- Hill’s Resort
- 4777 West Lakeshore Road - Priest Lake
- Idaho 83856 - United States
- (208) 443-2551
- [email protected]
Priest Lake is a beautiful lake located in the northern part of the U.S. state of Idaho. It is nestled in the Selkirk Mountains and is known for its pristine waters, scenic landscapes, and abundant wildlife. The lake and its surrounding area have a rich history dating back thousands of years.
The earliest known inhabitants of the Priest Lake region were indigenous peoples, including the Kalispel and Kootenai tribes. These Native American tribes relied on the lake and its resources for sustenance and trade. They fished for various species of fish, hunted game, and gathered edible plants in the area.
The first recorded European exploration of the Priest Lake area occurred in the early 19th century. In 1809, David Thompson, a British-Canadian fur trader and explorer, ventured into the region while mapping the Columbia River basin. He established a trading post near the lake and conducted fur trade with the local Native American tribes.
The name "Priest Lake" originated from an incident involving Father DeSmet, a Catholic missionary who visited the area in the mid-19th century. According to the story, Father DeSmet celebrated Mass on the shores of the lake, and his black robe was mistaken for that of a priest. The lake came to be known as "Priest Lake" as a result of this event.
In the late 19th century, the arrival of loggers and miners brought significant changes to the Priest Lake region. Timber harvesting became a prominent industry, with the abundance of old-growth forests attracting logging operations. Several sawmills were established in the area, and logs were transported via steamboats across the lake.
The early 20th century saw the development of tourism in Priest Lake. The lake's scenic beauty and recreational opportunities, such as fishing, boating, and camping, attracted visitors from across the region. Resorts and lodges were built along the lake's shores, catering to tourists seeking a tranquil retreat amidst nature.
During World War II, Priest Lake played a role in the war effort. The U.S. Navy established the Farragut Naval Training Station on the southern end of the lake. It served as a major training facility for sailors and played a crucial role in training personnel for the war.
In recent years, Priest Lake has remained a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a range of recreational activities such as hiking, mountain biking, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing. The lake's clear waters continue to attract anglers, and the surrounding forests provide ample opportunities for camping and wildlife viewing.
Today, Priest Lake is cherished for its natural beauty and preserved as part of the Idaho Panhandle National Forests. The area is carefully managed to maintain its ecological integrity and ensure its availability for future generations to enjoy.
Top Tourist Attractions
Priest Lake in Idaho offers a plethora of attractions for tourists to explore and enjoy. Here are some of the top tourist attractions in the area:
- Priest Lake State Park: Located on the eastern shore of Priest Lake, the state park offers stunning beaches, picnic areas, campgrounds, and hiking trails. It is a popular spot for swimming, boating, fishing, and wildlife viewing.
- Upper Priest Lake: This pristine and remote lake is accessible by boat or hiking and provides a serene and untouched wilderness experience. Visitors can enjoy camping, kayaking, fishing, and hiking in this tranquil setting.
- Navigation of Priest Lake: Exploring the 19-mile long and 300-foot deep Priest Lake by boat is a popular activity. You can rent boats or take guided tours to appreciate the scenic beauty and secluded coves of the lake.
- Blue Diamond Marina and Resort: Situated on Priest Lake's western shore, this marina and resort offer boat rentals, a restaurant, lodging, and RV camping facilities. It's an excellent place to relax, dine, and enjoy lake activities.
- Priest Lake Golf Course: Golf enthusiasts can enjoy a round of golf at this picturesque 18-hole course located near Priest Lake. It offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and forests.
- Indian Creek Falls: Located near the town of Coolin, Indian Creek Falls is a beautiful waterfall cascading over a rocky ledge. It's a short hike from the parking area and provides a peaceful and scenic natural setting.
- Hunt Lake Trail: This popular hiking trail offers stunning views of Priest Lake and the surrounding mountains. The trail is moderately challenging and rewards hikers with breathtaking vistas along the way.
- Huckleberry Festival: Held annually in August, the Huckleberry Festival celebrates the wild huckleberry harvest. Visitors can enjoy huckleberry-themed foods, live music, arts and crafts, and various family-friendly activities.
