Sandpoint is located on the shore of Lake Pend Oreille, and is blessed with a true four season climate. Usually, there are only a few sub-zero days each winter while summer has equally few days on which the temperature rises above 90 degrees. The fall colors rival New England and the summers are perfect for getting out doors and enjoying all that this scenic area has to offer. Many people define Sandpoint as an artists town because of the high number of very talented people who call this home. Paintings, artwork, fine wood carvings, log furniture, antler chandeliers, makers, musicians, jewelry designers are just a few treats in store for you right here in Sandpoint.
New mls listings for Sandpoint can be found at
26-August 23 Painting With Watercolors. Sandpoint Parks and Recreation hosts the class Painting with Watercolors for all levels age 16 and above at Sandpoint Community Hall each Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The classes taught by Julie Hutslar, a professional watercolor artist, will cover specific methods, painting out-of-doors, using still life as subject matter and painting from 2D. All supplies are included. Class fee $64; city residents receive a $5 discount. Register by Monday, July 23 at 3 p.m. For more information call 208-263-3613.
26-August 7 Artists in Residence Workshop. The Outskirts Gallery in Hope presents the Artists in Residence Summer Workshop Series in the Hope Circle Classroom behind the Hope Market Café. Anjel Luna and Glenn Grishkoff lead the lecture and class “Ceramics and Raku: Exlpore the Figure” from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from July 26-29. Students return August 6-7 for glazing and special Raku firing from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day. Class fee $250, lab fee $75. Call to register; University of Idaho credit available. 208-264-5696
2-24 Artists in Residence Workshop. The Outskirts Gallery in Hope presents the Artists in Residence Summer Workshop Series in the Hope Circle Classroom behind the Hope Market Café. Anjel Luna and Glenn Grishkoff lead the lecture and class “Ceramics and Raku: Exlpore the Figure” from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from August 2-5. Students return August 23-24 for glazing and special Raku firing from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day. Class fee $250, lab fee $75. Call to register; University of Idaho credit available. 208-264-5696
4 Art Workshop. The Arts Alliance holds a one-day workshop on Stained Glass Beveled Sun Catcher led by instructor Sara McEvily at Skeleton Key Art Glass, 1223 Michigan St. Suite B, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Fee $55. Visit ArtsAlliance.info for more information or to register for a class. 208-255-5273
4 Salad Luncheon. Clark Fork Methodist Church hosts its annual salad luncheon in Fellowship Hall from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Event offers all-you-can-eat salad, homemade pie and beverages for $6. Bazaar and Rummage Room open at 9 a.m. 208-266-1234
6-10 Schweitzer Adventure Day Camp Session 5. Every week Schweitzer day camps offer a different adventure theme from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, for kids entering grades 1st to 5th. Cost per week $175, with $15 off for Season Pass holders; includes transportation from the bottom of the mountain to the village and back to the bottom each day, snacks and souvenirs. For this week’s theme “Eyes in the Sky” campers look to the skies to identify birds and planes, and fly kites. 208-263-9555
10-12 Dog Days Writing Workshops. Lost Horse Press proudly presents the Dog Days Poetry and Prose Writing Workshops featuring Melissa Kwasny (poetry) and EWU Professor Emeritus, John Keeble (fiction and nonfiction) at Lost Horse Press, 105 Lost Horse Lane. Workshop fee is $150. Classes are limited to 12 students and early registration is recommended. For additional information or to register, click here or visit Losthorsepress.org. 208-255-4410
11 Art Workshop. The Arts Alliance holds a one-day workshop on Stained Glass Night Lights led by instructor Sara McEvily at Skeleton Key Art Glass, 1223 Michigan St. Suite B, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Fee $45. Visit ArtsAlliance.info for more information or to register for a class. 208-255-5273
