Coeur d’Alene Lake, Idaho, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - Idaho - Northern -

Also known as:  Lake Coeur d'Alene

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.

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

Coeur d’Alene Lake Photo Gallery

Coeur d’Alene Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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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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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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