Things to do in Clark Fork and Hope, Idaho

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There are plenty of cool things to do in the area around Clark Fork and Hope, Idaho, near Sandpoint and Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort.

To learn more about Hope, Idaho, visit: http://hopeidaho.net

Find out more about Clark Fork at: http://clarkforkidaho.net

Calendar of Events - North Idaho has dozens of communities and groups that host hundreds of area happenings for every season. Nearby Sandpoint is a focal point of the county, but the Montana border is a very short distance, so Clark Fork and Hope residents enjoy events from Heron to Coeur d'Alene. Check out the Calendar of Events to see a long list of things to do.

Cool Things to do within 100 miles - This page shows many of the things on this page. Check out some of the other cool things to do in North Idaho in this list of over forty choices for fun and learning more about North Idaho.

Sandpoint - Sandpoint is the county seat, and to get to Schweitzer to do a bit of skiing, you have to go there. But Sandpoint is also the center of shopping for Hope and Clark Fork, and a very cool small town. Check out this resource to find out more about Sandpoint, Idaho.

Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort - Named to Skiing Magazine's Top 25 Ski Resorts last season, Schweitzer is also rated #3 for Tree Skiing. OntheSnow.com readers voted Schweitzer the Northwest's Favorite Ski Resort this year, and AskMen.com named the Sandpoint/Schweitzer combo one of America's Top 10 Resorts. To find out what Schweitzer is all about, visit www.SkiSchweitzer.net

Biking & Hiking - One can't mention Schweitzer without talking about mountain biking. The NORBA Nationals have been held there twice, and the highways going into Montana and to Sandpoint are filled all summer long with cyclers opting for pavement rather than dirt. Certainly there are some very cool mountains to choose from for hikes, and with so much wilderness and so many forests, virtually everyone here gets out for the occasional nature stroll. Check out a couple of the favorite mountains below.

For a great resource visit our Hiking & Biking page

Lake Pend Oreille - Hope and Sandpoint lie on the shores of Lake Pend Oreille, one of the most beautiful lakes in North America. Clark Fork is a stone's throw up the Clark Fork River from the lake. Lake Pend Oreille is so deep and quiet the U.S. Navy has a submarine research facility located here. There are few lakes that host the scenery that Lake Pend Oreille provides. The lakes protected coves make for great water skiing, wakeboarding as well as an overnight camping adventure. The prevailing winds from the southwest provide sailing enthusiasts many days of quality boating. There are numerous sailing regattas all summer long providing sailing as well as social enjoyment. Because of its size, waves can approach the size of ocean and sea waves, though, for the most part, Lake Pend Oreille is a calm body of water. Since winds are more calm than not, windsurfing isn't seen as often as other great water/wind sports areas like the Columbia River. However, parasailing is growing in popularity.

Cruises are available, scuba diving, and with so few boaters on so large a lake, water skiing is superlative. If you don't have your own boat, rentals are available everywhere. For a truly great treat, try the jet boats from Lake Pend Oreille Cruises: http://www.lakependoreillecruises.com/

Learn about all of North Idaho's Lakes

Clark Fork River - The Clark Fork is a river that flows through Montana and Idaho, running roughly 360. It is the largest river by volume in Montana, draining an extensive region of the Rockies in western Montana and northern Idaho in the watershed of the Columbia River. The Clark Fork flows northwest through a long mountain valley, finally emptying into Lake Pend Oreille in north Idaho. The Pend Oreille River, which drains Lake Pend Oreille into the Columbia River, is sometimes included as part of the Clark Fork. This gives the total of the two rivers a total length of 479 miles, with a drainage of 25,820 square miles. The upper tributary of the Clark Fork in Montana near Butte is called the Silver Bow Creek. I-90 follows much of the Clark Fork's upper course from Butte to northwest of Missoula.

The Clarks Fork Yellowstone River in southern Montana and parts of Wyoming is also called the Clarks Fork, but the two rivers are distinct and separate watercourses, and should not be confused with one and other.

As the Clark Fork rises as Silver Bow Creek in southwestern Montana from the confluence of Basin and Blacktail creeks, its beginnings are less than five miles from the continental divide near Butte. It flows northwest and north through a mountain valley, then passes east of Anaconda. Here the name changes to Clark Fork. The river then progresses in a general northwest direction toward Deer Lodge and across western Montana, passing south of the Garnet Mountain Range toward Missoula. Five miles east of Missoula the Blackfoot River adds to the flow.