11 Art Workshop. The Arts Alliance holds a one-day workshop on Mosaic Stepping Stones led by instructor Lynn Guier at The Studio, 518 Oak St., from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fee $50 adults; $45 youth ages 10 and up. Visit ArtsAlliance.info for more information or to register for a class. 208-255-5273
13-17 Schweitzer Adventure Day Camp Session 6. Every week Schweitzer day camps offer a different adventure theme from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, for kids entering grades 1st to 5th. Cost per week $175, with $15 off for Season Pass holders; includes transportation from the bottom of the mountain to the village and back to the bottom each day, snacks and souvenirs. For this week’s theme “Wet ‘n Wild” campers will learn about how important water is (then learn how much fun water is). 208-263-9555
15 Art Workshop. The Arts Alliance holds a one-day workshop on Knotless Netting Necklaces led by instructor Eileen Marcotte at The Studio, 518 Oak St., from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visit ArtsAlliance.info for more information or to register for a class. 208-255-5273
20-24 Schweitzer Adventure Day Camp Session 7. Every week Schweitzer day camps offer a different adventure theme from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, for kids entering grades 1st to 5th. Cost per week $175, with $15 off for Season Pass holders; includes transportation from the bottom of the mountain to the village and back to the bottom each day, snacks and souvenirs. For this week’s theme “The Wacky World of Silly Sports” campers have water balloon volleyball, potato sack races, bubble gum contests, rally races and more. 208-263-9555
23 Monday Night Blues Jam. The Blues Jam, hosted by Truck Mills, has been an ongoing Sandpoint music tradition for more than 12 years. Weekly at Eichardt’s, 212 Cedar Street. Starts at 8 p.m., no cover charge. 208-263-4005
24 Trivia Tuesday. Test your knowledge and win prizes at MickDuff’s weekly trivia night from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., at 312 N. First Ave. Play solo or with a team. 208-255-4351
25 Open Mic Night. This weekly open mic for poets, songwriters, comics and performers of all kinds at Downtown Crossing starts around 9 p.m. 208-265-5080
26 Music Lab. Downtown Crossing, 206 N. First Ave., hosts this weekly open jam session for musicians starting at 8 p.m. All musical styles and instruments welcome. 208-265-5080
26 Open DeeJay Nite. Spin tunes at Synergy during Open DeeJay Nite every Thursday. Bring and play anything you please, beginning at 8 p.m. Any music mediums accepted. Live beat matching not required. Open to those 21 and older. No cover charge. 208-255-4412
26-27 Artist Coffee Talk. The Outskirts Gallery in Hope presents an Artist Coffee Talk at 10 a.m. each day with Anjel Luna and Glenn Grishkoff at the Hope Market Cafe. This event is free and open to the public. 208-264-5696
27 The Unknown Blueprint. The Panida Theater presents the documentary film “The Unknown Blueprint” about local automated design artist KC (formerly Laura Crawford) at 7:30 p.m. 208-263-9191
27 Cellar Music. David Lane Walsh performs live music from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Stage Right Cellars, 302 N. 1st Ave. No cover charge. 208-265-8116
27-29 Artists’ Studio Tour. Visit 40 artists and 28 locations in the 5th annual free, self-guided driving tour with special events planned for July 20-22 and July 27-29. Many studios open June 1-Sept. 4. Visit ArtTourDrive.org for more information. 208-597-6394
28 Crazy Days. Lots of deals in this giant sidewalk sale by downtown merchants, sponsored by Downtown Sandpoint Business Association. 208-255-1876
28 Cellar Music. Justin King performs live music from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Stage Right Cellars, 302 N. 1st Ave. No cover charge. 208-265-8116
29 Music on the Lawn. Schweitzer Mountain Resort hosts an afternoon of free music on the lawn from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Schweitzer Village. Latin fusion group Sol’Jibe performs. 208-263-9555
28 The Road to Diddily Squat. Center Stage of Spokane presents “The Road to Diddily Squat,” a premiere of the revised play at the Panida Theater in an 8 p.m. showing. 208-263-9191
