Top 10 Beaches in Idaho

Published on June 30th, 2021

What are the Most Popular Beaches in Idaho?

Mountains and hot springs? Yes. But many of us might not immediately think “awesome beaches” when we think of Idaho.

Well, we’d be mistaken! The Gem State is chock full of incredible sandy shores along its many lakes, ponds, creeks, and rivers. Here are the top 10 you don’t want to miss on your next venture through the state.

Top Beaches in Idaho

1. Priest Lake

2. Lake Pend Oreille

3. Silver Beach (Spirit Lake)

4. Lake Coeur d’Alene

5. Payette Lake

6. Black Canyon Dam

7. Eagle Island State Park

8. Lake Lowell

9. Redfish Lake

10. Pettit Lake

Idaho Beaches

Let’s dive (or gently wade) in!

1. Priest Lake

Bay of Priest Lake State Park, Lionhead Unit, Idaho

Nestled about as far north as you can get in this state without crossing over into Idaho, Priest Lake offers a variety of access points including several sandy beaches, including one noteworthy and easy-to-get-to option inside Priest Lake State Park. Other spots worth checking out include Huckleberry Bay and Reeder Bay, not to mention some of the snazzy waterfront vacation rental properties with private beach access on offer. Marinas along the waterside rent canoes, paddleboards, and even motorboats for those eager to explore the lake’s entirety more thoroughly, but you can also have an excellent time simply sipping the sunshine and wading in the water.

Things to do near Priest Lake: This fairly remote part of Idaho is closest to the town of Bonners Ferry, and there are plenty of other excellent nearby wildernesses to explore. For example, Round Lake State Park offers another beautiful waterfront just a little more than an hour south; here are some local RVshare rentals to make a trip of it!

2. Lake Pend Oreille

Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho

Covering a whopping 148 square miles and stretching more than 65 miles in length, it’s no wonder Lake Pend Oreille is called “immense” by many — and it’s got an immense amount of potential fun in the sun to offer. While laketop activities like boating and waterskiing are popular, this lake also offers a variety of beautiful sandy shorelines for wading, sunbathing, and castle-building, such as Sandpoint City Beach Park’s family-friendly festival atmosphere to the shimmering turquoise waters at the more remote Green Bay (which also offers a small undeveloped campground). Fun fact: the lake’s name means “hanging from the ear” or “ear loop,” and is what the French called the Kalispel people who long lived here, thanks to their dangling shell and bone earrings.

Things to do near Lake Pend Oreille: Nestled as it is between the Kaniksu National Forest and the urban centers around Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls, Lake Pend Oreille is a convenient getaway for many Idaho residents and visitors. An RVshare rental is the perfect way to see it all, and here are some great local campgrounds to consider!

3. Silver Beach

Frozen Spirit Lake in Idaho.
Even in winter, Spirit Lake offers a beautiful view!

Just a bit further south and a touch west of Pend Oreille, another Kootenai lake awaits: Spirit Lake, which is home to the hidden gem of Silver Beach. This resort-style lake beach is known for its privacy and beauty, offering a classic, lush Idaho forest ringing a beautiful lake perfect for swimming, kayaking, and just plain enjoying the great outdoors. The lake is also popular among fisherfolk, who come to reel in bluegill, kokanee, large- and smallmouth bass, brook trout, cutthroat trout and many more.

Things to do near Silver Beach: The small namesake town of Spirit Lake offers plenty of charm and all the resources you might need as far as dining and shopping are concerned, along with a lovely little historical downtown area. Here are some local RVshare vehicles to peruse for the venture.

4. Lake Coeur d’Alene

young man jumping of a rocky cliff in Tubs Hill in to Coeur d' Alene Lake in Northern Idaho

Stretching down through the Kootenai and Benewah counties like a shimmering Oasis, Lake Coeur d’Alene is another massive Idaho body of water: ringing in at just shy of 50 square miles, this reservoir of glacial melt is dotted with many small (and not-so-small) communities and offers a variety of beachfront access points. With dozens of waypoints along the many miles of coastline, such as Valhalla Point, Swede Point, Mica Bay and Everwell Bay, this lake offers truly endless opportunities for exploration — and in the hot Idaho summer, it’s a great way to cool off.

Things to do near Lake Coeur d’Alene: Located just south of the town of the same name, which is one of the major population centers in Idaho, Lake Coeur d’Alene is within easy reach of urban adventure opportunities, just in case you need a break from stunning natural beauty. (Yeah, we didn’t think so, either.) Here are some local RVshare rentals and campgrounds to make your trip complete and comfy.

5. Payette Lake

 Mid Afternoon View of Payette Lake Near McCall, Idaho

Another high-elevation glacial lake sitting at about 5,000 feet above sea level, even in the dead heat of the summer, Payette Lake’s waters offer a refreshing coolness. Although there are many miles of shoreline, much of which offers sandy beach access, one of the easiest to get to is Ponderosa State Park, which also boasts about a dozen miles of hiking and biking trails along with volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, a boat launch for watersports enthusiasts, and both primitive camping and resort-style glamping in cozy cabins!

Things to do near Payette Lake: Located at the edge of the Payette National Forest, there’s a nigh unending list of things to see and do in this area, particularly for outdoorsy types. Lake lovers in particular may want to make time to visit another, more remote alpine lake via the Louie Lake Trail or the longer Summit Lake and Buckhorn Summit Trail. Here are some local RVshare rentals to consider.

