Pend Oreille Scenic Byway
- DesignationNational Scenic Byway (2002)
- Intrinsic QualitiesRecreation
- Length33 miles
Visitors to the Pend Oreille Scenic Byway find an abundance of recreational opportunities, postcard-quality scenery, and historical elements. Each season enhances the numerous recreational opportunities created by the interplay of Lake Pend Oreille, the Clark Fork River, and the surrounding forests, all bordered by immense natural beauty within the byway's corridor.
Story of the Byway
The Pend Oreille Scenic Byway, though brief at 33.4 miles, is a route that offers many scenic turnouts and dramatic water views. The byway navigates eastward through farmland and river deltas toward the Montana state line. Along the corridor are Lake Pend Oreille, the Clark Fork River, and its surrounding forests.
Located in the northern Idaho panhandle, Lake Pend Oreille is the largest lake in the state, the 38th largest lake by area and among the five deepest lakes in the United States. It is fed by the Clark Fork River and the Pack River—all of which are surrounded by national forests. These forests are known for ponderosa pine, Douglas fir and red cedar; home to much wildlife, including deer, elk, moose, even black bears and grizzly bears. Bird watchers might see bald eagles, osprey, hummingbirds or the mountain bluebird. The lake is habitat for several species of migratory waterfowl.
Crossing Idaho and Montana, the Clark Fork is the largest river by volume in Montana, which empties into the aforementioned Lake Pend Oreille. In addition to lake scenery, this byway begins just north of Sandpoint, which is known for its year-round sports. Schweitzer Mountain Resort offers exceptional skiing in winter and mountain biking in summer. The colors of spring and fall are dramatic, making the Pend Oreille Scenic Byway a perfect excursion any time of year. Allow 11/2 hours to enjoy the route.
From Sandpoint, follow ID-200 to the Montana state line.
Points of Interest
Lake Pend Oreille
Lake Pend Oreille in the northern Idaho Panhandle is the largest lake in the U.S. state of Idaho and the 38th-largest lake by area in the United States.
Clark Fork River
The Clark Fork, or the Clark Fork of the Columbia River, is a river in Montana and Idaho.
Schweitzer Mountain Resort
Schweitzer is the largest resort in Idaho and Washington with 2900 acres of terrain.
A Family Resort Retreat
From Sandpoint, head north on the byway for 13 miles until you reach Schweitzer Mountain Resort. Check into any number of lodges and condos at the resort (or bring your RV) and get settled for a cozy weekend. Head to a grill or pub for lunch, and then set out for a hike or horseback ride (in summer) or a scenic lift ride (in winter) to get to know the area. At night enjoy the shops in the village or head out for a twilight ski session if the season is right.
Wake early for a seasonal trail run or some time on the powder, then enjoy a leisurely brunch in the village. Check your children into Adventure Camp or take them tubing for an afternoon of fun. At night bring your kids to Kids’ Night Out while you enjoy an intimate meal in the village. When you leave, head out on the byway for a scenic drive home.
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