28 Summer Sounds at Park Place. POAC hosts this free concert series at Park Place stage, corner of First and Cedar, from noon to 2 p.m. every Saturday through Labor Day Weekend. Backstreet Dixie performs at 10 a.m. and Carl Rey and the Blues Gators play at noon. See ArtinSandpoint.org for more information. 208-263-6139
29 Dover Community Picnic. Dover Community Hall hosts a potluck picnic starting at noon, followed by a 2 p.m. history presentation by Vern Eskridge. Sponsored by the Bonner County Historical Society. 208-263-2344
29 Sunday Concerts on the Lawn. The POAC hosts this free live concert series featuring regional musicians on the lawn in front of Edgewater Resort at City Beach from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. every Sunday. The Swing Street Big Band performs with Kristen Oliver. See ArtinSandpoint.org for more information. 208-263-6139
29 Jazz on a Sunday Afternoon. Di Luna’s Cafe hosts the band, A Touch of Jazz, every Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. 208-263-0846
30 Monday Night Blues Jam. The Blues Jam, hosted by Truck Mills, has been an ongoing Sandpoint music tradition for more than 12 years. Weekly at Eichardt’s, 212 Cedar Street. Starts at 8 p.m., no cover charge. 208-263-4005
31 Trivia Tuesday. Test your knowledge and win prizes at MickDuff’s weekly trivia night from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., at 312 N. First Ave. Play solo or with a team. 208-255-4351
25 Art Workshop. The Arts Alliance holds a one-day workshop on Stained Glass Spinning Hearts led by instructor Sara McEvily at Skeleton Key Art Glass, 1223 Michigan St. Suite B, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Cutting and soldering experience preferred; Fee $50. Visit ArtsAlliance.info for more information or to register for a class. 208-255-5273
25-26 Artists in Residence Workshop. The Outskirts Gallery in Hope presents the Artists in Residence Summer Workshop Series in the Hope Circle Classroom behind the Hope Market Café. Glenn Grishkoff leads the lecture and class “Handmade Brushes: Make Your Mark” from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day. Class fee $95, lab fee $30. Call to register; University of Idaho credit available. 208-264-5696
When coming in from Montana, Clark Fork Idaho is the port of entry to the Selkirk Loop via the gorgeous Pend Oreille Scenic Byway along Highway 200.
Established when the Northern Pacific pushed its main line through Northern Idaho in the 1880s. Located at the northeast end of Lake Pend Oreille on the Clark Fork River, this small but active community hosts a full range of outdoor activities, along with gift shops, restaurants, and lodging. In the background are the Cabinet range of the Rocky Mountains. The Cabinet Gorge dam is just upstream and supplies power to the area. Also upstream is the Cabinet Gorge fish hatchery, designed to handle 20 million Kokanee salmon annually. Clark Fork was named in honor of William Clark who along with Meriweather Lewis headed the expedition to the west in 1804.
Great fishing, wildlife and bird watching, Mountain Biking, Miles of National Forest Service Trails. As most of you know this is where I decided to make my home. I bought some of the most beautiful acreage
How Sagle Idaho, got it’s name. When the village first got a Post Office, the postmaster submitted the name Eagle, Idaho, to the Postal Department. Eagle was already taken so he merely replaced the “E” with an “S” and Sagle was born.
Located just five miles South of Sandpoint, Sagle is the gateway to the communities of Bottle Bay and Garfield Bay. With its tree lined roads and beautiful scenery Sagle has become one of the areas prime locations to reside. Sagle school has been a long time favorite for the community and remains a centerpiece for family and community activities.
Picture perfect sunsets and expansive lake views dotted with islands, is how most people remember Hope. Just 12 miles from Sandpoint, n the North shore of Lake Pend Oreille. Hope was once a bustling railroad hub, which has since settled into two unique cities, Hope and East Hope and let not forget Beyond Hope on the David Thompson Game preserve on the Hope peninsula. Also found on the peninsula is the Sam Owen Campground, a highly prized area to camp. With over 80 campsites, a wonderful beach, and boat ramp, Sam Owen ranks as one of North Idaho’s finest settingsYou will always see herds of whitetail deer grazing. In the fall and winter Bald Eagles can often be seen resting in the trees along the shoreline.
