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Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

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Did You Know … ?

  • Coeur d’Alene is home to the world’s only golf course with a floating green.
  • The entire town of Wallace is on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Since 1884, the Coeur d’Alene mining district has produced 1.2 billion ounces of silver.
  • The U.S. Forest Service’s nursery in Coeur d’Alene can produce 20 million tree seedlings annually.
  • Most of the country’s Kentucky bluegrass seed is produced in northern Idaho.

From silver to (tourist) gold

Coeur d’Alene, located in Idaho’s northern panhandle, is a resort town with a fascinating backstory linking it to the settlement of the American West. Starting in the 19th century, it was important as a steamboat and rail transfer point for fur trading, logging and mining.

To take this story further, it helps to know that Coeur d’Alene sits on the north shore of Lake Coeur d’Alene, and the lake is fed in part by the Coeur d’Alene River. It’s no surprise then — and a bit more confusing — that the region’s mining area, which abuts the river, is called the Coeur d’Alene Mining District. Helpfully, the district is also known as Silver Valley because it was once the world’s top silver producer.

Now most of the mines are closed, but the area’s history offers related attractions in and around Coeur d’Alene, including underground mines, gold panning sites, settlements with landmark buildings, special interest museums and even a bordello (now a museum). Old West diversions also include dude ranches.

Coeur d’Alene has transitioned into a tourist resort, taking advantage of nature’s gifts in new and more environmentally friendly ways.

The eponymously named lake is about 26 miles long with 135 miles of shoreline. Its clear blue waters — and local service providers — entice visitors for boating, kayaking, parasailing, sightseeing cruises, waterskiing and other watery fun. There are many other lakes in the region, including Pend Oreille and Priest, with their own menu of activities.

Area ski resorts beckon in winter, but the mountains are equally attractive to cyclists and hikers at other seasons.

For the area’s beauty, visitors may drive any of several scenic byways and, in autumn, reap the bonus of changing colors. Flightseeing tours are an option, too.

Coeur d’Alene, like any good resort, offers lots of golf, plus shopping, theater, live music and more.

Finally, tourists wouldn’t guess this area is an EPA superfund site. The intensive mining, extracting silver plus lead, zinc and other metals, polluted area waters. The cleanup started in 1983 and continues. The bottom of Lake Coeur d’Alene is contaminated, but the water where tourists play is clean.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Cycle one of the area’s designated trails, the 15-mile Route of the Hiawatha on a former railroad bed in the mountains or the 72-mile Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes along the Coeur d’Alene River. Or take one of the trails on rollerblades.
  • Compete in the Ironman Coeur d’Alene, held in early summer with competitions that include swimming in the lake and running along the lakeshore.
  • Come to town in the spring for the Coeur d’Alene Blues Festival.
  • Take a seaplane sightseeing tour over Lake Coeur d’Alene and more of the beautiful area of lakes, mountains and forests in northern Idaho.
  • See Lake Coeur d’Alene from 600 feet in the air, by parasailing. Or choose your sport — wakeboarding, wake surfing or waterskiing — and get splashed.
  • Rent a party barge for a day’s float and festivities with family or friends.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Put Idaho’s oldest building, the Old Mission of the Sacred Heart in Cataldo (1853), on your itinerary. Learn about the Coeur d’Alene Indian tribe here; in mid-August, experience the Coeur d’Alene Indian Pilgrimage to the mission and see Indian drumming, singing and dancing.
  • For laughs and a few blushes, visit the former bordello in Wallace, now the Oasis Bordello Museum.
  • Make Coeur d’Alene your base for a ski vacation that could take you to three area ski resorts.
  • Paddle a kayak on the waters of Lake Coeur d’Alene or at any of several other area lakes.
  • Pan for gold (seasonally) in Kellogg’s Crystal Gold Mine Museum — and see the mine, too. Stay at a dude ranch in Harrison near Coeur d’Alene.
  • Pick berries and compete in the pie-eating contest at the summertime Huckleberry Festival in Sandpoint, north of Coeur d’Alene. Huckleberries are Idaho’s state fruit and are celebrated at a Wallace Huckleberry Festival, too. Buy huckleberry jam to take home.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Take a sightseeing cruise on Lake Coeur d’Alene.
  • Golf at the Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course, and test your skills on the floating green, which can be moved around to change the distance to your target.
  • Go underground to tour the Sierra Silver Mine in Wallace. An experienced miner leads the tour. Visit Wallace District Mining Museum, and stroll the streets of this historic town.
  • Catch a Broadway musical at the Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre.
  • Drive the 35.8-mile Lake Coeur d’Alene Scenic Byway. It is one of several scenic byways in northern Idaho.
  • As if all the area lakes weren’t enough, Coeur d’Alene offers the Wild Waters Water Park in town and the Boulder Beach Water Park, as part of the Silverwood Theme Park north of town.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the Coeur d’Alene Convention and Visitor Bureau at http://coeurdalene.org