Things to Do in Sandpoint and North Idaho for Autumn 2016
By Gary Lirette - Your Inland Northwest Technology and Office Solutions Expert
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 offered by Pend d’Oreille Cruises to Historic Train Rides up the Pend Oreille River Valley put on by the Lions Club. If you’re going to do the train ride, better hurry and get your tickets. This is the last year this wonderful fall journey will be around. Sadly, after 35 years of giving glee to children and grownups alike, this is their last run. Click the link to get your train ride on.
At one point, only five or six years ago, there were over a dozen traditional (and some not so traditional) Oktoberfests, but now there are fewer, with the Coeur d’Alene Oktoberfest this weekend Friday 4-9pm and Saturday 1-8pm corner of 2nd and Sherman, the Priest River Oktoberfest in historic downtown today from noon until 7pm. Hope, Idaho has its Oktoberfest at the Memorial Community Center Saturday, October 1st and starts at 4pm. Also on October 1st is the Oktoberfest at Daanen's at 8049 N Wayne Dr, Hayden, Idaho 83835. Finally, the Post Falls Oktoberfest takes place in Q'Emiln Park from 5-8:30pm on October 7th. Sadly, both of the Festa Italiana in Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls are no more. The PF moved to summer, but there are plenty of other things to do in North Idaho. Halloween parties usually abound, with Silver Mountain and Schweitzer both having cool goings on, though I can’t find anything posted yet. However, never fear, because we have SCARYWOOD!!! Silverwood’s best time of year (some say) is when the ghouls and goblins come out. 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, Western 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. Deciduous trees turn early, and the leaves fall in countless droves. Other change more slowly with Cottonwood slowly morphing brilliant orange to gold, highlighting the middle season, with Tamarack finishing the crescendo like the last of the summer fireworks. 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.
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:
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. (www.visitid.org) 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 LakePendOreilleCruises.com 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: Intermountain Region Forest Service Updates
Here are some other Fall Happenings:
Great Friday nights for fans of Sandpoint Football - Go Dawgs! Farmers Markets
Sandpoint Farmers Market at Farmin Park goes all the way through October 15th, Third Avenue & Oak Street 3 - 5:30 pm every Wednesday and 9am-1pm on Saturdays. SandpointFarmersMarket.com
Bonners Ferry Farmers Market offers locally grown and produced products from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday at the Bonners Ferry Farmers Market, located in downtown Bonners Ferry at the City Parking Lot (corner of Highway 95 and Kootenai). BonnersFerryFarmersMarket.org. 208-267-9021. Their last date is the Holiday Market, November 19th.
Halloween Rathdrum Tunnel of Terror at 7980 W Diagonal Rd, Rathdrum, Idaho 83858. We haven’t found out if they are opening this year, but the family has been celebrating with their kids since 1972. Tentatively opening October 24th from 7-9 on weekdays and 7-11 on weekends.
The Post Falls Lions Haunted House at 4th and Post. Open October 7-8, 14-15, 21- 22, 25-31, Friday and Saturday 7 to 11 pm, and Sunday thru Thursday 7 pm to 10 pm
Scarywood starts September 30 and runs through October 29th from 7pm-1am in Athol. I’d give you directions, but just head toward Athol on 95. You can’t miss it.
If you’re looking for a Pumpkin Patch or a Corn Maze:
Hickey Farms at 674 Hickey Rd, Sandpoint, ID 83864
Incredible Corn Maze at 3405 N. Beck Road, Hauser, ID 83854 509-242-2676
…and for all of the above, plus an Apple Festival, music and more, visit Green Bluff near Mead, Washington a little north of Spokane for a truly unique experience.
- Idaho Foliage-Denver Press
- Idaho Fall-MSNBC
- Sandpoint Visitor Guide
- Idaho Fall Foliage: A MapQuest Guide
Here’s a bunch of other things to do: Visit Sandpoint/Fall
Fall Calendar of Events
23-24 Pend Oreille Regatta The 6th annual Head of thePend Oreille Regatta will be held in Priest River with a start time of 8:30am and features rowers from Canada, Washington and Idaho. Activities begin Friday, Sept. 23 with a 1K sprint race at 4:30pm at the Priest River Boat Club. The sprint race will be followed by a Friday evening barbecue from 5 to 8pm.