Schweitzer is a pristine jewel situated in the Selkirk Mountains in the Idaho Panhandle. Overlooking the town of Sandpoint and Lake Pend Oreille, Schweitzer Mountain has long been famous for its massive bows and breathtaking views. . This mountain boasts 2,500 acres of the most beautiful, breathtaking scenery imaginable, with views of Canada and two states. There are 2350 acres of skiable terrain, an average of 300 inches of snow.
By TIMOTHY EGAN
Published: July 1, 2007
CURIOUS it may be, but there is not a single national park in Idaho, a state with more public forest land, more wilderness, more white water than any other in the country outside of the superlative-trumping asterisk of Alaska. It has two dozen sites as part of a national historical park dedicated to the Nez Perce Indians, but nothing on the order of a velvet-roped shank of mega scenery.
So when people decide to go “Out West” for a visit, a phrase that always sounds quaint to a Westerner’s ear, they usually head for the canyon lands of southern Utah, or the fly-fishing streams of Montana or the aged chasms of Arizona. They fashion their trips around Yellowstone (to be fair, a mostly overlooked sliver is in Idaho), Zion or Grand Canyon - the iconic national parks, all worth a visit of course.
But just as there are good pastrami sandwiches to be had outside of the Carnegie Deli, there is so much to see, float, hike and absorb in what may be the most overlooked part of the West — the Big Empty of north-central Idaho.
I drove once until there was no more road, and then hiked, with two of my brothers, until there was no more trail. Like leprechauns at rainbow’s end, we found a deep pool at the base of a waterfall, hard by a grove of ancient cedars. We caught fish until our arms were tired, and then watched the night sky theatrics. There was river music, white noise for sleep. And I promised never to tell the exact location. This was in the upper reaches of the St. Joe River — that’s all I’m able to say.
But, there are other moments, other waterfalls, other pools of gin-clear trout water in the grip of the Idaho Panhandle. In many parts, the land is as wild today as it was 200 years ago, full of jumpy rivers kicking out of the Bitterroot Mountains and exotic surprises like the Turkish cook who serves lamb tahini deep in the folds of high country. Though much of this area is roadless, there are numerous landing strips for small planes inside the wilderness, and hundreds of trailheads and river put-ins for outbackers on horse or foot, and rafters or kayakers.
On the map, it is bounded roughly by the St. Joe to the north and the Middle Fork of the Salmon to the south. The names suggest wild mood swings, and a chance for some sublime risk-taking. You can camp at Heavens Gate, not far from Hells Canyon, and wonder about the cartographic argument. What, no Purgatory Flats? You can float without directions on the Big Lost River. Or eat a fine meal near Colt Killed Creek, the place where members of the Lewis and Clark expedition nearly starved. (And yes, they had to dine on one of their young transports.)
The crown jewel is the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, at 2.3 million acres the largest single protected wilderness area in the 48 states. River of No Return is what the natives told the American gold-seekers who headed upstream on the Salmon, and their name for the big river, 425 miles of twisty mountain water. But it may have been an inducement as well. Frank Church was the Idaho boy who loved the outdoors, and became that rarest of 20th-century politicians — a liberal Democratic senator from the Gem State.
One of the offbeat little towns in the middle of all this wild country, Orofino, still has a high school mascot, the Maniacs, which is, according to lore, named for residents of the neighboring state mental hospital. Call them crazy and insensitive, and they say, well, our boys played like maniacs long ago and the name stuck. The mental hospital came later. Sure. No problem. Cool T-shirt, though.
