Idaho Panhandle National Forests: Coeur d'Alene - Kaniksu - St. Joe

Quick Facts

Idaho Panhandle National Forests: Coeur d'Alene - Kaniksu - St. Joe


(208) 765-7223


Things To Do


Located in "the panhandle" of northern Idaho and extending into eastern Washington State and western Montana, lies the Idaho Panhandle National Forest. This includes the Coeur d'Alene, Kaniksu, and St. Joe National Forests. Some 300 miles from the Pacific Ocean, the forest is in the east-central part of the Columbia Plateau, between the Cascade Mountains to the west and the Bitteroot Mountains to the east. The Forest comprises about 2.5 million acres. The natural beauty of mountain tops, clear lakes and rivers, ancient cedar groves, great varieties of fish, unique wildlife, and remnants of earlier people provide settings for diverse outdoor recreation activities. During the spring, summer, and fall a variety of activities can be found. In winter, hundreds of miles of groomed trails beckon nordic skiers and snowmobilers.


  • Boating

    On the Idaho Panhandle National Forests there are thousands of miles of streams and hundreds of lakes, including 3 of Idaho`s largest, to beckon water sports enthusiasts to fish, raft, tube, canoe, kayak, swim, sail, and water ski. Areas for both motorized and non-motorized boats. So get your sailboat, kayak, canoe, raft, or tube and hit one of the many lakes or streams.

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    There are few drives on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests that are not scenic. However, some drives are more suitable for passenger vehicles than others. Consider the paved roads up the St. Joe River (Forest Highway 50) and North Fork of the Coeur d`Alene River (Forest Highway 9). State Highway 57 from Priest River to Nordman, US Highways 2 and 95 north of Bonners Ferry and State Highway 200 between Sandpoint and the Montana state line. All of these offer great views of National Forest rivers, lakes, and mountains from the comfort of your vehicle and provide access to the scenic streams, mountain lakes, ridges, and peaks of the IPNF backcountry.

  • Camping

    Whether you choose to hike the remote high country, stay in one of the cabin and lookout rentals, or spend a quiet weekend at a developed campground, you will find a facility to meet your needs in the Idaho Panhandle National Forests. In addition there is dispersed, group, and campings for RVs.

  • Fishing

    From the Wild and Scenic St. Joe River, to Pend Oreille - Idaho`s largest lake, to small, family-friendly lakes like Robinson Lake there are fishing opportunities to suit everyone. Most of the developed campgrounds are located adjacent to fishable streams and lakes and many of the trails lead to high mountain lakes. The world record rainbow trout (37 pounds) was caught in this area. Ice fishing and fly fishing are also very popular here.

  • Hiking

    The Idaho Panhandle National Forests has hundreds of miles of trails for hikers and backpackers. From the smooth, easy Beach Trail along Priest Lake, to the challenging trek up the Scotchman Peak Trail, the forest offers opportunities for most experience levels.

  • Historic Sites

    Prior to European settlement the area was home to many Native Americans including the Coeur d'Alene, Kalispell, and Kootenai people. The 1910 fire devastated 3 million acres of forest in Idaho and Montana, including portions of the town of Wallace. With such rich historyand culture, this forets is a place to check out.

  • Hunting

    In the Idaho panhandle you`ll find opportunities to hunt big game such as elk, deer, and moose. There are seasons for bear and mountain lions as well. You will also find a variety of upland game, turkeys, and waterfowl.

  • Picnicking

    Picnicking is available at the various day use sites on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests. Also, at many designated campgrounds there are picnic tables and grills available for day use.Areas large enough to handle big groups.

  • Winter Sports

    Ice Skating, snowmobiling, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing are popular activities here in the winter.

Phone Numbers


(208) 765-7223