 Lake St.Sandpoint, ID (GF)
Sandpoint Chocolate Bear--204 N. 1st. Ave.Sandpoint, ID (GF)
Kokanee Coffee-509 N. 5th Ave. Sandpoint, ID (GF)
Tango Cafe--414 Church St. Sandpoint, ID (GF)
Places You'll Want to Visit!
The Panida Theater: The Panida theater opened as a vaudeville and movie house in 1927. Then, as now, its name reflected its mission: to showcase great performers and performances for audiences of the PANhandle of IDAho. There are over 144 performances scheduled annually whether hosting local performers, recording stars such as Bonnie Raitt, Arlo Guthrie, Wynton Marsalis and Mitch Miller, or internationally renowned artists like Gunther Schuller, the Spokane Symphony, San Francisco Opera, the Cavini String Quartet or the Paris Chamber Ensemble. There truly is not a bad seat in the house that can hold 500. The Panida is on the National Register of Historic Places and has received special recognition from the governor of Idaho, and the Idaho Commission of the Arts. Located in downtown, Sandpoint.
Bonner County History Museum: The Museum is located near Lake Pend Oreille in beautiful Lakeview Park. The park has many amenities including picnic areas, a playground, tennis courts, and the Native Plant Society arboretum. Adjacent to Lakeview Park is Memorial Field which has a boat launch and is home to the Festival at Sandpoint every August. The exhibits date back to the early days of the Kalispel and Kootenai people, the fur trade, steamboat era, log drives and stump ranches. Visitors will learn how Sandpoint grew from a few shacks along the railroad to the resort town we know today, and the early beginnings of the small logging, mining, agriculture and railroad communities that dot the roadways in Bonner County. Open Tuesday through Friday 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. $4.00 – Adults. 1st Saturday of each month is free admission. Located in Sandpoint, ID.
The Bird Aviation Museum and Invention Center: “The Bird Aviation Museum and Invention Center strives to educate visitors about the historic contributions of aviators and innovators who have helped create modern technology, and celebrate these individuals who have forever changed the way we live. It only takes one person to change the world.” Open May 25 through October 2, 2015 Monday-Saturday, 8am to 4pm. Admission is free. Located in Sagle, ID. (Just outside of Sandpoint, over the long bridge.)
Boundary County Museum: New things to see every day because once today becomes yesterday it also becomes history. The Boundary County Museum is the anchor of the historic downtown business district retaining and exhibiting the heritage of Far North Idaho. Hours: October-April Fri & Sat 10-4 May-Sept Tues-Sat 10-4. $2 per visitor or $5 per family. Located in Bonner’s Ferry, ID. (about an hour & 1/2 drive from Clark Fork.)
The Priest River Museum and Timber Education Center: Homesteaders and Settlers started to settle in the Pend Oreille River valley in the 1880’s. Later many laborers came to the area in the early 1890’s with the laying of the Great Northern Railway Lines, many of whom were from southern Italy, butmany became more attached to the land. Harvesting the vast natural resource of timber began a period of growth and development. In the Museum are vignettes of yesteryear, historic exhibits, and videos of Priest Lake history that include interviews with local pioneers’ first-hand accounting of events. Unique books, stationery and souvenirs are for sale. Open- The museum is open from Memorial Day weekend through the end of September. Museum hours are 10 to 4 daily, Tuesday through Sunday from mid-June through Labor Day, and 10 to 4 on weekends in early June, and in September after Labor Day. The museum is closed Mondays, except holidays. (Priest River is about an hour & 1/2 drive from Clark Fork)
The Art Works Gallery features the work of regional artists –paintings in oil, watercolor, acrylic & pastel; calligraphy; cards; crystals; jewelry; sculptures in metal, clay, terracotta, paper mache; photography; glass - kiln worked, fused, blown, & stained; pottery; wearable art; woodwork; & more. Located in downtown Sandpoint.
Local Artists: I would like to introduce you to our very own local artist and neighbor, Teresa Fisher. “I’m drawing what I love, animals.” Teresa loves to paint close-up faces of the animals she loves so you can see their character. You can see her art at our local Farmers Market as well as different art shows, including the Huckleberry Festival. Teresa will also do custom portraits upon request!
