June 3, 2016
Story and Photos by Carolyn Price
Photo at right: A young swimmer cannonballs into Hayden Lake at the popular Honeysuckle Beach near Coeur d’Alene
Despite being a land-locked state, there is certainly no shortage of water-play fun in Idaho. I found that out during a trip to the Idaho Panhandle last summer.
Bouncing between the towns of Sandpoint and Coeur d’Alene, just an hour’s drive apart, we splashed around at two water parks, floated the Pack River on stand-up paddle boards and enjoyed an afternoon swim at Honeysuckle Beach at Hayden Lake.
Boulder Beach Waterpark/Silverwood Theme Park
Featuring two wave pools among its nine outdoor water attractions, Boulder Beach Waterpark is part of the Silverwood Theme Park where there really is something for everyone—from toddlers to the young at heart.
Our 13-year-olds loved Ricochet Rapids the best: typical teenager thrills starting from 40 feet high. From the top, you jump on a tube designed for six people and twist, turn, churn and splash down a dark, enclosed tube, with the exhilaration of a steep free-fall drop before being abruptly spit out into a calm pool. I was talked into this ride exactly once.
More my speed was relaxing by the wave pool followed by a cruisy float in the lazy river. From here, I highly recommend drifting over to The Cove, a float-up bar where we enjoyed icy margaritas lounging atop our tubes. Credit cards accepted!
A short walk from Boulder Beach is the dry side of Silverwood—billed as the Northwest’s largest theme park—including four rollercoasters and many other landlubber attractions and eateries.
Triple Play Family Fun Park
The best thing about Triple Play is well, just about everything!
The Holiday Inn Express in Hayden has been remodeled into the Triple Play Resort Hotel and Suites. It’s now easier than ever to walk over the resort’s enclosed sky bridge to access some of the most fun you will ever have at this resort.
Our family of four couldn’t decide what we liked best: the indoor Raptor Reef Water Park (with three slides, tipping bucket, wave pool and indoor/outdoor Jacuzzi), or the plethora of land activities including go-karts, laser tag, mini-golf, arcade, indoor bowling and the park’s newest feature: a 25-foot high ropes course.
When we were hungry we had our fill of pizza and ice cream at the indoor grill. At the end of the day, it was a mere five-minute walk through the resort to our deluxe suite, complete with bunk beds and an Xbox for the teens.
Honeysuckle Beach at Hayden Lake
Honeysuckle Beach along the sandy shores of Hayden Lake is where the locals go to cool off in the summer. With certified lifeguards, a horseshoe-shaped dock, restrooms and a snack shack, we spent the afternoon cannon-balling into the clear blue lake while enjoying scenic views of the Rocky and Selkirk mountains.
Pack River SUP’ing
Northeast of Sandpoint lies the Pack River General Store, a community gathering place along the lower Pack River.
It was in the store’s parking lot where we met Dan Chamberlain of SUP Sandpoint who shuttled us to our two-hour SUP excursion on the Pack. Dan included everything: equipment, instruction and snacks. As it was late June, the current was low and the water warm, which made for a lazy summer day on the river.
Après-float, Dan treated the adults to samples from Pend Oreille Winery and the kids to crackers, cheese and lemonade along the river bank for a perfect ending to this adventure.
Northern Idaho Noshes
Don’t miss Sandpoint’s Trinity at City Beach along the shore of Lake Pend Oreille. Enjoy a meal here all day long or like us, unwind from a day of adventure with a great meal, fine wine and scrumptious desserts. (Don’t pass up the chocolate cake—you’re on vacation!)
Coffee-heads will love Evans Brothers Coffee Roasters Café, Sandpoint’s local coffee roasters and café, where we enjoyed sipping artistic lattes on their deck.
In Coeur d’Alene, we dined at Tito’s Italian Grill, famous for its fire-baked pizza and fine wine. Around the corner from Tito’s, we walked off our dinner with an evening stroll along the scenic Boardwalk on Lake Coeur d’Alene. The beautiful pictures you have seen of this area are real!
If You Go:
Boulder Beach Waterpark/Silverwood Theme Park: silverwoodthemepark.com
Coeur d’Alene: cdachamber.com
Honeysuckle Beach: haydenchamber.org/visitors-guide.php
SUP Sandpoint: facebook.com/SupSandpoint
Triple Play Resort Hotel and Suites: 3play.com/hotel
Carolyn Price is the publisher of OutdoorsNW.