Just about 40 minutes east of Spokane, Washington lays the beautiful little city of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Best known for the 55 lakes that are in and around the city, Coeur d’Alene is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. From spectacular northern Idaho sunsets to the splendid Coeur d’Alene Mountains, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Some of the most impressive sights of all are the wintering hangouts of America’s majestic bald eagle. During the week of December 29, 2011, 273 individual bald eagles were spotted at the Bureau of Land Management’s annual Eagle Watch event.
Best Place for Bald Eagle Viewing
One of the best spots to view the eagles is at Wolf Lodge Bay, seven miles southeast of Coeur d’Alene. The area is easily accessible with Interstate 90 to the north and Idaho Route 97 to the east and south. There are three superb viewing areas surrounding the bay: Higgins Point on the north-central shore, the Mineral Ridge boat ramp on the southeast shore, and the Mineral Ridge trailhead on the mid-east shore of Beauty Bay, which flows into Wolf Lodge Bay from the south.
Best Time for Bald Eagle Viewing
In November, the Kokanee salmon of Coeur d’Alene Lake – one of the eagles’ main food sources – begin to spawn and die. This event coincides almost exactly with the arrival of the birds. The eagles are at their highest concentrations towards the end of December, and then taper off gradually until the beginning of February. Eagle populations vary from year to year, but there are so many that you are almost guaranteed to see several if you go in late December.
Rules for Bald Eagle Viewing
– Do not approach the eagles on foot or disturb them in any way.
– Use binoculars for the best views.
– If the eagles are close, stay in your vehicle to view them.
– Park off the main road and do not stop in traffic.
Other Things to Do in the Area
Skiing – The Coeur d’Alene area has three ski resorts and boasts the driest powder in the West. With over 4,700 acres in all, the area has 131 runs and vertical drops of 2,200 feet.
Biking – Weather permitting, the Trail of the Coeur d’Alene offers 72 miles of paved, non-motorized bike trails that offer exceptional wildlife viewing.
Gaming – In addition to world-class gaming, the Coeur d’Alene Casino offers six restaurants and the largest day spa in the Northwest.