The International Selkirk Loop encircles the breathtaking Selkirk Mountains in northeast Washington, north Idaho and southeast British Columbia, a place of forested hillsides, sparkling waterfalls, snowcapped craggy peaks, and charming small towns. The nearest metropolitan area is Spokane, Washington, about one hour southwest of the Selkirk Loop. Within the Loop, the Selkirk Mountains are accessible from the Salmo Basin, Sullivan Lake, Priest Lake, Pack River, Roman Nose, Kootenay Pass and Kokanee Glacier recreation areas.
Nearly the entire Loop route follows rivers and lakeshores. The waterways historically were used for transportation, but today they are a source of year-round recreation, from fly fishing to ice fishing, boating, water skiing, windsurfing, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, diving and rafting.
Much of the land in the Loop corridor is National Forest, National Wildlife Refuge, Wildlife Management Area, or Provincial Park, so there are myriad opportunities for outdoor recreation – a vast uncrowded playground! Hundreds of miles of trails are available for all levels of hiking, biking, horseback riding, skiing and snowmobile touring. Rock climbing and geo-caching are popular for the more adventurous. These public lands are home to the largest diversity of wildlife in the lower 48 states. The wildlife Refuges and Management Areas are home to more than 50 mammal species and 265+ bird species. Moreover, Lake Pend Oreille and Kootenay Lake are two of the largest lakes in the west.
The Loop’s scenery changes with each season. In spring, the bright greens of new foliage blend with the colors of early wildflowers, set against a backdrop of snow-covered mountaintops and rushing waterfalls. In summer, wildflowers are in full bloom, and the rivers and lakes teem with fish below warm blue skies. Fall brings changing colors, with brilliant golds and reds amid the dark green pine and spruce. Canadian geese by the thousands stop for respite on their journey south through the Pacific Flyway. In winter, a peaceful blanket of snow covers higher elevations of the Loop, with greenery remaining in the milder climates of the river valleys. Moose, deer and elk often are spotted as they browse for tender shoots beneath the snow. No wonder this route was voted “The West’s Best Scenic Drive” by Sunset Magazine.
The most delightful aspect of the Loop’s scenery is its variety, from narrow river canyons to broad fertile valleys and vibrant village scenes, from lowland meadows to breathtaking mountain vistas. Surprises await around every corner! Be sure to allow ample time to explore; we suggest 3-7 days. Visitors often are surprised by the lack of crowds on the Selkirk Loop – it’s a genuinely relaxing experience!
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