Written March 20, 2009 by John Hendricks, Architect AIA • Filed Under North Idaho
, Resort Areas
Being an architect in Sandpoint, one of my local favorite places to visit is Priest Lake, a large alpine lake in the northern panhandle of Idaho. Known as the “crown jewel” of Idaho, Priest Lake is located roughly 75 minutes northwest of Sandpoint, and about 90 minutes northeast of Spokane, Washington. It is 19 miles long and 4.4 miles wide at its largest points, with a maximum depth of 369 feet, and a surface elevation of 2,439 feet.
There is an abundance of wildlife at Priest Lake, including deer, black bear and moose. The lake also has the distinction of having the United States’ largest lake trout caught on record, at 57 pounds 8 ounces.
Priest Lake is as a summer recreation hot spot for various water sports, including canoeing, kayaking, water skiing, and sailing. There are numerous hiking, cycling and backpacking trails located around the lake. Rock climbing, river running and golf are also popular. There are several camp grounds located around the lake, including some designated boat-in camp sites on various islands.
For those not caring to rough it, there are several resorts located around the lake including Hill’s Resort and Elkins Resort. One of my favorite places to eat dinner is Cavanaugh Bay Resort. It’s fun and casual, and the deck overlooking the bay has beautiful views up towards the north end of the lake.
Sunset from Cavanaugh Bay Resort at Priest Lake
There are roughly 600 cabins located on the shores of Priest Lake. Many have been in families for generations. While approximately 100 of these have been rebuilt, there are still approximately 300 more that are in need of being rebuilt. In the Priest Lake basin, between Priest River to the south, Canada to the north, Washington to the West, and the Selkirk crest to the east, there are approximately 7,500 cabins.
What little real estate there is left on the water is usually gobbled up quickly. Dick Bockemuehl is a Realtor who specializes in these waterfront properties. Timothy Ventress is another Realtor (and fire chief) who also is a great source of information on finding these lakefront lots. Besides the single lots that open up, some of the higher end developments in the area include Huckleberry, Steamboat Bay, and Kaniksu Sands. Canoe Point, an exclusive development north of Huckleberry on the upper east side of the lake, has five acre waterfront lots.
Northern Priest Lake from Canoe Point
The architecture at Priest Lake is generally the rustic rocky mountain style, though it ranges from log cabins to modern mountain contemporary. Mike Sandau of Sandau Builders is one of the top builders at Priest Lake, if not the best, and understands the rugged terrain better than anybody. He’s been building quality custom homes and cabins at Priest Lake since 1978.
For more information on Priest Lake, see the Priest Lake Chamber of Commerce website. For more mountain biking information see our post on Mountain Biking around Sandpoint.
Hendricks Architecture in Sandpoint specializes in the design of luxury mountain style homes and cabins. While it is not the only type of work we design, most of the homes we’ve completed are in mountain resort areas similar to Priest Lake. Most of our clients are looking for mountain style homes, often fairly rustic, and other times more contemporary. If you are interested in having us design you a mountain home, or if you have any other inquiries, please contact us.
John Hendricks, AIA Architect, NCARB
Hendricks Architecture, Sandpoint, Idaho mountain architects
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