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Posted: April 28, 2019

Sandpoint an Idaho version of Kootenay towns

Road Trippin’ Sandpoint, Idaho

One of the more popular weekend getaway spots for East Kootenay wanderers is nearby Sandpoint, Idaho.

Lake Pend Oreille at Sandpoint

An easy and pretty two-hour drive from Cranbrook, Sandpoint is a thriving town of 8,400 residents that is much-like the East Kootenay’s top tourist towns in that it offers four-season fun in a gorgeous setting, perched along the shallowest shore of Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho’s largest water body, and surrounded by three mountain ranges (Selkirk, Bitterroot an Cabinet).

Sandpoint and adjacent Ponderay (1,200 residents) offer everything travelers require, from big box stores to unique boutiques and a growing wealth of places to dine and sip beverages, including locally produced beer and wine.

Because it took me 30 years of visits to finally ‘discover’ this gem – I have to pass along this tip: for a rip-snortin’, no foolin’ around breakfast – head to The Hoot Owl in Ponderay.

Downtown Sandpoint is now a two-way traffic experience (heads up to those who have been to the city before but not in the last few years) thanks to the conclusion of the long-under-construction Highway 95.

Part of that construction was additions to the city’s many walking/biking routes, leading one through a town named in 2011 by Rand McNally and USA Today as America’s ‘Most Beautiful Small Town.’

Along with sharing similar economies and settings as many Kootenay towns, the area also shares ties with great explorer and cartographer David Thompson, one of many fascinating facts available to uncover at the Bonner County History Museum (pictured right).

Hope and East Hope east of Ponderay on Highway 200 offer lovely views of Lake Pend Oreille, which reaches 1,150 feet at its deepest. That fact led the US Navy to establish a submarine testing and training centre at Bayview, south of Sandpoint.

Also at East Hope is a marker noting the former presence of David Thompson’s Kullyspell House, and not far away another roadside marker informs one that they are at or about the spot where the great (more like incomprehensibly mammoth) Glacial Lake Missoula floods began.

Galaxy Gallery

Sandpoint’s other chief attractions include Schweitzer Mountain Resort, City Beach Park, Dog Beach Park offering cool views of the rail bridge, Lakeview Park and arboretum, the uber-colourful Galaxy Gallery in a downtown alley, along with numerous annual festivals and celebrations, outdoor recreation opportunities of every kind and Silverwood Theme Park is a 20 minute drive south on Highway 95.

There are also many lovely country drives that wind through rolling lakeside country and past picturesque small lakes and parks in all directions of the city.

Here’s a look at Sandpoint from two of our more recent shoots – one last autumn (2018) and this past March (2019).

Lead image: A day comes to a close over Lake Pend Oreille and the Highway 95 causeway leading south from Sandpoint. Ian Cobb photo

Photos and video by Carrie Schafer and Ian Cobb


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