I recently went on my first venture to Priest Lake, Idaho, and wow what a beautiful, fairly secluded destination it turned out to be.
My travel destinations are feeling a little random of late. A few weeks after returning from Zimbabwe and South Africa, I packed my bags again for the Pacific Northwest – one of my favorite west coast travel destinations. I’ve been to Seattle a number of times and fell in love with the Bavarian town of Leavenworth, Washington, but I was in all new territory recently – even for me!
My mom has talked about Priest River and Priest Lake, Idaho my entire life. She used to spend summers up there and had nothing but fabulous things to say about the area. She’s been wanting to go back for a while but hadn’t found the right time. When she was planning a trip to visit family in Idaho, she thought of taking make the drive north.
When she asked me to come along, you can guess how long it took me to say yes. I really can’t turn down a travel opportunity. So I packed my suitcase and boarded a flight to Spokane, Washington – about 100 miles from the lake. I always love flying into the PNW because the trees and landscape are so green – it’s breathtaking…
Visiting Priest Lake, Idaho
We stopped off in the small town of Priest River (about 45 minutes from the lake) to look around, buy some groceries, and find some coffee! We caught the tailend of a heatwave in the area and saw the ‘mudhole’ – an area in the river where the town goes to swim in the summers when it’s just too hot to do anything else! So we hopped back in the car and headed to Elkins Resort – our lodging for the next two nights.
Where to Stay on Priest Lake
The property is beautiful and studded with red chairs that POP wonderfully! There are 32 cabins, ranging in size, and a main lodge with a restaurant, bar, and ‘cafe’ in the morning! From there you can rent kayaks and boats of all sizes to enjoy on the lake.
The lodge is open year round but is busiest in July and August. In telling us about her time up in northern Idaho, my mom continually mentioned how the weather was dependable only between July 15 and August 15. Everyone who knows about Priest Lake seems to know this as well. We caught the end of the heat wave. And then we also experienced a cloudy day in the 60s-ish and two rain storms – nothing too frigid but enough to keep you inside for a while!
Hiking near Priest Lake
We were able to sneak in a hike before the rain came. We took a wrong turn on our intended route, unfortunately, but the trails were lovely and well kept. There are a few trails leading out from the lodge, so you have your pick of outdoor activities.
The cabins at the lodge were wonderful – with a fully-equipped kitchen, cable TV, and beds/rooms of varying sizes in each cabin. But a big selling point is the restaurant at the lodge. You can see from the photos below just how beautiful the plating was and the flavors were amazing.
The miso salmon and the cinnamon sugar donuts with huckleberry cream cheese ‘sauce’ were my absolute favorites. Luckily we got that big hike in!!
One of the women who worked at the lodge compared Elkins Resort in the summer to the camp in Dirty Dancing with tons of families and lots of activities. Though we were in northern Idaho, I immediately saw the grounds for her comparison (pun intended!).
The weather may be most dependable July 15 to August 15, but I’d go back to the lodge any time of year. Staying in the cabins was just as relaxing as sitting beachside! I can’t wait to get back to Priest Lake, Idaho and enjoy some of those lake activities!
Traveling around other parts of Idaho? Try these things to do in Coeur d’Alene!