Spending Time Around Coeur d'Alene Lake in Idaho

The second largest lake in northern Idaho, Coeur d’Alene Lake sits in a beautiful mountain setting on the southern end of the city of Coeur d’Alene. The lake was created when great lobes of the continental ice cap receded during the last Ice Age.

Varying Water Flows and Levels

Coeur d’Alene Lake is formed by a natural constriction at the start of the Spokane river, which limits the volume of water that can exit the lake at various lake elevations. Prior to the construction of the dam in 1906, Coeur d’Alene Lake rose and fell seasonally.

The lake is 26 miles long with an estimated 135 miles of shoreline. Three large tributaries (the Coeur d’Alene, St. Joe, and St. Maries Rivers) and many smaller streams flow into the lake, while the lake flows outward to the Spokane River. The flows are caused solely by the weather, or a combination of temperature, precipitation, and snowmelt. As spring runoff declines, reducing river flows allow the lake to be held at summer elevation. On average, this begins in late June. At the end of the summer, Avista releases stored water from the lake, drawing down the lake level and increasing river flows.

You can access water flow information at myavista.com/waterflow or on 24-hour telephone information lines. To hear notifications of anticipated water level changes on Coeur d’Alene Lake, Lake Spokane, and the Spokane River, call (509) 495-8043 in Washington and (208) 769-1357 in Idaho. The recorded data is provided to advise shoreline property owners, as well as commercial and recreational users of changes in the lake and river elevation levels that may affect plans for water use.

Top attractions near Lake Coeur d’Alene

Described by National Geographic as one of the five most beautiful lakes in the world, you’ll find numerous parks, campgrounds, beaches, trails, pristine golf courses, tennis courts, and recreational facilities. Here are four of our top picks.

Please be careful when you’re above and below a dam. Obey all posted warnings and closure signs and never cross the boater safety cable above a dam.

Photo by Ben Tobin @capturing_spokane

Learn more about Lake Coeur d'Alene

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  1. Recreation
  2. Summer