Pend Oreille River Valley – The International Selkirk Loop

Welcome to the Pend Oreille River Valley – The International Selkirk Loop –

The Pend Oreille River Valley can be defined a vast area that stretches from northern Idaho to well beyond the Canadian border. The valley begins at Lake Pend Oreille in Sandpoint Idaho and stretches the entirety of Pend Oreille County and continues beyond until the Pend Oreille River reaches the Columbia River.

While visiting the Pend Oreille Valley you will find numerous cities and small towns dotted along the way. You’ll find easy access on Hwy 2 that meanders along the Pend Oreille River. In fact the drive has gained notoriety and has been dubbed “The International Selkirk Loop.”  During the Spring, Summer and Fall months, the scenic drive offers amazing opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors and the wonders of nature.

The Selkirk Loop will take you through two states and two countries, Washington and Idaho, The United States, and Canada respectively. The drive will take you through 280 miles of the most beautiful country the region has to offer.

In Washington you have the opportunity to visit Sweet Creek Falls, a gorgeous collection of cascading waterfalls in northern Pend Oreille.  The Mill Pond Flume Interpretive Site is along the way and offers an opportunity to learn about the early settlement and development of Metaline Falls and the surrounding area. Sullivan Lake offers many recreational activities, in order to extend your drive, stay a night or two at the Sullivan Lake Campground, RV and tent campers are welcome.

There are many dams along the Pend Oreille River, the Box Canyon Dam is one of the two dams you’ll find in the state of Washington, Boundary Dam is the other. During this portion of the drive you’ll have an opportunity to enjoy a delightful scenic train ride offered by the Lions Club, during the fall months the train ride is one of the best ways to watch the changing of the leaves. There is only one mountainous, mixed-conifer forest refuge in the lower 48 states (Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge) and you will find it on the west slopes of the Selkirk Mountains. Enjoying the International Selkirk Loop during mid-July you’ll have an opportunity to take in the Lavender Festival at Cusick Washington.  Further South Newport Washington straddles the border with Oldtown Idaho. These two small towns of a feeling of days gone by. In Newport take some time and enjoy Owens Old Fashion Soda Fountain. 

Entering North Idaho –

In Northern Idaho there is no shortage of sites to see along The International Selkirk Loop. The Albeni Falls Dam lies just south of the Idaho/Washington border and provides scenic views of the river valley. Accross the river you’ll see Albeni Cove, an inlet off the Pend Oreille River. The cove offers campers a fun filled campground with many sites right on the river. The campground is full services including water, restrooms and showers.

Continuing on the Selkirk Loop enter the logging town of Priest River. This small town offers delicious dinning opportunities and if you’re there in mid July you’ll find yourself celebrating with the locals at the Timber Days Festival.

Sandpoint Idaho is the next big stop on the Journey and it’s filled with both entertainment and recreation. At City Beach you can enjoy lush green lawns, great for all sorts of fun. You’ll find basketball courts, vollyball nets, swimming areas, a boat dock, or simply enjoy an icecream cone while taking a stroll along the shores of Lake Pend Oreille. Sandpoint is also home to many fine restaurants, pubs, hotels and resorts.

In the mountains surrounding Sandpoint resides the Schweitzer Ski Resort open year round. During the winter months the resort offers tons of ski runs for skiers for all levels of expertise. During the summer months, the mountain offers mountain biking with ski lift trail access.

As you exit Sandpoint and head north to Bonners Ferry be sure to visit the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is over 2700 acres and provides diverse habitats for a large variety of wildlife. While in Bonners Ferry you might enjoy an evening or a pampered stay at the Kootenai River Inn Casino & Spa. In the area you’ll find great places to dine and plenty of recreational activities.