• Anusha Parthasarathy

A Pedacito Of ATVing Through Couer D'Alene National Forest

Updated: Jun 19

We'd driven through Idaho once before. In 2017, on a trip to Yellowstone National Park, we drove 8 hours from Salt Lake City in Utah to Wyoming, passing Idaho on the way. I loved it the moment we entered; rolling grasslands, homes scattered far apart, and miles and miles of rich farmland as far as the eye can see. We stayed over at Victor, Idaho, that night, in a home with a backdrop of the Grand Tetons. That's when we knew that we would be back.

About a month ago, we began planning a long road trip and landed on North Idaho as an option, and it eventually also became our destination. So, we packed our bags and made the 17-hour (one-way) trip to Kellogg, which is about 45 mins east of Couer d'Alene, in the midst of the Panhandle National Forest. Finally, we could wake up to a sprawling view of misty mountains for a week.

The beautiful views along the roads of Couer d'Alene
The beautiful views along the roads of Couer d'Alene

One of the activities that this forest, especially around the Couer d'Alene lake, is famous for is its ATV/UTV rides, and we were dead set on trying it out. You can rent these vehicles for four or eight hours and spend the entire day in the forests, driving (or riding, depending on which vehicle you pick) up and down the bumpy dirt roads.

ATV's are a great way to explore Couer d'Alene
ATV's are a great way to explore Couer d'Alene

We were a group of four, and so we chose two ATVs and 1 UTV (a two-seater) for our 4-hour journey into Couer d'Alene National Forest. It's pertinent to always take a set of clean clothes, a pair of gloves, and a rain jacket (or any water-proof jacket for that matter) when you head out on an ATV/UTV adventure. Chances are, you're going to be unrecognizably caked in dirt and mud when you're done with your trip.


So, we packed for the trip, including some snacks and fruits to keep our hunger at bay, and walked over to our vehicles, which we rented from a local ATV rental. The place also provides helmets, gloves, bandanas, and other riding gear in case you need it. Now, it was time to ride.

The ATV, which I drove up the hill, feels almost like you're driving a regular car. But predominantly, I felt like I was the protagonist of a video game, navigating the short turns and corners.


And just like in the game, the corners are often tight, blind, and set on towering cliffs, and my heart raced a little bit faster every time we successfully managed to keep all four wheels on the ground at the end of a turn.

After some windy high-altitude roads, we decided we wanted to ride deep into the forest on unpaved terrain. So we looked up the map and veered off into one of the dirt roads that led deeper inside.


Four hours flew by before we even knew it, and barring a couple of water and snack breaks, we drove all across the forest, braving bumpy roads, slushy ice, and even fallen trees along the way! The views from any point in the woods are incredible and even more so when you're driving around the outer edge or by the Couer d'Alene lake.

We drove all through the forests of Couer d'Alene
We drove all through the forests of Couer d'Alene

At the end of the day, we switched vehicles and drove back down the hills. The ATV is almost like riding a tractor. Its large, powerful wheels handling even tricky turns with ease. You almost feel unbeatable when you're riding it and feel almost none of the bumps since you're seated on a higher level.

As we passed the lake on our way out, we stopped for a second at a viewpoint facing the waters, just taking in the landscape. Tall pine forests, clear blue waters, and long windy roads that went on forever, we took back these memories and some souvenirs too – our muddy jackets and shoes.

 

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