Taking a trip to Idaho and not sure what to do? Here’s the perfect Northern Idaho Itinerary for you! I’m a local Idahoan and can honestly say that Northern Idaho boasts some of the most beautiful landscapes in the state. If you happen to be in Southern Idaho, be sure to check out this Southern Idaho Itinerary as well. 

North Idaho is full of small towns, beautiful mountains, lakes, beaches, backcountry roads, and more. No matter the season, an Idaho road trip is one for the books. In the winter, you’ll experience skiing, snowboarding, and cozy fireside bonding. The summer season is an excellent time for hikes with rewarding views, whitewater rafting, lakeside or riverside fishing, and more!

Check out this Northern Idaho road trip guide to take advantage of the best that Northern Idaho offers! From scenic hiking trails to picturesque lake view resorts, Northern Idaho is the road trip you won’t regret taking. Check out some of the best locations to stop at below!

The Ultimate Northern Idaho Road Trip

Northern Idaho Weather

Northern Idaho will offer you all four seasons! From colorful fall foliage and snow-capped mountains to warm summer days. It truly has something for every traveler. In North Idaho, summers can be short and dry while winters are chilly and cloudy. 

The summers range from 56° F – to 86° F and can be pretty warm and dry. The winter brings a cooler temperature with an average of 24° F – 44° F and typically doesn’t go below 9° F.

Northern Idaho best time to visit

Best Time to Visit Northern Idaho

The best time to visit Idaho will depend on what you are seeking for your road trip itinerary. If you want beautiful fall foliage, hit the road in autumn. Winter should be on your bucket list if you want colder air and falling snow! You can also enjoy the springtime flowers starting in April too. Want to hike or boat your day away? Summer may be the season for you.

I recommend going on your Northern Idaho road trip in late spring, summertime, or early fall to get the most out of your experience. Winter is also beautiful in Northern Idaho but can also limit the amount of swimming, camping, and hiking availability. Also, remember that some locations are closed in the winter, and roads can become icy. Make sure you are comfortable with winter driving conditions if you plan to go then.

How to Get to Northern Idaho

There are a few ways to get to Northern Idaho, from planes to long drives. Boise, the capital of Idaho, wouldn’t be my first choice, but it is the largest airport in Idaho. You can always fly in here, but beware that Idaho is a large state, and driving up to Northern Idaho can take up to 6+ hours. 

My first choice would be to fly into Spokane, Washington, and start your trip here as it’s the most accessible place to fly into to get to Northern Idaho and only 40 mins from Coeur d’Alene. If you can get a flight into Pullman, Washington, or Lewiston, Idaho, that will also work. 

Roadtripping is another excellent way to access this part of the state, especially if you are coming from the Pacific Northwest. 

What To Pack For A Northern Idaho Road Trip

Idaho is an outdoorsy state; honestly, anything goes in terms of clothing for dining or nights out. The majority of the state has a laid-back, outdoorsy vibe. Knowing what to pack in detail will depend on the season, but here is a quick packing list to get you started! Also, this is a good resource as well!

Hiking Boots

Proper footwear for outdoor adventures is so important! Sneakers or flats with slippery or low-grip bottoms can ruin your day in the forest. Do yourself a favor and invest in good boots or shoes with proper grips. These are my favorite at the moment.


Being over-prepared with layers can make or break your trip. Mornings can be cold in the mountains, with crisp air in both summer and winter. You can start your day with a base layer and a jacket but end your day in a T-shirt. This is normal for states that are at higher elevations. Bringing multiple layers to switch out throughout the day will keep you both warm and safe.


If you are visiting in the winter, be sure to bring a heavy coat that is snow resistant. A jacket that keeps you warm from 0 to 20 degrees will keep you warm and cozy in the winter. A light rain jacket will work if you are heading out in the spring or summer. Rainstorms can sometimes appear out of nowhere in the mountains, so ensure you have your jacket with you. This will allow you and your clothes to stay dry during those random and sometimes refreshing storms.

Regular Clothing

Like I said before, Idaho is pretty laid back, so whatever you’d wear at home, you can get away with it here. Jeans, shorts, tops, sweaters, jackets, tank tops, sneakers, sandals, boots, you name it, and anything goes! Also, there are lots of water sports to experience in Northern Idaho, so be sure to pack swimsuits, cover-ups, and a dry bag.

