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Old 05-16-2017, 04:38 PM   #1
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Northern Idaho / Coeur d'Alene area?

To jump on Eric's request for planning info...

We are headed from central Oregon to meet family for a week in Bozeman, MT this summer. We'll have almost a week to take our time in getting there and are thinking about checking out the northern Idaho / Coeur d'Alene area on the way.

Right now I'm thinking about spending a day or two checking out some of the rail trails in the area - the Hiawatha is a 15 mile shuttled (so slightly downhill for the most part) that has many bridges and tunnels and should be fun and doable for our 4 and 7 year old kiddos. After that I think I'd like to drop back down and meander across Highway 12 - it looks like a beautiful area.

The first question would be regarding boondocking around the Coeur d'Alene area. I'd love to just fly by the seat of my pants; however, my wife prefers the safety of having a 'plan' (aka reservations). Pros and cons to both, of course. It's never fun to spend half a day simply looking for a place to camp but it is also lame to show up to your reserved spot to discover that there are a lot of other places you'd rather be! I'd love to hear about any specific campgrounds or areas that people would enjoy going back to.

The second question is just regarding the general route. Should we head up further north towards Sandpoint before heading back south and east?

Any input on the area is much appreciated!
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Old 05-16-2017, 05:12 PM   #2
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I've only been through once but I highly recommend the 'Best Sandwich Shack', a food truck/trailer in a parking lot in town. Google it. Best cheesesteak you'll find.

We came in from the west and headed north out of town on 95 to SandPoint, where we headed east on 200 towards Kalispell/Glacier. Definitely a pretty drive along 200.

I'd love to know more about boondocking there too. We near the end of a multi-week trip and too worn out to get creative. We stayed in a SP on 95 north of town. There are a few and most were full. Not memorable.
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Old 05-16-2017, 10:32 PM   #3
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If the snow ever melts the Priest Lake Loop is really a great place to go. There are plenty of boondocking sites and a few even require a bit of four wheeling. There are also a few places we camp where you are guaranteed to see a bunch of mountain goats climbing on the granite slabs. When will you be heading through?
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Old 05-16-2017, 10:49 PM   #4
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I took a look at The Ultimate US Public Campground app. The Coeur d'Alene national forest is east of the city. Should be lots of boondocking opportunities. There are also BLM, USFS and state parks in the area.
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Old 05-17-2017, 12:07 AM   #5
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My wife had keyed in to Priest Lake during our initial searches - I wasn't sure if we were going to head that far north, but it seems like a beautiful area. In general, it just seems like the entire panhandle of ID is a bit more remote and less inhabited - I hope my premonition is close to correct. We are used to reserving a few of our favorite close to home campground spots a year in advance just as soon as the reservation system comes on line because they fill up so quickly, but from what I've seen so far most of the reservable campgrounds in the areas we are looking at still have vacancy. I also looked at the area east of CDL and it looks like there are some great spots, Larrie. I'm just now exploring a few of the app's and websites for camp spots - I'd recommend putting campendium.com on the resource list as well.

Eric - good food is always part of a great road trip. Note taken!

We'll be in the area around early July, so most of the snows should be melted but no guarantee this year! Mt. Bachelor (Bend, OR) recently announced that they would open up again for skiing over the July 4 weekend!
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