This post is part of a series on The Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip, our 10-month, 15,000 mile tour of the top pet friendly attraction in each of the lower 48 states.
Among the rugged peaks of northern Idaho, where the pine trees far outnumber the people, lies one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. Unfolding over 26 miles, with more than 135 miles of shoreline, Lake Coeur d’Alene has a magical ability to satisfy the desires of all her visitors. Those looking for entertainment and recreation will find it – from water sports and fishing, to hiking and biking along her shores. And those in search of quiet tranquility, will find her quiet depth and serene bays the perfect salve for nerves frayed by the hustle and bustle.
The name Coeur d’Alene (pronounced kore-duh-LANE), was given to the Native American Schee-Che-Umsh tribe by French-speaking fur traders in the early 1800s. Roughly translating to “heart like an awl,” the traders were alluding to the shrewd negotiating skills of tribe members. Now the moniker is carried not only by the tribe and the lake, but also the city of Coeur d’Alene, which runs along on the lake’s northern shore.
There are as many ways to enjoy Lake Coeur d’Alene as your imagination allows. From diving sunken steamboats, to renting powerboats for cruising or water skiing, to scenic boat tours and drives, to exploring the many miles of trails on foot or bike. During our visit we did our best to explore as many of these options as possible with Ty and Buster.
To get the lay of the land, so to speak, our first stop was the boat dock at Independence Point for a narrated cruise of the lake. Lake Coeur d’Alene Cruises offers 90-minute tours that provide a nice history of the area, lovely views from the water of the lake’s northern bays, and they depart daily from late April through late October.
Pets are welcome aboard the daily tours, but not aboard dinner or brunch cruises, and the Captain likes to meet all pets prior to embarking to ensure they’re friendly. We took Ty and Buster for an introduction when we purchased our tickets, and found the staff very accommodating. The boat had plenty of space for Buster to stretch out without worrying about being stepped on, and Ty was able to stay right in his stroller during the ride.
Pet Rules for Lake Coeur d’Alene Cruises
- Pets must be leashed or in a carrier
- Pets must meet the Captain prior to embarking to ensure they’re friendly
- Pets must stay in the outside areas (upper deck, or covered lower deck)
To optimize our lake time, we booked a room at the pet friendly Coeur d’Alene Resort. Having a room with a view allowed us to enjoy the lake 24-hours a day, and experience how it changed from early morning to sunset.
The room itself was wonderful, with a balcony, fireplace, sunken living room, king bed, and huge bathroom and dressing area. The dogs settled in immediately and really seemed to savor being pampered for a few days.
The front desk attendants at the resort were delighted to see Buster and Ty and even had treats for them when we checked in. The accommodations were some of the nicest we’ve stayed in with the boys in all our travels, and it was especially nice that the boys were allowed in the cozy gathering places in the lobby. Settling in by the fireplace for a coffee and snack from the dessert case was a great way to recharge while we watched the massive koi in the aquarium.
Pet Policy at Coeur d’Alene Resort
- Pets must be leashed or in a carrier in public areas
- There is no limit on the size of pets that are welcome, or the number of pets you may have in your room
- There is a one-time cleaning fee of $75 charged, regardless of the length of your stay
- Pets may not be left unattended
When it comes to pet friendly hotel “must-haves,” the Coeur d’Alene Resort ticked all the boxes, and then some. There was a convenient walking area for nighttime bathroom breaks, a shop with pet essentials and gift items next door, and easy access to a multitude of restaurants with pet friendly patios. Rustic, Iron Horse, Fine Brewed Café, Fire, Collective Kitchen, Sweet Lou’s Restaurant and Tap House, Bakery by the Lake at Parkside, Coeur d’ Alene Coffee Company, and Tony’s on the Lake are some of the places we found that were happy to have Ty and Buster join us.
Finally, the hotel has the longest floating boardwalk in the world – and pets are welcome there, too! At two-thirds of a mile long and 12 feet wide, the boardwalk provides a completely different perspective of the lake. It’s the perfect place for a picnic lunch or to watch the sunset.
Directly behind the Coeur d’Alene Resort is McEuen Park, which has a playground, tennis, pickleball, and basketball courts, a splash pad for the kiddos, and an off-leash dog park for the pups. There is also access to the Tubbs Hill trails, which are pet friendly, and follow the shoreline to Sanders Beach.
Pet Policy at McEuen Park and Tubbs Hill
- Pets must be leashed unless they are inside the dog park enclosure
- Within the dog park, all posted rules must be observed
- Outside the dog park, pets are allowed only on the paved paths in McEuen Park (the same is true of City Park a few blocks away
- At Tubbs Hill leashed pets are welcome on all trails
To top it off, McEuen Park also offers parking for RVs and boat trailers. Accessing the lot is simple – just take Sherman Avenue from I-90 and turn south on 6th Street, which runs right into the parking area when you cross Front Street. The RV spaces are about two-thirds of the way down and the charge is $2 per hour.
Coeur d’Alene has a fantastic selection of trails, and there’s some thing to fit everyone’s ability level. The trails at Tubbs Hill, mentioned above, provide great views of the lake, but you do need to keep an eye on the path for protruding rocks and tree roots. If you’re looking for something smoother, hop on the 23-mile Centennial Trail, which runs west from downtown through City Park and follows the Spokane River to the Idaho/Washington border, or east to Higgens Point.
Pet on the Trails
- Pets must be leashed
- Pet waste must be picked up and disposed of properly
Another of our favorite hikes is at Mineral Ridge, about a 10-minute drive from downtown. This 3.3-mile loop is more challenging with the stroller than the paved trails, but the view of the lake at the end makes it worth the effort!
From Mineral Ridge you’re poised for a drive around the lake. Head south to St. Mary’s and then come up the western shore back to Coeur d’Alene. The landscapes on the opposing sides of the lake couldn’t be more different, and there are plenty of places to stretch your legs, have a sniff, and enjoy the views as you go.
For a quiet walk along the lake, pick up the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes in Harrison as it winds along the lake’s eastern shore. This 72-mile paved trail follows the old Union Pacific Railroad right-of-way from Mullan to Plummer, but this section provides especially nice access to the lake. There’s also a fun little place to pick up snacks or stop for ice cream on your way back to the car.
If you time it right, you should be getting back to town just in time to catch the sunset.
Visiting these attractions with Ty and Buster is a dream come true. We’ll be blogging about each one as we go along, so fasten your seatbelt and stay tuned!
The Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip wouldn’t be possible without the support of our wonderful sponsors: Winnebago, 2 Hounds Design, Alcott, goDog®, PetGuide.com, Red Roof Inns, Sleepypod, The Bark, PetHub, RVPetSafety.com, and The Honest Kitchen. Please be sure to visit their websites and social media pages and thank them for their participation!
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