Monthly Archives: January 2009

Heli-hiking: Adventure for Your Family


Heli-hiking in Canada

Heli-hiking in Canada

You may not be thinking about your family’s summer vacation yet, but it’s a sure bet that your children already are!  North Idaho is  the pefect place for summer fun but maybe you would like to try something different and definitely adventurous.   Nestled between the Rocky Mountain and Columbia Mountain ranges in Canada are two remote wilderness lodges that offer heli-hiking vacations geared toward families.   Your helicopter will whisk you to the high backcountry;  areas that are not accessible any other way.  You will stroll along the mountain ridges, wander through meadows full of wildflowers and picnic beside icy crystalline lakes fed by ancient glaciers.   Enjoy 3 nights of luxurious accomodations including breakfast, lunch and dinner each day, 2 and 1/2 days of heli-hiking and transportation to and from the lodges from the Banff heli-pad.  

For a day-by-day itinerary or more information, please contact Rhonda Sand or Linda Bruno at TMI Tours.  Be sure to check our website for all kinds of vacation ideas.

Fishing Adventures in North Idaho and Montana

Interested in a serious fishing trip surrounded by beautiful scenery here in the Northwest? In North Idaho and Western Montana we have some of the best, well known trout fishing locations anywhere in the United States.

Let TMI put together a true fisherman’s vacation package for you and your group.

Here are a couple highlights of the trips we offer:

• Luxurious accommodations in our riverfront, wilderness fishing lodge
• Your choice of 4 local, blue-ribbon rivers famous for their native cutthroat and rainbow trout
• Personalized instruction on fly-tying and fishing techniques from regional experts

Enjoy the beauty of a Northwest fishing experience with TMI. Let us design a customized, unique experience for you today! Please click here to read more about our fishing adventures and to view a sample itinerary.

You dream it and we’ll make it happen. Reserve your fishing trip today! The spring and summer of 2009 are sure to offer up another great fishing season!

Lake Pend Oreille – Idaho's Largest Lake

With a surface area of about 148 square miles, Lake Pend Oreille is Idaho’s largest lake. And with a maximum depth of about 1,150 feet, it is also the fifth deepest lake in the United States. This lake is fed by both the Pack River and the Clark Fork River and it is drained by the Pend Oreille River. This lake is a great vacation destination for people of all ages and interests. Here you can find luxury lake resorts, beautiful lakefront homes and cabins as well as inexpensive National Forest Service and State Park campgrounds. Whether you want to rough it or be pampered, you will enjoy the attractions and splendor offered by Lake Pend Oreille and the surrounding area.

Towns around Lake Pend Oreille

There are several towns that surround Lake Pend Oreille. The largest town, where you will find the most options for lodging, dining and entertainment, is Sandpoint, Idaho. Sandpoint is an excellent location to use as a base for your North Idaho vacation as it is the home to a lot of the local cultural attractions and events. Some of these attractions and events include: the Festival at Sandpoint, the Winter Carnival, the International Draft Horse Show, arts and crafts fairs, Lost in the 50s, the Schweitzer Ski Resort, and the Lakedance Film Festival. There are also several top notch golf courses in the area as well such as the Jack Nickalaus designed Idaho Club.

Ten miles east of Sandpoint is another lake town called Trestle Creek. This is a great little town to visit, especially if you are an RVer, as they have a great selection of campgrounds and RV parks. The next towns to the east of Sandpoint are Hope and East Hope. These are boat launch towns. If you need a deep water launch pad, this is where you will want to go. These towns also offer some great restaurants too.

Other lake towns that can be found near Lake Pend Oreille include Bayview, Lakeview, Garfield Bay and Bottle Bay. These towns each offer their own attractions and comforts. However, they are small and generally don’t offer a lot of lodging options.

Lake Pend Oreille Recreation

The size of Pend Oreille makes it a very popular recreation lake. Here you can fish, watch wildlife, go hiking, go boating, or participate in virtually any type of water sport imaginable. Obviously fishing is big on this big lake. The fish that you can catch in Lake Pend Oreille include whitefish, cutthroat, bull trout, bass, sunfish, catfish, kokanee, brown trout, mackinaw, crappie, and perch. Winter recreation focuses mainly around skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.

Another great place to visit is Farragut State Park. Continue reading

Western Culinary Vacation

campfire cooking

campfire cooking

Can you imagine how amazing fresh caught trout tastes when cooked over an outdoor wood fire?

It is even better when you catch and prepare it yourself!