Northern Idaho Road Trip

Northern Idaho Road Trip Itinerary

Northern Idaho Road Trip Attractions

Coeur d'Alene lake
Stop 1 – Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

The lake town of Coeur d’Alene boasts the second largest lake in northern Idaho, Lake Coeur d’Alene. Here you’ll see a stunning mountain landscape in the background of this serene lake. 

Joined to three rivers—Coeur d’Alene, St. Joe River, and Spokane River—Lake Coeur d’Alene spans 26 miles and 135 miles of shoreline. It holds many parks with campgrounds, trails, and other engaging recreational activities available to visitors.

While here, you may want to check out Tubbs Hill, a peninsula with a picturesque lakefront that spans 120 acres of hiking trails and scenic views. One of the more accessible hiking trails in Idaho, Tubbs Hill is best visited from the months of May to October, where visitors fish, run, walk, hike, and snap pictures of the astounding lake-featured views.

The active mountain town of Coeur d’Alene is worth a trip any time of year. Whether it be hiking, snowboarding, rafting, or hopping on a dinner cruise, Coeur d’Alene is a destination dream.

While in Coeur d’Alene (also known as CDA to us locals), check out the cute downtown and look at my Coeur d’Alene guide for more fun things to do. 

Note: You can also make Coeur d’Alene your home base for many of these stops!

Where to Stay in Coeur d’Alene 
The Coeur d’Alene Resort

Located on the shore of Lake Coeur d’Alene, The Coeur d’Alene Resort is available year-round for a broad scope of activities and an unforgettable landscape to be enjoyed. The hotel provides a spa, salon, lake cruise, golf course, and numerous restaurants with locally-sourced cuisines.


One Lakeside

One Lakeside features 29 residential-style suites with chef-ready kitchens and outdoor spaces designed for gathering. They are dog-friendly and are close to downtown. 


Stop 2 – Wallace and Lookout Pass/ Hiawatha Trail
Wallace, Idaho

You’ll find Wallace, Idaho, about a 50-minute drive from Coeur d’Alene! Wallace is on a 100-year run as the largest silver producer globally and is still the wealthiest mining town! Nowadays, Wallace engages tourists by providing the world’s largest ATV, mountain bike, and snowmobile system.

While in Wallace, you can book a miner-guided tour underground. While downtown, visit the “Center of the Universe” plaque in the middle of 6th street in downtown Wallace. Wallace is still known as a ghost town in Idaho as well!

Lookout Pass and The Hiawatha Trail

Also known as the Route of the Hiawatha, this mountain bike or hiking trail is a 15-mile long trail with 10 train tunnels to go through and 7 trestles. It’s 12 miles east of Wallace. You’ll want to go to the Lookout Pass Ski Area to get trail passes, shuttle tickets (shuttles are available for transport along the trail), and bike rentals. The trail starts 7 miles from Lookout Pass at the Idaho-Montana state line. 

This trail is very family-friendly as most of it is flat or downhill.

Stop 3 – Hells Canyon

An hour from Coeur d’Alene, you’ll find the deepest river gorge known to North America; Hells Canyon. Hells Canyon is a natural treasure located in northern Idaho. The Snake River, which carved out the famous Snake River Canyon that daredevil Evel Knievel attempted to jump across in 1974, also carved out Hells Canyon. 

The whole of Hells Canyon encompasses not only the state of Idaho but some of Oregon as well. Miles and miles of wild nature surrounded through mild elevation and terrain. The scenic views are a sight to see, so make sure to bring a camera when you visit!

There is a recreation area with available vistas where visitors can simply enjoy the awe-inspiring views or go on an adventure through Hells Canyon by whitewater boating, hiking, fishing, and more. Looking to go on an adventure in Hells Canyon? Check out this blog to see some great ideas for things to do at Hells Canyon. You may also want to try this tour by boat through Hells Canyon!

Stop 4 – Silverwood Theme Park

Located just 35 minutes from Coeur d’Alene is the Silverwood Theme Park located in Athol, Idaho. They have over 65 rides, slides, shows, and attractions. You don’t want to miss their four roller coasters and the Boulder Beach Water Park for hot summer days. Traveling with kids? This could be a great option!

Stop 5 – Farragut State Park

About a 40-minute drive from Coeur d’Alene is Farragut State Park, located on the southern tip of Lake Pend Oreille. This is a 4,000-acre park with camping spots, cabins, and group camps. 

You’ll find beautiful scenery and endless recreational activities: fishing, hiking, biking, World War II history at the Museum at the Brig, a radio-controlled airplane field, and disc golf.

