Three States, Two Countries, One Adventurous Drive

  • Start: Cocalalla, ID
  • End: Newport, WA
  • Last Modified: 2012-01-03 16:39:08
  • Total Mileage: 430 Miles
  • Number of stops: 24


The International Selkirk Loop in Idaho, Washington, and southern British Columbia, Canada, is rightly billed as remote, uncrowded, and undiscovered. The drive on mostly two-lane roads in towns between the Selkirk Mountain range and the Purcell Mountains oozes adventure. Hike near big game such as moose and elk, canoe among protected wildfowl, hunt for sweet huckleberries in summer. Here the beer's as strong and locally brewed as the coffee. Nancy Taylor loves wolves, owns about 20, and shows one or two of the pack daily at her store, Wolf People, in Cocolalla, Idaho. None of her wolves were born in the wild, though. "People think a wolf will be a snarling monster, and they usually end up kissing and greeting them," Taylor says. "I want to educate people so wolves can one day live safely." The seven-room gift shop features books, posters, toys, and Native American goods. Twelve miles of paved biking/walking trails head west and south of Sandpoint, along Lake Pend Oreille. Visitors enjoy fishing for "Kamloops Trout," kayaking, and lazing on the long stretch of white sand at City Beach Park downtown. Watch handcrafted blue cheese being made, then sample it at the Litehouse Blue Cheese Factory and store. At the other end of downtown, Pend d'Oreille Winery offers tours upon request and tastings for $5 (which is subtracted from the price of a bottle if you buy one). The nine-mile twisting drive up to Schweitzer Mountain Resort reaps a multitude of rewards. The quad chairlift takes riders and their bikes up, and the trip down can be made via mountain bike, foot, or an easy ride on the chairlift. At the base, a climbing wall and bungee jump entertain youngsters. The Kootenai Tribe owns the casino in Bonners Ferry, but it's not the only visitor attraction. At the Tribal Sturgeon Hatchery, Jack Siple and Eric Wagoner proudly conduct tours (call ahead at (208) 267-7082) of the hatchery, dedicated to preserving the rare white sturgeon. The ancient creature with an aerodynamic pointed nose can live up to 120 years, though numbers dwindled dramatically in the early 1970s when a dam was built. In town, peruse new and used titles at Bonners Books and check out unique housewares and organic espresso at Under the Sun. Stop and sip a Moose Drool stout from Missoula at Mugsy's. Overnighters can finally sleep in school at the Northside School Bed Breakfast, a restful 1912 schoolhouse-turned-lodging. Owner Ruth Perry can show you her first-grade room, now an elegant dining room. Dawn is the best time to ride bikes on top of the old town dyke to Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge, where waterfowl find a resting spot on the Pacific Flyway, and moose wander to feed among the marshy grass. Head north from Bonners Ferry to reach Selkirk Mountain Elk Ranch. One of the owners, Fred Robbins, takes visitors out to pet and feed apples to his favorite bull elk, Swift, as well as photograph other grazing elk. Elk meat, lower in fat and cholesterol than even bison, is for sale, along with elk jerky and antlers. Look to the left near the U.S./Canada border at Porthill and you'll see the world's largest contiguous hops fields, owned by Anheuser-Busch. Drive down the side road for a close-up. Just over the border in Lister, British Columbia, follow signs to Sproule's Scenic Acres, and pick your own hydroponic strawberries and blueberries (in season). A little farther up the road in Creston, Columbia Brewery offers free tours on weekdays in summer. A peaceful scene awaits at the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area. Wildlife nest and feed in the ponds, and boardwalks wind through much of the marshy area, which is open 24/7. During visitor center hours, guided voyager canoe trips glide past great blue herons, osprey, beaver dams, and more. Overnight at RoseHaven Farm Bed and Breakfast, just 15 minutes' drive away, which overlooks the valley and is backed by mountains. Motorcyclists love the twisting road up toward Crawford Bay, where the Crawford Bay artisans com

Stop #1:

Wolf People
Cocalalla, ID

Stop #2:

Litehouse Blue Cheese Factory
Sandpoint, ID

Stop #3:

City Beach Park
Sandpoint, ID

Stop #4:

Pend d'Oreille Winery
Sandpoint, ID

Stop #5:

Schweitzer Mountain Resort
Sandpoint, ID

Stop #6:

Bonners Books
Bonners Ferry, ID

Stop #7:

Under the Sun
Bonners Ferry, ID

Stop #8:

Bonners Ferry, ID

Stop #9:

Kootenai River Inn Casino & Spa
Bonners Ferry, ID

Stop #10:

Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge
Bonners Ferry, ID

Stop #11:

Northside School Bed & Breakfast
Bonners Ferry, ID

Stop #12:

Tribal Sturgeon Hatchery
Bonners Ferry, ID

Stop #13:

Selkirk Mountain Elk Ranch
Bonners Ferry, ID

Stop #14:

The Blueberry Patch
British Columbia, Canada

Stop #15:

Columbia Brewery
British Columbia, Canada

Stop #16:

Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area
British Columbia, Canada

Stop #17:

North Woven Broom Company
British Columbia, Canada

Stop #18:

Sandon Historic Mining Town
British Columbia, Canada

Stop #20:

Nikkei Memorial Internment Center
British Columbia, Canada

Stop #21:

Oso Negro Cafe
Nelson, BC

Stop #22:

Nelson Brewing Company
Nelson, BC

Stop #23:

Owen's Grocery
Newport, WA

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