Recreation


Discover an Area by Activity

Select an activity to find an area to visit.

 

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.  

 

Interested in learning more about how recreation opporunities are managed?  Check out the 2019 IPNF Recreation Strategy

 

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information

Recreation Conditions Report

Area Name Status Area Conditions
Bartoo Island Group Site/Campgrounds None Refer to Recreation.gov for latest updates.
Priest Lake Ranger District 208-443-2512
Beauty Creek Campground None Refer to Recreation.gov for latest updates or call Scenic Canyons Recreational Services, Inc. at: 435-245-6521
Beaver Creek Campground None Refer to Recreation.gov for latest updates.
Scenic Canyons Recreational Services, Inc. (435) 245-6521
Bell Bay Campground None Refer to Recreation.gov for latest updates. or call Scenic Canyons Recreational Services, Inc. at: 435-245-6521
Berlin Flats Group Campground None Refer to Recreation.gov for latest updates.
Coeur d'Alene River Ranger District - 208-664-2318
Big Creek Campground None
Big Hank Campground None Tentatively opening July 1, 2021. Refer to Recreation.gov for latest updates or call Scenic Canyons Recreational Services, Inc. at: 435-245-6521
Bumblebee Campground None Refer to Recreation.gov for latest updates or call Scenic Canyons Recreational Services, Inc. at: 435-245-6521
Camp 3 Campground None Closing for Season: 10/19/2020
Cedar Creek Campground None 5/27/2021 Open
Conrad Crossing Campground None
Copper Creek Campground None Bonners Ferry Ranger District - 208-267-5561
Devil's Elbow Campground None Refer to Recreation.gov for latest updates. or call Scenic Canyons Recreational Services, Inc. at: 435-245-6521
Emerald Creek Campground None 5/27/2021 Open
Emerald Creek Garnet Area None The Emerald Creek Garnet Area is now open by reservation only (effective March 2021). No walk up permits will be sold.  Reservations will become available 90 days in advance of the reservation date on recreation.gov or by calling (877) 444-6777 or TDD (877) 833-6777.  The season is May 28 - Sept 6, 2021.
 
Fly Flat Campground None
Geisinger Campground None Priest Lake Ranger District 208-443-2512
Green Bay Campground None Sandpoint Ranger District 208-263-5111
Honeysuckle Campground None Refer to Recreation.gov for latest updates. or call Scenic Canyons Recreational Services, Inc. at: 435-245-6521
Kalispell Island Group Site and other Campgrounds None Refer to Recreation.gov for latest updates.
Priest Lake Ranger District 208-443-2512
Kit Price Campground Closed Closed for the 2021 season for major campground renovations. Refer to Recreation.gov for latest updates. or call Scenic Canyons Recreational Services, Inc. at: 435-245-6521
Line Creek Stock Camp None
Luby Bay Campground None Refer to Recreation.gov for latest updates.
Or call Scenic Canyons Recreational Services, Inc. at (435) 245-6521
Mammoth Springs Campground None
Meadow Creek Campground None Bonners Ferry Ranger District - 208-267-5561
Mokins Bay Campground None Refer to Recreation.gov for latest updates. or call Scenic Canyons Recreational Services, Inc. at: 435-245-6521
Navigation Campground None Priest Lake Ranger District 208-443-2512
Osprey Campground None Refer to Recreation.gov for latest updates.
Scenic Canyons Recreational Services, Inc. (435) 245-6521.
Outlet at Priest Lake Campground None Refer to Recreation.gov for latest updates.
Scenic Canyons Recreational Services, Inc. (435) 245-6521
Packsaddle Campground None
Plowboy Campground None Priest Lake Ranger District 208-443-2512
Reeder Bay Campground None Refer to Recreation.gov for latest updates.
Scenic Canyons Recreational Services, Inc. (435) 245-6521
Robinson Lake Campground None Bonners Ferry Ranger District - 208-267-5561
Sam Owen Campground None Refer to Recreation.gov for latest updates.
Scenic Canyons Recreational Services, Inc. (435) 245-6521
Shadowy St. Joe Campground None
Smith Lake Campground None High elevation, access depends on snowpack. Bonners Ferry Ranger District - 208-267-5561
Spruce Tree Campground None
Telichpah Campground None
Tin Can Flat Campground None
Trapper Creek Campground None Priest Lake Ranger District 208-443-2512
Turner Flat Campground None
Upper Landing - Avery RV Dump Station None
Whiskey Rock Bay Campground None Sandpoint Ranger District 208-263-5111

Spotlights

Route of the Hiawatha

It's been called one of the most scenic stretches of railroad in the country. Winding through nine tunnels and over seven high steel trestles, the 15-mile route crosses the rugged Bitterroot Mountains between Idaho and Montana.

The route of the Hiawatha is best known for the long, dark St. Paul Pass or "Taft" Tunnel which burrows for 1.66 miles under the state line. The tunnel, which had been closed for repairs, reopened for use by mountain bikers, hikers, and wheelchair users the end of May 2001.

The first 13 miles of the route were opened to the public on May 29, 1998. When finished, a bicyclist will be able to ride the Route of the Hiawatha between St. Regis, Montana and Pearson, Idaho. Once again, people will be able to travel the Milwaukee Road over the Bitterroot Mountains, soaking up the rich history and enjoying the breathtaking scenery.  MORE INFORMATION...

Lookout Recreation and Ski Area, in partnership with the Forest Service, manages this trail through a permit.  For information on operational hours, trail tickets, shuttles, bike rentals and general questions about the trail please visit: www.ridethehiawatha.com

St. Joe Wild & Scenic River

St. Joe River

The "Shadowy" St. Joe River flows down the western slopes of the Bitterroot Mountain Range from it's headwaters at St. Joe Lake near the Idaho/ Montana state line.

The upper portion of the St. Joe River was Congressionally designated as a Wild and Scenic River in 1978; designating the portion of the St. Joe River from North Fork of the St. Joe River to Spruce Tree Campground (39.7 miles) as a Recreational River and the segment from Spruce Tree Campground to St. Joe Lake (26.6 miles) as a Wild River.  The Recreational portion of the river provides multiple vehicle access opportunities and developed campgrounds.  Above Spruce Tree Campground the Wild portion of the St. Joe River is accessible only by non-motorized travel, with Trail 48 following the river to Heller Creek Campground.

The St. Joe River offers a variety of recreational opportunites, such as fly fishing, floating, camping, hiking, horseback riding and backpacking.

Recreation Areas