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This Is the Single Most Fascinating City In the Northwest

This Is the Single Most Fascinating City In the Northwest
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Coeur d’Alene, Idaho: Enchanting visitors since 1878

Born as an offshoot of the construction of Fort Coeur d’Alene, a military structure ordered by General William T. Sherman in the 1870’s and which was later renamed as Fort Sherman in honor of its creator, Coeur d’Alene is considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in the Northwest thanks in part to the gorgeous landscape surrounding the area courtesy of the Coeur d’Alene National Forest.

Its beauty is so notorious and well known that Barbara Walters at one point referred to the city as “a little slice of heaven”.

Although it was a well-known mining district at the end of the 19th century, Coeur d’Alene has expanded its economic and industrial outlook and these days is also considered to be the health care, educational, tourism, manufacturing, and commercial center for the northern portion of Idaho.


Privileged Geography and Great Weather

Coeur d Alene photo
Photo by DAT in Idaho

Conveniently located only 30 miles away from Spokane, Washington, at an altitude of 2,180 ft above sea level, the city of Coeur d’Alene covers a total of 16 square miles along the western portion of the National Forest of the same name, a site that is renowned for its beautiful lakes and popular camping grounds.

Its privileged location allows Coeur d’Alene to enjoy dry, warm summers, as well as cold, moist winters, with temperatures ranging from a chilly 29 degrees to a comfortable 70 degrees, very well defined seasonal changes, and only a handful of days that surpass the 90°F range.


A River and a Lake at the Heart of the City

Formed by the Missoula floods approximately 15,000 years ago, Lake Coeur d’Alene is one of the focal points of the city, and one of the most popular tourist attractions during the summer months thanks to its beautiful beaches and benevolent weather.

The lake also offers locals and visitors an opportunity to watch bald eagles feeding, as well as other activities, including walking and cycling along the North Idaho Centennial Trail.

On a curious note, the bottom of the lake is dotted with the remains of several steamboats together with a considerable number of Ford Model T’s. This happened because in the early 20th century the locals would drive across the frozen lake during the winter months to cut the time it would take to drive around it, but when the spring thaw took place, many vehicles ended up sinking to the bottom.

Lake Coeur d’Alene is fed by the Coeur d’Alene River, which runs approximately 37 miles from its point of origin in the Silver Valley.

The river is a popular tourist attraction due to its offering of a variety of activities, including water-skiing, tubing, and swimming. The river is also a favorite for local fishermen as it maintains a thriving salmon population.


Economy and Commerce

Once explored by miners in the hopes of finding gold, the local economy of Coeur d’Alene thrived during the 19th century thanks to the discovery of some of the largest and richest silver mines in the country and the subsequent exploration of very large zinc and lead deposits. Many of these mines are still in production today and form an important part of the city’s financial activity.

As the city grew and evolved, its economic vision also expanded to include important commercial activities with the opening of new stores and housing developments, which live side to side with the typical American small businesses that can be found lining its most iconic streets, all while maintaining a friendly environment and preserving the city’s natural beauty.

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tags:
Dyan Zammataro Travel expert, writer for America Unraveled.

Comment(36)

    1. Those of us who live here are not usually that “snarky”. It was an honest mistake. I LOVE it here. A treat to all of the senses. Nice article.

  1. Great Article! Coeur d’Alene is also home to Nspire Magazine which features excellent hiking, adventures, food, home ideas, & healthy living all from the Northwest Region.

  2. Tourism is pretty much only thing going for the town. No real jobs, poor housing market, no good extended education choices. Just a nice tourist town for three months

  3. Great place to grow up but it’s totally overdeveloped and full of Californians. 1st thing they do is try to change it to what they left behind.

  4. If you actually pay attention there are TONS of good jobs out here, I talk to people all the time and hear about all kinds of jobs and am told they are hiring. The housing market can require a roommate if you haven’t aquired the skills to get into a management position, but most people are fairly nice. The education is good too, if you show the school a demand for a subject, they will start teaching it.

