Sponsored by Visit Sandpoint in Sandpoint, Idaho
Nestled between three mountain ranges, on the shores of Lake Pend Oreille, the city of Sandpoint, Idaho has something to fulfill every interest. Autumn is a special time in Sandpoint: the turning leaves bring a sense of wonder to the charming town, and outdoor activities become unmissable, awe-inspiring experiences. Below, find a collection of five things to do in Sandpoint in the fall... just for starters.
Lake Pend Oreille Cruises offers daily excursions in August from Sandpoint, out onto magnificent Lake Pend Oreille - the largest lake in Idaho with mountain scenery in all directions. In September, tours begin in eastern parts of the lake from Hope, with even more dramatic scenery along the foot of the Green Monarchs and around the islands off the Hope Peninsula. As the leaves turn in October, fall colors tours pick up on the weekends.
One of the finest guest ranches in Idaho is Western Pleasure Guest Ranch. The ranch sprawls along the foothills of the Cabinet Mountains, and the friendly ranch folk lead trail rides of all types, many with views of Lake Pend Oreille and the Cabinet and Selkirk Mountains. Guests can rent cabins overnight, and themed rooms (the Duke, the Miss Belle) in the main lodge are available for bed and breakfast rentals.
Ride the High Country
The high Selkirk and Cabinet mountains surrounding Sandpoint offer fantastic alpine scenery as fall arrives—the best time of year for hikers. There are well over 200 trails, from easy day hikes to multi-night wilderness treks, in the two ranges. The quickest way to reach the sublime alpine experience – with amenities to boot – is at Schweitzer Mountain Resort. Early fall offers a plethora of activities, from the mountain bike system (with mountain bike and e-bike rentals available) to village fun including chairlift rides, a zip line, climbing wall and more. Fall Fest on the mountain spans Labor Day weekend August 30 - September 2, with a beer festival, kids’ activities, chairlift rides and free live music.
Stroll Among Autumn Leaves
There are superb strolls and walks, starting with the flat, two-mile Pend d'Oreille Bay Trail right from downtown along the Lake Pend Oreille shoreline through fantastic colorful birch and cottonwood groves. For a little more rigorous—but still easy—walk, the Mineral Point Trail is 2.1 miles along bluffs above the lake with views over the big lake and a dip down to the cobblestone beach at Green Bay. More strenuous are the Gold Hill and Mickinnick trails, both just a few miles from Sandpoint and with climbs up to vantage points with panoramic views.
Eat, Drink and Be Merry
For a town of little more than 8,000 souls, Sandpoint has a remarkable dining and entertainment scene. There are four brewpubs and an award-winning winery, plus 40-plus excellent restaurants. On any given weekend, there is free live music in numerous venues, frequent concerts, performance arts at the historic, community-owned Panida Theater and more. Some notable events of the season: the Bonner County Fair August 21-24, an old-fashioned country fair with special events that include bull riding and barrel racing, and a demolition derby; the Schweitzer Fall Fest August 30-September 2; the Injectors Car Show September 7, attracting hundreds of classic cars; the Head of the Pend Oreille Regatta September 27-29 with rowing competitions; the Sandpoint Farmers Market Harvest Fest October 12; and the annual haunted happenings at Scarywood at Silverwood Theme Park, weekends in October up till Halloween.