TMI Tours offers unique culinary experiences in northern Idaho and western Montana where you can do just that.  Our local chefs can show you everything from a real ranch bar-b-que to old fashioned Dutch oven cooking.  Sip on fine northwest wines and enjoy the freshest local ingredients:  huckleberries, morel mushrooms, cut-throat trout, real ranch beef, succulent elk steak.  Learn how our local Native American population gather and use wild herbs, berries and roots while sampling some great Native American recipes.  Our vacation cabins, nestled in the forest, surround a real working ranch so there are plenty of morning and afternoon activities.  Choose from fishing, trail rides, hiking,floating the river or whitewater rafting, kayaking and hayrides.  This is a great vacation idea for family reunions, corporate retreats or couples weekends.   With Glacier National Park just minutes away, be sure to save some time to visit and observe our abundant wildlife in their mountain habitat.  The Going-to-the-Sun Road always holds a thrill around every bend!

Contact Linda Bruno or Rhonda Sand at TMI Tours in Coeur d’Alene for further information and reservations.

Priest Lake – A North Idaho Treasure

Cavanaugh Bay, Priest Lake

Cavanaugh Bay, Priest Lake

Priest Lake is one of Idaho’s northernmost natural treasures. This pristine lake runs 19 miles from head to toe (this includes Upper Priest Lake) and is about 4.4 miles wide at its widest point. With depths up to 369 feet, Priest Lake is the perfect destination for fishing, boating, swimming, SCUBA diving, and wildlife viewing. The area occupied by Priest Lake is generally divided into five regions, north of Priest Lake, south of Priest Lake, the lake, the east side of the lake and the west side of the lake. When planning a trip to Priest Lake be sure that you explore everything this area has to offer.

North of Priest Lake
The region north of Priest Lake is where you want to go if you are interested in unspoiled wilderness. Here you will not only find some of the most spectacular wilderness areas, such as the Salmo-Priest Wilderness Area, but you will also find great trail systems and points of interest. Some of the sites that you will want to tour in this region include the Granite Falls, the ancient growths of cedars at Roosevelt Grove, and the Shoe Tree.

The Town of Priest Lake
The main attraction to Priest Lake, Idaho is the lake itself. While the town itself is unassuming, relaxed, and unhurried, it is the lake and the wilderness areas surrounding it that draw the majority of its visitors. The town’s own saying is a testament to this fact, “Priest Lake – Where Mother Nature Vacations.” Their amazing lake is well known for superior fishing. In fact, Priest Lake is where the largest lake trout in the United States was caught. It weighed in at a whopping 57 pounds 8 ounces. Today catching one of these whoppers is still possible; however, the average lake trout in Priest Lake will weigh in around 10 pounds.

In addition to fishing, you can also participate in a variety of great watersports on the lake. You can go jet boating, water skiing, swimming, SCUBA diving, snorkeling, kayaking, or you can just float around the lake on a pontoon boat. You can also explore the 70 miles of shoreline which include great beaches and historical Indian rock pictographs.

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Learn Canning and Quilting on Vacation!

I know that it sounds bizzare but we are finding more and more women who are wanting to learn the basics that our grandmothers knew!  Here in Coeur d’Alene we have a new fast growing entity that has even opened up a shop in our downtown Coeur d’Alene mall that showcases these tried and true practices.  Mary Jane’s Farm is quite the phenomenon.  If you want to have some fun jump in for a class in a beautiful ranch kitchen.  You will enjoy canning huckleberries, jams, beans and so much more.  A learning vacation encompassing cooking here in Idaho can be fun.

In addition, we you can join in on a real quilting bee where a number of local ladies continue to work on a quilt together.  You will learn the various techniques along with enjoying North Idaho and Coeur d’Alene’s colorful personality.   A double bonus would be visiting Idaho in early September when the canners and quilters compete at the North Idaho Fair.  If you want to see the real Western US, come at that time.  Contact Rhonda Sand or Linda Bruno at TMI Tours & Cruises for a unique localized visit.

