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Eastern Washington

North Idaho

Western Montana

Priest Lake, Idaho

Priest Lake is an ideal year-round family and / or adventure vacation destination as well as an extraordinary location for group conferences, seminars, or retreats. Priest Lake is an easy place to unspoiled natural wonderland, uncrowded and unhurried. You'll discover a magnificent 23,000 acre azure lake nestled beneath the majestic Selkirk Mountains — without question, one of the most beautiful wilderness areas you’ll ever see.

Priest Lake’s breathtaking scenery is limited only by the horizon. This spectacular backdrop coupled with the myriad of available recreational opportunities make Priest Lake an unforgettable experience. You’ll discover fantastic boating, fishing, hiking, camping, snowmobiling, hunting, cross-country skiing at Priest Lake — along with an abundance of Priest Lake hospitality.

Priest Lake is truly Sensational in all Seasons. You will arrive a visitor, but will be welcomed, treated, and treasured as friend.

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Major Events and Festivals


Annual Winter Carnival & Snowmobile Poker Fun Run


Logger's Day

Held in late April in Nordman.


Priest Lake Spring Festival

Held in Memorial Day weekend in Coolin.  Includes a parade, an arts and crafts show and a fun run.



Held July 4th at area resorts.


Hydrofoil Fly-in

Held in late August at Elkins Resort.


Annual Wooden Boat Show & Dry Rot Breakfast

Held in early September.

Annual Boat Poker Run
Held in early September.


Classic & Antique Car Show
Held in early October at Elkins Resort.


Annual "Tis the Season" Arts and Crafts Show

Held in early November at Hill's Resort.


Alpine Lakes

The numerous alpine lakes cradled deep within the Selkirks are one of the most outstanding attractions of the area. These lakes, combined with the access trails to them, provide the outdoor enthusiast a taste of some of Mother Nature's finest handiwork. The most spectacular of these mountain lakes are in the mountains above the east side of Priest Lake. They include Hunt Lake, Fault Lake, Standard Lake and numerous others nestled in high mountain bowls.

Hunt Creek Falls

Another one of Mother Nature's gifts to the Priest Lake area. This beautiful falls is located in a secluded ravine and is surrounded by large moss covered granite boulders. It is a magical setting that attracts those who truly appreciate the natural wonders of water, rock and flora intertwined in an idyllic setting.

Indian Rock Pictographs

The site of pictographs that are believed to have originated with the presence of Native Americans in the Priest Lake area. The pictographs belong to what is classified as Eastern Plateau Style of prehistoric rock art. The presence of this pictographic style in the Priest Lake region is an indication of the influence of Plains Indians on local tribes. This influence occurred after the introduction of the horse among the local tribes in the 1730s. The horse facilitated contact and intercultural exchanges with Plains Indians through annual bison hunting trips into the plains region.

Priest Lake Museum

The Priest Lake Museum is a great place to begin any visit to the lake and a fitting showplace to remind us of the numerous influences that created the special character of Priest Lake. The museum building was constructed in 1935 by Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). It is a prime example of handcrafted oil-treated tamarack (larch) log construction. The building initially served as a residence and office for the first Ranger on what was then Kaniksu National Forest. The museum houses numerous articles and displays that depict the colorful history of the lake and the surrounding area.

Roosevelt Grove & Granite Falls

The grandeur of 800-2,000+ year old living cedar trees awaits you at the Roosevelt Grove of Ancient Cedars located 13 miles north of Nordman on Forest Road 302 (an extension of State Highway 57). The trees in this virgin forest are up to 12 feet in diameter and 150 feet tall. The area was designated as a Scenic Area in 1943. A short trail from the lower grove will lead you to the base of Lower Granite Falls. Here, Granite Creek cascades down a narrow, sheer rock wall with a thunderous roar. A one-mile loop trail from the lower cedar grove takes you to vista points above the Lower falls where both Lower and Upper Granite Falls may be viewed. Continue another 1/2 mile from the vista points and you will arrive at the upper cedar grove.

Salmo-Priest Wilderness Area

Want to "get away from it all" and "get lost" in an area where you can enjoy nature in a nearly pristine condition?? Well, the Priest Lake area can provide that opportunity in the Salmo-Priest Wilderness. The Salmo-Priest area encompasses 39,937 acres that was preserved in 1984 under The Wilderness Act of 1964.

Shoe Tree

No visit to Priest Lake would ever be complete without a "pilgrimage" to the infamous Priest Lake Shoe Tree. A legend in its own time, this mystic attraction has garnered worldwide attention by its designation as "The Best Shoe Tree in the Northwest" in the Who's Who of ShoeTrees !!! The true history of the Shoe Tree has been shrouded in mystery - or at least somewhat skewed by various myths of dubious origin perpetuated by local native 'tellers of tall tales'. It is suspected that the tradition of nailing, hanging or otherwise affixing one's shoe or shoes to this beautiful 'I can't believe they are doing this to me' cedar tree seems to have originated sometime in the madness of the 1970s.

