Category Archives: Inland Northwest Activities

Columbia River Gorge Winetasting Tours

Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge

Washington wineries are welcoming travellers from around the world to their intimate and diverse tasting rooms.  The Columbia Gorge region offers visitors a wide-range of vineyards and wineries to visit as well as a myriad of outdoor activities with outstanding scenery and true Pacific Northwest hospitality.

bonnevilleEnjoy a romantic stay at the  Bonneville Hot Springs Resort located just 35 miles from the Portland, Oregon airport.  Portland is a bustling city on the west coast, easily accessible from anywhere in the world.  The Bonneville Hot Springs Resort and Spa offers guests lush accomodations with private patios or balconies, nestled among the towering waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge.   Private hot tubs invite you to relax in their natural mineral spring water, perfect after a day of wine tasting or sightseeing. 

Private, custom wine tours are easily arranged with transportation right from your hotel.  These 4 hour tours will entice you with a gourmet picnic lunch, visits to at least 4 wineries on either the Hood River wineValley route or the Eastern Washington Gorge route,  exclusive cellar tours and vineyard tours as well as knowledgeable drivers and guides.  You can choose from such wineries as Pheasant Valley Vineyards, Cathedral Ridge, Mt Hood Vineyards,  Maryhill Winery, Cascade Cliffs and Wind River Cellars.

Contact Linda Bruno or Rhonda Sand at TMI Tours for a complete listing of exclusive resorts around the Columbia River Gorge, available wine tours as well as wineries and sighteeing options.  We are the experts for travel to the Pacific Northwest.  1-800-975-7775 or info@tmitours.com

Bald Eagles on Lake Coeur d'Alene

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The Kokanee are spawning on Wolf Lodge Creek, drawing the attention of our National bird, the bald eagle.  Every winter during the Kokanee run, hundreds of these majestic creatures perch above Wolf Lodge Bay feeding on the delicious freshwater salmon.    Arrivals began shortly after Thanksgiving this year and will increase up until Christmas when their numbers usually reach around one hundred. 

Although you can see them through out the day, perched on snags on the mountain sides of Lake Coeur d’Alene, the early morning hours will provide you with some lofty entertainment.  Just after dawn you can observe them perching close to waters edge, looking for a flash of silver before they swoop down in a spiraling motion, snatch the fish with their talons and return to their perch to feast.   Throughout the day soaring eagles can be ovserved around the bays at Higgins Point, Wolf Lodge and Beauty Bay.

Join the Bureau of Land Management during Eagle Watch, December 19-21st and December 26-29th between 1:00pm and 3:00pm.  Wildlife biologist will be on hand to answer questions, present demonstrations and provide telescopes for the public to enjoy.  Don’t forget to bring your binoculars or zoom lens cameras, as getting too close to the eagles is discouraged.

Eagle watching cruises depart downtown Coeur d’Alene for a 2-hour exploration to quiet, isolated bays with the best view around.  Reservations are required for  Dec 17-20, 26-27 or Jan 2-3 afternoon cruises.

This is a rare and wonderful way to see our National symbol, the American Bald Eagle in it’s natural habitat.  Call Rhonda or Linda at TMI Tours & Cruises for information on accomodations in Coeur d’Alene,  cruise details or the best spots to enjoy eagle viewing. 1-800-975-7775 or info@tmitours.com

Great Discounts on American River Cruises for 2010

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One of the best ways to experience the culture and history that made American great is to explore her inland waterways.  The most famous  river on the west coast of the United States is known as the Mighty Columbia, the gateway to the Pacific Ocean.  Imagine the thrill of the Lewis & Clark expedition in 1805 when they made their way down the Columbia River and established Ft. Clatsop at the edge of that ocean.  Today, small  luxury cruiseships make this same voyage roundtrip from the fascinating city of Portland, Oregon.  Weekly departures begin in May, continue through October and by planning in advance, you can save up to $1200.00 per cabin for bookings by December 11, 2009.

