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Pend Oreille Scenic Byway
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"I enjoy looking out at the vistas, the water, seeing the boats, the fishermen, the recreationalists out on the water. Depending upon the light, the weather, it looks different every time, the time of day. It's just a really spectacularly scenic drive out along the north end of the lake."
The shimmering waters of Idaho's largest lake are the backdrop for a gorgeous drive through northern Idaho. The Pend Oreille Scenic Byway runs along highway 200 from Sandpoint to the Montana border. It twists for more than thirty miles past forested mountains and rocky shorelines. On the eastern end of the byway at the Montana border the Cabinet Gorge Dam stretches across the rocky canyon carved by the Clark Fork River. Below the dam you'll travel through the picturesque valley of the Clark Fork. And downstream, the river flows into Lake Pend Oreille to form the lush Clark Fork delta. You can explore this magical place from the Johnson Creek Recreation area.
When visitors reach the lake itself, there are many choices for scenic stops. One popular spot is the Sam Owen Campground. The campground is operated by the U.S. Forest Service and has eighty camp sites and a nice swimming beach. Also in this area is the site of the "Kullyspell House," the first trading post in the Pacific Northwest. It was originally built in 1809 by David Thompson. Just down the road, the community of Hope offers some of the best views of this huge glacier carved lake. And there are plenty of other places along this route to pull off and take in the incredible vistas.
Of course if you want to get out on the water there are a number of options for boating, water skiing, fishing, or guided tours. And don't forget to visit the Pack River Wildlife area along the way. You can look for wildlife and waterfowl by canoe or kayak on either side of the byway. Finally, in Sandpoint you can check out the sandy city beach in summer or head up to the Schweitzer Mountain Resort for winter skiing.