Angela Brown of About.com and I didn’t match on 5 Idaho attractions. She picked the International Selkirk Loop, Lake Coeur d’Alene, Idaho Golf Trail, Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, and Boise’s Julia Davis Park. The almost 300 mile Selkirk Loop that winds also through Washington and British Columbia includes some 5 Compass attractions–Kootenay Lake, etc.–but only about 100 miles of northern Idaho. I prefer Priest Lake to Coeur d’Alene. I’m not familiar with the golf trail or Hagerman and will learn about both the next time I’m in Idaho. Ruth & I have attended a family reunion in lovely JDP, but there are, in my opinion, better things to see in Idaho.
#6. The Selkirk Loop definitely has better scenery and Highway 78 is not a tourist oriented drive. However, when Ruth and I want to avoid traffic-rich, scenery-poor I-84 from the Oregon border to east of Boise, we drop down to Nampa and take 78 east to Hammett. This road follows the Snake River, skirts the Birds of Prey NCA, has pretty overviews, etc. Often we’re the only car on the road so if you drive it, like it, and plan to repeat, please don’t tell anyone else about it.
#7. Lake Coeur d’Alene has dedicated fans. It’s the kind of resort area that people say, “I go there every year for my vacation” about. But further north Priest Lake is really remote, very beautiful, and much quieter and undeveloped. It also has its repeat fans.
#8. Going east or west, Ruth and I usually spend a night in Twin Falls so that we can gape into the Snake River Canyon north of town. If you time it right, you can watch in awe as risk-takers jump off the Perrine Bridge, also known as the Potato Bridge. They plummet almost 500 feet to the Snake far below from the only place they can do this without a permit. In 1974 Evel Knievel tried to jump across this very Canyon here on his Skycyle X-2 and failed. Ouch!
#9. Ruth and I went through the very traditional Idaho State Capitol on July 4th, 2011, with a parade circling outside. This festive occasion may have skewed our reaction in its favor, but we thought it was one of our better capitol experiences. Idaho had just spent $20 million restoring it and it showed. The displays taught us a lot of Idaho history. For example, acting Governor Clinton DeWitt Smith “drank himself to death seven months into the job.”
#10. Ruth and I were delighted to see an excellent exhibit called “Sacred Encounters” in Kansas City when it toured the United States in the 1990s. Organized by historian/professor Jacqueline Peterson and our good friend Tom, it told the story of the coming together of two distinct worlds, Jesuits and Coeur d’Alene Native Americans, in the 19th century. Sacred Encounters was so large an exhibit that tribal members had to travel 5 hours to Bozeman, Montana, to see it. After it closed, the Coeur d’Alene’s built a permanent home for it just off I-90 at Cataldo, Idaho. Nearby is the Mission of the Sacred Heart, a chapel that is now the oldest building in Idaho and worth seeing along with the new $3 million+Museum.