This part of Idaho, if known at all, used to have a reputation as a hideout for neo-Nazis and others of the far-right fringe. When it was black helicopter country in the mid-1990s, I sometimes thought the scariest part of any backcountry trip was in town, mixing it up with the locals. O.K., so tell me again how Hillary Clinton put the transmitter in your back molar? But now, the white separatists have been run out of their compound well to the north, and there’s a winery not far from where another extremist had a standoff with the federal government.
It may be safe to say that the wilds of the Idaho Panhandle, like much of the West, are deep into a new chapter — the microbrews and mountain bike phase. It has its hook-and-bullet enthusiasts, yes, and count me among those who get more excited chasing cutthroat trout with a dry fly than listening to Broadway show tunes.
But I no longer hear the soundtrack from “Deliverance” while floating its rivers. Actually, I stumbled upon a camp of fiddlers from Virginia while floating the Middle Fork of the Salmon not long ago; except for the occasional John Denver tune, it made for a wonderful evening.
When you expect nothing is when you find something.
The narrative of this land is built around timber, water and native people. The timber was western white pine, a legendary species that drew lumber barons who bought big tracks of forestland and tried to cut it all. What they couldn’t remove, disease did. Today, big, old-growth white pine forests in Idaho are almost as hard to find as those Democrats who used to vote for Frank Church. But the national forestland, largely a legacy of Teddy Roosevelt, is intact, and it has become one of the West’s biggest playgrounds.
In all there are 11 national forests in Idaho — more than 20 million acres. The peaks are not Matterhorn-craggy or even buff skyscrapers like the sentinels of the Sierra. The North Cascades, in Washington, are a small fraction of the size of Idaho’s mountain acreage, but have more glaciers and jaw-dropping vertical flanks.
What this part of the overlooked West has in abundance is a rich variety of forested river country. The big rivers are the St. Joe, the three forks of the Clearwater, the Lochsa, the Selway, the three forks of the Salmon and a half-dozen or so feeder streams, any one of which would be a national attraction if it were in, say, Texas. These rivers drain an amazing swath of real estate, owned by every American — a public land inheritance unseen by most of its owners.
Rare as it is to find an undammed river in the West, the Idaho Panhandle has a surfeit of free-flowing — indeed anarchic — waterways. The best white water, when the rivers are at full froth, tends to be in the spring through early July, as most of the snow melts.
The Middle Fork of the Salmon is a paradise float, through thick-waisted cedars, firs and pines, and open prairie turns, a Class III or better set of bumps almost every hour, sometimes more. But it’s no beer-swilling joy ride. At times, the river will back up with downed timber, requiring a portage around the new hazards.
On our summer trip a few years ago, midday temperatures were well into the 90s, with only a slight breeze. At night, we had a thunderstorm preceded by near-hurricane force winds. It knocked down trees and an outhouse held by guy wires. Our tent walls were flapping like flags on top of Everest. Overnight, the bears had their way with our coolers, even though we had lashed and secured them. That pesto chicken, apparently, had something over roots and berries.
At the other extreme are the natural showers, courtesy of hot-spring waterfalls along the way. Of course you can soak in deep-pocket boulders — nature’s hot tubs. But there is nothing like standing next to polished basalt under a cascade of 105-degree water at the end of a day.
By car, an easy way to see this wild country is along United States Route 12, which crosses the Panhandle. The road passes by the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, an area bigger than the state of Delaware, and follows or intersects three wondrous rivers: the Lochsa, the Selway and the river formed when those two streams merge — the Middle Fork of the Clearwater.
The three rivers in the Route 12 corridor are designated Wild and Scenic, a federal protection, and they live up to the name. The Lochsa, which means Rough Water in the Nez Perce language, is ferocious and explosive white water, for hard-core rafters. The major stretch has more than 40 significant rapids. By that I mean, bumps with names, bumps that are the focus of many a rafter’s dreams. One night in May over dinner at a river rat hangout, a couple of guides showed me photos from a busy day on the Lochsa. Every frame was solid froth, with a bouncing raft in the middle of it.
