Top 6 Off-the-Beaten-Path Destinations in North Central Idaho This Summer

April 25, 2023

North Central Idaho is known for off-the-beaten-path. Here, you’ll find friendly small-town hospitality and plenty of outdoor adventures to create so many amazing memories that you’ll want to repeat. Check out these incredible areas to spend your summer vacay.

Unplug and Play at Dworshak Reservoir

Camping, boating, fishing, hiking, and swimming in and around a 54-mile pristine reservoir is the ultimate summer getaway. Surrounded by forest, the reservoir contains 20,000 acres of surface water so you can find your own corner to play. 

Too much sun and fun?! Visit Dworshak Dam, the highest straight-axis dam in North America. The visitor center offers tours 7 days a week from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Or, tour Dworshak National Fish Hatchery and see the spawning deck, fish ladder, and other points of producing Chinook and Coho Salmon and steelhead.  

Where to Stay: 
Dworshak State Park has 103 campsites, some with electricity and water. Rent a canoe, kayak or stand-up paddleboard from the marina store.

Freeman Creek Cabins sleep 5 and have heat and A/C.

Three Meadows Group Camp sleeps up to 100 in 8 cabins and up to 120 with tents or RVs. A spacious lodge has commercial cooking facilities, foosball, ping pong, horseshoe pits, and basketball and volleyball courts. The best part….you have your own private boat dock!

If you’re not up to “roughing it” but still want to play, stay in Orofino (just 20 miles away) at several budget friendly places, some with fantastic riverfront views.

Splash and play in the creek beneath the falls

Outdoor Recreation Paradise with a Foodie Side of Adventure in Elk River/Deary

Explore Idaho’s tallest waterfall and experience nature in its natural state. Dare to take a selfie with Idaho’s largest (and oldest) living tree, a red cedar. Huckleberries reign in this region. Pick some for yourself or better yet, stop in at Pie Safe Bakery for a huckleberry milkshake made with local ingredients. Just next door is Brush Creek Creamery where they make award-winning cheeses, some of which use local wine from Colter’s Creek. From here, you can hike, fish, camp, and explore miles and miles of trails on your ATV.

Where to Stay:

Make your home base the Peck House, a completely restored house built in 1783 and featured on the Magnolia Network Restoration Road TV Show. It even includes its own pizza oven! 

With 360-degree views and surrounded by the quiet of nature, the Hunter Moon Homestead offers luxury rustic accommodations. 

Wine Tasting at Lindsay Creek Vineyards

Wine Away the Summer Days in the Lewis-Clark Valley AVA

You’ll find superb wines at budget-friendly prices in this highly underrated wine region. Tasting rooms are easy to access….rarely, if ever, is an appointment needed. And, at most wineries, the people in the tasting room make the wine and harvest the grapes. The amazing views from several wineries overlook the Lewis Clark Valley and the scenic rivers that flow through here. 

Where to Stay:

Lewiston has many options for places to stay from the locally owned Hells Canyon Grand Hotel to many comfortable chain hotels.

Rafting the Salmon River

The Best Getaway from the Top (Seven Devils) to the Bottom (Hells Canyon)

Start your adventure in Riggins, the whitewater capital! Kick off your summer with a half-day or multi-day rafting trip on the Salmon River of No Return (check out Salmon River Experience and ROW Adventures) and camping and hiking in the Seven Devils Mountains. Travel up the road to Lewiston for a trip into Hells Canyon to experience North America’s deepest river gorge with Snake River Adventures. Summer is the perfect time to catch some fish, experience scenic mountain views, and make a splash in the river.

Where to Stay:

Riggins and White Bird have several scenic riverside lodging options. The White Bird Summit Lodge makes an excellent vacation rental with easy access to Hells Canyon or the Salmon River. Stay along the banks of the Salmon River at Swiftwater RV Park in your tent or RV and experience a little piece of heaven.

Winchester Lake State Park

Keep the Summer Days Rolling on the Camas Prairie

Winchester Lake is the perfect place to while away the days fishing, hiking, and canoeing. Nearby Grangeville is THE place to spend the 4th of July with Idaho’s oldest rodeo and the World’s Largest Egg Toss part of the annual event. 

The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest and Gospel Hump Wilderness borders the Grangeville area making it the perfect spot to truly get away from it all. Fish, camp, hike, and just sit and take in the diverse landscape and beauty of the wilderness.

Where to Stay:

Winchester Lake State Park has comfortable yurts in addition to camping and RV sites. Nearby B&Bs and the lodge-style Super 8 in Grangeville make a great home base.

Pack Bridge over the Lochsa River leading to National Forest trails

Step Into History & the Gateway to the Wilderness in Kamiah & Kooskia

Four MILLION acres of National Forest border this corridor! Spend lazy summer days floating, swimming, and fishing for trout and bass on the picturesque Clearwater, Lochsa, and Selway Rivers. Hike and backpack miles of trails and explore the stands of ancient western red cedar at Devoto Grove.

Walk in the steps of history on the Lewis and Clark Trail. Explore the sites important to the native people, the Nimiipuu, and learn more about their culture and legends. 

Where to Stay:

The Hearthstone Lodge in Kamiah overlooks the scenic Clearwater River and is a comfortable home base from which to explore. There are several B&Bs and motels in the Upper Clearwater Corridor.



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