Idaho Panhandle

The Idaho Panhandle—locally known as North Idaho—is a region in the U.S. state of Idaho encompassing the state's 10 northernmost counties: Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Clearwater, Idaho, Kootenai, Latah, Lewis, Nez Perce, and Shoshone (though the southern part of the region is sometimes referred to as North Central Idaho). The Panhandle is bordered by the state of Washington to the west, Montana to the east, and the Canadian province of British Columbia to the north. The Idaho panhandle, along with Eastern Washington, comprises the region known as the Inland Northwest. Coeur d'Alene is the largest city within the Idaho Panhandle. Spokane, Washington is around 30 miles (48 km) west of Coeur d'Alene, and is also the location of the regional airport, Spokane International Airport. Other important cities in the region include Lewiston, Moscow, Post Falls, Hayden, Sandpoint, and the smaller towns of St. Maries and Bonners Ferry. East of Coeur d'Alene is the Silver Valley, which follows Interstate 90 to the Montana border at Lookout Pass.

The region has a land area of 21,012.64 square miles (54,422.5 km2), around 25.4% of the state's total land area; there is also 323.95 square miles (839.0 km2) of water area. As of the 2010 Census, the population of the Idaho Panhandle was 317,751, around 20.3% of the state's total population of 1,567,582.[2]

The Idaho Panhandle observes Pacific Time north of the western-flowing Salmon River in the southern part of Idaho County. The rest of the state to the south observes Mountain Time, which begins at Riggins. Though the Idaho Panhandle is at the same longitude as southern Idaho, the reasons for the different time zones are: (1) because Spokane is the commercial and transportation center for the region, and (2) there are many cross-border towns and cities that are connected, led by Spokane with Coeur d'Alene and Post Falls, followed by Pullman (home of Washington State University) with Moscow (home of the University of Idaho), and Clarkston with Lewiston.

The Panhandle is isolated from southern Idaho due to distance and the east-west mountain ranges that naturally separate the state. The passage by vehicle was arduous until significant highway improvements were made on U.S. Route 95 in North Central Idaho, specifically at Lapwai Canyon (1960), White Bird Hill (1975), the Lewiston grade (1977), and Lawyer's Canyon (1991).

Map of Idaho highlighting Idaho Panhandle
Pandandle counties shown in red
Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 2015332,3904.6%


The eastern border of Idaho follows the Bitterroot Range, producing the narrow northern border.[3]


No resident of North Idaho has been elected governor of the state since the re-election of Cecil Andrus (D) in 1974. Andrus, an Oregon native raised in Eugene, was a resident of Orofino when first elected in 1970. (Boise was his residence during his later campaigns of 1986 and 1990). The most recent member of the U.S. Congress from the Panhandle is Compton I. White, Jr. (D), last elected in 1964.

Northern Idaho leans Republican, as does the state as a whole. Latah County, home of the university in Moscow, is the only one of the Panhandle's ten counties that does not. It has voted moderately for the Democratic candidate in the last three presidential elections; in 2000 and 2004 every county voted Republican.

Previous presidential elections results[4]
Year Republican Democratic Third parties
2016 64.0% 96,440 26.7% 40,261 9.3% 14,018
2012 61.6% 86,372 34.2% 47,910 4.2% 5,871
2008 59.0% 86,309 37.8% 55,301 3.2% 4,621
2004 63.3% 85,537 34.9% 47,132 1.8% 2,461
2000 64.1% 74,113 30.1% 34,777 5.9% 6,783
1996 43.7% 49,515 38.9% 43,976 17.4% 19,721
1992 33.2% 36,383 36.9% 40,478 29.9% 32,861
1988 50.9% 45,778 47.4% 42,573 1.7% 1,516

The Panhandle has traditionally been one of the strongest areas for Democrats in statewide elections; in the 1990 gubernatorial election, all counties were won by the Democratic nominee. The Democratic nominee for Governor outperformed their statewide result in Northern Idaho in all elections from 1982 until 2006; in 2010 Democrat Keith G. Allred received 30.9% in Northern Idaho vs. 32.9% statewide, and in 2014 Democrat A.J. Balukoff received 36.5% in Northern Idaho vs. 38.6% statewide.