The Selway, which meets the Lochsa near the hamlet of Lowell, is a different character. Where the Lochsa is stirred and frenzied, the Selway is more meditative, deeper, moving at a much gentler pace for the most part. It is another one of the places here that reminds me of Alaska, mainly because of the wildlife. While hiking and fishing the Selway, I’ve seen moose, elk, black bears, every manner of raptor, and have come upon tracks of cougars, the most elusive of Rocky Mountain inhabitants.
The Selway has a couple of draws: Selway Falls, reached by a road that is paved for part of the way, and a little resort at the confluence of the three rivers, where Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton stayed, in cabin No. 4, in 1985. Hey, it’s the West: Washington or Jefferson never slept here.
I spent a night in a cabin downriver from the confluence, and was forced inside early by a storm. The morning was glorious, with eagles looking for chinook salmon in the swift Middle Fork of the Clearwater and the thinnest of mists holding to the trees.
A few words about the fishing: in the fall and winter months, this is steelhead country, drawing anglers from around the world trying to catch the most difficult of big trout. In the spring, there’s a brief season for salmon, the big kings, or chinooks, coming into the mountains from a long journey that began at sea.
The best trout fishing, in my experience, is on the St. Joe, reached by Interstate 90 from Missoula or Spokane, and then over the Bitterroots on gravel roads. I shouldn’t give this up; my two fishing brothers are going to kill me for this. But in sections of the St. Joe the trout are so easy to catch you want to give them pointers on dodging the cheap fly. They’re cutthroats, some as big as 18 inches. They don’t fight as much as rainbows, but they’re abundant, and rise on cue to any decently presented dry fly. Trout Unlimited called the St. Joe the best cutthroat trout fishery on the west side of the Rockies.
The Lochsa, Selway and Middle Fork of the Salmon are also great places for trout. My son caught a 17-inch cutthroat once when he wasn’t even fishing — his fly rod was dangling out the side of the raft, unattended, when a fish went for his Elk Hair Caddis.
The Clearwater, perhaps because the young salmon and steelhead take much of the food, is not as good for trout. But it’s the gateway to a land where people have lived for thousands of years. Following the main stem Clearwater and Route 12 west gets to the expansive heart of Nez Perce country. These natives impressed Lewis and Clark more than any other people they met along the way. Not only did the Nez Perce basically save the Virginia Men, as they were sometimes called, from starving, but they impressed them with what may be the finest breed of horse in the West — the appaloosa.
Unlike some tribes left with only a casino or a small reservation, the Nez Perce are not a mere passive presence in this part of the West. Their imprint is big.
There is the history, notably that surrounding Chief Joseph and his epic 1877 running battle that is commemorated at sites along the Nez Perce National Historic Park. And then the culture, through powwows and numerous festivals open to the public in reservation towns like Kooskia, Kamiah and Lapwai throughout the summer months.
For me, the most stirring of the Nez Perce sites is White Bird, along Route 95 south of the reservation. This is the Indian Gettysburg, where one of the few real pitched battles between natives and the American Army was fought. The army was routed at White Bird, while the Nez Perce did not lose a man. But it was bittersweet, as Chief Joseph’s people — about 750 men, women and children — were later chased more than 1,500 miles throughout the Rockies and finally gave up, hungry and cold, just short of the Canadian border.
It does not take much to look down into the canyon from the roadside historic site and imagine the battle unfolding, or to stare into the wilds of the Salmon River country, the mountains snagging wayward clouds, the River of No Return at its center, and see why they fought so hard to hold on to this place.
HOW TO GET THERE
It is not easy to get to north-central Idaho, but once you get there, transportation choices are numerous. Airlines, connected through Seattle or Salt Lake City, fly into Lewiston, Idaho, on the western end. Or you can approach from the east, through Missoula, which is also served by several airlines.
A good four-wheel-drive car is helpful, especially on national forest roads. But Route 12, the paved scenic route, can accommodate any vehicle.
