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Lake Couer d'Alene -- Day 12


After Glacier National Park we trekked towards the panhandle of Idaho as we were entering the final stages of our PA to WA road trip. The Coeur d'Alene area provided a nice stopping point on our journey. We decided to take in some views of Lake Couer d'Alene before settling in at Camp Couer d'Alene for the evening. It was a nice place to rest our heads but it was hilariously obvious that it used to be a KOA.

We had the Hermit's Retreat Cabin which faces away from everyone else into the wilderness which was nice. I could use my propane gas stove and cook in peace for the last time before we hit Washington.

Lake Coeur d'Alene in Idaho's panhandle is more than just a pretty place to take a dip; it's a full-on experience that's got a little something for everyone. This isn't just a local gem; people come from all over the U.S. and even beyond to see what the fuss is about. And let me tell you, it doesn't disappoint.

Whether you're into boating, fishing, or just lounging on the shore, Lake Coeur d'Alene has got you covered. But it's not just about what's on the water; the area around the lake is just as captivating. Think hiking trails through scenic woods, charming local shops, and plenty of spots to just sit and take in the view.


Beauty Bay Recreation Area
Beauty Bay Recreation Area -- Lake Coeur d'Alene


Geography and Natural Beauty

Lake Coeur d'Alene isn't your average lake. Spanning over 25 miles and reaching widths of up to 3 miles, it's a vast expanse of shimmering water that's dotted with hidden bays, tucked-away coves, and a sprinkling of islands—some of which have the charm of being privately owned.

But what really sets the scene is its origin story. Picture this: glaciers from the last Ice Age carving out this massive basin, setting the stage for the lake we see today. And those surroundings? Pure magic. The lake nestles amidst rolling hills blanketed with evergreen forests. And as if that wasn't enough, it's flanked by majestic mountain ranges—the Coeur d'Alene Mountains to the east and south, and the Spokane Range giving a grand display to the west.

The result? A jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring landscape that sticks with you. Whether you're there for a day or a week, Lake Coeur d'Alene has a way of leaving its mark, offering a visual feast that's hard to forget.


Beauty Bay through the trees
Beauty Bay from up high


Recreational Activities

Lake Coeur d'Alene is like a playground for anyone who loves the water. Seriously, this place is a boater's paradise. You'll see everything from swanky yachts to humble kayaks crisscrossing the lake. And if you're into sailing, get ready for a treat. The winds here can be a bit tricky, but that's all part of the fun.

Fishing more your speed? You're in luck. The lake is teeming with all sorts of fish, like northern pike, kokanee, and bass. It's like a fishing trip and a scenic tour all rolled into one.

But maybe you're the type who needs a little more adrenaline in your day. No problem. This lake is a hotspot for all kinds of water sports. We're talking jet-skiing, wakeboarding, and tubing. It's like an amusement park on the water.

Of course, if you're looking to dial it back a bit, you've got plenty of options too. The lake's got its fair share of quiet beaches and hidden coves, perfect for a leisurely swim or a picnic. It's the kind of place where you can go full-throttle with water sports or just chill and soak up some rays.


Lake Couer d'Alene
Lake Couer d'Alene


The City of Coeur d'Alene

The city of Coeur d'Alene, which shares its name with the lake, is your entry point to all this natural beauty, and let me tell you, it's a destination in its own right. Imagine a place that's got that small-town charm you love but also offers all the modern goodies you can't live without. That's Coeur d'Alene in a nutshell.

Hungry? The dining scene here has got you covered, whether you're in the mood for gourmet eats or just a good old-fashioned burger. If you're into art, the galleries around town are worth a visit, showcasing everything from local talent to renowned artists. And for the shoppers among us, the boutique shops are a treasure trove of unique finds.

But one of the best parts has to be the downtown area, especially in the evening. Picture this: a leisurely stroll with the lake in the background, the air filled with the sounds of local musicians doing their thing. It's the kind of atmosphere that makes you forget to check your phone, and in today's world, that's saying something.


Lake Couer d'alene Tubbs Hill
Lake Couer d'Alene from a trail -- Eastern Tubbs Hill


Seasonal Attractions

Lake Coeur d'Alene hits like that friend who's always got something new to show you, no matter when you visit. Seriously, each season here has its own special vibe.

Summer is the blockbuster season. The lake is buzzing with people soaking up the sun, splashing in the water, and just living their best lake life. It's the go-to time for all those classic lake activities like boating, swimming, and fishing.

But don't sleep on fall. The area turns into this incredible canvas of reds, oranges, and yellows. It's like the trees are putting on their own autumnal fireworks show. If you're into scenic drives or hiking, this is the time to do it.

Winter, on the other hand, is when the lake goes into chill mode. The crowds thin out, and the place takes on this peaceful, almost magical quality. If you're into ice fishing, this is your season. And let's not forget about the skiing and snowboarding options nearby.

Then comes spring, the season of fresh starts. The whole area seems to wake up from its winter nap, with plants blooming and animals coming out to play. It's a fantastic time for bird-watching or just capturing the beauty of nature through your camera lens.



Rapi the Dachshund is taking in the lake views
Rapi the Dachshund taking in the lake views

Wildlife and Ecology

Lake Coeur d'Alene isn't just a hotspot for people; it's also a thriving community for all sorts of critters. If you're into bird-watching, you're in for a treat. We're talking bald eagles soaring overhead, ospreys diving for fish, and a whole lineup of waterfowl that'll keep you reaching for your binoculars.

But the wildlife scene here isn't just for the birds. Venture into the quieter spots around the lake, and you might just bump into some of the local four-legged residents. Deer and moose are pretty common sights, and if you're really lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of a bear—just make sure to keep a safe distance!


This dog on the other hand... I have no idea
Schatzi on the other hand... I'm not so sure


Conservation Efforts

Lake Coeur d'Alene has been subject to various conservation efforts to preserve its natural beauty and delicate ecosystems. Authorities and local organizations have engaged in water quality monitoring, fish population studies, and educational outreach to ensure that the lake remains a cherished destination for generations to come.

Lake Coeur d'Alene is more than just a geographic landmark; it's a cultural and natural treasure that encapsulates the beauty of Idaho in its pristine waters, rich biodiversity, and endless recreational possibilities. Whether you're an avid outdoor enthusiast or someone who just wants to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, this magnificent lake has something special to offer you.


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