The glacial lakes that characterize the panhandle of northern Idaho -- referred to as the Inland Northwest -- display evidence of the last great ice age. Scenic highways parallel wild rivers and traverse lush evergreen forests to connect small towns sprinkled throughout fertile valleys. North Idaho shares the rugged Selkirk Mountains with British Columbia and the Bitterroot Mountains with Montana. Resorts in the region cater to outdoor adventurers with warm-weather pursuits ranging from hiking, hunting, fishing and golf to all sorts of water sports, and winter activities centering on skiing and snowmobiling. Gambling at tribal casinos might provide a different kind of adrenaline rush.
In a county with a population density of eight people per square mile, the 2,500 year-round residents of Bonners Ferry could style themselves as city slickers. But a small-town, frontier attitude prevails despite hints of the rampant development challenging much of the West. At the Kootenai River Inn, owned and operated by the Kootenai Tribe, gaming and glamor come together on tribal lands overlooking the Kootenai River. A complete renovation of the rooms and casino in 2005 added a luxury spa to the package.
The view from the top of Schweitzer Mountain extends across three mountain ranges, three states, Canada and nearby Lake Pend Oreille. Located 11 miles from Sandpoint, famous for its Coldwater Creek store, Schweitzer Mountain Resort brings a European flavor to its slope-side village with the Selkirk Lodge and contemporary mountain architecture at the White Pine Lodge. Priest Lake draws visitors to the western side of the county, where Hill's Resort on Luby Bay welcomes guests year-round. The Elkins Resort and Grandview Resort, both at Reeder Bay, include guest boat moorings and a float-plane facility, respectively.
Famous for the world’s only floating golf green, The Coeur d'Alene resort on the shores of its namesake lake has received kudos from "Conde Nast Traveler," "Travel + Leisure" and "Golf World" magazines for everything from exceptional service to its romantic spa to outstanding meeting facilities and world-class golf. Located 25 miles from Coeur d’Alene, The Silver Beach Resort on Spirit Lake maintains a sandy swimming beach, a rental fleet of non-motorized boats and a tally of guest fishing records. Known for the resident population of landlocked Kokanee salmon, the lake also supports ample schools of bass, trout and perch.
The entire town of Wallace, the Shoshone County seat, is on the National Register of Historic Places and several of the stately old buildings house small inns. Nearby Lookout Pass ski area got its start in the 1930s when silver mining boomed in the area. The 15-mile Route of the Hiawatha hiking and biking trail follows an old railroad track southeast of town. In neighboring Kellogg, the world's longest single-cabin gondola transports skiers 3.1 miles from the center of town to the ski slopes at Silver Mountain. The Morning Star Lodge makes a convenient base camp for winter or summer exploration of the region.