Heyburn State Park is Idaho’s and the Pacific Northwest’s first state park. Created in 1908 (or 1911, depending on who you ask), this park on the banks of Lake Coeur d’Alene set a great example for parks to come.

Stone welcome sign at Heyburn State Park
An original stone sign.

State Park Overview

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Heyburn State Park is located at the southern end of Coeur d’Alene Lake, where the St. Joe River feeds into the lake. Technically, there are a lot of lakes merging in this area. But to a layman (me), it all seems like Coeur d’Alene Lake. You can relax and soak up the scenery of pines trees and idyllic lakefront property. Boating activities abound.

Pros:

  • Interesting history with the CCC
  • Nice lake activities
  • Chill swim areas

Cons:

  • Road construction (to be fair, this is only a problem in 2020 most likely)
  • Pretty crowded
  • If you live in Coeur d’Alene, you pass a lot of nice areas that look a lot like this on your way to this park
Blue skies, girls paddle boarding on Lake Coeur d'Alene
R paddle boarding on the lake.

What To Do

  • Boat
  • Swim
  • Paddleboard

Amenities

The park and rec’s site lists the usual suspects for amenities in this park, but also has quite of variety for water activities, including non-motorized boat rentals and boat ramps. There is also a store with gasoline and some unusual lodging opportunities, including cottages and cabins.

Front view of the Heyburn State Park visitors center.
Visitors center at Heyburn State Park.

Crowd situation

Rating: 4 out of 5.

There are a few different places you can visit the park. We went with the Rocky Point area and there were not that many people at the beach. The other ones might be more popular.

Paddle board Lake Coeur d'Alene
Calm waters to learn how to paddle board.

Unique to Heyburn State Park

Being the first state park in Idaho is pretty cool. Only one park gets that distinction.

A little history about Heyburn State Park

In the early 1900s, Idaho’s congressional Senator Weldon Heyburn pushed real hard to get a national park in this area. His bill didn’t quite make it through Congress though. At the time, the feds were breaking up the Coeur d’Alene reservation and land that was a part of that would eventually be turned into Heyburn State Park. But don’t feel super sorry for Mr. Heyburn; he also got a mountain and town named after him.

In the 1930s and 1940s the Civilian Conservation Corps came to the area and built up the park. We saw the Rocky Point Lodge they built, which looks very good for its age.

Girl in front of Rocky Point Lodge in Heyburn State Park
R in front of Rocky Point Lodge.

Explore nearby

Our experience at Heyburn State Park

We decided paddle boarding at Heyburn State Park would be a fun way to see this area and also get a little more experience on paddle boards. There are a few different places that have places that have beach areas that we could start at, but we decided to launch our boards at Rocky Point. Rocky Point Lodge was right next to the parking lot; we couldn’t go in, but we took a peak-see around and it was super cool.

We were both successful at not tipping our boards over and we were able to follow along the edge of the water. In the distance, we could see the Chatcolet Bridge, which we would ride our tandem bike over the following day as part of the Coeur d’Alene trail. The paddle boarding was very nice and a good place for beginners (which I am). I didn’t tip over once and there weren’t that many boats to send wakes that would threaten my balance too much. We saw a bunch of boat slips, so this place could probably get pretty busy, but we didn’t see that much traffic. 

Two girls sitting on paddle boards in Northern Idaho
Two novices learning to paddleboard.

There was a nice grassy area where we could fill and empty our paddle boards (they are inflatable) that was close distance to the car and water, so we didn’t have to carry them far.

Conclusion

Heyburn State Park, on the opposite end of Coeur d’Alene Lake from Coeur d’Alene, is a nice alternative to hanging out in Coeur d’Alene. It is more secluded and has a more outdoorsy, camping feel while not being too far away from the city.

Note: we visited Heyburn State Park as part of our Idaho State Parks Challenge. The challenge consists of visiting all of Idaho’s state parks in one year. We made up this challenge to see a bit more of our beautiful state and help alleviate the restlessness caused by Covid-19 travel restrictions. Feel free to join the challenge!

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