23-25 Idaho Draft Horse and Mule International at the Bonner County Fairgrounds. IdahoDraftHorseShow.com. 208-263-8414
25 Dover Bay 5K-9 Enjoy a 5k run/walk in Dover Bay for the entire family - including your furry best friend - during the Dover Bay 5K-9. Proceeds will benefit the Panhandle Animal Shelter and all of the animals we serve. Starting time is 9 a.m. at Dover Bay Resort. This will be the third year for this fun event, so please help spread the word! Registration is $25 for grown-ups, and $10 for kids. Click to register online; mail-in registration forms are available at Spud's, Winter Ridge, Sweet Lou's, SWAC, and the shelter. Learn more on the event's Facebook page. 208-946-0226
Sept. 30 - Oct. 1, 2 The World's First Global Film Festival at the Panida Theater! The Manhattan Short Film Festival, where you get to be the judge, was surprisingly popular in 2015 and we expect it to be even better this year. The line up covers ten countries and includes two very unique animation films, making it a full length masterpiece of shorts. 9/30 at 5:30, 10/1 at 3:30 and 7:30, 10/2 at 3:30. Tickets $10. 208-263-9191
1 Hope’s Annual Oktoberfest Saturday, October 1st 4-10 pm. Live music by Miah Kohal Band Great food, Wine, Beer on tap and lots of FUN! FREE ADMISSION! All proceeds benefit the Memorial Community Center's programs and services. Contact Cindy Gauthier at 208-290-5486 for more information
1 "Fall" for Sandpoint On Saturday, October 1st when twenty local merchants team with local non-profit organizations to bring you a day to celebrate our vibrant, giving community. Participating stores will offer sales and specials, as well as a variety of activities. From 11am to 3 pm product demonstrations, food and beverage samplings, mini-manicures, and kids' activities are just part of the fun. A portion of the shopping proceeds from the day will be donated to participating non-profits. Enter to win one of three gift certificate packages worth a total of $500. Join your friends and neighbors to shop local, save local and give local. For more information on participating retailers and non-profits, check the Sandpoint Shopping District Facebook page.
1-2 CrosstoberFest Grab your bike, family and friends and head out to the University of Idaho Annex, 2504 N. Boyer, across from Sandpoint Airport, for the 5th Annual CrosstoberFest held from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. both Oct. 1 and Oct. 2, and sponsored by Sandpoint Cyclocross. A fundraiser for Autism Awareness 24/7, there will be different courses both days. If you don't want to race, come on out and cheer on the racers! There's free camping, plus food and drink will be available. Help support Team Autism 24/7's efforts to support families living with autism! Join us for Sandpoint's 5th Annual CrosstoberFest! Visit WildWestCXSeries.com for more information or call 208-610-2106.
2 Boobs ‘n Beer Run 5K Fun Run & Beer Fest. 11am-3pm. Help us support local cancer services this October and join us for 7B Women's First Annual Boobs 'n' Beer Fest. Combining a 5K on the Sand Creek Trail and Oktoberfest reception at MickDuff's Beer Hall, this event will raise funds for Celebrate Life and Community Cancer Services. Support the Boobs, Drink the Beer!.
1 Hope Oktoberfest. Come out to the Memorial Community Center, 415 Wellington Pl. in Hope, for the 4th annual Oktoberfest celebration from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m. Enjoy fabulous food featuring the Hess' homemade brats, plus wine and beer on tap, along with live music featuring the Miah Kohal Band -- a great time in a beautiful location! Free admission; all event proceeds benefit the MCC's programs and services such as preschool, Christmas Giving program, and high school scholarships.MemorialCommunityCenter.com. 208-290-5486
7 Oktoberfest Post Falls (See above)
7 Banff Radical Reels Tour. The best high-adrenaline films from the Banff Mountain Film Festival are coming to Sandpoint's Panida Theater, 300 N. First Ave., at 7:30 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.). Get stoked about skiing, biking, climbing and paddling by watching the 2016 edition of the Banff Radical Reels Tour featuring 11 new films! There are jaw-dropping bike jumps, nail-biting kayak drops, and mind-blowing powder. The Radical Reels Tour, presented by The Banff Centre, continues to push boundaries with the best action sports films from the annual Banff Mountain Film Festival. Tickets are available in advance at Eichardt's, The Alpine Shop, The Outdoor Experience and Burger Express in Sandpoint; in Bonners Ferry tickets are available at Zip's Drive-in. Any tickets left will be sold at the door the night of the show.
8 Plein Air Paintout Whether you've never picked up a brush in your life or you've been painting for years, the Scotchman Peaks 9th Annual Plein Air Paintout returns this fall - and the format changes a bit from the past. Participants will be provided with a canvas and asked to create the best, most beautiful postcard possible. Painting will be done from dawn to dusk. At sunset, postcard canvases will be judged and posted for sale at the Outskirts Gallery, 620 Wellington Pl. in Hope. The top three images will be turned into reproduction postcards that will promote the great outdoors and Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness. Register with Kally Thurman at the Outskirts by calling 208-264-5696 or e-mail email@example.com. Cost is $25. Visit the Scotchman Peaks website for more information.
15 Harvest Fest. Sandpoint Farmers Market closes out the season with entertainment, food booths, activities, displays at Farmin Park. SandpointFarmersMarket.com. 208-597-3355
28 Museum Halloween Party. Bonner County History Museum, 611 S. Ella Ave., hosts a Halloween Party at 5 p.m. Join an evening of spooky and spectacular fun as the museum presents its October Late Night at the Museum. There will be games, food and drinks, and the museum will be decked out in its Halloween best! Tickets are $10/public, $5 BCHS members. BonnerCountyHistory.org. 208-263-2344
November 25-Jan. 1 Holidays in Sandpoint. Tree lighting ceremony at Jeff Jones Town Square and visit from Santa opens the holiday season in Sandpoint.DowntownSandpoint.com. 208-255-1876
Lots to do in both of our North Idaho cooler seasons.
Thanks for visiting Sandpoint.