Endless Waters, Edges and Islands

From the shores of big lakes to the banks of winding rivers, the Idaho Panhandle National Forests create a tapestry of land and water in the handle of North Idaho. 

Recreation opportunities on the IPNF can be viewed as occuring in 5 fairly broad geographic areas, each centered around one or more distinctive features. These areas are the:

  • Priest Lake Area (Priest Lake Ranger District - flanking scenic Priest Lake and Upper Priest Lake)
  • Lower Kootenai River Area (Bonners Ferry Ranger District - rugged mountains surrounding the Kootenai River as it flows through the northern panhandle)
  • Pend Oreille Lake Area (Sandpoint Ranger District - centered around Pend Oreille Lake and its major tributaries - Clark Fork River, Lightning Creek, and Pack River)
  • Coeur d'Alene River Area (Coeur d'Alene River Ranger District - comprised largely of the Coeur d'Alene river basin)
  • St. Joe River Area (St. Joe Ranger District - comprised primarily of the St. Joe River basin)

On our web site you'll find our recreation sites organized by these areas. So, note the area on our forest you'd like to stay or explore and then discover our recreation opportunites. Or, choose an activity and see where on the forest it is offered. Either way, we're sure you'll find exceptional recreation opportunities on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests.

The map below shows these areas in relation to the entire Idaho panhandle. These areas are also coincident with our 5 Ranger Districts: Priest Lake, Bonners Ferry, Sandpoint, Coeur d'Alene River, and St. Joe.  Read more...

Recreation Conditions Report

 Area Name Status Area Conditions
Emerald Creek Garnet Area Closed to Visitor
Red Ives Information Center Open to Visitor  Historic Ranger Station is open Friday- Monday through early October 2017.
Route of the Hiawatha Rail-Trail Open to Visitor Open through September 23, 2018.  Visit for specifics as operational hours may vary.
Settler's Grove Interpretive Trail #162 Open to Visitor June 22, 2017:This area experienced significant damage from wildfire in 2015. Hazards you may encounter are unstable trees, falling debris from tops of snags and damaged trees, and unstable ground around burned-out stumps. Please take the following safety precautions when visiting this site:
  • Do not enter the area during high winds!
  • Stay on the trail to reduce your exposure to hazards.
  • Do not linger in areas with fire-damaged trees.
Areas & Activities