St Regis MT and Couer d Alene Idaho

On July 15th it was time to leave Columbia Falls on our way to St Regis, MT and Coeur d’Alene, ID. First we stopped at the Polson Motorcoach RV Resort near Flathead Lake in Polson, MT, for a few days of rest and to enjoy this beautiful park, for Class A motorhomes only. Due to COVID-19 everything was closed in Polson so we went paddleboarding on Flathead Lake. Then we went to St Regis, MT, and stayed at The Nugget RV Park for a week. This is a great Park with the friendliest hosts, who even started our campfire for us. Click on thumbnail to view images

 

Polson Motorcoach RV Resort

While staying in St Regis we wanted to ride the Hiawatha Bike Trail on our e-bikes so we could ride both ways this time. We rode the trail in 2014 on our mountain bikes and took the shuttle back up to the top. The Hiawatha is the “Crown Jewel” of Rail-to-Trail adventures and even though it was busier this time it was still a lot of fun with amazing views. It is 15 miles long with 10 train tunnels and 7 sky-high trestles. The longest tunnel is the St Paul Pass tunnel at 1.66 miles long that follows the crest of the Bitterroot Mountains connecting Idaho and Montana. It was one of the most scenic stretches of railroad in the country when the Milwaukee Railroad was operating, Highlights of the St Paul Pass Tunnel include an interpretive sign, located mid-tunnel on the right wall, that shows the Idaho/Montana state line. The sign also discloses which crew first reached the center of the tunnel in 1907. We couldn’t stop to get a photo of the sign because of the crowds but we’ll look for it next time. Click on thumbnail to view images

Avery MT and Wallace Idaho Loop Road

The St Joe River Scenic Byway is an 89-mile, remote journey that closely follows the St Joe River in northern Idaho. We drove along the paved road in the Idaho Panhandle National Forest until it turned to gravel just before the town of Avery, where we stopped for lunch at the TFP’s Restaurant. The best fire roasted pizza cooked in a beautiful copper oven by the owners. Avery is located in the middle of the St Joe River District of the Idaho Panhandle National Forest. The town of Avery was a division point on the Pacific Extension of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad from 1909 to 1980. Trains stopped at the Avery Depot, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Here, steam or diesel locomotives were changed or hooked up to electric locomotives to get over the mountain passes. We explored the train museum, saw the “Hiawatha” trains of the Milwaukee Road with the Hiawatha Logo, that appears to be a cross between a rendition of the Roman god Mercury and a Native American with a streamlined-back version of a Plains-style feather headdress. We left Avery and continued on the narrow, winding, gravel road to Wallace, another historic town in Idaho, founded in 1884, it sits alongside the South Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River. Wallace has the notable distinction of being officially declared the Center of the Universe. Here we stopped for dinner and then attended the live theater, watch the video to see the amateur actors. We completed the loop back to St Regis by taking the freeway and stopping at Elmer’s Fountains just off the highway for a quick walk around the fountains. Not worth the stop! Click on thumbnail to view images

Kootenai Falls and the Swinging Bridge

After leaving St Regis we went to Coeur d’Alene for a few days and stayed at the Coeur d’Alene RV Resort in Post Falls, Idaho. This is no resort. It is more like an inner-city trailer park, we will not stay here again! We were able to do some fun road trips from here. We visited Sandpoint, Idaho, situated on Lake Pend Oreille, and then drove to the Kootenai Falls in Libby, Montana. Kootenai Falls on the Kootenay River is a scenic attraction not to be missed. The trail starts from the parking area and goes over a pedestrian bridge over double railroad tracks, then winds down to the Swinging Bridge which overlooks the falls. The main falls is 30 feet high viewed from the swinging bridge. Kootenai Falls is the largest undammed falls in the state. It offers a breathtaking view as the Kootenay River loses 300 feet in elevation traveling a few hundred yards down river. We crossed over the swinging bridge and walked up the opposite side of the river for closer views of the cascading falls. The swinging bridge was originally constructed by the CCC in the 1930s to help the Forest Service access forest fires across the Kootenay River, this foot bridge was destroyed by a major flood in 1948. The bridge was rebuilt on concrete piers and is now protected from flooding by Libby Dam. The bridge and falls have made appearances in movies such as The River Wild (1994) and The Revenant (2015). Click on thumbnail to view images