Clark Fork has its own small antique shop off of HWY 200 at Annie’s Orchard. Annie’s Orchard Antiques carries a carefully selected, ever-changing mix of fine antiques, gifts and assorted unique items. A must stop for the antiques explorer in the North Idaho, Lake Pend Oreille region. Hours: 8am-5pm Monday-Saturday. Closed Sundays. Closed in the winter.
Fosters Crossing Antiques is located 504 Oak St, Sandpoint, ID. Open: Mon - Sat. from 10 - 5 and Sundays from 11 - 4. Featuring unique antiques, gifts and furniture, Foster’s Crossing is a local landmark. Don’t miss Cafe Bodega (located in Foster’s Crossing) for the fresh organic treats and coffee.
MarketPlace Antiques is located 502 Church St Sandpoint, ID. Open: Mom. - Fri. 10 -5:30. Sat. 10:30 - 5:30 & Sun. 11 - 4. 3,000 sq. ft. of merchandise, with over 20 dealers. Anything you might want as a collector, building or home restorer. Antique salvage, furniture, crockery, paintings, prints, garden stuff, you name it...you’ll find it here!
Sandpoint was built on the rich heritage of the railroad and timber industries. In the 1970s came an influx of artists and musicians, creating an ongoing legacy arts and cultural events. Today tourism, retail, service and entrepreneurial independent businesses all contribute to a downtown district that attracts visitors as well as residents for dining, shopping and community events. Sandpoint … a small town with big expectations!
The Cedar Street Bridge Public Market is thriving with its many boutique shops, local artisans, bistro & coffee shops.
Art: The Sandpoint Farmers Market features locally grown fresh produce, baked goods and handcrafted arts and crafts. Market Hours are Wednesdays 3-5:30pm and Saturdays 9am-1pm. Located at Farmin Park on Third Ave and Oak St. The last market day of the season will be October 10th.
Hope Farmers Market Community Center Highway 200 & Centennial Hope, ID 83864
OPEN-AIR/SEASONAL Friday, 3:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.
Idaho was acquired by the U.S. as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark explored the Oregon Country, which included parts of Idaho in 1805.
Idaho entered the Union on July 3, 1890. Our state motto is- Esto perpetua (It is forever).
Idaho is the leading producer of potatoes in the nation, growing approximately 27 billion each year.
Idaho has 80 mountain ranges, and at 5,000 feet above sea level, is the fifth highest state in the nation.
Idaho’s Nez Perce Indians first bred the Appaloosa horse primarily for use as a war animal.
Idaho produces 72 types of precious and semi-precious stones, some of which can be found nowhere else in the world.
One of the largest diamonds ever found in the United States, nearly 20 carats, was discovered near McCall, Idaho.
Butch Cassidy (George Leroy Parker) robbed the bank in Montpelier, Idaho, on August 13, 1896. He got away with $7,165.
Idaho's state flower and bird are the Syringa and Mountain Bluebird.
Idaho is the 13th largest state. Our state bird is the Mountain Bluebird. The state flower is the Syringa. The nickname for our state is the Gem State.
The Monarch Butterfly and the Peregrine Falcon are our state insect and raptor.
Famous Idahoans: Joe Albertson (grocery chain founder), Ezra Taft Benson (secty of agriculture), Gutzon Borglum (Mt. Rushmore sculptor), Ernest Hemingway (author), Chief Joseph (Nez Perce), Harmon Killebrew (baseball), Sacagawea (Shoshone guide), Henry Spalding (missionary), Picabo Street (skier). (info. taken from AwesomeAmerica.com)
SPOT stands for Selkirks-Pend Oreille Transit. SPOT is a not-for-profit collaborative venture between the cities of Dover, Sandpoint, Ponderay and Kootenai that provides reliable, efficient and FREE public bus service. Main route hours of operation 6:24 a.m. – 6:27 p.m., seven days a week. This may be a good way to explore Sandpoint. Unfortunately, the bus does not yet extend to Clark Fork.
This is your free guide to the Clark Fork area.
We hope you’ve enjoyed meandering through the pages and found the information and tips useful. We look forward to welcoming you to our beautiful state!
Please feel free to contact us if we can be of any assistance helping you find your forever home, a vacation home or a custom log cabin. Let's connect! Blessings, Eddie and Rosanne Hutto
(208) 304-0926 or