Welcome to the

Silver Valley

in beautiful northern Idaho

The Silver Valley is an extended mountain community located along Interstate 90 in northern Idaho's Shoshone County, between Fourth-of-July Pass and Lookout Pass. Most of the county's fourteen thousand residents live in a series of small towns, from Pinehurst in the west, near access to Lake Coeur d'Alene and the Chain Lakes, to Mullan, six miles below Lookout Pass. The South Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River flows between these towns, now also connected by a paved bicycle path. Shoshone county has produced 1.2 billion ounces of silver since 1884, and silver mining is still a big part of our economy. However, today it is carried out in total harmony with a pristine mountain environment that attracts outdoor recreation enthusiasts from around the world. With federal and state ownership of forest land nearing 80%, the county's population density is five people per square mile! This makes the Silver Valley a four-season mountain recreation paradise.

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As shown in detail on the interactive road map below, the lake resort town of Coeur d'Alene is less than fifteen miles west of Fourth-of-July Pass, and the Montana border is at Lookout Pass. The closest major airports are in Spokane, Washington (32 miles west of Coeur d'Alene on I-90) and Missoula, Montana (108 miles east of Lookout Pass on I-90).

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The Silver Valley

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The Current Weather
Stretching forty miles from high peaks to chain lakes, the Silver Valley is a four-season mountain recreation paradise. Winter embraces alpine and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. Fishing, mountain and road biking, hiking, backpacking and climbing, river rafting, canoeing and kayaking, golf, and motorized exploration occupy outdoor recreation enthusiasts from spring to fall. Bow, rifle and muzzleloader hunting for deer and elk is naturally popular each fall. Black bears are hunted during the fall and spring, while mountain lions (cougars) are hunted from September through March. Wild turkeys have their season in the spring as well.

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Current view of I-90 traffic at Exit 0, Lookout Pass, looking northwest.
camera facing northwest, click to see other camera angles


Lookout Pass Ski and Recreation Area straddles the Idaho/Montana border, while Silver Mountain Ski and Recreation Area is located mid-valley, adjacent to Interstate 90 and the town of Kellogg. A 3.5 mile (19 minute) long gondola links Kellogg to the ski area. During the summer, both areas cater to mountain bikers and hikers. In addition, Silver Mountain is famous for its Summer Concert Series and Lookout Pass is one of many starting points for hikes and backpacking adventures involving mountain lakes, clean air and prevalent wildlife.
2016/2017 Ski Season Commentary
2015/2016 Ski Season Commentary
Lookout Pass Ski Area
Open 106 days
from November 26, 2015
to April 10, 2016;
max summit depth 113" on
March 17, 2016
Silver Mountain Ski Area
Open 119 days
from December 12, 2015
to April 23, 2016;
max summit depth 79"
on March 17, 2016
Mountain biking is fast becoming a key recreational pursuit for both locals and tourists in the Silver Valley, with trails ranging from extreme to easy. Lookout Pass is one staging area for the unique Route of The Hiawatha mountain bike trail, which begins in Montana and runs downhill through tunnels and over trestles to the North Fork of the St. Joe River, 15 miles away. Completed in 2004, the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes is a paved bike path that runs more than 72 miles from Mullan to Plummer, passing over an historic bridge on Lake Coeur d'Alene.
If you have the FREE Google Earth program installed, check out these local bicycle tours.
    Mountain bike
  • Northern Pacific Trail
    (Mullan to Taft: 21 miles on a multi-use dirt road over Lookout Pass; 1700' climb, 4% maximum grade
  • The Route of the Hiawatha
    (Taft to Pearson: 17 miles mostly downhill on pay-for-use, non-motorized dirt road; 1000' drop, 3% maximum grade)
  • Alternate Milwaukee Road
    (Pearson to Avery: 9 miles on gradually decending multi-use dirt road beside a fishing stream)
    Road bike
  • Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes
    • Plummer to Harrison: 15 mile ride downhill to Heyburn State Park on Lake Coeur d'Alene, across a bridge and along the lake to Harrison
    • Harrison to Enaville: 32 miles of flat terrain from the Lake along the Coeur d'Alene River through the isolated Chain Lakes region to Enaville
    • Enaville to Mullan: 24 miles gradually climbing through the Silver Valley until Wallace, when the grade increases to a maximum of 3% on its way to Mullan
click to enlarge Stevens Lakes The multisport culture of the Silver Valley is illustrated by the fact that the Friends of the Coeur d'Alene Trails, an organization of bicycle enthusiasts, and the High Mountain ATV Association teamed up to place a vault toilet, open and maintained all year long, at the trailhead for Lower Lake Stevens, a place only accessible in the summer by foot! The VERY steep and narrow, yet well defined 3 mile trail rises about 1700 feet through a mature conifer forest past cascading waterfalls. There are several dispersed campsites at both lakes ("Pack it in. Pack it out!"), with good fishing for Rainbow Trout. These are just two of more than a dozen alpine lakes within a few miles of Wallace, Mullan or Murray. While a couple of them are accessible by ATV or jeep, most are not. However, there are hundreds of miles of trails ideal for the environmentally conscientious ATV or dirt bike enthusiast. For example, this picture of Upper Lake Stevens (elevation 5640') was taken by a very adventurous expert ATV rider who was able to get within climbing distance of Mt. Stevens (elevation 6838'). The great thing about the Silver Valley, besides the scenery, is that the 4-wheelers, both types of 2-wheelers and the on-footers all play nice together.
     Books about outdoor recreation in North Idaho     
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After a fun day spent hiking, fishing, rafting, mountain biking, motor biking, 4-wheeling, fishing, hunting, and/or picture taking somewhere in the vast North Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River Basin, visit the ever-expanding and very historic Sprag Pole Museum in Murray Idaho, just 24 miles from Wallace over Dobson Pass. Murray (pop. ~100) was the central city of what was the last great gold mining stampede in the Lower 48 (1883-1885), and became the Cradle City of the Coeur d'Alene Mining District. This district, now centered in the Silver Valley, has been producing silver, gold, lead, zinc and copper continuously since 1884. Have a good meal and a learning experience at the same time.

