Coeur d’Alene Lake, Idaho, USA

Also known as:  Lake Coeur d'Alene

Welcome to the ultimate guide for history, statistics, local fun facts and the best things to do at Coeur d’Alene Lake.

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Coeur d’Alene Lake visitor and community guide

Lake Locations: USA - West - Idaho - Northern -

Nestled at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in the Northern Panhandle of Idaho, 30,000-acre Coeur d’Alene Lake (pronounced Core-de-lane) is a spectacular recreational jewel of a lake. The name Coeur d’Alene comes from early French traders who named their trading post for the shrewd trading practices of local Indian tribes. Translated literally, it means “heart of the awl” or “sharp-hearted.” Today, residents and visitors alike enjoy a multitude of water sports as well as hiking, golfing, biking, and wildlife viewing. The town of Coeur d’Alene is located on the lake’s northern shore and serves as the gateway to this four-season destination.

Coeur d’Alene Lake is a glacier-formed lake whose depth was increased by the construction of the Post Falls Dam in 1906. The dam was funded by ten investors and ultimately owned and operated by Avista Utilities for hydroelectric generation, flood control and irrigation. The water level of the lake is controlled naturally except when Avista Utilities drops the level in the fall to create storage capacity for spring snow melt. Sources for the lake include the St. Joe, St. Maries and the Coeur d’Alene Rivers. Progress continues in mitigating the introduction of mining contamination from the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River by reducing this inflow into Lake Coeur d’Alene. The lake flows outward to the Spokane River, which flows west about 25 miles into east central Washington.

Anglers can enjoy the tranquil waters of Coeur d’Alene Lake in a variety of ways. Trolling from boats for chinook and kokanee salmon are common morning rituals for the serious fisherman. Fishing from public and private docks for perch, catfish, and sunfish is a great way to introduce children to the sport or just unwind and enjoy the lake. Fly fishing for rainbow and cutthroat trout is an option for those who can brave wading into the frigid alpine water. Both smallmouth bass and largemouth bass are favorites with frequent bass fishing tournament participants. Other sport fish in the lake include northern pike, crappie, channel catfish and bullhead. Over 135 miles of beautiful shoreline make the waters easily accessible.

For those who would like to enjoy Coeur d’Alene Lake without the smell of fish, luxurious cruise boat tours are available. Cruises can run for as long as six hours and include dinner cruises, Sunday brunch cruises and even eagle watching cruises. Boats take visitors to the lake’s many bays where wildlife, secluded lake homes, and the world’s only floating golf green can be seen from the water.

The construction of Coeur d’Alene Resort in 1986 brought international notice to Coeur d’Alene Lake. The resort has an outstanding golf course and a world renowned 14th hole, located on a par 3 floating movable island green. Located on the north shore of the lake, the resort offers fly fishing classes, daily sightseeing cruises and incredible views of the lake.

Divers will find the bottom of Coeur d’Alene Lake of great interest. In the early 1900s, travelers would drive across the frozen lake in the winter in an attempt to save half the distance of driving around the lake. Today, a number of Ford Model Ts can be found on the floor of the lake. There are also a few steamboats on the bottom that were burned and left to sink when they were no longer needed to ferry people around on the lake.

Close proximity to the Rocky Mountains makes Coeur d’Alene Lake a popular year-round tourist attraction. The summer months offer great beaches, viewing of bald eagles as they feed on the fish in the lake, and opportunity to hike and bike trails that circle the lake. The North Idaho Centennial Trail, popular among cyclists, walkers, and joggers, follows along the lake’s north and northeastern shore. The Idaho Scenic Highway 97 is a beautiful drive along the east shoreline of the lake during any season, although the fall colors are an especially spectacular sight. The Coeur d’Alene National Forest, Coeur d’Alene Parkway State Park, Heyburn State Park and Old Mission State Park – all within a few miles of the lake – provide easily accessible fishing, boat ramps, camping, picnicking, hiking and wildlife viewing. Winter months offer skiing at several large nearby ski resorts, snowmobiling and ice fishing.

Vacation rentals and private real estate are plentiful on Coeur d’Alene Lake. Bed and breakfasts, modern hotels, resorts, lodges, cottages and a number of full service campgrounds and RV parks can be found on and near the lake.

The city of Coeur d’Alene is a thriving resort community on the north shore of Coeur d’Alene Lake and offers residents and visitors a wide choice of shopping and dining options. Monthly events such as an Art Walk feature local artists and highlight the downtown galleries. Downtown Coeur d’Alene features over 100 merchants in a six block area. Theatre lovers will appreciate the Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre which produces professional Broadway musicals. Just 15 minutes north of the city, is the northwest’s largest theme park, Silverwood, complete with incredible rides and attractions.

Native American Indians have lived for thousands of years in north Idaho and on the shores of Coeur d’Alene Lake. The southern third of the lake is currently owned by the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. An executive order issued by Ulysses S. Grant in 1873 transferred ownership to the Tribe. The Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation originally included the entire lake, but after a series of treaty negotiations, the reservation was reduced to its present size.

The pristine serenity of Coeur d’Alene Lake and its majestic surroundings has earned the lake a reputation as one of the world’s most beautiful vacation destinations. Less than an hour from Spokane, Washington, visitors can enjoy beautiful beaches, and numerous water activities, including water skiing, wakeboarding, fishing, jet skiing, parasailing, boat cruises, seaplane rides, kayaking and more. Some believe that the lake is best viewed by boat, but the meandering roads and trails that surround the lake offer unbelievable views and make for a fabulous daytrip. Whether it be by land or by water, shimmering Coeur d’Alene Lake offers a wealth of recreation and attractions in a stunning natural setting.

Custom Coeur d’Alene Lake house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

Things to do at Coeur d’Alene Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Fishing Tournaments
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Parasailing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Snowmobiling
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • National Forest
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Coeur d’Alene Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Chinook Salmon
  • Crappie
  • Cutthroat Trout
  • Kokanee Salmon
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Salmon
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Trout

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Coeur d’Alene Lake

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Coeur d’Alene Lake photo gallery

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Coeur d’Alene Lake statistics & helpful links


Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Avista Utilities

Surface Area: 30,000 acres

Shoreline Length: 135 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 2,125 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 2,120 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 2,139 feet

Average Depth: 120 feet

Maximum Depth: 220 feet

Water Volume: 2,269,996 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1906

Water Residence Time: 183 days

Drainage Area: 1,475 sq. miles

Trophic State: Oligotrophic

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