Small ship cruising has become increasingly popular over the past few years providing guests with a more intimate experience onboard and off.    Shore excursion visit quaint museums,  family-owned wineries, historic forts and native american villages and are included in the price of the cruise for every passenger.kayak   Passengers are also encouraged to participate in a jet-boat trip into Hell’s Canyon on the Snake River or to explore the shoreline via kayak or zodiaks and enjoy the pristine beauty of these rivers up close.

Discounts are offered on all cruises for 2010 but bookings must be confirmed and under deposit by December 11, 2009  for you to qualify and bookings paid in full will get the highest discounts.  Call Rhonda or Linda at TMI Tours for full details and to reserve your week long journey through the Columbia River Gorge. 1-800-975-7775 or info@tmitours.com

Explore Inland Waterways of the Pacific Northwest

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The inland waterways of the Pacific Northwest remain pristine and untamed with  wild-west history and old-world charm.  Cruising the channels of the San Juan and Gulf Islands has belonged to ferries, private yachts and the brave few adventurers in personal watercraft.  With the addition of Cruisewest’s  small ship, the Spirit of Endeavour, anyone can enjoy these scenic waterways and quaint seaports in yacht-like comfort. The more adventurous can take to the kayaks and inflatable watercraft launched from the cruiseship to explore this untamed wilderness up close.

spirit of endeavourSeattle, Washington is a beautiful city to begin any vacation from and it is easily accessible from anywhere in the world.  Known as the Emerald City because of it’s lush green landscape, this lumber-town turned metropolis is famous for the Space Needle and Pike’s Place Market (home of the flying fish).  After a day to explore Vancouver, British Columbia, the cruise takes passengers through the British Columbia Sunshine Coast and Desolation Sound Provincial Marine Park.  Surrounded by lush evergreen forests and snowcapped peaks, this 60 miles of breathtaking coastline has enought bays, coves, nooks and crannies to delight even the most demanding of adventurers.  Returning with a stop in Nanaimo where passengers are greeted by traditionally dressed Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the afternoon willsan juans be via the remote waterways and quiet coves of the Gulf Islands. You won’t want to miss High Tea served in the Palm Room at the historic Empress Hotel located waterfront in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia. Known as the “Garden City” for it’s famous 55-acre landmark, Buchart Gardens, this quaint capitol offers delightful shopping and browsing opportunities. The last two stops take in Friday Harbor of the San Juan Islands where you can explore Puget Sound up close, and then Port Townsend known for it’s late 19th-century architecture.
desolation soundWith tempting discounts on 2010 cruises purchased by December 11, 2009, TMI Tours invities you to escape to the Pacific Northwest Coast. This is truly a voyage of contrasts–rich in wildlife, culture and scenery. Contact Rhonda or Linda at TMI Tours for cruise dates and availability. 1-800-975-7775 or info@tmiours.com

Top 5 Snowmobile Destinations by TMI Tours of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

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TMI Tours of Coeur dAlene is offering snowmobile tours to our top 5 snowmobile destinations.   Idaho, Montana and Washington offer superb snowmobiling with lots of crisp, clean snow and miles of groomed and ungroomed trails throughout the Rocky Mountains.  Snowmobile rentals have become popular over the past few years with many companies offering full packages including bibs, boots, gloves, helments and goggles.  Accomodations in the mountains welcome this off-season boost to their economy and offer packages where you can snowmobile right from your door.  Here are our favorite 5 snowmobile destinations:

Whitefish, Montana

winter elkHome of Big Mountain Ski Resort, this beautiful resort town is the perfect place to begin exploration of the Flathead Valley by snowmobile.  Extending from Whitefish to the west entrance of Glacier National Park, down to the north shore of Flathead Lake, this area offers over 200 miles of groomed trails and 2,000 miles of forest service roads.  Riders will enjoy great hill climbs, powder play areas, wildlife viewing and spectacular ridgetop views of Glacier National Park and the Canadian Rockies.  Trails lead through fir forests, snow-dusted canyons and wide bowls rimmed with icy ridges.  Elevation of groomed trails begins just shy of 3,000 feet and reaches 7,000 feet in some areas.

