What are the best things to do in Northern Idaho?

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When planning your Northern Idaho vacation, be sure to add these activities to the itinerary:

1. Jump in the lake. The Coeur d’Alene city beach stretches east to the Northern Idaho College beach. The entire length is open to the public and is a great place to relax, sunbathe, float and swim.  There are a number of barbecue pits for picnics along the sand and in the city park next to the beach. A few hundred yards west of The Coeur d’Alene Resort, along the college section of the beach, there are kayaks, canoes and sailboats available for rent by the hour, half-day or the full day. All of these wonderful summer fun activities are yours to enjoy just a block or two from the center of town.

2. Mountain bike in real mountains. At Silver Mountain you will get the chance to finally experience “the mountain” in the often-overstated term “mountain biking.” An easy 35-minute drive from Coeur d’Alene, east on Interstate 90, will get you to the old mining town of Kellogg. Just off the interstate, you can park your car at the base of North America’s longest gondola and rent your bikes and helmets. From there, you load the bikes onto the gondola, jump in and take the breathtaking 3.1-mile journey up the mountain. On top, you will have access to an extensive network of trails that accommodates all ability levels. Pack a lunch or grab a bite at the Mountain House. At the end of your day, you will enjoy the long downhill ride back to your car in Kellogg.

3. Ride the whitewater. ROW Adventures, next to The Coeur d’Alene Resort offers fun and exciting rafting adventures on the many whitewater rivers in the region. Half-day, full-day and multi-day river trips are available. Your ROW river interpretive guides are always happy to provide you with lots of interesting information and history of the area, which makes the experience educational as well as exhilarating.

4. Hike Roman Nose. This mountain, which sits north of Sandpoint, is a wonderful place for a day hike to suit your level of ambition and fitness. The great thing about Roman Nose is that you don’t have to work hard to get to the views. Once you get out of your car at the trailhead, you will already be above the timberline. There are spectacular views in every direction due to the massive Sundance Fire in 1967, which lowered the tree line.  Since then, it’s been a marvel to see nature re-establish itself into a rare and marvelous landscape with new growth and acres of huckleberries among the rocky peaks and crystal clear lakes. At the small parking space at the end of the dirt road, you will see a sign with a map of the easily marked trails that lead to three pristine mountain lakes. For maps and directions to the trailhead on the mountain, you can stop in at the Bonners Ferry Ranger District Office at the south end of Bonners Ferry on Highway 95.

5. Cruise the Hiawatha Trail. This biking experience is more family friendly and, without a doubt, one of the finest bicycle cruises in the country. What’s not to love about a trail that is all downhill? The starting point is high in the Bitterroot Mountains, five miles past the Montana border and one hour east of Coeur d’Alene. This stunning 15-mile trial winds across the state line into Idaho. It was constructed over an abandoned railroad bed that crosses seven high steel trestles and passes through nine tunnels, the longest running 1.66 miles. You will need a headlamp, which is provided by the outfitter who rents out the bikes. One option is to drive to Lookout Pass (50 miles east of Coeur d’Alene on Interstate 90), where you can obtain your bike rental and catch the shuttle to the top of the trail. For those of you who may not want to negotiate the drive and the rental yourself, the entire trip and rentals may be outfitted through ROW Adventures on the corner of 2nd and Sherman Ave. in Coeur d’Alene. Don’t forget to bring a camera.

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