Published: April 30, 2024 | Updated: April 26, 2024

Parks paradise in North Idaho

Round Lake State Park and Round Lake in Bonner County are seen from above. North Idaho is home to several stunning state parks that offer everything from swimming and boating to nature hikes and information about local history.

Round Lake State Park and Round Lake in Bonner County are seen from above. North Idaho is home to several stunning state parks that offer everything from swimming and boating to nature hikes and information about local history.

Four thousand acres where a World War II naval training station once operated and where the Boy Scouts gathered for the 1969 National Jamboree sits Farragut State Park — just 35 minutes north of Coeur d'Alene.

"Farragut State Park has historically been our biggest revenue-generating park for the agency," Idaho State Parks and Recreation public information specialist Chelsea Chambers said April 12.

On the southern tip of Lake Pend Oreille set against a picturesque backdrop of wooded mountains and open skies, Farragut is in the company of several state parks in North Idaho that invite visitors to enjoy their favorite outdoor activities, honor local history and otherwise immerse themselves in a memorable nature experience.

According to the Idaho State Parks and Recreation 2023 Economic Impact Update, a yearly average of 7.4 million visitors went to Idaho's parks from 2020-2022. In 2022, Idaho State Parks and Recreation contributed $1.2 billion to Idaho's economy through day use, camping and outdoor recreation programs.

"It is also estimated that for every $1 invested in Idaho’s state parks, $61 is returned to the economy," Chambers said. "This was gauged by the average spending per visitor as they travel to and from Idaho’s state parks. Average purchases include gas, food, souvenirs, propane, camping gear, etc."

In January 2018, Boise State University released an Economic Impact and Importance of State Parks in Idaho report detailing park usage and revenue generation. The report states that visiting Idaho’s state parks involves a significant amount of money spent on food, fuel and lodging. The visits generate a substantial economic impact in many counties, not just those that are in close proximity to a park, according to the report. 

"State parks provide a major recreational opportunity in Idaho and, in the process, create significant impacts in terms of employment, income and output to the state and to the communities in which the parks are located," the report states.

The BSU study found that visitors spent more than $30.4 million at North Idaho's state parks in 2016, from Heyburn to the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes.

North Idaho's state parks are a treasure trove of wilderness experiences and family memories yet to be made.

Here is a list of local state parks and activities to enjoy while visiting:

Farragut State Park
Farragut offers camping opportunities with 223 individual sites, 10 camping cabins and seven group camps. It also offers a disc golf course, a radio-controlled airplane field, fishing, hiking, biking, equestrian facilities and World War II history, including the Museum at the Brig. The museum annually opens Memorial Day and closes Labor Day.
13550 State Highway 54, Athol

Priest Lake State Park
On the 19-mile-long pristinely clear Priest Lake below the crest of the Selkirk Mountains, visitors will find Priest Lake State Park. Swimmers, birders, fishing enthusiasts, hikers, boaters, bikers, disc golfers and more can find their favorite activities at this park, making for happy campers who can choose to stay in cabins, tents or RVs.
314 Indian Creek Park Road, Coolin

Round Lake State Park
Yes, the 58-acre lake really is round at Round Lake State Park, a forested getaway for humans and wildlife alike. Guests can camp, swim, sail, paddle, fish and more at Round Lake, where scenic lake trails provide opportunities to explore nature and even catch glimpses of the park's resident moose.
1880 Dufort Road, Sagle

Coeur d’Alene’s Old Mission State Park
Idaho's oldest building is at the heart of the Old Mission State Park. The Mission of the Sacred Heart was built by Catholic missionaries and members of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe between 1850 and 1853. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1961, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. Amenities include a boat ramp and launch, picnic areas, a visitor center and ranger-led tours of the church.
31732 S. Mission Road, Cataldo

Coeur d'Alene Parkway State Park
Nearly six miles miles of a paved parkway hugs Lake Coeur d'Alene, providing a scenic stretch for walkers, joggers, cyclists and strollers to enjoy. Coeur d'Alene Parkway State Park is a part of the North Idaho Centennial Trail and leads to Higgens Point, where the boat launch and picnic area are a popular spot for locals and tourists. Birders will also enjoy viewing bald eagles along this scenic trail.
East Coeur d'Alene Lake Drive, Coeur d'Alene

Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes
This 73-mile hard-path trail beckons to cyclists, inline skaters, walkers, joggers, Nordic skiers and snowshoers and is Americans with Disabilities Act-friendly. The Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes was created through a partnership between the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, Union Pacific Railroad, the U. S. Government and the state of Idaho. The trail offers opportunities for wildlife and bird watching as well as appreciation of local history as guests meander alongside the Coeur d'Alene River through the Silver Valley and rural Idaho countryside between Mullan and Plummer.

Heyburn State Park
The Pacific Northwest's oldest park is just over 40 minutes south of Coeur d'Alene. Heyburn State Park was created in 1908 on over 5,700 acres of land and more than 2,300 acres of water. Its grounds still contain pieces of the past, including Civilian Conservation Corps buildings constructed in the 1930s. Hikers, bikers, birders, swimmers, boaters and campers will find Heyburn to offer unique experiences for the whole family.
57 Chatcolet Road, Plummer

    A sailboat is seen on Lake Pend Oreille from the shores of Farragut State Park, which is a huge revenue generator for the state of Idaho. In 2022, the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation contributed $1.2 billion to Idaho's economy through camping, day use and outdoor recreation programs, according to the agency's 2023 economic impact update.