  5. Please don’t tell anyone about Coeur d’Alene. Let it be our little secret… shhhh…—
    A Coeur d’Alene resident

  6. Coeur d’Alene is not so great. Education is poor, major drug problem in the area, the article states temperature goes from 29 to 70 with a few days in the 90s that’s a false statement. Beautiful place but it’s not how it used to be..

  7. I live in the Hayden area and I must agree with some of the comments. The downtown Coeur d’Alene is dying, shop having to close and I have not been able to find a job in the area for 3 years now. Yes, it is beautiful and if I did not live there I would think differently. But making a living in the area is almost impossible.

  8. You do know it is illegal to waterski and tube on the Coeur d’Alene River, within Kootenai County? (Which is the only portion of the robber navigable by motor boat) I would hardly say it’s “popular.”

  9. There is no salmon fishing in the Coeur d Alene river. There are cutthroat trout, rainbows, brookies and the odd brown trout, along with perch, crappie and sunfish. You can find kokanee and lake trout in Coeur d Alene Lake.

  10. Not really sure where you got your information, but winter dips into the teens regularly and summer is almost all 80+ with quite a few days hitting 90-100 degrees.

    Do I love it, yeah, but the weather isn’t as perfect as you are saying.

  11. CDA is not wildly popular. Thank God. But it is the nicest place I have ever lived and I’m fortunate to own property there. Health care, jobs, Californians? every place has its challenges and trade offs. CDA has the best bang for your buck.

  12. Rough crowd here! Why don’t all you dummies whining about not getting jobs write for a living since you’re such literary geniuses. Jeez…

  13. Can’t wait to move back, missing my hometown and the beauty of the area. Can always work in Spokane, for those looking…

  14. My family relocated here over 13 years ago. Yes, from southern Ca. We moved here because we wanted to get out of the rat-race that California had become. We fell in love with the beauty of this community and its location. We wanted a slower paced life style amidst the nature that is this town’s backdrop no matter which direction you face. We were eager to experience the uniqueness of each season, instead of all of them merely looking the same. We visited this town 7 years before we could make it a reality to move here and raise our children in a “better place”, which means we dreamt of calling this place “home” for a really long time. We were eager to leave California in the rear view mirror and we finally got the chance. We have never looked back. We treat this place like the “gem” that it is. We take pride in its beauty to the point that I never even leave a shopping cart wipe in the cart because (it’s disrespectful, and) it may fly out and litter our beautiful state. Over 13 years later I still marvel at the fact that we really live here. I am still blown away that there is always a beautiful view of the horizon that does not involve roof tops and concrete or smog. I, too, get extremely irritated when I see tourists or now residents with the “California mentality” up here. We left all that behind and don’t want any part of it here any more than you natives. I love to hear from Idaho natives that still love it here. Trust me, we moved here because we WANTED to. We love and take pride in this place that we are now blessed to call “home” and take care of it so that it stays beautiful. I am not ashamed to admit that I am from California. That is my birthplace and no one has a choice in the matter of where they’re born. But, my soul belongs in northern Idaho. And, we got here the soonest we could. ??

    1. I agree! I am a SoCal native also. I’ve been transferred all over the US and came here by choice in 1988. Please stop bashing the Californians as a group and enjoy their open and friendly spirit. That is prejudice, like any other kind. SoCal was beautiful when I grew up there. We didn’t change it. People coming in from other places did. (Round and round we go.) I am so glad to escape what it has now become. I LOVE it here. And I haven’t tried to change a thing about it.

    2. My husband & I have been researching Idaho for the last 6 months. We watch videos of Coeur d Alene and get tears in our eyes. We feel homesick and we haven’t even been there yet. Can’t wait to leave the craziness here in CA. Enough is enough! Will be visiting in October and hopefully moving in spring 2018. Feel great about leaving our .CA past behind and certainly don’t want to turn Idaho into Cali!

