Heyburn State Park: The Oldest Park in the Pacific Northwest

If you love the outdoors and being part of nature, then you don’t want to miss Heyburn State Park in northern Idaho. Heyburn is the oldest state park in the Pacific Northwest with over 5,500 acres of land and 2,300 acres of water to sooth your soul. Heyburn State Park was created in 1908 and named after W.B. Heyburn, the Senator from Idaho, who proposed the park’s creation. Heyburn State Park is located in Plummer, Idaho, which is just south of Coeur d’ Alene, and has been classified as a natural park by the State Park Classification System. Only about five percent of the park is developed with the other ninety-five percent left as nature intended it to be.
The Coeur d’ Alene Indians were the first known inhabitants of the area. They consider it a sacred land even today. As visitors spend time in the park, they too come to revere this land as hallowed ground. The 400 year old ponderosa pines that crowd the hillsides stand as sentinels keeping watch over nature’s abundance. Every season of the year brings with it new life and activities. In the spring, be sure to watch for migrating swans in the wetlands. In the summer months, bird watching is a favorite hobby of park guests; the osprey and blue heron are common visitors. The bird sanctuary is also teaming with water fowl and many other varieties of birds. As summer gives way to fall, the park lights up with brilliant colors. The trees almost seem to be on fire as they turn various shades of orange, red, and even purple. With the winter solstice comes snow capped mountains, frosty lakes, and wonderful cross country skiing opportunities to see the wildlife in a whole new way.
Within the park are three campgrounds: Chatcolet, Benewah, and Hawley’s Landing. Each campground has first come first served sites in the off seasons except Benewah, which is first come first served only. During the summer months, reservations are required. All of the campgrounds offer centralized water and flush toilets. Shower facilities are offered in Benewah and Hawley’s Landing. There are standard campsites as well as serviced sites around the area. Each of the campgrounds is well maintained and cleaned. Other campground amenities include firewood, electricity and dump stations. Each of the campsites offers beautiful surroundings to enjoy nature and get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The park also offers cottages and camper cabins that are available year round. If you can only stay for the day, there are four sheltered picnic areas to take advantage of. To learn more about Heyburn State Park or make reservations go to www.parksandrecreation.idaho.gov/parks/heyburn.aspx
There are three lakes within the park boundaries; Chatcolet Lake, Benewah Lake and Hidden Lake. St. Joe River meanders along the eastern border of the park. As you might imagine, fishing and water sports are favorite pastimes at Heyburn State Park. Pike and bass are the most commonly caught fish. It is a tranquil place with spectacular vistas and clear water. Rocky Point Marina can help with all of your boating needs. This is where you will find the boat ramp, fuel dock, parking, and don’t forget the General Store. Most days you will find sail boats, canoes, and water skiers enjoying the lakes. There are hiking trails, equestrian trails, and biking trails. The world famous Trail of the Coeur d’Alene’s is a seventy-two mile paved trail that runs right through the middle of the park. It is ideal for walking, biking, or jogging. Part of what makes this trail interesting and fun to ride is the swing bridge. The trail follows some of the old railroad tracks and goes right over the bridge which is now paved for the bikers and runners. Don’t miss the nature walks and activities for children with the Park Rangers.
Heyburn State Park has a little something for everyone including water sports, hiking, and flush toilets. Horseback riders, bird watchers, and nature lovers alike will enjoy the majestic scenery. Set at the base of the St. Joe Mountains, the park is truly unmatched in its diversity, beauty, and amenities.