Previous gubernatorial elections results[5]
Year Republican Democratic Third parties
2014 54.1% 49,700 36.5% 33,517 9.4% 8,589
2010 62.1% 63,563 30.9% 31,600 7.0% 7,127
2006 50.1% 48,204 46.8% 45,065 3.1% 2,945
2002 53.8% 47,722 44.1% 39,120 2.2% 1,909
1998 64.0% 54,829 32.7% 28,064 3.3% 2,830
1994 48.0% 43,397 46.6% 42,189 5.4% 4,872
1990 29.7% 20,616 70.3% 48,880 0.0% 0
1986 36.1% 29,365 62.4% 50,764 1.6% 1,287
1982 42.4% 30,423 57.6% 41,412 0.0% 0



Northern Idaho Köppen
Köppen climate types in northern Idaho


The North Idaho region is most noted for silvaculture, the growing of trees and the production of lumber through the regions 12 lumber mills.[6] The production of grass seeds and hops[7] for beer production are also significant. Nine microbreweries have operations in the area, making North Idaho highly characteristic of the Pacific Northwest. There are also many cattle ranches.

Notable crops from the Palouse region include wheat, lentils, peas, and canola.

Indian reservations

Major communities


  1. ^ Idaho population by county, 1900-90 - accessed 2011-12-07
  2. ^ "Census 2010: Idaho - The Spokesman-Review". Retrieved May 25, 2013.
  3. ^ Rees, John E. (1918). Idaho Chronology, Nomenclature, Bibliography. W.B. Conkey Company. p. 100.
  4. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Retrieved 2018-06-16.
  5. ^ Our Campaigns
  6. ^ "Inland Forest Management, Consulting Foresters". Archived from the original on June 19, 2013. Retrieved May 25, 2013.
  7. ^ "Idaho Hop Commission". Retrieved May 25, 2013.

External links

Coordinates: 47°N 116°W / 47°N 116°W

Clearwater National Forest

Clearwater National Forest with headquarters on the Nez Perce Reservation at Kamiah is located in North Central Idaho in the northwestern United States. The forest is bounded on the east by the state of Montana, on the north by the Idaho Panhandle National Forest, and on the south and west by the Nez Perce National Forest and Palouse Prairie.

The North Fork of the Clearwater and the Lochsa rivers provide miles of tumbling white water interspersed with quiet pools for migratory and resident fish. The mountains provide wildlife habitat for raccoon, elk, moose, black bear, two species of fox, bald eagle, marten, white-tailed and mule deer, coyote, wolf packs, cougar, boreal owl, river otter, muskrat, beaver, pika, fisher, mink, and mountain goat.

In 2012, Clearwater National Forest and Nez Perce National Forest were administratively combined as Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests, with headquarters in Kamiah, Idaho.

Coeur d'Alene National Forest

The Coeur d'Alene is a U.S. National Forest located in the Idaho panhandle and is one of three forests that are aggregated into the Idaho Panhandle National Forests (the other two are the Kaniksu and St. Joe National Forests). Coeur d'Alene National Forest is located in Shoshone, Kootenai, and Bonner counties in northern Idaho. It has a total area of 726,362 acres (1,135 sq mi or 2,940 km²).The forest headquarters is located in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. There are local ranger district offices located in Coeur d'Alene and Silverton.

Coeur d'Alene River

The Coeur d'Alene River flows 37 miles (60 km) from the Silver Valley into Lake Coeur d'Alene in the U.S. state of Idaho. The stream continues out of Lake Coeur d'Alene as the Spokane River.

Before the Bunker Hill Smelter in the Kellogg area, which mined lead and silver, was forced to adopt environmental controls in the 1970s, there was so much lead in the river in the Kellogg area the locals called the stream "Lead Creek."

Salmon levels continue to remain high in the area (needs reference) and it is a popular destination for water-skiing, tubing, and swimming for locals.

All of the real bodies of water in the film Dante's Peak were either the Coeur d'Alene River or one of its tributaries, as Wallace, Idaho, where the movie was filmed, is in the Silver Valley.

Farragut State Park

Farragut State Park is a public recreation area located at the southern tip of Lake Pend Oreille in the Coeur d'Alene Mountains of the Idaho Panhandle in the northwest United States. The 4,000-acre (1,600 ha) state park is five miles (8 km) east of Athol in Kootenai County, about thirty miles (50 km) northeast of Coeur d'Alene. Activities include camping, picnicking, hiking, mountain biking, cycling, fishing, boating, swimming, water sports, orienteering, disc golf, flying model aircraft, archery, and horseback riding.