The river continues through an extended valley along the northeast parts of the Bitterroot Range, through the Lolo National Forest, Northwest of Missoula. Here the Bitterroot River meets the Clark Fork, then about five miles west of downtown Missoula the Flathead joins the Clark Fork. The Thompson River joins the flow near Thompson Falls in Sanders County.

At the north end of the Bitterroots near Noxon, Montana near the Idaho border, the river is hindered by the Noxon Rapids Dam forming a boatable, twenty-mile-long reservoir. From there it crosses the Montana-Idaho state line into western Bonner County. Five more miles has the river discharging into the eastern end of Lake Pend Oreille, near the town of Clark Fork.

Learn about all of North Idaho's Rivers

Fishing - In a region of many, many rivers and lakes, sports fishing is a natural. On Lake Pend Oreille, once fish were so plentiful that a commercial fishing fleet once brought in tons of fish every day. The size of the trophy catches back in the day were legendary. However, with the introduction by the federal government of tiny shrimp to northern lakes some fifty years ago, the populations declined. Originally intended to increase fish populations, the experiment has the opposite effect. That, coupled with the introduction of non-native species nearly wiped out some of the types of fish in our lakes and rivers. The fish hatcheries closed, and things looked dim for fishing in our area. Conservation and proper management has helped our fish populations grow in recent years, and sports fishing has made a substantial comeback, though the numbers that supported dozens and even hundreds of commercial fishermen will probably not be seen in our lifetimes. Still, big Kamloops and trout can be hooked and cooked.

Visit this Fishing Resource for more information, rules, pdfs, and more.

Hunting - While the state of Idaho has more wilderness acreage than any other state, the Idaho Panhandle has more game, and better hunting than any other region of Idaho. With so many acres in the wild, no other state in the lower 48 has as much big game hunting variety and quality as Idaho. Idaho is sparsely populated with huge areas of forests, canyons, and mountain wildernesses. Idaho seasons generally run from 20-65 days. Hunter congestion remains rare. An amazing amount of land remains in the hands of the federal and state governments: 21,621,000 acres of the state's total acreage remains forested. The Federal Government holds 65.2% of all land, with estimates of 78 percent of all of Idaho belonging either to state or federal forests, etc.

Hunting around the mountains and waterways near Hope and Clark Fork are exceptional, and there are many guides that make their living trekking the trails. There are several entrances to the vast National Forests, and it is said there is more game in this area than any other place in the United States with the exception of Alaska.

Visit this Hunting Resource for more information, rules, pdfs, and more.

Observe the Ample Wildlife - You don't have to be a hunter to enjoy the wildlife and nascently beautiful wilderness surrounding Clark Fork and Hope, Idaho. There are numerous trails, waterfalls, and quiet Alpine lakes. The following choices are just a few of the things to do and places to see if you want to be with nature in our neck of North Idaho.

Watch the Trains - One place to do this, as well as watching the moose, elk, and deer cross the expanse, is at the mouth of the Pack River, on the way to Hope from Sandpoint where the train trestles cross. Killer views, and tres romantic on moonlit nights.

Montana Rockies Rail Tours operates the Montana Daylight, a tour train on MRL, between Sandpoint, ID and Livingston, MT. This a excursion/tour train that operates in the summer on MRL. It operates 3 levels of service utilizing coaches, domes and deluxe cars. Train includes a night in Gardiner with the Montana Blues Chuck Wagon Dinner Theater and a tour of the restored Livingston Depot Museum. 2660 West Ontario, Sandpoint, ID 83864, Phone: (800) 519-7245, Email: mtrail@netw.com This is a great way to see from the rails the lake and region.

Lakeside Park at the Old Litehouse Restaurant - Not far after the city of Hope and the Hope Peninsula on Lake Pend Oreille there is an octagonal building that once was the Litehouse Restaurant. This is where the famous Litehouse Salad dressings began. Now it is a manicured lawn park with fantastic views of the lake.

The National Forest - Entrance at Trestle Creek for great hiking and hunting.

Denton Slough   - There are two things that make a trip out to Denton Slough, on the southern side of the Hope Peninsula, Denton Slough Waterfowl Area is an elongated shallow slough, forming a bay near the Clark Fork River. This area is a favorite for migrating waterfowl, and is visited each fall by Tundra Swans and each spring by a nesting colony of Western Grebes. This inlet provides habitat to waterfowl, songbirds, and spiny ray fish. The second thing that makes a trip out to this area is just a bit farther down the road. There is the driftwood collection area for Lake Pend Oreille, and outstanding pieces of driftwood can be found any time of year. Many artists get pieces there for works that sell for up to hundreds of dollars, but you can get yours for free.