Stop 6 – Sandpoint, Idaho, and Schweitzer Ski Resort
Sandpoint, Idaho

On the opposite side of the lake from Farragut State Park, you’ll find the town of Sandpoint, Idaho, located on the northern side of Lake Pend Oreille. Glacially formed during the Ice Age, Lake Pend Oreille is one of the five deepest lakes in the United States and the largest lake in Idaho. 

The term “Pend Oreille” is French and translates to “ear-hanging” or “pendant,” known as tributes to the Kalispel Indians who wore ear pendants. The scenic view of the lake can be soaked in along the Pend Oreille Scenic Byway, State Highway 200, from the north shore, where mountains along the shoreline are scattered.

In Sandpoint, be sure to visit Sandpoint City Beach and check out downtown Sandpoint. I also recommend going to Cedar Street Bridge Public Market and having fun participating in water sports on the lake. Here’s a list of more things to do while in Sandpoint.

Schweitzer Ski Resort

Just about 25 minutes from Sandpoint is Schweitzer Ski Resort. Schweitzer Resort is one of the most popular ski resorts in Northern Idaho and is an obvious choice to visit when you come to Sandpoint. The resort is open year-round, and the views are tremendous! You can ski in the winter and bike and hike here in the summer. Also, if you take the lift up in the summer, you can pick huckleberries (a popular berry that grows in Idaho) on your way down the hill!

Stop 7 – Idaho Panhandle National Forests

This sprawl of white-tipped mountain tops, glistening lakes, and expansive wildlife, is one of Idaho’s many glorious locations. The Idaho Panhandle National Forests spans 2.5 million acres, expanding into western Montana and eastern Washington. It lies in the panhandle of northern Idaho, between the Cascade mountains and Bitterroot Mountains on either side and is an aggregation of the Coeur d’Alene.

Visiting this large expanse of protected land, you’ll be able to soak in the long-abandoned mining town and history-ridden military wagon roads used during the Civil War era. Many hiking trail entrances can be used in various locations, from the Pend Oreille Lake Area to the Coeur d’Alene River Area—it’s up to you where you want to start your journey!

The Idaho panhandle is teeming with wildlife like elk, eagles, grizzly bears, wolves, woodland caribou, and whitetail deer, which calls the miles of rivers, vast lakes, wild huckleberry, and evergreen forest their home. Take a trip down the river whitewater rafting or fishing, stay at a local resort during the winter season for an exhilarating ski trip down the mountain, or camp at one of the local campsites during the summer season to enjoy a wonderous hike in the lively scenic expanse of nature-filled trails.

Stop 8 – Priest Lake

If you haven’t gotten tired of lakes after Coeur d’ Alene and Lake Pend Oreille, be sure to visit Priest Lake! This is an excellent lake to boat, fish, camp, hike, and picnic. There are many different recreational activities, and you won’t have to worry about too many crowds because it is one of the least developed of the larger lakes mentioned before. There are 80 miles of shoreline, and it is entirely surrounded by National Forest. Behind the lake are the Selkirk Mountains, which are breathtaking.

Stop 9 – Moscow, Idaho

Moscow, Idaho, is home to one of the best colleges in Idaho, the University of Idaho. I may be biased because this is where I went to school. The rolling hills of the Palouse surrounding Moscow are breathtaking, and the college campus, which makes up most of the town, is Idaho’s oldest school. The campus itself is charming, with brick buildings covered in ivy, extensive lawns, and massive fraternity and sorority houses.

While in Moscow, be sure to walk downtown, check out Greek Row, and eat at Mikey’s Gyros! Walking down the arboretum or hiking up Moscow Mountain is also fun. See more of my favorite things to do in Moscow, Idaho.

Northern Idaho Road Trip - Moscow
Northern Idaho Road Trip - Moscow
Moscow tourist
Stop 10 – Final Stop

After your northern Idaho adventure, I recommend flying out of Spokane. Or, try heading down to Southern Idaho and doing my Southern Idaho road trip itinerary!

Read next: 

Wrapping Up

Get ready to make memories you’ll forever treasure using this Northern Idaho Road Trip guide. From hiking in the Idaho Panhandle National Forests to an unforgettable stay at The Coeur d’Alene Resort with scenic views of Lake Coeur d’Alene and its many waterfront activities, Northern Idaho is waiting to be explored on this once-in-a-lifetime road trip.


Northern Idaho Road Trip
Northern Idaho Road Trip
Northern Idaho Road Trip

Join 20K+ Readers! Sign Up & Get Stories from the Traveling Spud

* indicates required