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The Pend Oreille Scenic Byway

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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.

The-Pend-Oreille-Scenic-Byway

During the end of the last ice age, retreating glaciers and the ensuing floods scarred and reformed the landscape of Idaho’s Panhandle. One result of this large-scale terraforming was the pendant-shaped Lake Pend Oreille (pronounced pond-ah-ray): the biggest lake in Idaho at 148 square miles, and the fifth-deepest in the entire US. Its shores are almost completely unpopulated, with just a few towns dotting the northern coast. The lake is so deep and so remote that, during WWII, the US Navy used it to conduct submarine testing.

Although we only saw a fraction of the lake during our drive along its northeastern shore, it was enough to impress. Just outside of Hope, we drove onto a peninsula which is home to the David Thompson Wildlife Reserve. A herd of deer were grazing on the lawns, completely undisturbed by our presence. Even when we left the car and approached them, they continued grazing and munching apples. We got within a couple feet, and possibly could have pet them.

Deer-Home-Avasion

Deer aren’t the only wildlife found around Pend Oreille’s shores; the great majority of the lake is in the Coeur d’Alene Forest, home to grizzlies, wolves, bobcats, bald eagles and owls. The southern tip of the lake is where the Navy set up the Farragut Naval Training Station, following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor; in its day, it was the second-largest training station in the world. The Navy has left, and today the area is a state park just ten minutes from Silverwood.

After passing Clark Fork, the highway leaves Pend Oreille and skirts along the Clark Fork River, which extends 310 miles into Montana and is that state’s largest river, by volume. We continued until reaching the border, where we’d hoped to see the 1952 Cabinet Gorge Dam, but found it closed for construction. Unfortunate, because it looks pretty cool.

The scenic byway is only 33 miles long but took us about three hours round-trip, accounting for the frequent photo stops. Enjoy our pictures of what might be Idaho’s most gorgeous lake.

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October 30, 2012 at 3:05 pm Comment (1)

Howdy Idaho!

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After 91 busy days spent in the South Korean metropolis of Busan, we were ready for something completely different. So I grabbed a thesaurus and flipped to the “K” section. It’s a strange and little-known fact, but it turns out that the antonym of “Korea” is “Idaho”. Exact opposites. And just like that, our next destination was set!

Welcome To Idaho

A month before arriving, everything I knew about Idaho could have fit onto a potato. I mean, it would have just been the word “potato” scratched into the side of the thing. But friends had been raving to us about the state, extolling its natural beauty and surprising diversity. If we were looking for something different to a Korean mega-city, they said, we could hardly do better than wild, sparsely-populated Idaho.

And so, after a couple weeks visiting family in Ohio, we embarked on a road trip across America. We needed three full days to arrive at Cascade, Idaho: the tiny, lakeside town in the middle of the state which would be our home for a month. Here, we would fully disconnect from city life, and begin taking advantage of some of the outdoor adventures available in Idaho, such as whitewater rafting, zip-lining, hiking, kayaking, and even hot air ballooning.

After four weeks in Cascade, we got on the road. Idaho is massive, and the only way to adequately explore it is by car. We spent six weeks driving into every reachable corner of the state, resting for no more than a few days in any one spot. Our reward was an appreciation for how diverse Idaho truly is. We saw gold mines, canyons, forest fires, hidden lakes, and hot springs, and had some exhilarating encounters with wildlife — of both the human and animal varieties.

We wound up our 91 days in Idaho with a few weeks in Boise, the state’s capital and by far its biggest city. For such an unheralded spot, Boise has a lot to offer. It’s large, but not overly so, and green; with a river running through the town center, it’s not uncommon to see deer. Our time here was blissful; with great restaurants, strange and fascinating history, beautiful buildings and a young, hip population, it’s no wonder that Boise is often touted as one of the USA’s most livable cities.

Idaho proved to be an incredible home. For 91 days, the state did its best to wear us out, bombarding us with one unforgettable experience after the other. At times, it was almost overwhelming, but we persisted. (“A 15-mile bike ride, the day after zip-lining and visiting a gold mine? Bring it on!”) By the time we left, we were exhausted, but had succeeded in seeing most of the highlights, as well as some hidden gems unknown even to most locals. Please enjoy reading about our adventures in this amazing state, starting with the three-day trans-American journey that brought us there.

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August 23, 2012 at 9:57 pm Comments (17)
The Pend Oreille Scenic Byway 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.
For 91 Days