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From 1884 through 2011, the Silver Valley produced 1.228 BILLION OUNCES OF SILVER, as well as gold, lead, zinc, copper and antimony. In 128 years, the Coeur d'Alene Mining District has produced metals valued at $6,943,614,000. In 2011 alone, the district produced metals valued at $251,523,000. This included 5,303,000 Troy ounces of silver, 21,235 tons of lead, 7,305 tons of zinc. As usual, lesser amounts of gold, copper and antimony were also extracted form Silver Valley mines in 2011. As the demand for metals has increased in the last six years, we have seen a rise in our production.

Mining Companies asssociated with the Silver Valley


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2001 Official Idaho Highway Map
Print the portion indicated at 300 dpi using Acrobat Reader, which you may obtain here for free if you need it.
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Click on map to see expanded view in separate window.
Move mouse over map to see greatly expanded view for comparison to aerial photo below.
Silver Valley highway map
click to Wallace Inn in Wallace Idaho The historic town of Wallace (population 784) is midway between Lookout Pass and Silver Mountain ski and recreation areas, and is famous as the "Silver Capital of the World." Every building is on the National Historic Register. Popular visitor attractions, in addition to the many jewelry and antique shops, are the Sierra Silver Mine Tour, the Northern Pacific Depot Railroad Museum, the Wallace District Mining Museum, the Sixth Street Melodrama, and the Oasis Bordello Museum. In the summer of 1996, Wallace was the location of the spectacular volcano disaster movie Dante's Peak, starring Pierce Brosnan and Linda Hamilton. Every year, half a dozen festivals help make this the most fascinating small town in America!

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One Outstanding Weekend in May 2012
click to see Depot Day 2012

The 27th Annual Northern Pacific Railroad Depot Museum Festival and Classic Car Show on May 12, 2012, was very well attended with over 300 vehicles on display in historic downtown Wallace. See photos, video and the winners.

May 13, 2012, was the first 'Silver Sunday' at Silver Mountain

Due to fantastic spring skiing conditions, SILVER MOUNTAIN reopened for a FREE "Silver Sunday" on May 13, 2012, courtesy of Dave Smith Motors. Check out more photos and the 2011/12 snow log commentary for this first-ever event.

     Books about the history and culture of Wallace and the Silver Valley     
More than 17% of the people in the county live in Kellogg, the largest town in the Silver Valley with a population of 2395. The town with its rich silver mining heritage has the modern distinction of being located directly beneath Silver Mountain Ski Area. Easy gondola access from I-90, bountiful snowfall, 1500 acres of varied terrain, and a new management team committed to improving and expanding the resort, means that Kellogg will grow to become a winter sports destination. click to visit Silver Valley AmVets Post 2005 And for the summer, a new golf course is being planned -- bringing the total number of courses in the Valley to three. When combined with the biking experiences available on the Mountain and on the new Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes, Kellogg will emerge as a four-season mountain recreation town.
Click on their logos to open the Wallace and Kellogg Chambers of Commerce websites in separate windows. The Kellogg Chamber renamed itself the Silver Valley Chamber a few years ago. The Silver Valley Economic Development Corporation may be able to help you evaluate business opportunities in the Silver Valley.
Wallace Chamber of Commerce Silver Valley Economic Development Corporation Historic Silver Valley Chamber of Commerce
The Silver Valley Public Libraries are good resources for interested visitors and locals alike.
Wallace Osburn Kellogg Pinehurst

Thank you for your time and interest. Leave a bookmark and return anytime.
Please tell me what you would like to see on this page and on other pages of this Silver Valley website.
Greg Marsh, Ph.D.
Marsh Scientific Services Marsh Scientific Services
Greg Marsh skiing deep powder at Lookout Pass
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  • Historic Wallace Idaho is known as the Silver Capital of the World because the area around it has produced 1.2 billion ounces of Silver in 130 years. Recently an act of political satire made it known as the Center of the Universe as well. That is certainly true when you consider the all-season mountain recreation opportunities in all directions..
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2016/2017 Ski Season Snowfall Log and Commentary for both Ski Areas
Maximum snow depth recorded at Lookout Pass during each previous season is shown.
March 17
January 18
March 6
March 23
March 23
March 17
April 8
February 13
April 3
April 3
March 1 - 3
March 26 - 27
January 16 - 17
March 7
March 9
March 21 - 23
click to see the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes
click to see the Route of the Hiawatha

Greg Marsh, Ph.D., is Marsh Scientific Services ©1998-2017, Marsh Scientific Services, Greg Marsh, Ph.D.
last update on Wednesday, May 10, 2017
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