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Your guide to Priest Lake
All About Priest Lake
In the northernmost region of the Idaho panhandle, just 30 miles south of the Canadian border, Priest Lake is surrounded by the mile-high Selkirk Mountains and near endless cedar, fir, and tamarack forests. This 10,000-year-old lake with nearly 80 miles of shoreline has become a destination for nature lovers and thrill-seekers. The clear waters, sourced from the mountaintops, make prime conditions for water-skiing, sailing, and canoeing. Just under the shimmering surface is an ecosystem teeming with life, the draw of competitive fishers who make their way from all across the country to try and reel in trophy-sized trout.
Just past the lakeshores, Priest Lake State Park is a nature-bound playground suited for all levels of activity, from observing whitetail deer, moose, and bald eagles in their natural habitats to rock climbing in the nearby mountain range and cross-country skiing in the wintertime. While you’re out adventuring on the park’s numerous biking, hiking, and horseback trails, you’re likely to come across the region’s famous huckleberry bushes, which you’re encouraged to pick from and enjoy. You’ll also find a handful of small lakeside towns scattered across the shore, where you can grab any essentials you’ll need during your stay at your Priest Lake rental.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Priest Lake
Priest Lake has something to draw you during each of the four seasons. The summer is an excellent time to spend a day cooling down in the water or exploring the state park trails hunting for ripe huckleberries. The temperature starts to cool down in fall, and visitors flock to the region to see the gorgeous fall foliage and take a gentle rafting trip down the Priest River. Though winters don’t get as cold as they do west of the Rockies, the amount of snowfall in the region draws in visitors looking to take in the gorgeous white landscape via cross-country skis, snowshoes, and snowmobiles. Spring is the best time to take in the beautiful circle of life, when deer, elk, and other animals that call the park home care for their newborns as the ice thaws. It’s something beautiful to witness, but please leave the animals undisturbed.
Top things to do in Priest Lake
Hanna Flats Cedar Grove Trail
This quarter-mile-long trail brings you through an ancient part of the forest that has survived hundreds of years of logging, homesteading, and natural disasters. The path features educational panels, and you can learn about eight species of trees and nearly two dozen other thriving plant species.
This 68-mile river runs through every variation of landscape that the region is known for, from canyons to dense forest to vast pastures with beautiful backdrops of the Selkirk Mountains. Advanced water-sports enthusiasts will want to check out the Class III rapids in the spring, while more casual rafters will want to take this trip during October, when the river is lower and calmer.
Only accessible by boat, the Vinther-Nelson Cabin was built by hand in 1897 and is a step back into what life was like in homestead Idaho. Preserved by the Vinther and Nelson families, its caretakers also created a small on-site museum where visitors to Eight Mile Island can learn about the region’s history.