Winter in the Sister Cities of the Mountains: Spokane and Coeur d’Alene

4 min read

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Skiing is likely the first thing that comes to mind when you think of winter vacation activities. However, it is far from the only thing that the season has to offer.

The cities of Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, less than thirty miles apart and separated by the Washington/Idaho border, both boast impressive winter activity offerings. In fact, they are each enticing destinations to check out this season, and, because of their proximity, you do not have to choose only one to visit. You can easily experience the highlights of each place in one trip.


Ski and Snowboard Destinations

Snowboarder Carving Down a Mountain - PNW Life Featured Image

Let’s start by looking at those ski and snowboard options and then expand our view to take in some other joys of the winter season.
Both cities are within easy driving distance of multiple ski resorts

Mt Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park

This resort sits closest to both cities on the Washington side of the border. In addition to ski and snowboard fun, it also offers groomed areas for snowmobiles and ungroomed backcountry ski areas. Most notably, the mountain boasts incredible panoramic views in all directions.

49 Degrees North

Also on the Washington side of the border but closer to Canada, 49 Degrees North is the region’s favorite family-friendly option that brings you 1850 vertical ft of alpine ski runs.

Silver Mountain Resort

This resort sits in the mountains east of Coeur d’Alene, houses the world’s longest gondola and 1500 skiable acres of terrain. It is easily accessible off of I-90.

Lookout Pass

A little farther along the same interstate, you’ll find Lookout Pass Ski Area, which brings visitors some of the best powder the world has to offer, as well as the earliest opening and longest season in the region. Lookout Pass gets an average of 400” of light, fluffy snow thanks to its location right in the heart of the Northern Rockies. This is also a good location for those interested in PNW history, as the resort boasts the region’s second oldest ski lodge.

Schweitzer Mountain

North of Coeur d’Alene sits the area’s only resort that stays open seven days a week: Schweitzer Mountain. It gets 300” of powder a year, and, aside from downhill skiing and snowboarding, it also offers cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowcat skiing. In case you’ve never heard of that last one, it means you hitch a ride in a snowcat to enjoy skiing in more remote locations


Snowmobiling

Snowmobiling through snow - PNW Life Featured Image

You can enjoy the winter version of jet skiing

If you’re not from a snowy place, you might be looking for accessible ways to get out into the winter landscape and experience all the wonders that snow can offer. Well, if you want to do so from the comfort of a seat, snowmobiling is your best way to go. Both Spokane and Coeur d’Alene offer snowmobile rentals for the initiated and the beginner. These days, you’ll even get heated grips. But don’t expect to relax. You may be sitting down, but snowmobiling is still a workout.


Escape to a Cabin in the Woods

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Find yourself a fairytale setting by renting a cozy cabin

Both cities offer incredible accommodations for those who want to get around easily and enjoy the convenience of an urban setting and a hotel concierge. But, if part of your winter dream is coming home to a warm and cozy cabin after a long day in nature, you’ll have plenty of options. Coeur d’Alene is surrounded by three National Forests that all offer beautiful getaway spots. In Washington, you’ll want to look at the areas close to Mt. Spokane, just north of the city of Spokane.


Snowshoe Hike

Showshoeing in the woods - PNW Life Featured Image

Take hiking to the next level with some snowshoes

Remember those National Forests I just mentioned? Well, they’re also great spots for exploring on snowshoes – or, if you’re even more adventurous, cross country skis. The areas around Coeur d’Alene offer mountainous, moderate, and lakeside options. And, through Spokane Parks and Rec, you can join guided tours that will bring you to stunning destinations. You can even book a romantic moonlit snowshoe hike that ends with a catered dinner.


Up Your Winter Game with Ice Fishing

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Ice makes fishing a completely different sport in winter. And both Spokane and Coeur d’Alene serve as excellent gateways to the best lakes of the region. So, if toughing out some cold to catch a warm dinner is your thing, you’ll find what you’re looking for in this corner of the Pacific Northwest.


Enjoy the City

Coeur d Alene Resort from Tubbs Hill - PNW Life Featured Image

Finally, make sure you have fun in the city

Sometimes, we forget how much fun the city offers when there are so many outdoors adventures on offer. Spokane’s Numerica Ice Ribbon brings you a classic ice skating experience on a one-of-a-kind rink. Also in Spokane, you can enjoy the Pavilion Light Show in December and the Numerica Skyride year round. In Coeur d’Alene, Journey to the North Pole Cruises brings the whole family fun, the Second Friday Art walk offers a chance to enjoy culture each month, and you can always try your luck at the Coeur d’Alene Casino.

Both cities light up for the holidays with beautiful displays. And they each offer you a chance to do some holiday shopping in fun and festive surroundings. Plus, the excellent dining and drinking establishments will leave you wishing you had more chances to sample all the options.

Before you arrive, make sure to take a look at the live music, theatre, and cultural activities scheduled in each town. There’s always plenty to enjoy.

We at PNW Journey know you won’t be disappointed by a winter trip to this wonderous area of the Pacific Northwest.

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