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Sandpoint - Idaho

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Sandpoint - Between the Lakes

Idaho's panhandle -- north of Coeur d'Alene -- is a vacation area which can only be described with superlatives. The two major lakes which define the area are Lake Pend Oreille and Priest Lake. The resort town of Sandpoint lies at the north end of Lake Pend Oreille, with the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness to the east and the Selkirk foothills coming down from the north -- over the Canadian border. The two lakes are joined by the Priest River.

What to See and Do

Sandpoint is a city which takes its visitors seriously. For instance, the Cedar Street Bridge is a unique shopping galleria which spans a 350 foot creek. Included is the Vintage Wheel Museum, with has a large collection of antique vehicles.

The cultural highlight of the summer season in the area is the Festival at Sandpoint, founded by composer and conductor Gunther Schuller in 1983 and now an early August festival which features symphony, pop rock and everything in between. The festival is part of a musical training center which mixes young musicians and the greats of classical and jazz music.

Schweitzer Mountain Resort is a year round resort complex, just north of Sandpoint. It's the area's ski hill in winter months, and a Selkirk Mountains lodge in the summer, offering stunning views from the top of the chair lift. Some of the summer festival events are held here. Ten miles south of Sandpoint, Round Lake State Park features campsites in a mixed forest of red cedar, ponderosa pine, Douglas fir and larch. Sandpoint has a full range of accommodations including cozy resorts, motels, bed and breakfasts, and RV parks.

North of Sandpoint, in Boundary County, is the logging town of Bonners Ferry. A bridge hanging 450 feet over the Moyie River has replaced the ferry. This is also a resort town although the notable lodges are a few miles out of town (and as far away as Moyie Springs where the Moyie & Kootenai rivers meet). The home of the Lower Kootenai Indian band, the area was settled by whites when gold was found across the British Columbia border and Edwin Bonner established the ferry to aid gold prospectors and tradesmen flocking to the gold region. Steamer service was inaugurated on the Kootenai in 1883. The town, like Sandpoint, is a summer and fall destination for anglers, hunters and hikers.

The Priest Lake recreation region lies west of Bonners Ferry. Priest River is the small town at the southern foot of the river of the same name. The centerpiece of the area is Priest Lake State Park, containing kokanee salmon, and mackinaw, with sandy beaches and campsiles in the forests of giant cedar. In winter, the area is open to snowmobiles and there are cross-country ski trails in the Kaniksu National Forest. The major north/south road is Highway 95.

Hotels

Here a few places stay and camp outside of Sandpoint, in the midst of Idaho's impressive natural beauty.

Bighorn Lodge
710 Bull River Road, Bull River, Montana
(406) 847-5597
If you wish to drive an hour past Sandpoint, into Montana, you'll find this scenic location and a country inn featuring trail rides, canoe river floating, fishing and eight hiking trails in the Cabinet Mountains.

Green Gables Lodge - at Schweitzer Mtn.
(208) 265-0257 or 800-831-8810
The lodge is slopeside during the ski season, and a fine place to stay in the other months, when the resort offers hiking and other activities. The lodge has suites, standard rooms, and rooms with kitchenettes. Condominium units are also available through the same reservation number.

Red Fir Resort
(208) 264-5287
Located 20 miles east of Sandpoint on Ellisport Bay, this resort features cottages that sleep from 4 to 10 people. Each cabin has it's own boat slip, private deck and barbeque. There is a swim dock, and sitting areas along the waterfront. Nearby you will find full service marinas, restaurants and a golf course. Drive 20 miles east of Sandpoint on Hwy. 200 and turn right on Peninsula Rd. and drive 2 miles to Red Fir Resort. The Red Fir Resort is on a wild game preserve.

River Birch Farm
(208) 263-3705 or 800-700-3705
Located 13 miles west of Sandpoint on Highway 2, this outstanding bed and breakfast home is on the Pend Oreille River. It's open year round, with whirlpool and a "full" four course breakfast served to guests.

Schweitzer Mountain Condominiums
(208) 263-9555
A ski resort in the winter months as well as a summer mountain resort, this is an excellent place to stay with a scenic location. It's 30 minutes drive north of Sandpoint, off Highway 95.These accommodations are condo-style units. There are restaurants and pubs nearby. Write: P.O. Box 81 5, Sandpoint, ID 83864.

Camping and RV Parking

Idaho Country Resorts
(208) 264-5505 or 800-307-3050
This is a large RV resort, on Lake Pend Oreille, with 170 full hookup sites, tent sites, boat docks, laundry, boat rentals, gas, store and propane. There are also housekeeping cottages at the resort. 141 Idaho County Road, 3 miles west of Hope, Idaho, and 12 miles from Sandpoint.

Silverwood Theme Park - RV Park
(208) 683-3400
The RV park is located across the highway from the family theme park. Facilities include 127 sites with full hookups, store, laundry, hot showers, picnic tables, grills, and a recreation area.

Travel America Plaza
(208) 263-7511 or 263-6522
This is another large campground, with 82 sites, including full hookups, pull throughs, laundry, store and propane. Located six miles south of Sandpoint on the west side of Hwy. 95.


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