Idaho Panhandle National Forests

The Idaho Panhandle National Forests are a jointly administered set of three national forests located in the U.S. state of Idaho. Approximately 22.4% of the forest (in the Kaniksu portion) extends into the states of Montana (14.1%) and Washington (8.3%). The IPNF were created in 2000 to administer three separate national forests that continue to manage themselves somewhat separately through district offices. The Coeur d'Alene, St. Joe, and Kaniksu National Forests together occupy 3,224,739-acre (5,038.66 sq mi, or 13,050.06 km2) in northern Idaho (better known as the Idaho Panhandle). The northernmost portion of the IPNF share a boundary with Canada. Its headquarters are located in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

Kaniksu National Forest

The Kaniksu National Forest (pronounced "Kuh-NICK-su") is a U.S. National Forest located in northeastern Washington, the Idaho panhandle, and northwestern Montana. It is one of three forests that are aggregated into the Idaho Panhandle National Forests, along with the Coeur d'Alene National Forest and St. Joe National Forest. Kaniksu National Forest has a total area of 1,627,833 acres (6,587.6 km2). About 55.7% is in Idaho, 27.9% in Montana, and 16.4% in Washington.The name Kaniksu is from a Kalispel Indian word which means "black robe." It was used to refer to the Jesuit missionaries who brought their faith to North Idaho and Eastern Washington.

Lake Coeur d'Alene

Lake Coeur d'Alene ( KOR də-LAYN) is a dam-controlled lake in northern Idaho, in the northwest United States. Its northern end is in the city of Coeur d'Alene. It spans 25 miles (40 km) in length and ranges from 1 to 3 miles (5 km) wide with over 109 miles (175 km) of shoreline.

The lake was named after the Coeur d'Alene people.

Lake Pend Oreille

Lake Pend Oreille ( pond-ə-RAY) in the northern Idaho Panhandle is the largest lake in the U.S. state of Idaho and the 38th-largest lake by area in the United States, with a surface area of 148 square miles (380 km2). It is 43 miles (69 km) long, and 1,150 feet (350 m) deep in some regions, making it the fifth-deepest in the nation. The lake is fed by the Clark Fork River and the Pack River, and drains into the Pend Oreille River, as well as subsurfacely into the Spokane Valley–Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer.

It is surrounded by national forests and a few small towns, with the largest population on the lake at Sandpoint. The majority of the shoreline is non-populated and all but the southern tip of the lake is in Bonner County. The southern tip is in Kootenai County and is home to Farragut State Park, formerly the Farragut Naval Training Station during World War II, of which a small part is still active and conducts U.S. Navy acoustic underwater submarine research.The surrounding forests consist of ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, red cedar, poplar, quaking aspen, hemlock, paper birch and western larch. Local animal species include white-tailed deer, elk, gray wolves, moose, mice, squirrels, black bears, grizzly bear, coyotes, and bobcats, along with bald eagles, osprey, owls, hummingbirds, hawks, woodpeckers, ducks, and the mountain bluebird. The lake is a home for several species of migratory water fowl.

Lookout Pass Ski and Recreation Area

Lookout Pass Ski and Recreation Area is a ski area in the western United States. It is at Lookout Pass on Interstate 90, on the border of Idaho and Montana, five miles (8 km) east of Mullan, Idaho. It has a summit elevation of 5,650 ft (1,720 m) on Runt Mountain with a vertical drop of 1,150 ft (350 m) on the northeast-facing slopes. Lookout Pass operates five days per week (closed Tuesday & Wednesday) during the ski season, and daily during the Christmas vacation break.

The area has tripled in size since 2003; new terrain was opened to the southeast-facing slopes on the Montana side of the border in December 2003, and on the northwest-facing North Side (in Idaho) in 2006. There are three double chairlifts and one triple chairlift at Lookout Pass, whose average annual snowfall exceeds 350 inches (890 cm).

The elevation of the highway pass on I-90 is a moderate 4,720 feet (1,440 m). The historic Mullan Pass, constructed as a wagon road by the U.S. Army in 1860, is about three miles (5 km) east-northeast as the crow flies, at 5,168 feet (1,575 m). Lookout Pass is considered the eastern boundary of Idaho's Silver Valley mining region.

