North Idaho is generally thought of as the six counties from Latah County in the South to Boundary County at the Canadian border. The others are Bonner, Kootenai, Shoshone, and Benewah. This is an area of 9009 square miles with a population of about 255,000, which, equates to a density of about 30 people per square mile – one of the lowest concentrations in the West. Over 80% of the land is dedicated as US National Forest. Mostly, it is rolling hills, mountains, evergreen forests, pristine lakes and fast-flowing cold rivers. It rarely gets above 90 degrees in the summer and below 20 in the winter. There are four definite yet beautiful seasons. The geography is different from the rest of Idaho. It is in the Pacific Time Zone, whereas the rest of the state is in the Mountain Time Zone. It is often referred to as “The Panhandle.” (The Panhandle’s odd shape was dictated by political forces back in the 1870s when Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana were becoming states)
Highway 95 is the main (and sometimes only) route running North-South. The airport that services this territory is the Spokane airport.
The major towns and cities are:
- Coeur d’Alene: Population 100,000. The largest city in the Panhandle, with lots of restaurants, shopping, art galleries, and a great lake and proximate ski hill.
- Sandpoint: Population 8,000. A little more remote and rustic-feeling than Coeur d’Alene. Hemmed in by the very large Lake Pend Oreille and the mountains, Sandpoint maintains a traditional small-town atmosphere.
- Bonners Ferry: Population 2,500. A community that serves as the base for a rural way of living with small farms
- Priest River: Population 1,800. A community that was based around the timber industry. Classic small town living.
- Clark Fork: Population 900. A gateway community to some of the wilder places to hike, hunt, fish.
Each of these communities has its own special charms and attributes and significant differences in the local real estate markets. In general, the farther you go from the population centers, the further your real estate dollar stretches. This territory encompasses three awesome lakes: Lake Pend Oreille, Priest Lake, and Coeur d’Alene Lake, and two excellent ski mountains: Schweitzer Mountain and Silver Mountain. It is a vast geography full of interesting things to do.