6. Black Canyon Dam

Stand Up Jet Ski fun on a hot summer day. Located at Black's Creek in Emmett, Idaho.

The popular Idaho country music station, 104.3 WOW, considers Black Canyon Dam to be one of the state’s premier hidden gems — especially for those looking for an easily drivable getaway from the major population center of Boise. Along with the dam itself, this area also offers beautiful waterfront access and soft, sand-castle-able sands perfect for comforting little feet and keeping little hands busy. A variety of small area parks, such as Wild Rose Park, Cobblestone Park, and Black Canyon Park line the Black Canyon Reservoir, offering a variety of viewpoints and entryways.

Things to do near the Black Canyon Dam: Only an hour or so north of Boise and Nampa near the town of Emmett, Black Canyon Dam is a perfect getaway opportunity that doesn’t require you to get very far away at all. And, of course, there’s plenty else to see in this neck of the woods, such as Eagle Island State Park and the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge. Here are some local RVshare rentals and area campgrounds to consider!

7. Eagle Island State Park

sunrise at eagle island between two trees as the sun comes up over the mountain

Small(ish) but mighty, Eagle Island State Park boasts more than 500 acres of land and a few miles of shorefront along the Boise River, some of which offers sandy access for wading, swimming, and plain old hanging out. Even better: these beaches are backed up by lots of developed amenities that make for an easy-as-pie day away from it all. There are also several walking trails (which are also used by bikers and equestrians) throughout the park as well as a disc golf course, and a Visitor Center that welcomes guests and helps orient them to the landscape and learn more about local events and gatherings.

Things to do near Eagle Island State Park: While there’s no camping on-site at this park, which is located just about equidistant from Boise and Nampa, there are plenty of great campgrounds in the general vicinity, and more than a few wonderful RVshare vehicles to choose from, too. Plus, you’ll have access to all the urban adventures offered by Idaho’s state capital — the best of both worlds!

8. Lake Lowell

Autumn leaves color the scene at Lake Lowell, near Nampa, Idaho.

Another excellent beach spot that’s extremely accessible from the Boise area, Lake Lowell offers fishing and boating opportunities along with swimming, wading, and beach-bumming options, too. Lake Lowell Park is one place to head for access, which also offers a disc golf course and barbecue grills, and Gotts Point is another intimate, private water entry. Much of the lakeshore is constituted by the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge, which protects over 250 species of birds as well as the unique wetland vegetation that grows here. Additionally, the Refuge is filled with hiking and horseback riding trails, and offers seasonal hunting and fishing opportunities.

Things to do near Lake Lowell: Literally within Nampa city limits and only half an hour from Boise, this lake is surrounded by must-see attractions, like the Warhawk Air Museum. If you’re looking for camping options and the perfect rental vehicles to bring to them, we’ve got you covered!

9. Redfish Lake

Redfish Lake is a high Idaho mountain lake

Easily one of the most popular options as far as beach days in Idaho are concerned, Redfish Lake and its surrounding wilderness offer the perfect combination of pristine, lush mountain lake vistas (think forested hiking paths and babbling, rock-studded cascades) and sandy beaches that invite visitors to stop and stay a while, perhaps put their feet. Lake cruises are available for those wishing to further familiarize themselves with this scenic stretch of water, and paddleboards, kayaks, canoes, and paddle boats are available nearby for rent. There are many lovely day-use areas to explore — you could spend not one but several beach days along this lake and never have the same view twice!

Things to do near Redfish Lake: Tucked between the Sawtooth National Forest and the Boise National Forest, Redfish Lake is the place to head if you’re looking for a generally rugged adventure experience. Hikers will be tempted by nearby destinations like Sawtooth Lake and many others; here are some local RVshare rentals to make it into a glamping trip.

10. Pettit Lake

morning light on McDonald Peak reflecting in Pettit Lake near Stanley, Idaho

Another remote, alpine lake in the Sawtooth National Forest, Pettit Lake offers a surprising abundance of soft, smooth sand perfect for laying out a towel — though its elevation means it might be a bit chilly no matter what time of year you visit. Head to the Pettit Lake Day Use Area for some of the most incredible views you’ll see in your lifetime (and the opportunity to soak them up for a whole day if you like). A variety of hiking trails nearby giving outdoor enthusiasts plenty of more heart-pumping opportunities, including access to the Tin Cup Trailhead, the entryway to a strenuous 20-mile loop that may be best taken on as an overnight backpacking journey.

Things to do near Pettit Lake: This peak-studded part of the state is so remote and rugged that it’s home to the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve, so if you’re all amenable to staying up late, this is the time to go stargazing. Here are some area RVshare rentals to choose from, since chances are you’re going to want to stay out there off the grid for a while.

Planning an RV Trip to Idaho

The beautiful state of Idaho has so much to offer — beaches are just the beginning! No matter what kind of getaway you’re after, we’ve got your back. Here are the best RV rentals in the state, as well as the best campgrounds and to stay in and explore. We’ve also penned guides to the best state parks in Idaho, as well as its many big, bustling cities.

Now get out there and find out why it’s known as the Gem State after all!

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