Using Wild Mustangs to do Teambuilding in Idaho and Montana

Wild mustang horses roam the hills of Idaho and Montana.  Each year our Bureau of Land Management rounds them up for auction.  We have a few very talented individuals who are Horse Whisperer’s.  This is an amazing behavioral show.  We have had groups of creative teams use this beautiful demonstration to produce dialouge in their own businesses.  The Coeur d’Alene and North Idaho area is perfect for this type of unique though provoking team building idea.  We can couple this with other unique meeting venue’s.  The best time is in the summer because that is when the horse’s are brought into the more urban areas.  Otherwise, accessing them is still possible but it would be quite remote.  Groups of 3 to 30 can be managed at a time.  We schedule them back to back with different horses.  Horse Whispering is ideal as well for families looking for a unique family bonding vacation experience.  We also can combine the mustang experience with Native American Indian traditions.  Idaho and Montana is home to a number of different Tribes that can really enhance your visit.  Contact Linda or Rhonda at TMI Tours to arrange this unique Western American show.

Flathead Lake – A Western Montana Gem

Flathead Lake is not only the largest lake in the state of Montana, but it is also the largest lake in the western part of the United States. It is even larger than Lake Tahoe found in Nevada. Flathead Lake stretches about 27.3 miles from north to south and is about 15.5 miles wide at its widest point. It was created when the Flathead River was partially dammed by a moraine and silt at the end of the last ice age. Today this lake continues to be fed by the Swan River, and it is fed and drained by the Flathead River. With an average depth of 164.7 feet, and a surface area of over 191 square miles, Flathead Lake a vacationer’s paradise.


One of the most popular activities to do on Flathead Lake is to fish. The lake is stocked annually with a variety of fish that are perfect for anglers of all fishing skill levels. Dock fishing is a great activity for kids. This is because smaller fish like minnows and perch love to school around the protection of local docks and boat houses.

On the other hand, if you are interested in fish that put up more of a fight, then you will want to hit the open waters of the lake where you can find cutthroat trout, brook trout, lake trout, Northern pike, brown trout, golden trout, kokanee salmon, large mouth bass, small mouth bass, rainbow trout, bull trout, and whitefish. Also keep your eye open for the Flathead Lake Monster!


Boating is another very popular activity to do on Flathead Lake. Pontoon boats work well for fishing adventures on this lake, as do smaller vessels. Fortunately, you can rent and/or launch boats at any of the local marinas. The local marinas include the Arrowhead RV Park and Marina found 15 miles north of Polson, Big Arm Marina found 12 miles north of Polson, Bigfork Marina and Boat Center found in the Northeast corner of the lake and the Marina Cay Resort found at Bigfork Bay. If you have your own boat you can launch it at nearly any lake access park.
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Funtastic Ski Season

Silver Mountain

Silver Mountain

The 2009 ski season for the Pacific Northwest is in full swing and with 5 ski resorts located around Coeur d’Alene, we are the perfect place to base your winter vacation.

But there is so much more going on at our ski resorts than just spending a day on the slopes.  Mt. Spokane, Schweitzer and Silver Mountain all have great local events happening almost every weekend with junior and adult racing, ski and snowboard stunt shows, special olympics and torchlight night skiing parades as well as winter carnivals.

For those of you looking for something different, try a snowmobile tour to the back country or a snowshoe hike into the surrounding forest.  Go whisking down the mountain on an inner tube or brush up your snowboarding skills at the terrain park.  In the evenings, enjoy outdoor concerts on the mountain to the beat of a local band or around a roaring campfire in the village.  The mountain waterpark will have you surfing like a pro or relax as you float the lazy river in a tropical 84 degree setting.

Schweitzer tubing hill

Schweitzer tubing hill

TMI Tours can provide the right accomodations and location for your vacation needs.  We can arrange ski and snowmobile rentals, vacation homes, mountain condos, luxurious resorts and spas as well as 4 wheel drive vehicles to get you anywhere you want to go.   With over 150 inches of snowfall on the mountains, you don’t want to miss out on what is promising to be a fantastic ski season.

Top 10 Winter Travel Tips to Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming

The Inland Northwest is a wonderful place to visit during any season. Winter is a great time to explore the beauty of this area. However, since winter is a bit more challenging than other seasons, we wanted to give you some tips to make your visit here even more enjoyable!

1. The weather changes frequently from beautiful billowy snow to slush to amazing sunshine within 24 hours. Be sure to bring layers!

2. Bring binoculars and your camera! People come from all over the world to watch our majestic bald eagles feed. You will be able to see them snatch fish right out of the water and then go up to the tree tops right above you to gorge on fish. Coeur d’Alene, Idaho is one of the best places for eagle (raptor) viewing in the US!

Bald Eagle on Lake Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

Bald Eagle on Lake Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

3. Bring a thermos. Have one of North Idaho’s local coffee roasters fill it up with fresh coffee for you each morning.

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