Diamond T Ranch - The Cabinet Gorge is astonishing, and the beautiful valley floor is surrounded by medieval forest covered mountains and pristine snow capped peaks. Here, just a few hundred yards through a wildlife refuge from the spectacular Clark Fork of the Columbia River is the Diamond T Ranch. Offering hiking and biking in woods, pastures, near lakes, rivers, and ponds, wildlife abounds. The ranch offers prime hunting and fishing, horseback riding, and a return to the natural life that North Idaho has become so renowned for. To learn more, go to www.diamondtranch.com

Scotchman Peak - There are three famous mountain peaks in our area: Schweitzer Mountain where we have a world-famous ski resort, the Roman Nose with its two strikingly beautiful Alpine lakes near Naples, Idaho, and the Scotchman Peaks which are famous for the fantastic views of Lake Pend Oreille and the Clark Fork River, plus incredibly friendly long white haired mountain goats.  The Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness describes them on their website: Looming above Lake Pend Oreille and the Clark Fork River in the Cabinet Mountains, Scotchman Peak is the highest point in Bonner County, Idaho, at 7009 feet.  Straddling the Idaho/Montana border, the Scotchman Peaks offer a place of quite refuge.  Nearby are the communities of Troy, Noxon and Heron, Montana, as well as Clark Fork, Hope and Sandpoint, Idaho. To learn more about preserving and hiking the Scotchman Peaks, visit www.scotchmanpeaks.org

For a great resource visit our Hiking & Biking page

Hike the Green Monarchs - This wavy ridgeline hike offers a healthy hike with awe-inspiring views down an almost vertical cliff 3,000 feet above dramatic Lake Pend Oreille. Sailboats, islands, and speed boats appear the size of ants in the distant tableau. The town of Hope is a mere dot in the distance surrounded by the peaks of the Selkirk and Cabinet Mountains. A great hike to see wildlife and lake views

For a great resource visit our Hiking & Biking page

Waterfalls, like Cabinet Gorge and Char Falls - Visit this website to learn about all the waterfalls in North Idaho: http://www.sandpointid.net/N.Idaho-Waterfalls.htm

International Selkirk Loop - Biking it, hiking it, or driving it, one of the coolest things you can do in the Pacific Northwest.

Friday night concerts at the Old Icehouse Pizzeria - In Hope, they have cool concerts on hot summer nights.

Idaho Club Golf Community - This was Hidden Lake Golf Course and community, then a few years ago Jack Nicklaus bought it, and the course should be open in 2009. Nice digs if you can afford them. Can't wait to check out the new course. Visit http://www.theidahoclub.com/

Cabinet Gorge Fish Hatchery  - Constructed in 1985, this hatchery is operated by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and was designed to raise up to 16 million Kokanee salmon annually. The decline in fish populations in Lake Pend Oreille was dramatic after the introduction of tiny krill, originally intended to help with fish populations. The government experiment had the opposite effect, and the fish hatchery was instituted to help reverse that decline. The day this was written a school class of third graders was visiting, learning all about the lake and its species. The hatchery also raises westslope cutthroat trout, fall chinook salmon and rainbow trout. All of the Kokanee fry are released into Lake Pend Oreille each June. The hatchery is empty of fish from July to October for maintenance. Daily tours are available and open from 8am - 4pm with free admission.

Cabinet Gorge Dam - The Cabinet Gorge Dam is located outside of Clark Fork, Idaho on the Pend Oreille Scenic Byway, about fifteen minutes down Highway 200 near the Idaho-Montana border. While the dam itself is beautiful, the surroundings are breathtaking. The hike down to the water is worth it, and the entire area around the gorge deserves to be explored

According to Idaho Public Television, the Cabinet Gorge Dam was built by Morrison Knudsen Corporation, a worldwide construction firm headquartered in Boise, Idaho. The dam was a project sponsored by the Defense Program. The designer and supervisor of the project, Ebasco Services, Inc., contracted with Morrison-Knudsen. Construction began in 1951 and ended in April of 1952. Total cost of the dam was $47 million.

The dam had to be constructed in one season so spring floods would not wash away the temporary cofferdams. The dam was actually completed in half the time estimated by the Defense Program. The construction company claims that it was also completed at half the cost. It takes a lot of force to keep a dam standing against the incredible force of the water. The strength of the Cabinet Gorge Dam lies in the outward forces the arch design places on the canyon walls.

The dam is a true arch dam, which is 208 ft high and 600 ft long. Throughout the whole dam its thickness never exceeds 40 ft. The first step in construction was the diversion of the Clark Fork River to clear a construction site. 32 tons of dynamite blasted 50,000 cubic yards of rock down the canyon walls of the river. The blast was felt 32 miles away in Sandpoint. Water was then shunted through a pair of tunnels each 1000-ft. long. Cofferdams were built above and below the site to divert the water. Half a million cubic yards of rock were excavated.

