Sandpoint & North Idaho Fall Fun Recreation Guide - Autumn Events

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Things to Do in Sandpoint and North Idaho for Autumn 2010

Certainly with the turning of the leaves comes one of the most beautiful times of year for the North Idaho Panhandle. There are a lot of things to do, from Fall Foliage tours on Lake Pend Oreille to Historic Train Rides up the Pend Oreille River Valley. There are over a dozen traditional (and some not so traditional) Oktoberfests, (see the blue field on the right) and Halloween, with Silver Mountain and Schweitzer both having cool goings on. Every season has a premier festival: Winter Carnival in...uh, winter, and Festival at Sandpoint in summer. Still, what makes Autumn so special are the crisp, cool nights and the painter's scheme of colors.

The colors are the myriad of the rainbow, with Buckthorn, Larch, and Maple turning yellow, hawthorn going from deep crimson to purple-red, and Quaking Aspen and Birch running the gamut from reds to golds against the backdrop of the deep greens and reddish browns of the coniferous forests. With some clearing of the leaves, formerly hidden glimpses of the many grand waterways and lakes now become apparent. Picnics are a favorite this time of year, and bikers and hikers seem to come out of the woodwork. Certainly, many agree that the best time of year for the phenomenal photo op is the Fall. While you can drive just a short distance in almost any direction to find great scenery, one of the best ways to see this Fall foliage is to drive the International Selkirk Loop.

International Selkirk Loop

Sunset Magazine calls the International Selkirk Loop the "West's Best New Scenic Drive" This 280-mile scenic drive is a meandering wander covering many of the most beautiful parts of North Idaho, Eastern Washington, and Southern British Columbia.

The route starts in Sandpoint and passes through many of the most charming hamlets of the region. Along Lake Pend Oreille it follows the valley carved by Glacial Lake Missoula, with stunning views of cliffs cascading into the giant 148 square mile lake. Surrounded by the Selkirk and Monarch mountains, 7,000+ foot peaks grow right out of the water. Along the way deer and elk, beer and caribou abound. But be careful of the occasional moose crossing the road. Many weigh as much as small cars.

Along the way you'll find 17 top notch golf courses, four ski resorts, world-class fishing, two National Wildlife Refuges, and one Canadian wildlife management area. Stop almost anywhere for all skill levels of hiking with trails throughout the Panhandle National Forest and Colville National Forest. The BC the route passes five Provincial Parks with plenty of RV and tent camping.

Other attractions along this route are the worlds longest free ferry ride (45 min), a brewery tour, a gold mine tour, hot springs, a mining ghost town, a historical Russian village tour, award winning museums, a house made of glass embalming bottles tour, nationally recognized small arts communities with world class shopping and rails to trail cycling paths.

Nearly the entire Loop route follows rivers and lakeshores, which historically were used for transportation, by native tribes, explorer David Thompson, gold seekers on the Wild Horse Trail, and early settlers. Today the Loop's lakes, rivers, and trails are a vast uncrowded playground with a myriad of opportunities for year-round recreation, scenic beauty and unique cultures.

Explore the International Selkirk Loop and discover the wonderful surprises that await you around every corner!

The Idaho portion runs from Priest River, through Sandpoint and Bonners Ferry, to the border town of Porthill. To get an up close view of the fall foliage, stop along the way for a hike and some wildlife viewing at The Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge.

If you don't have the time to do the entire trip, you can break it down into the following lengths:

Pend Oreille National Scenic Byway

This scenic byway begins north of Sandpoint on Idaho Highway 200 and runs east to the Idaho-Montana border. Much of the route skirts the shores of Lake Pend Oreille, providing gorgeous water views to accompany the colorful fall display.

Teton Scenic Byway

Spectacular fall color, set against views of the Teton Mountain Range, makes for some truly memorable scenery. This sometimes-winding route runs along several state highways in Eastern Idaho, passing through the towns of Ashton, Tetonia, and Driggs.

In 2006 the NY Times featured the Pend Oreille National Scenic Byway (Route 200) for birch, aspen and tamaracks; Teton Scenic Byway on Routes 31 and 33 for aspens and evergreens (

Another great way to see the leaves is the Fall Foliage Island Tour Lake Pend Oreille Cruises offer a fall cruise of the Clark Fork Delta, with photo options and wildlife viewing from 11 am to 2 pm. Cost $30 per person. Cruise leaves from Kramer Marina in East Hope. Visit for additional info. 208-255-5253

When to go

Idaho's fall color is best from late September through October. Before leaving on your foliage-viewing trip, here are some resources to help you get the most up-to-date color status:

Great Friday nights for fans of Sandpoint Football - Go Dawgs!