- Wildlife Viewing: Priest Lake is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including deer, moose, black bears, bald eagles, and a variety of bird species. Exploring the area's forests and waterways provides opportunities for wildlife spotting and birdwatching.
- Snowmobiling and Winter Recreation: During winter, Priest Lake transforms into a winter wonderland. Snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and ice fishing are popular activities in the area.
These attractions showcase the natural beauty and recreational opportunities that draw tourists to Priest Lake throughout the year. Whether you prefer water activities, hiking, golfing, or enjoying the serenity of nature, there's something for everyone to enjoy at Priest Lake.
The climate of Priest Lake, Idaho, is classified as a continental climate with relatively cool summers and cold winters. Here are some key characteristics of the climate in the area:
- Summers: Summers in Priest Lake are generally mild and comfortable. Average daytime temperatures range from the mid-70s to low 80s Fahrenheit (mid-20s to high 20s Celsius). July and August are the warmest months. The evenings tend to cool down, offering relief from the daytime heat. Precipitation during the summer is relatively low, with occasional thunderstorms.
- Winters: Winters in Priest Lake are cold and snowy. December, January, and February are the coldest months. Daytime temperatures typically range from the 20s to 30s Fahrenheit (around -5 to -1 degree Celsius), while nighttime temperatures can drop below freezing. Snowfall is common, and the region receives a significant amount of snow during the winter months, making it a popular destination for winter sports enthusiasts.
- Spring: Spring brings a transition from the cold winter to milder temperatures. March and April can still be chilly, with occasional snowfall, but temperatures gradually rise as spring progresses. Daytime temperatures in spring range from the 40s to 60s Fahrenheit (around 5 to 15 degrees Celsius). Spring is also characterized by increased rainfall.
- Fall: Fall in Priest Lake showcases vibrant foliage as the leaves change color. September and October offer pleasant temperatures with mild days and cool nights. Daytime temperatures range from the 50s to 60s Fahrenheit (around 10 to 20 degrees Celsius). Fall is also a relatively dry season, with lower precipitation compared to spring.
It's worth noting that the climate in Priest Lake can vary from year to year, and extreme weather events can occur, such as heatwaves in summer or heavy snowstorms in winter. It's always a good idea to check the local weather forecast before planning outdoor activities in the area.
Here are some key geographical features of the area:
- Location: Priest Lake is situated in Bonner County, Idaho, near the border with the Canadian province of British Columbia. It lies within the Idaho Panhandle region and is part of the Selkirk Mountains.
- Size and Shape: The lake is approximately 19 miles (31 kilometers) long and covers an area of about 24,000 acres (9,712 hectares). It is known for its elongated shape, stretching from north to south.
- Surrounding Mountains: Priest Lake is surrounded by the majestic Selkirk Mountains, which form a scenic backdrop. The mountains are characterized by rugged peaks, dense forests, and alpine meadows. The highest peak in the area is Chimney Rock, reaching an elevation of 7,716 feet (2,352 meters).
- Outlet and Inlet: The lake's outlet is located at the southern end, where Priest River emerges. The river flows southward, eventually joining the Pend Oreille River. The inlet to the lake is located at its northern end and is fed by smaller creeks and streams.
- Islands: Priest Lake is home to several islands that enhance its natural beauty. The largest and most well-known island is Kalispell Island, located near the lake's northern end. There are also smaller islands, such as Bartoo Island and Blue Diamond Island, scattered throughout the lake.
- Clearwater River: The Clearwater River, a tributary of Priest River, flows into the lake's western shore. It adds to the overall beauty and recreational opportunities of the area.
- Surrounding Forests: The Priest Lake area is characterized by dense forests, primarily consisting of coniferous trees such as Douglas fir, western red cedar, and western hemlock. These forests provide habitat for various wildlife species and contribute to the scenic appeal of the region.
- Access Points: The town of Coolin, located at the southern end of the lake, serves as a gateway to Priest Lake. Other access points include the communities of Priest River and Nordman, providing access to different parts of the lake.
The geography of Priest Lake showcases a picturesque blend of mountains, forests, and pristine waters. The natural surroundings offer abundant recreational opportunities and contribute to the area's appeal as a tourist destination.