Opened 84 years ago in 1935, the Lookout Pass ski area operates under a special-use permit of the U.S. Forest Service, in the Idaho Panhandle National Forests (formerly the Coeur d'Alene National Forest). Gradual enhancement of the area has occurred over the decades, and the first chairlift was installed in the summer of 1982.The community ski hill, run by the nonprofit Idaho Ski Club, was sold in 1992 to Lookout Recreation, Inc., a company formed by two 27-year-old former college roommates, Don Walde of Wallace and Jim Fowler. After seven years, it was sold in 1999 to Lookout Associates, headed by Phil Edholm, and plans for expansion soon followed.A new portion of the ski area opened on December 26, 2003, on the Montana side of the border (which is irregular in this area, following mountains, and is actually due south, see topo map). The new Timber Wolf double chair and five new runs increased the vertical drop (by lowering the base to 4,500 feet (1,370 m)), and the longest new run 1.2 miles (1.9 km) in length. Two of the new runs are rated advanced and three are rated intermediate, with views of the St. Regis and Copper Basins. Additional expansion in 2006 with a chairlift on the Idaho "North Side" opened additional intermediate and expert terrain.

Lookout Pass has two freestyle terrain parks, and a quarter pipe that is 1,111 feet (340 m).

North Central Idaho

North Central Idaho is an area which spans the central part of the state of Idaho and borders Oregon, Montana, and Washington. It is the southern half of the Idaho Panhandle region and is rich in agriculture and natural resources. Lewis and Clark travelled through this area on their journey to the Pacific Ocean in 1805-06. The primary cities in this region are Lewiston and Moscow, home of the University of Idaho.

Pacific Northwest Trail

The Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT) is a 1200-mile hiking trail running from the Continental Divide in Montana to the Pacific Ocean on Washington’s Olympic Coast. Along the way, the PNT crosses three national parks, seven national forests, two other national scenic trails, and against the grain of several mountain ranges, including the Continental Divide, Whitefish Divide, Purcells, Selkirks, Kettles, Cascades, and Olympics. The Pacific Northwest Trail was designated as the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail by Congress in 2009.

Priest Lake

Priest Lake, Idaho, United States is located in the northernmost portion of the Idaho Panhandle, 80 miles northeast of Spokane, Washington, with the northern end of the lake extending to within 15 miles (24 km) of the Canada–US border. The primary lake, lower Priest, is 19 miles long and over 300 feet deep. Upper Priest is connected by a 2.5 mile thoroughfare to lower Priest.

SWX Right Now

SWX Right Now (Sports and Weather Right Now) is a regional digital subchannel network broadcasting high school and college sports, and automated weather and news on Cowles Company-owned stations throughout Eastern Washington state, the Idaho Panhandle, and Montana. The channel airs over the secondary signal of Cowles' three NBC affiliated channels in Eastern Washington, including Spokane's KHQ, KNDO in Yakima and Richland's KNDU, as well as the third signal of Billings' KULR in Montana, and on most cable systems throughout the markets they serve.

Normal programming on SWX Right Now includes 3-minute weather briefs called The Weather Authority and sports segments titled Sports Right Now. Programming carried includes Gonzaga University men's basketball; local high school and college football; Spokane Chiefs hockey; Spokane Empire indoor football; and a sports commentary show from a studio located in "The Q" bar at the Northern Quest Resort & Casino in suburban Airway Heights.