  15. Carey, thank you for your very thoughtful post. I do understand how the “original” Idahoans feel about the incoming Californians and your response is how I feel also as a soon to be transplant. I have tried to relocate my family 2 times over the past 20 years to beautiful Idaho. I plan to make this City home too and quickly will remove my license plates and treat this special place similar to you and the locals that have been fortunate (or lucky) enough to have been born here. We are all Americans and I surely would not look down on fellow citizens based on their birthplace but rather on their behavior, and it is true that areas breed certain types of behavior that can be disappointing. I hope that I can quickly merge into this region, keep my mouth shut, slow down and add positive energy and blend in to this beautiful place in the USA:)
    Wish me luck:)

  16. We moved here 11 years ago from Phoenix (prior to that L.A.) Should have moved here even earlier. Absolutely beautiful and clean but best of all we found the kindest, most trusting, and quick-to-help people ever. Folks here are just really, really, really nice Oh, and the best program for people with special needs. Award-winning, in fact.

  17. It was a fantastic place 25 years ago,I’ve been a Horse packer and a guide in the St. Joe river drainage.Too many people now even in the back country.Guess it couldn’t remain the way it was forever.I’ve seen graffiti in town and too many of the wrong types of people.We’re starting to have some big town problems.Such a shame.So many people move here to get away from things they end up demanding here,just don’t understand it.

  18. CDA❤️! My husband and I are planning our retirement in CDA. We bough a house downtown and had to tear it down, but we designed and built the new one to look like it’s always been there. We are from California and want to leave the rat race. We are very respectful of CDA and want it to keep its slower pace and beauty. When we first visited it felt like going back in time, as the people are so kind and helpful. Just a simple trip to the dmv was actually a pleasant experience, ( a nightmare in Cali). We are sad that the growth in CDA is happening so fast and traffic can be crazy at times. Cali people, if you move there, be respectful and DONT try to make it like CALIFORNIA! CDA’s beauty is second to none.

  19. Having read some of the very negative comments above, I am inspired to share my perspective. I am a born & bred North Idaho native, having lived, worked, and owned a home in CDA for 40+ years. The changes here over that period of time have been significant, there is no doubt. The seasonal traffic fluctuations are far less noticeable, with the overall year round population being more consistent. We can no longer breathe a sigh of relief when the “snow birds” head south again and tranquil life returns. The initial influx of Californians post 1974 Expo in Spokane was far more invasive and exasperating, as many complained about the lack of cultural and other amenities they left behind for a better life, as they sought out cleaner air and a slower pace. My source of information is first hand rather than hearsay, as I suspect is the source of some comments. I worked in the heart of downtown CDA, and had first hand information based on personal experience and one to one conversations with many of them as clients. It was very hard not to say, “If there is so much we don’t have, why don’t you just go back?”, even though I wished some of them would! When they could no longer stand this wonderful place, we were left with scores of empty homes and vacant strip malls along with the shell shock of rapid growth and equally rapid abandonment. I’m sure some people have a hard time letting go of that and the economic impact it had. Growth is inevitable, and we will never have our old CDA back, with miles of public lakeshore access, baseball fields, light traffic, etc. We are 40+ years into the future, and these new generations have new needs and interests. I have lots of good memories of those days. However, I have made a life here just fine, having worked in one profession for 20+ years, continued my education for a career change and worked another 20 years in that one. All the while I owned property, paid taxes, raised a son and made lots of friends. This all in spite of those awful Californians coming in and somehow making that impossible for some people to accomplish. I don’t think I’m that uniquely incredible of a person! There are still plenty of us old timers here, and CDA is much the same small town with familiar faces that it always was. You just might have to look a little harder. And the newcomers are bringing into our city as much as they are taking away from all of you who think of them as invaders. I see most as appreciative and thankful to be here. One last thought: I was also one of the many “invaders” into Southern California in the late ’60s, residing and working in San Diego for about 1-1/2 years. I remember how unusual it was at that time to meet a native there. So if you want to get technical, we drove them out of California and into Idaho. I was just smart enough to move back first!

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