Located in Northern Idaho, the 28-mile Panhandle Historic Rivers Passage Scenic Byway begins at the Washington state line and follows the northern shore of the Pend Oreille River on US 2 through Oldtown and Priest River, ending in the resort community of Sandpoint. The Wild Horse Trail Scenic Byway starts on the northwestern shores of Lake Pend Oreille in downtown Sandpoint on US 95, traveling for 48 miles north through Bonners Ferry to the Junction of US 95 and State Route 1, then proceeds north on State Route 1 for 11 miles to the International Border at Porthill.
Panhandle Historic Rivers Passage and Wildhorse Trail Scenic Byways
There are two Scenic Byways in Northern Idaho which form part of the International Selkirk Loop National Scenic Byway. The Selkirk Loop has received the most prestigious designation as an All-American Road. There are only 27 such byways in the entire US and the Selkirk Loop is the only one that traverses two countries.
Enjoy peaceful river scenery all along the Panhandle Historic Rivers Passage Scenic Byway that reflects the pastoral beauty of surrounding forests and farms. View a wide variety of wildlife, birds of prey and waterfowl or in the three museums along the byway, absorb the fascinating history of northern Idaho, extending back to the ice age and the great Glacial Lake Missoula flood. The Kalispell Tribe followed this waterway to important hunting and fishing grounds in Montana. David Thompson was the first white explorer in this area, developing fur trade and searching for a watercourse to the Pacific Ocean. Early loggers used the river to transport millions of board feet of timber to waiting sawmills. Logging is still an integral part of the community of Priest River, where you can see a working sawmill.
Convenient access to the Pend Oreille River at four recreation areas provides opportunities to swim or boat along wide, gently flowing waters. Winter recreation includes snow sports on state and federal lands, ice fishing when it is cold enough, and hundreds of miles of Nordic and snowmobile trails at Priest Lake, just north of the byway on Hwy 57.
Special Attractions include: the Pend Oreille and Priest Rivers, (formerly Kaniksu NF), Priest River Wildlife Area, Visitor Center, three historical museums and Priest River's historic downtown.
Camping is available at various private camping facilities at Newport and Sandpoint; at , 53 sites 9 miles south of Sandpoint off Hwy 95, 2 miles west on Dufort Road and at : Outlet 31 sites, 25 miles north of Priest River on Hwy 57, turn east at south end of lake, 1 mile; Luby Bay 52 sites, 28 miles north of Priest River on Hwy 57, turn east, 1 mile of gravel; Osprey 16 sites, 1 mile past Outlet Campground; US Army Corps of Engineers Campgrounds: Albeni Cove, 10 sites directly across the river from , access via Hwy 41 at Newport; Mudhole 20 sites, 1 mile east of Priest River; Riley Creek, 67 sites 9 miles east of Priest River at Laclede; Springy Point 37 sites, at the south end of the Long Bridge at Sandpoint, turn west onto Lakeshore Drive 3 miles.
The Wild Horse Trail Scenic Byway leads north along the eastern side of the Selkirk Mountains, following the Kootenai Tribe's historic path to fishing grounds at Lake Pend Oreille. The Wild Horse Trail became more than a path in 1863, when gold was discovered in Wild Horse Creek, 120 miles north of Bonners Ferry in British Columbia. The Trail was heavily used until the gold rush ceased circa 1880.
Just south of Bonners Ferry, a stunning wide glacial valley comes into view. The rich soil deposits left behind as the glaciers receded formed fertile lands which support a wide variety of agriculture throughout the Kootenai Valley. The area enjoys four full, distinct seasons with activities and events available every month. Fall colors are especially dramatic.
The west of Bonners Ferry and the McArthur Lake Wildlife Management area offer a wealth of recreational opportunities including wildlife viewing, bird watching and hiking trails. There are six major access roads leading into the Selkirk Mountains onto Panhandle National Forest lands where hiking, fishing, camping, Nordic skiing and snowmobiling can be enjoyed.
Special attractions include: Lake Pend Oreille, , , McArthur Lake Wildlife Corridor, Historic Bonners Ferry and the Kootenai River.
Camping is available at privately owned campgrounds in and around Sandpoint and Bonners Ferry and at USFS Campgrounds: Smith Lake 7 sites 5 miles north of Bonners Ferry, 2 miles on County Road 36; Meadow Creek 22 sites, 11 miles north on Meadow Creek Road from Hwy 2 northeast of Bonners Ferry; Robinson Lake 10 sites 7 miles south of Eastport on Hwy 95; Copper Creek 16 sites 1 mile south of Eastport (International Border) on Hwy 95 and 80 sites on Hope Peninsula Road, east of Sandpoint on Hwy 200.