Winter Recreation Area Ski Resorts Winter Events Calendar Other Winter Activities
Ice Skating Snow Boarding Ice Fishing Snowmobiling
Schweitzer Magazine Sandpoint Magazine Schweitzer Video Tour Sandpoint Visitor Guide
Sleigh Rides Cross Country Skiing N Idaho & Area Parks Hiking & Snow Shoe Hikes

Lots to do in both of our North Idaho cooler seasons. Thanks for visiting Sandpoint.

Coolest Things to Do
Idaho Foliage-Canadian Press
Idaho Fall-MSNBC
Attractions & Amusements
Autumn Calendar of Events
Camping & Area Parks
Biking & Hiking
Horseback Riding
Sandpoint Visitor Guide
Hunting Guide
Fishing Guide

Winter Recreation Guide
Things to do in North Idaho

September 25-26: Post Falls - 6th Annual Festa Italiana Street Fair in Post Falls, presented by the Bonaventura Lodge of Post Falls (Sons of Italy)  Fundraiser for scholarship program.  Contact Tina-Marie at 208-640-9789

September 25: Bonners Ferry - Bonners Ferry Farmers Market Enjoy locally grown and produced products from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Bonners Ferry Farmers Market, located in downtown Bonners Ferry at the City Parking Lot (corner of Highway 95 and Kootenai). 208-267-9021

September 25: Sandpoint - Sandpoint Farmers Market Farmin Park, Third Avenue & Oak Street 3 - 5:30 pm.

September 25: Sandpoint - Oktoberfest Traditional autumn celebration, sponsored by the Downtown Sandpoint Business Association. 208-255-1876 

September 25: Hope - Oktoberfest starting at 5:00 pm in the Oktoberfest Tent next to Trisha's Place at 218 West Main Street in Hope As typical for an Oktoberfest we will have a Band playing Bavarian Music and you are invited to Beer, Food and some Bavarian surprises.

September 25: Priest River - Oktoberfest in Priest River Music, arts & crafts booths, food vendors & more. For info call 208-448-2721 or

October 2-3: Coeur d'Alene - Festa Italiana Come and enjoy the 3rd Annual Festa Italiana! Family entertainment, mouth watering food, cooking demonstrations, wine and beer garden, Italian Idol Karaoke Singing Contest, Artisan and Business booths and the Bolla Grape Stomp Contest. Kootenai County Fairgrounds in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho Saturday, 10 am-  9 pm and Sunday, 10 am - 6 pm. Grape Stomp - Saturday and Sunday at 12:30 - 4:30 pm. Italian Idol Karaoke - Saturday, 7-8:00 pm. FREE FOR ALL AGES! (parking is $1) 208-773-8522 or visit

October 2-3 & 9-10 & 16-17 & 23-24: Sandpoint - Lions Club Great Pumpkin Train Ride 90-minute scenic train ride along the Pend Oreille River for this North Pend Oreille Valley Lions Club fundraising event. One of six train ride weekends each year, this weekend's ride shows off peak autumn foliage. Learn more at 877-525-5226

October  24: Priest Lake - Priest Lake State Park Halloween Party Priest Lake State Park (11 miles north of Coolin) Halloween Party 6:30-8pm, pumpkin carving contest, costume parade with prizes, games, and the Spooky Trail. There is an entrance fee to the Park. 208-443-2200

October  30: Coeur d'Alene - Final Farmer's Market Fall Fest Final Farmer's Market of the year, 6th & Sherman, downtown CdA  CdA Downtown Assn

October  30: Coeur d'Alene  - Downtown Trick or Treat Trink or Treat in downtown CdA, 4-6pm.  CdA Downtown Assn

October 30: Sandpoint - Schweitzer Halloween Party (Not confirmed) Schweitzer Mountain Resort hosts a pre-season Halloween party with live music  in Taps Lounge. 208-263-9555

October 31: Priest Lake - Halloween Party-Grandview Resort-8 PM


Gary Lirette, featured in Where To Retire magazine and host of the Tuesday noon local radio shows: North Idaho Business as well as North Idaho Arts.

Gary Lirette, REALTOR & host of the N Idaho Business radio show

E-mail Gary or call 208-610-1384
Read Gary's Blog
For more detailed local info & real estate


Tomlinson Sandpoint Sotheby's International Realty

200 Main Street
Sandpoint, Idaho

208-255-3474 - To learn all about Sandpoint and North Idaho - For Sandpoint Realty - To visit Schweitzer Mountain's Community Web




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