The Floating Restaurant - In Hope, at Hope Marine there is a house boat that has been a literal floating restaurant for twenty years. Can't beat the location, but only open during warmer months. A must to experience. One of the best things about it, you can boat up to the marina for lunch.

Hope Hotel - The original hotel was named the Hotel Jeannot and it became a busy success because it was able to capitalize on its location right above the major division point for the region's railroad. Though up the cliffside face of Lake Pend Oreille, it provided easy access for passenger to the hotel. Many say the tunnels were used to entertain Chinese "Coolees," who were normally not allowed in the establishments that served the locals and travelers.

When the division point moved to Sandpoint, Hope started to become the draw it is today. The hotel continued to attract people until the 1960s, partly because the picturesque setting of the town beside Lake Pend Oreille was such a magnet for tourists. Some of them quite prominent, such as J.P. Morgan, Teddy Roosevelt, Gary Cooper, and Bing Crosby.

Today the Hotel is closed, though it does open from time to time, depending on the current owner's mood that year. The hotel has a fine restaurant, the Wily Widgeon Cafe, and a great saloon, called the Soiled Dove Saloon, both of which afford outstanding lake views. The saloon is in a decor definitely out of the turn of the century, and both are a treat to take advantage of, imagining years gone by, from another era.

Hope Peninsula - The Hope Peninsula is the home to Sam Owen Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, as well as Island View RV Resort and Beyond Hope Resort, with its RV park and renowned restaurant. It is also the home of Idaho's first white trading post called the Kullyspell House named after the Kalispel Indian Tribe (See Hope/Clark Fork History), a structure that is still standing. It was the home of famed artist Ed Kienholz, and much of his tableau art is on the Groenk Estate. The old entrance to the Groenke Estate also has an unusual edifice in the plexiglas encased full section of the Berlin Wall. Kienholz had quite a following in Berlin, and another well-known German family has a compound of cabins on the peninsula. On Kullyspell Drive you can see the name Factor on the mailboxes, belonging to the Max Factor family. On that same road are a couple of works of art in a whimsical airplane and other pieces, and the views are inspiring. One of the coolest things about the peninsula is that it is a protected wildlife sanctuary, so tame deer, turkeys, and tiny bunnies are everywhere. Take the family for a day, or have lunch or dinner at the Beyond Hope Restaurant. Beyond Hope is slated to be developed into something else, probably as soon as the economy turns around, so it might not be there next year.

Sam Owen Park and Wildlife Sanctuary - One can hardly help notice that our Hope Peninsula is a protected wildlife area. The signs prohibiting feeding the deer abound. The deer abound. An exact number is hard to put a finger on, with estimated of less than 100 to several hundred. Still, there are plenty of them. There are fewer turkeys, but there are still more than most people have ever seen, plus many tiny bunny rabbits, called Lops, miniature Lops, or Hoobly Lops. There are many other kinds of wildlife, so stick around and you will see.

Located 21 miles east of the town of Sandpoint, Idaho, the campground is situated along the banks of Lake Pend Oreille in a heavily pine wooded area. Restrooms are provided. Within a short drive popular activities include skiing, hiking, boating, photography, wildlife watching in the Game Preserve, and fishing on the lake. A campground host is on site. Firewood is available. Some campground roads and spurs are paved. Boat launch and dump station are provided at no charge to campground users; others will be charged a fee for use.

In addition to the state park there are two RV parks, attesting to the popularity of the peninsula. One of the RV parks - Beyond Hope Resort - has one of North Idaho's most popular restaurants. In fact, there are many great eateries in the area, including the Floating Restaurant, Dock of the Bay, Icehouse Pizzeria, and Hope Market Café. Around the area from Clark Fork to Hope and East Hope, there are a number of fine places to dine or have a casual meal. There is also Red Fir Resort, and though there are plans to close Beyond Hope Resort and develop it into a lakeside luxury community, it will reopen for 2009. Red Fir sold parts, and there is no information at this time as whether it will open again. One of the most famous landmarks is Hotel Hope, where writers and scholars, presidents and actors have stayed and played for over 100 years. The Hotel no longer takes guests, but the saloon and restaurant still offer tasty fare and libations with unbelievable Lake Pend Oreille views.

You can learn a wealth of information about North Idaho by visiting:

http://sandpointid.net

Want to ski the Inland Northwest's best ski resort?

http://skischweitzer.net

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