Northern Idaho is strewn with many large lakes and popular vacation destinations. Popular locations like Lake Pend Oreille and Coeur d’Alene are notable for their abundance of celebrity summer homes, and incredible skiing and snowmobiling during the winter months.
Often lost in the fold with its more popular brothers and sisters is the expansive and pristine Priest Lake. Stretching 19 miles in length and bottoming-out at more than 300 feet in depth, Priest Lake is a summer paradise — for those who know about it.
Located about 80 miles from Spokane, Washington, the lake is the perfect destination for hiking, camping, and water sports. More than 26,000 square acres of surface-area also make it ideal for fishing. There are small towns nearby, but the serene northern-Idaho location makes it very isolated, and you are sure to see all kinds of wildlife and possibly even the northern lights.
There are many options for lodging, with several campgrounds surrounding the lake. A prime choice is the Reeder Bay Campground , located on the western-shore of the lake with nearby gas stations and restaurants. An adjacent beach make Reeder Bay the ideal place to set up camp. Also check out Luby Bay and Lionhead for additional places to pitch your tent, although space can get competitive during some of the busier summer weekends.
For the less-outdoorsy, several hotels and resorts are nearby, as well as private cabin rentals. A suggestion would be to check out Hill’s Resort, which offers waterfront cabin rentals, full-service restaurant, live music and more. Play a game of pickup volleyball, enjoy the tennis courts, or hit the water in a kayak or for some fishing.
Not far up the road from Hill’s is the Priest Lake Golf Course, Featuring 18 holes and 6500 yards of well-manicured greens and fairways, this is a course designed to let you relax and spend the day enjoying the fresh mountain air. With league play and tournaments happening all summer, players are sure to find themselves some competition as well.
For dinner and drinks, check out Millie’s Cocktail Lounge, located off of Highway 57. Try a favorite northwest brew like Kokanee or Moose Drool, and get a basket of wings. A great place to enjoy the sunset from the deck after a long day on the lake.
If getting out into nature is your thing, make the hike to Upper Priest Lake, the little brother to the main lake. Located two and a half miles north of Priest Lake, you would be hard-pressed to find a more isolated and quiet place for an easy hike or place to camp.
Priest Lake may not have the level of popularity as other northern Idaho glacial lakes, but that also means you get to skip the crowds and have a quieter vacation. Priest Lake is the perfect place for an outdoor getaway for all ages, and perfect for a family retreat.
Bring the camera and make it up before Priest Lake’s secret is out!