Saint Joe River

The Saint Joe River (sometimes abbreviated St. Joe River) is a 140-mile (225 km) long tributary of Coeur d'Alene Lake in northern Idaho. Beginning at an elevation of 6,487 feet (1,977 m) in the Northern Bitterroot Range of eastern Shoshone County, it flows generally west through the Saint Joe River Valley and the communities of Avery and Calder. Past Calder, it flows into Benewah County and through the town of St. Maries, where it receives its largest tributary, the Saint Maries River. It then turns northwest, passing through Heyburn State Park before reaching its mouth just north of the Kootenai County line. Much of the river's route through Heyburn State Park is partially flooded due to raised water levels from the Washington Water Power dam at Post Falls on the Spokane River below Coeur d'Alene Lake. With a mouth elevation of 2,129 feet (648.9 m), it is the highest navigable river in the world.In 1978, 66.3 miles (107 km) of the river were protected by the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, with 26.6 miles (42.8 km) designated as wild and another 39.7 miles (63.9 km) designated as recreational.The Saint Joe River drains 1,850 square miles (4,791 km2) of the Idaho Panhandle. It is part of the Spokane River watershed, which in turn is part of the Columbia River basin. About 68 percent is owned by the United States Forest Service (the St. Joe National Forest), 4 percent is owned by the Bureau of Land Management, 2 percent is owned by the State of Idaho, and the rest is privately owned.The Saint Joe River watershed is covered primarily by mixed coniferous forest, which includes species such as Douglas fir, true fir, larch, and pine. Alder is common in the riparian zones of high altitude river valleys, while cottonwood dominates the lower altitude riparian zones, much of which have been converted to agricultural land. Rush, sedge, and cattails are common in the river's floodplains, which are also used to grow wild rice.The river is home to many species of fish, including native westslope cutthroat trout, mountain whitefish, cedar sculpin and other cottids, shiners, and nonnative rainbow and brook trout, chinook and Kokanee Salmon. The upper Saint Joe River is also home to the last self-sustaining population of vulnerable bull trout in the Coeur d'Alene Lake watershed.

Salmo-Priest Wilderness

Salmo-Priest Wilderness is a 41,335 acre (167.28 km2) wilderness area located in the Selkirk Mountains in the northeast corner of Washington state, within the Colville National Forest and the Kaniksu National Forest.

Scouting in Washington (state)

Scouting in Washington has a long history, from the 1910s to the present day, serving thousands of youth in programs that suit the environment in which they live.

Selkirk Mountains

The Selkirk Mountains are a mountain range spanning the northern portion of the Idaho Panhandle, eastern Washington, and southeastern British Columbia which are part of a larger grouping of mountains, the Columbia Mountains. They begin at Mica Peak near Spokane and extend approximately 320 km north (200 miles) from the border to Kinbasket Lake, at the now-inundated location of the onetime fur company post Boat Encampment. The range is bounded on its west, northeast and at its northern extremity by the Columbia River, or the reservoir lakes now filling most of that river's course. From the Columbia's confluence with the Beaver River, they are bounded on their east by the Purcell Trench, which contains the Beaver River, Duncan River, Duncan Lake, Kootenay Lake and the Kootenay River. The Selkirks are distinct from, and geologically older than, the Rocky Mountains. The neighboring Monashee and Purcell Mountains, and sometimes including the Cariboo Mountains to the northwest, are also part of the larger grouping of mountains known as the Columbia Mountains. A scenic highway loop, the International Selkirk Loop, encircles the southern portions of the mountain range.

The Selkirks were named after Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk.

St. Joe National Forest

The St. Joe National Forest is a U.S. National Forest located in the Idaho panhandle and is one of three forests that are aggregated into the Idaho Panhandle National Forests (the other two are the Coeur d'Alene and Kaniksu National Forests). In descending order of land area St. Joe National Forest is located in parts of Shoshone, Latah, Clearwater, and Benewah counties. It has a total area of 867,882 acres (3,512 km2).St. Joe is home to a numerous variety of mammalian species including white-tailed deer, mule deer, raccoon, elk, moose, black bear, grizzly bear, coyote, skunk, timber wolf, cougar, marten, beaver, bobcat, river otter, mink, and wolverine. Bird species include wild turkey, grouse, ravens, blue jays, bald eagle, osprey, golden eagle, California quails, and numerous types of owls.

The forest headquarters is located in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. There are local ranger district offices located in Avery and St. Maries.

Time in Idaho

The U.S. state of Idaho is covered by two time zones, as described below. All locations observe daylight saving time.

The Pacific Time Zone (UTC−08:00, DST UTC−07:00) covers an area roughly coterminous with the Idaho Panhandle or North Idaho:

Benewah County

Bonner County

Boundary County

Clearwater County

Kootenai County (includes Coeur d'Alene)

Latah County (includes Moscow)

Lewis County

Nez Perce County (includes Lewiston)

Shoshone County

Portion of Idaho County north of the Salmon River

The towns of Burgdorf and WarrenAn easy way to distinguish the line is that it essentially follows the line that divides Washington and Oregon. If a county in Idaho is due east of Washington, it's Pacific Time. On the other hand, the counties of Idaho that are fully due east of Oregon are on Mountain Time.

The Mountain Time Zone (UTC−07:00, DST UTC−06:00) covers the rest of the state.

United States panhandles

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