Seeley Lake, Montana

This is small-town snowmobiling at it’s best.  Tucked between two mountain ranges, the Swan Range and the Missouri Mountains, Seeley Lake is one of western Montana’s most popular snowmobile areas.  Snow depths are fantastic and this community caters to snowmobilers with a variety of services.  Your adventure can start right from your front door, continue on the trail system into town and then on to the over 350 miles of groomed trails and ungroomed areas for exploration.  Lakefront accomodations and cabins are a great ending to a perfect day of riding and alternate activities include ice-fishing, ice-skating, snow shoeing or cross county skiing on the 18K cross-country ski trail system.

Island Park, Idaho

snowmobile tetonIsland Park sits in a vast caldera created by an ancient volcanic eruption, possibly the largest symmetrical caldera in the world.  Located 30 short miles from the west entrance of Yellowstone National Park, Island Park is one of Idaho’s least restricted snowmobile areas.  With an average annual snowfall of 229 inches and over 500 miles of groomed snowmobile trails, Island Park offers riding conditions for every level of snowmobile enthusiast.  Horizons of snow-capped peaks beckon, powder blanketed valleys of white entice you off the groomed trails and the breathtaking scenery will stop you in your tracks.

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

This premier resort town is the perfect base of operations with access to hundreds of popular snowmobile trails and areas.  Snowmobilers will love our lakefront Coeur d’Alene Resort with it’s luxurious accomodations, lively lounges and restaurants plus relaxing spa services.  The Silver Valley, just 30 miles east of Coeur d’Alene is also the home to Silver Mountain Ski Resort and the famous gondola.  Kellogg and Wallace welcome snowmobilers right from cda winterdowntown where you can start your trip with a hearty breakfast and continue out to the over 250 miles of groomed trails along the Idaho/Montana border.  Sandpoint is a quick 45 minute drive north and has many well groomed trails higher than 7,000 feet in the Selkirk, Purcell and Cabinet Mountains Ranges.  Also the home to Schweitzer Ski Resort, it offers great family entertainment and back country guided snowmobile tours.  75 miles north of Coeur dAlene lies pristine Priest Lake with an additional 700 miles of groomed trail, mostly forest service roads ranging in elevation from 2,500 to 6,500 feet.  From this area you can ride to the Idaho/Canada border by back country.

Mt. Spokane State Park, Washington

Just over the Idaho/Washington border is Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park.  Mt Spokane State Park has over 50 miles of groomed trails encompassing the ski area.  Riders can enjoy dark, old-growth forests, open sub-alpine meadows, ice-covered streams, a 1935 log cabin with a cozy wood stove and a tri-state view from the summit.  Romantic guided night rides including a delicious dinner are popular during clear, full-moon evenings for that someone special in your life.

Contact Linda or Rhonda at TMI Tours in Coeur d’Alene for details on these and many other exciting snowmobile destinations.  We are the experts for unique and adventurous vacation ideas in the Pacific Northwest. 1-800-975-7775 or info@tmitours.com

History Comes Alive on Columbia River Cruises

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At TMI Tours of Coeur dAlene, we are always looking for great family vacation ideas.  A cruise on the Columbia and Snake Rivers offers all the ingredients for a great American family vacation.  To this day, there’s no better way to discover America than by its inland waterways.  More than just sightseeing, these cruises incorporate American cruisewest 1music, culture, cuisine and local history into a total travel experience.  The small-ships that cruise the Columbia and Snake Rivers are intimate and family oriented, creating memories that will last a life time.

While most river cruises take you past urban centers and crowded shorelines, much of the Columbia and Snake Rivers remain pristine and wild.  You can clearly see evidence of the great floods that carved this region creating the breathtakingly beautiful Columbia River Gorge from the bow of a AAKJ001074Cruisewest vessel.  Adventures beckon daily with jet boats trips up Hells Canyon to view 7,000 year-old Indian petroglyphs or tours beneath wild and wooly Pendleton, Oregon where Chinese emigrants once carried out their daily lives underground.  Visits to fascinating museums or Lewis & Clark landmarks like Fort Clatsop will bring American history alive for adults and children alike.  You’ll find the past and present coexist here, from Oregon Trail wagon ruts to the engineering marvel of the eight locks and dams that tame this mighty river.