If you want to float the Middle Fork of the Salmon, get in line, as permits are limited and are issued well in advance. But guided tours, out of gateway towns like Salmon or Riggins, are plentiful. Allow at least five days, and remember that the river runs through land that is mostly without roads.
There are small landing strips along the Middle Fork, but the planes won’t come unless contacted in advance.
WHERE TO STAY AND EAT
River Dance Lodge (208-765-0841; www.riverdancelodge.com), on Route 12, has new cabins with hot tubs and a chef who serves Turkish meals, among other offerings, on the Middle Fork of the Clearwater River. Cabin rates start at about $140.
Just up the road is the place where the Clintons stayed, Three Rivers Resort (208-926-4430; www.threeriversresort.com), with log cabins and motel, pool and Jacuzzi. It’s at the confluence of the Lochsa and the Selway. Motel rates begin at $69, and go up to $145 for the cabins.
In the backcountry of the St. Joe, via horseback or on foot, are rustic cabins and veteran fishing guides at St. Joe Outfitters and Guides (208-245-4002; www.stjoeoutfitters.com). Three nights in the cabins, with food and guiding, are about $1,500 a person.
Idaho is huckleberry country, and perhaps the best cobbler is at the Elk River Café, (208) 826-3398, in the hamlet of Elk River.
Lake Pend Oreille (pronounced Pon-duh-ray), is Idaho’s biggest lake and is the fifth largest lake in the western United States. The name of the lake originated from French hunters from Canada, the French term meaning “looks like ear” because Pend Oreille is shaped like an ear, not that you can tell that when you are on the water. Lake Pend Oreille is approximately 65 miles long and 15 miles wide at the widest spot at the North end of the lake and it can create its own weather. With 111 miles of of breathtaking shoreline, Lake Pend Oreille boasts world class fishing, boating, and water sports.
In prehistoric times, Lake Pend Oreille was part of a massive inland sea called Lake Missoula, which was formed by an ice dam created by huge glaciers protruding down the Purcell Trench that extends down from Canada through the Kootenai Valley. An ice damm standing about 3,000 feet high formed at the cabinet gorge area holding back the waters of Lake Missoula. When the ice dam collapsed and in less than 48 hours Lake Missoula was drained. The force of the 2,000-foot wall of water shooting out of Clark Fork stripped away soil, moving large boulders, and creating deep canyons, or coulees, in the bedrock. There the rush of water was slowed by a narrow passage called the Wallula Gap. This narrow gap caused the waters to back up and a 1,200-foot lake was formed.
Lake Pend Oreille is presently 1,100 + feet deep and at 2,063 feet above sea level. During the Second World War the largest Navel Base in the World, Farragut was here an Lake Pend Oreille. Presently it is an acting Sonar Testing Navel Base and the 4,000 acres of the base ground is a Idaho State Park with many wonderful camping and recreation spots. For our bird lovers the lake is home to Bald eagles, osprey, herons, hawks, kestrals, and is an anglers paradise. Smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, crappie, sunfish, perch, northern pike, bullhead, Rocky Mountain whitefish, pygmy whitefish, squawfish, tench, longnose sucker, large-scale sucker, redside shiner, longnose dace, sculpin and peamouth. White sturgeon and burbot and Kamloops, also known as a Gerrard rainbow .
The Clark Fork river and Pend Orielle were once well revered for its kokanee — a land-locked subspecies of sockeye salmon native to the Pacific Northwest but not to Lake Pend Oreille. They arrived in 1933 when a spring flood swept them out of Flathead Lake in Montana. By the ’50s a commercial kokanee fishery evolved with 1 million fish harvested annually. In 1995, Jim Eversole caught the largest game fish ever taken from Lake Pend Oreille, a 43 lb. 6 oz. mackinaw also known as the lake trout. The lake also claims the world record for a rainbow trout, a 37-pounder caught in 1947 by Wes Hamlet. No matter where you fish in Lake
Pend Oreille, it’s a good bet you’ll have a great day on the water.