If you love hitting the water, Idaho’s many lakes, rivers and reservoirs are great for boaters! There are docks and launch ramps located in Idaho’s State Parks, public lakes and in most of Idaho’s popular camping areas! It couldn’t be easier to launch a boat and enjoy a day on the water in Idaho!
So whether your plans include rafting through Hells Canyon, visiting the 300 lakes in Sawtooth National Recreation Area, checking out a big city like ‘blue’ Boise, or maybe a popular tourist destinations like Idaho Falls, there’s a place and a water venue for everybody feeling adventurous in Idaho!
BOATING IN IDAHO
Boaters and paddlers in Idaho will have no trouble finding a great place to spend the day on the water. Not when there are so many great waterways to choose from! A few of the most popular lakes in Idaho for boaters include: Lake Coeur d’Alene, Bear Lake and Priest Lake.
To help you decide where to launch your boat, we’ve created our ‘favorite list’ of what we believe are Idaho’s best boating, paddling and rafting destinations! Check out the map below!
LAKE COEUR D’ALENE
Lake Coeur d’Alene is a 25 mile long lake ranging from between one and three miles wide and 197 feet deep at its deepest. It offers more 110 miles of shoreline. The Coeur d’Alene and St. Joe rivers feed Lake Coeur d’Alene, and the Spokane River is its outflow.
The lake offers Kid Island and Kid Bay at the north end of the lake as well as Corine Island at the mouth of Swede Bay. Kid Island is particularly fun to visit with dense trees, a short trail with a rock wall around part of it and the steamboat of St Maries’ Boiler which gives a shipwrecked feel.
There are many campsites along the lake some of which can be accessed by boat. The lake also offers boating, sailing and ferry cruises. From your vessel you can take in the many views of the lake including Bald Eagles, Osprey and other wildlife. It’s also great for fishing particularly Chinook salmon, trout, and northern pike.
Lake Coeur d’Alene also has a steamboat history with the connected rivers offering each navigation for some 30 miles each.
Often referred to as the “Caribbean of the Rockies” Bear Lake is 20 miles long and is shared by Idaho and Utah. It straddles the Utah / Idaho state boundary line and has over 160 square miles of turquoise-blue water. The lake is so large, you feel as if you have it all to yourselves. This resort area is known for excellent boating and water-skiing.
Boating is a popular activity at Bear Lake. The lake is 20 miles long and 8 miles wide, providing space for many different types of watercraft.
Jet skis and wave runners are popular water fun on the lake. They can be rented at locations in Garden City, Utah and Paris, Idaho, some right on the beach.
Bear Lake State Park is located on the North and East Shores of Beautiful Bear Lake. It’s also easy to access the Cache National Forest and Minnitonka Cave as well as the National Oregon Trail Center in Montpelier, Idaho.
Hayden Lake, with its crystal clear waters, sandy beaches and picturesque timber shores, is one of the most beautiful and popular lakes of North Idaho. Its irregular shape gives it about 40 miles of shoreline, with the main portion of the lake being seven miles long and one to two miles in width. Normal lake elevation is 2,239 ft. above sea level, and portions of it reach 800 feet deep.
The lake is surrounded on three sides by panoramic timbered mountains, which rise to an elevation of nearly 6,000 feet and extend for many miles to the east as part of the Bitterroot Mountain Range. Much of this land is the Coeur d’Alene National Forest, which offers excellent hunting, fishing and camping.
There are three boat ramps accessing the lake, located at Honeysuckle Beach, Sportsman’s Park and the full-service Tobler’s Marina. At Sportsman’s Park on the north end, there are camp sites and handicapped facilities. The sandy shores of Honeysuckle Beach has a roped swim area, dock, public change house and restrooms. The principle town nearby is Hayden.
The lake plays host to a long list of recommended game fish, including bluegill, pumpkinseed, sunfish, bullhead catfish, crappie, largemouth and smallmouth bass, yellow perch, northern pike and rainbow trout.
Payette Lake is a 8.3 square mile and famous for its scenic shoreline marked by private homes, public beach access and the Payette National Forest. The miles of shoreline bordered by national forest will always keep Payette Lake the pristine gem of the area.
Public access to Payette Lake is plentiful through State and City parks and launching your boat is easy compared to many other lakeside resorts and metropolitan areas – though there is a scarcity of long term moorage. The City of McCall operates a public boat launch at the Mile High Marina with minimal waits and adequate parking for trailers. There is also a deep draft boat launch at Ponderosa Park and another launch for small craft off Warren Wagon Road near the west side of the day use area at North Beach.
At the northernmost point of Payette Lake, you can access the white sands of North Beach.
Little Payette Lake is mainly a hang out for float tubing fly anglers in search of big trout but it’s also off the beaten path for low key still water paddling in your canoe or kayak. Both Little and Upper Payette Lakes offer a quiet refuge and a true bonanza for bird watching in the spring, summer and fall-from Sandhill Cranes to the Western Grebes, one of the most common species on the lake.
Idaho’s State Parks offer outdoor enthusiasts alpine lakes, steep canyons, breathtaking cliffs, towering pines and spectacular views. This is one of few states that can offer it’s tourists a landscape that is comprised of 70% public space. So get out there and enjoy it!
When visiting one of Idaho’s 30 State Parks, you can go boating, hiking, paddling, ATVing … whatever floats your boat (pun intended)! The activity options are limitless. So, check out what each park has to offer, choose the one that suits your activities best and have fun exploring!
FISHING IN IDAHO
Idaho offers some awesome fishing opportunities for anglers! Before casting a line, make sure you get all the information you need about Idaho’s state fishing regulations, fishing license requirements, boating license requirements and boating restrictions. Be sure to check out the most recent, local fishing reports that are available for the waterway where you’ll be fishing. Visit the Idaho Parks and Recreation website for more information.