Air travel to Portland, Oregon is easy from almost anywhere in the world and with great discounts being offered on cruise cabins that are booked before December 11th, now is the perfect time to plan a family vacation for the Spring/Summer of 2010.  Call Linda or Rhonda at TMI Tours & Cruises in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho at 1-800-975-7775 or send us an email at info@tmitours.com.  Scenery- History- Native American Culture- Adventure…you’ll find it all on a cruise of the Columbia and Snake River Region.

North Idaho Hot Springs Favorites of TMI Tours in Coeur dAlene

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It is definitely fall here in Northern Idaho.  The cooler weather tends to curtail our outdoor activities while we wait for the snowfall to kick our winter festivities into gear.  This is the perfect time of year for a hike to enjoy the warmth of local, natural hot springs and the beautiful fall scenery.  Just a short road trip will bring you to three great, local Idaho hot springs located about 100 miles southwest of Missoula, Montana.  TMI Tours of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho can provide you with detailed hiking maps, driving directions and hotel recommendations for stays along the way.

JERRY JOHNSON HOT SPRINGS

hot springs 1This delightful group of user-friendly, primitive hot springs awaits you at the end of a short 1 mile hike through beautiful forest along the east bank of Warm Springs Creek.  The trailhead is located off  U.S. 12 at Warm Springs Park and the 1 mile hike is easy on a 2 person-wide path.  Hot water tumbles into several creekside rock pools  and further up the path is a meadow with groups of shallow soaking pools. 

WIER CREEK HOT SPRINGS

This secluded, primitive hot springs and creekside soaking pool can be reached via a sometimes difficult and rocky half-mile path in the Clearwater National Forest.  Natural mineral water flows out of several springs down the mountainside where it is channeled into a large 8-10 person rock-bottom pool.  Water flows into adjoining smaller hot springs 2pools reached by a short, steep path.  Parking is off U.S. 12 at mile marker 142 at a deep turnout on the inland side of the highway.   The unmarked, unmaintained path follows the west side of the creek closely.

STANLEY HOT SPRINGS

hot springs 3You are going to have to do some hiking to reach this one-a series of delightful rock and log soaking pools in Huckleberry Creek canyon at the end of a rugged 5.5 mile trail in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.  Natural mineral water flows out of a canyon bank, tumbling through a series of log and rock pools.  There are spacious campsites for backpackers  near the springs and a drive-in campground located at the trailhead.  Turn off U.S. 12 at the Wilderness Gateway Campgound, through the campground to the trailhead sign for Trail 211 near the bridge.    Follow Trail 211 for 4.5 miles and then Trail 221 for another mile to a large open meadow containing the hot springs pools.

U.S. 12 is designated the Lewis and Clark Scenic Highway between Lolo, Montana and Lewiston, Idaho.  This byway contains several Lewis and Clark points of interest marked along the way as well as stunning scenery, raging rivers and abundant wildlife.  Why not take a little road trip this fall, enjoy our natural hot springs and experience the great outdoors.  For details, accomodations and information regarding these and other great local hot springs destinations, contact Linda or Rhonda at TMI Tours in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.  We are the experts on unique get-a-ways in the Pacific Northwest.  1-800-975-7775 or info@tmitours.com

 

Snowmobile Seeley Lake, Montana

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Idaho and Montana have diverse seasons and that is one of the things that makes us such a great adventure destination. Last winter was popluar for snowmobile enthusiasts and we are hoping for another great sledding season.
The vibrant community of Seeley Lake lies between the Bob Marshall Wilderness and the Mission Mountain Wilderness areas in western Montana. Snowmobile enthusiasts are welcome to ride downtown which makes for easy access to the over 350 miles of groomed trails surrounding the Seeley Lake area. Accomodations range from charming motels & cabins to full-service lakefront resorts and real western dude ranches.

rich-ranchTMI Tours is offering early-bird packages for the winter season, starting December 26, 2009-March 15, 2010. Reservations purchased before October 1st will save 10% off the regular season rates. Whether you are a seasoned sledder or trying this sport for the first time, we have packages that are perfect for you.

