An Idaho Panhandle RV Trip on US-95: Sandpoint, Moscow & McCall

July 2016 – After a truly stunning few weeks in northern Montana — from adventures on the east side of Glacier National Park to learning about the unique history of Libby, Montana, and photographing the special wildlife and unique giant trees nearby — we took our RV on Idaho’s scenic back roads in the panhandle southbound from Sandpoint through Moscow to McCall.

RV on a river in Idaho

On the back roads of Idaho

The summer was really heating up in northern Idaho, and when we arrived in Sandpoint, on the shores of beautiful Lake Pend Oreille, we were delighted to find that the small town of Sandpoint transforms into a beach town when the temps climb over 80 degrees.

Sandpoint City Beach Park in Idaho

Sandpoint City Beach Park on Lake Pend Oreille

The small town hugs the shoreline of Lake Pend Oreille, and people were taking full advantage of the summer sun to get out on the lake in anything that floated, from boats to kayaks to stand-up paddleboards.

Standup paddle boards Sandpoint Idaho

Sandpoint idaho has lots of summertime action on the lake.

We discovered the wonderful Pend Oreille Bay Trail that runs along the water’s edge. This biking and hiking path offers both brief glimpses of the lake through the trees and open sweeping views.

Pend Oreille Bay Trail Sandpoint Idaho

Pend Oreille Bay Trail

The trail is wonderfully shaded for much of its length and is a joy to walk, run or ride at any time of day.

Pend Oreille Bay Trail bike path and running trail Sandpoint Idaho

This shaded path goes right along the shoreline.

There are paved bike paths all around Sandpoint City Beach Park too, and we rode everywhere.

Riding the bicycle path in Sandpoint Idaho

Sandpoint has bike paths all over the place.

Sandpoint, Idaho, is such a bike friendly town, we even found a colorful sculpture celebrating two wheeled transport.

Bike sculpture Sandpoint Idaho

Sandpoint is a two-wheeler town!

One day we spotted a van with bicycles on the roof. It turned out to be the famous PAC Tour, a challenging cross-country bicycle tour that puts even the hardiest cyclists to the test.

Pac Tour cross-country bicycle tour in Sandpoint Idaho

We bumped into the PAC Tour in Sandpoint!

Their route travels from west to east and takes a little over 30 days. The cyclists were still fresh, as it was only Day 5. They had barely hit the big western mountains and were still a week away from the daylong 130 mile slogs across the flatter plains states. Kudos to all of them for taking on this huge athletic challenge!

PAC Tour cross-country bicycle tour route for 2016

These energetic cyclists had just started and had a long ways to go…

The town of Sandpoint is very cute, and we enjoyed walking around the historic district. At one end of town we found the Libation District which has both brewpubs and a winery on both sides of the street. No shortage of fun there!!

At the other end of town we found Evans Brothers Coffee Roasters where we got a peak at all of their coffee roasting equipment. For lovers of dark, rich coffee, their Guatemalan roast is really yummy. We took home a bag!!

Evans Brothers Coffee Raosters Sandpoint Idaho

Evans Brothers Coffee Roasters makes delicious coffee!

We later discovered that they won 3rd place in the America’s Best Coffeehouse competition at the 2015 Coffee Fest Portland!!

Just a few blocks away, we were very surprised to find the Litehouse Bleu Cheese factory where the popular salad dressing is made.

Litehouse Bleu Cheese Factory Sandpoint Idaho

Litehouse Bleu Cheese salad dressing is made here!

But Lake Pend Oreille was the real focal point of our time in Sandpoint. One day we decided to get a view of it from high above. Locals suggested we take a drive up Schweitzer Mountain, a nearby ski resort.

Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort Sandpoint Idaho

Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort is on a nearby mountain overlooking the lake.

The view from up there was wonderful!

Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort view of Lake Pend Oreille Sandpoint Idaho

What a view — Sandpoint tucked up against Lake Pend Oreille!

After a week in Sandpoint we meandered south a little further and bumped into the cute town of Moscow. Instead of finding the grand turrets of Red Square, we discovered a lovely shaded main street that is lined with all kinds of boutiques and tempting eateries.

Downtown Moscow Idaho streets

Tiny Moscow, Idaho, has a cute downtown area.

A fun paved bike path passes through Moscow, and we jumped on the Latah Trail to ride through the farmlands out to the village of Troy about 11 miles east.

Latah Bike Path from Moscow Idaho to Troy Idaho

Lovely rolling farmland on the Latah Trail from Moscow to Troy, Idaho.

Much of this pretty trail goes through open land with views across rolling hills covered with pastures and farm fields.

Latah Trail from Moscow to Troy Idaho

The Latah Trail goes through pretty farmland.

After a few hours of riding on the bike path, we returned to Moscow and stopped in at Bucer’s Coffeehouse and Pub. We got there shortly after the noon hour, perfect timing for a brew…either coffee or beer!!

Bucer's Coffeehouse and Pub in Moscow Idaho

We stopped for brews at Bucer’s Coffeehouse and Pub — coffee for me and beer for Mark!

Continuing our journey south along Idaho’s pretty US-95, we passed lots more farmland with hay bales spread across the fields and farmhouses looking very quaint in the summer sun.

Farmland in western Idaho panhandle

The drive on US-95 was as lovely as the small towns along the way.

Motorhome among hay bales in Idaho

We passed some beautiful rural scenery.

The Little Salmon River accompanied us on our drive, and we had to stop a few times to get photos as we passed through a wonderful canyon.

Idaho scenery Little Salmon River

The Little Salmon River ran alongside us the whole way.

We had never thought of Idaho as being home to vibrant beach towns, but when we arrived in McCall, we discovered that, just like Sandpoint, the whole town was out in force soaking up the rays at the town beach.

Sunbathers were lying on beach towels, and people were swimming and playing in the water, eating ice cream cones while strolling the paths by the water’s edge, and fooling around on boats and jet skis on pretty Payette Lake.

We loved the vibe of McCall so much that we stuck around for two weeks!!

Legacy Park on the beach in McCall Idaho

What a great surprise to find another sweet little Idaho beach town in McCall!

If you are taking your RV on a north-south route through Idaho, Route 95 makes for a very scenic and enjoyable drive. There are some links with more info below.

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4 thoughts on “An Idaho Panhandle RV Trip on US-95: Sandpoint, Moscow & McCall

  1. What a great area! We haven’t been to that part of Idaho so it will definitely be on the list. Did you find a lot of boondocking sites? Seeing your link to Mark’s 500px page I took a look. What a beautiful collection! Do you have a fisheye lens for your Nikon? The owl in the pipe is a hoot!

    • Idaho is a gorgeous state — one of our favorites — and there are so many great surprises on the back roads. It’s also boondocking friendly, and since we boondock every night in our travels, that’s a big plus!

      Thank you for checking out Mark’s 500px page. That is a really neat photo sharing resource, and it is awesome for travelers because you can see what good photographers are shooting worldwide. Most shoot fairly close to home, so you can see what all the different countries look like around the world. We spend a lot of time perusing that site for inspiration.

      We discuss all our camera gear and all the resources we have used to learn photography and improve our skills on this page: Photography gear and resources. We recently picked up a Rokinon 12mm 2.8 lens. It is a fabulous fisheye lens and I’m having a hard time wrestling it from Mark’s grasp!!

      Seeing those burrowing owls are one of the really fun little excursions in central Arizona. We have a blog post about them here with pics and directions: Burrowing Owls in AZ.

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