The Great Northern

Following US‑2 through wide-open spaces is guaranteed to bring new meaning to the expression “getting away from it all.”

Naples and Bonners Ferry

North from Sandpoint, US-2 and US-95 run together through broad flat valleys dotted with small timber towns. The largest of these, Naples, is still a little bit notorious because of its connections to the 1990s battles between the FBI and local neo-Nazi sympathizers around nearby Ruby Ridge. These days things are pretty quiet, but travelers are drawn to Naples’s friendly Northwoods Tavern (461 Deep Creek Loop, 208/267-1094), on US-2, a great place to meet locals over a beer and a game of pool (or three). There’s a handy general store next door, and not too far away is the Naples Inn (537 Deep Creek Loop, 208/267-5964).

Ten miles north of Naples, and named after a ferry service across the Kootenai River that started here in 1864, Bonners Ferry (pop. 2,610) is a busy blue-collar town with a natural resource-based (read: logging and farming, especially hop-growing) economy. The Kootenai River Inn (7169 Plaza St., 208/267-8511, $115 and up) is an Indian-run casino and Best Western.

Away from the highway, the Bonners Ferry area has an unusual accommodation option: the Shorty Peak Fire Lookout (around $25), 45 miles from town, and a two-mile hike from the nearest road, way up in the wild Selkirk Mountains, where two people can spend the night and take in the panoramic views. For reservations, and information on hiking in the surrounding wilderness, contact the USFS ranger station (6286 Main St., 208/267-5561) on US-2/95 at the south edge of town.

Between Bonners Ferry and the Montana state line, US-2 crosses the once-wild, now-dammed Moyie River on a 450-foot-high bridge.

Northwoods Tavern (461 Deep Creek Loop)
Naples Inn (537 Deep Creek Loop)
Kootenai River Inn (7169 Plaza St.)
Shorty Peak Fire Lookout
USFS ranger station (6286 Main St.)