The Pond Oreille Scenic Byway follows Highway 200 east from Sandpoint to the Montana border, between the mountains of northern Idaho and its most unforgettable lake.
Idaho’s wine industry isn’t as renowned as those of California or Washington, but over the past decade, that’s been slowly changing. There are currently over 45 wineries in the state, with more opening every year. During our time in Sandpoint, we stopped by the Pend d’Oreille winery, which has been racking up awards and recognition since opening nearly twenty years ago.
Many of the places in Idaho’s panhandle feature memorable names. Some are drawn from French, such as Coeur d’Alene or Lake Pend Oreille, while others have intriguing historical connotations, like Priest Lake and Bonners Ferry. And then there’s Sandpoint, a town whose name evokes the stirring image of some guy pointing at a pile of sand. Yep, we see it. You’ve found the sand.
For 33 miles, a scenic byway hugs the eastern coast of Lake Coeur d’Alene. Given the bustle of the city, the road gets into some surprisingly remote territory: over the gorgeous Mineral Ridge, through the tiny town of Harrison, and into pristine forests. We visited during the autumn and were blown away by the beauty of the drive.
Coeur d’Alene is the largest city in the Idaho panhandle; a mix of remote nature, urban ease and ostentatious wealth. It’s well-known in the Pacific Northwest as a resort destination, with a prime location on the lovely lake which shares its name. We had been eagerly anticipating our short, two-day stay there, and found it to be just as memorable as advertised.
I’m from Ohio; not a fact I usually brag about, but it does come with some perks. For example, Ohio is home to the world’s greatest amusement park. Oh, shut your cheese-hole, Mickey. Disney World doesn’t hold a candle to Cedar Point, and you know it.
It’s a little hard to feel that thrill of discovery, the joy of unearthing another hidden travel gem, when the gem in question is as popular as the Enaville Resort. But we couldn’t resist patting ourselves on the back after entering this Silver Valley establishment. Even if it’s no secret among the locals, to whom it’s known as the Snakepit, it was an exciting find.
The longest single-stage gondola in the world isn’t found in the Alps or Asia, and doesn’t belong to a famous resort like Vail or St. Moritz. Nope, this record goes to the Silver Mountain Ski Resort, in humble little Kellogg, Idaho.
Although it’s not as well-known as nearby Wallace, Kellogg is the Silver Valley’s largest town, and was our base during our four-day stay in the region. It’s a nice village stretched out along the Coeur d’Alene Mountains, with a population around 2000; less historic and picturesque than Wallace, perhaps, but with a burgeoning tourism industry of its own, thanks largely to the Silver Mountain Ski Resort.
Billed as one of America’s most unforgettable bike rides, the 15-mile Hiawatha Trail follows the path of a former train route through pitch-black tunnels and across bridges which overlook vast valleys of pine. On the final weekend of the season, we rented bikes and completed the trail — “unforgettable” doesn’t even begin to describe it.