Upper Priest Falls

Upper Priest Falls is situated less than a mile from the Canadian border. This enchanting falls is located deep in the forest a few miles east of the Salmo-Priest Wilderness Area. The shortest route to reach Upper Priest Falls is to drive to the trailhead of Trail 28 and hike the 2.3-mile trail that terminates at the falls.

The Vinther-Nelson Cabin

One of the best known historical landmarks in the Priest Lake area. The cabin was built on Eightmile Island in 1897 by the Crenshaw brothers. The Crenshaws resided in the cabin while they pursued their mining venture at the 'Deer Trail Lode' mine, a short distance from the cabin. After seven months of arduous work at the mine without success, the brothers sold the cabin to the W.J. Anders family who homsteaded the island for the next two years. In 1900, Anders sold the cabin to cousins Sam Vinther and Nels Nelson. The cabin remained in the Vinther and Nelson families until 1982 when it was designated as a National Historic Site. At that time, the families donated the cabin to the US Government and now serve as permanent caretakers and curators of the cabin.

































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The Priest Lake area offers a wide variety of choices to the angler. Fishing opportunities range from trophy size Mackinaw in Priest Lake, to cutthroat fishing in the nearby alpine lakes, to brook trout angling in the numerous streams in the Priest basin, to catch-and-release fishing for westslope cutthroat in Upper Priest Lake, to great ice fishing on Cavanaugh Bay.


The 523,000 acres of federal and state public lands that surround Priest Lake create a hiker's paradise where one can very easily escape to the solitude and beauty of Mother Nature. Each trail has its own unique characteristics that vary from deep, virgin cedar forests, to panoramic vistas of the Selkirk Mountains and the lake, to shoreline excursions that afford easy access to magnificent sandy beaches. Numerous close-in day hike trailheads are adjacent to resorts, campgrounds and other lodging facilities, along with access to trail routes into the backcountry. For those in search of the ultimate wilderness hiking/camping experience, a trek into the Salmo-Priest Wilderness will challenge even the most seasoned hiker's physical stamina and land navigation skills.

The Mount Roothaan/Chimney Rock Trail

A popular route that leads into the backcountry of Priest Lake with spectacular vistas along the way. You may drive your vehicle (High clearance vehicles only!) to the trailhead parking area atop Horton Ridge at an elevation of 5,100 feet. The 2-mile trail leads along Horton Ridge up to a saddle near the crest of Mount Roothaan. The last 1/2 mile of the trail is "mountain goat country" - very steep and rocky. The trail continues on to the base of Chimney Rock for those hardy souls who survive the "mountain goat" climb and desire an additional two hours or so of hiking (round trip from Mt Roothaan to Chimney Rock). Good hiking shoes are a must on this portion of the trail as the route passes through a boulder field.

Priest Lake Golf Club

Set amidst the splendor of awe-inspiring mountains and forests, the beautifully manicured Priest Lake Golf Club caters to the most accomplished, as well as the most well-intentioned, golfer and outdoor enthusiast. The course has been recently expanded to a full 18-holes and presents the challenges of sand, water, and forest, as well as the occasional moose or deer grazing in the fairway. If those challenges are not enough, the par 72, 6,500-yard championship course will be a most enjoyable challenge in itself. A putting green and driving range are also available to sharpen your skills. The Clubhouse/Pro Shop includes a full-service restaurant and bar. Several 'open to the public' tournaments are scheduled throughout the season.


Mother Nature created a picture perfect marriage of early winter snow, spectacular scenery and many bright sunny days in the Priest Lake Basin. This natural winter paradise, coupled with the area's love affair with snowmobiles, has produced a groomed trail system in excess of 400-miles and a local business orientation that caters to snowmobile enthusiasts. The groomed trail system encircles both Priest Lake and Upper Priest Lake and affords easy access to spectacular powder pushing play areas and challenging 'mountain goat' hill climbing challenges as well as postcard quality views of the lakes and surrounding mountains. In addition to the 400+ miles of groomed trails, there are numerous other unpublished routes throughout the 523,000 acres of public lands surrounding Priest Lake. The trails traverse through heavy timber, windswept ridges and snow-filled bowls above the tree line. Snowmobile trails are mostly on either state or federal forest service roads ranging in elevation from 2,500 to over 7,000-feet.

Water Sports

Priest Lake is often termed Idaho's "Crown Jewel" lake because of its exceptionally clean, clear and deep water.  As the sun's rays warm the water after the snow season, the lake begins its annual transformation into the premier water sports playground in the region. Priest Lake has 23,000 surface acres and nearly 80 miles of shoreline to meet the needs of even the most demanding water sports activities. Be you a power boater with skier or wake boarder in tow, paddle boater, personal watercraft zealot, kayaker, canoeist or sailboat enthusiast, Priest Lake has ample area to easily accommodate all boating activities without conflict. You simply won't find crowded launch ramps, congested boat traffic or long waits to obtain marina services at Priest Lake.

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