Photograph by Woods Wheatcroft
GPS: 48°17'N 116°34'W
Anchored in Idaho’s wild panhandle between 143-mile (230-kilometer) long Lake Pend Oreille and the 8,000-foot Selkirk and Cabinet ranges, this tight-knit mountain town retains its frontier flare. Sandpoint today is much as it was 24 years ago, when civic-minded residents made a stand and saved the mission-style Panida Theater in the waterfront city center from demolition. These days, foreign films and performing arts at the Panida, back-alley canine keg-pulls by the brewpub, and the summertime music Festival at Sandpoint keep the town buzzing.
Late summer means huckleberry season on the town's Schweitzer Mountain. Gathering grounds are reached via the two-mile (three-kilometer) cedar-lined trail to Colburn Lake. The five-mile, fat-tire friendly Overland Trail Loop is accessible from Schweitzer’s base, while the Great Escape Quad serves screaming downhills ($10 for a lift ticket; www.schweitzer.com).
Eichardt’s Pub is the go-to choice for burgers and brews (www.sandpoint.com/go/eichardts).
At the Western Pleasure Guest Ranch, about 16 miles (26 kilometers) northeast of town, wranglers guide horse trips in to the Selkirks and Cabinets (cabins from $150; www.westernpleasureranch.com).