For beginners or those who prefer a guided tour, we offer 4 days/3 nights including meals, lodging and Polaris snowmobile rental. Your rocky mountain guide will take you on three fun-filled days of snowmobiling right from your cabin door with a trail lunch provided. Each morning and evening you will be treated to hearty ranch-style meals in the main lodge. In the evening, relax in the outdoor hot tub or warm up beside a roaring fire in the main lodge or your private cabin.

rich-ranch-2For the seasoned rider we offer a 4 day/3 night package including meals, lodging and a map of the Seeley Lake Groomed Trail system. Snowmobile rentals can be added or you can bring your own but you’ll still enjoy a trail lunch daily with ranch-style breakfast and dinner in the main lodge and the same great accomodations.

Call Linda or Rhonda at TMI Tours for prices and availability on these and other great snowmobile packages for the 2009/2010 winter season in Idaho and Montana. 1-800-975-7775 or info@tmitours.com

A Lookout Tower Adventure Awaits

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Did you know that at one time, Idaho had the highest concentration of fire lookout towers in the world? It’s true! At the peak of operation, Idaho had 992 lookouts in service and Washington had 658. The greatest density of towers was in the St. Joe River drainage, where some towers were less than three miles apart. The primary purpose of the fire lookout was for the detection of forest fires. The most notable wildfire that struck the inland Northwest in Idaho, Montana, and eastern Washington was the famous 1910 fire. When fires were detected, the lookout person would report the fire location to a dispatcher who would initiate fire suppression action. Initially, the communication was by telephone via miles and miles of telephone wire; but was later replaced with radio communications. Unfortunately, modern day technology has replaced most fire lookouts with satellite imaging and aerial reconnaissance to spot forest fires.

Today, there are fewer than 200 left standing and out of those less than 50 are actually still in service. Fortunately, there are several organizations that understand the historical significance of these lookouts and continue to work hard to preserve them.

For those who are adventurous, you can now rent many of these lookouts for several nights at a time. Virtually every one of these towers offers unparalleled views of the inland Northwest’s pristine forests and mountains since they are perched on mountain peaks. Many of the visitor logbooks at these towers will be full of statements such as “most amazing view of the Milky Way I’ve ever encountered.” Whether you enjoy wildlife photography, hiking, bird watching, or simple seek solitude, TMI Tours can assist you in creating a Lookout Tower Adventure. Several towers in the North Idaho area are accessible with four wheel drive vehicles.

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Let us make all of the arrangements for you! From transportation to bedding and top notch cuisine…we’ll do all of the legwork for you! You simply need to relax and enjoy! Call Linda Bruno or Rhonda Sand today at 1-800-975-7775 to begin planning your Lookout Tower Adventure.

Lakefront Vacations in Sandpoint, Idaho

 

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Sandpoint, Idaho is one of North Idaho’s favorite get-a-ways for locals and tourists alike.  It is quaint and quirky with local artist galleries, earthy shops and local crafts as well as stunning scenery and white sand beaches.  Sitting  on the shores of beautiful Lake Pend Oreille, nestled between the Selkirk and Cabinet Mountain ranges,  Sandpoint offers an abundance of summer and winter activities.

sandpoint-2Stay and play on Lake Pend Oreille in one of Sandpoints newest upscale waterfront developements.  This marina village offers lakefront and mountain view bungalow rentals with full kitchens and full outdoor decks for enjoying bar-b-ques or watching the sunset.  Each cottage comes fully furnished and includes lake access with boat and watersport rentals, membership to the fitness center and access to 9 miles of walking and biking trails that meander through the forest, wetlands and lakeshore.  The village cafe offers casual dining for lunch and dinner and a small market offers snacks, beverages and boating supplies.  Sandpoint is just minutes away for further dining options, supermarkets and sightseeing.

sandpoint-11While in Sandpoint, be sure to visit the Cedar Street Bridge Public Market.  Built on a bridge that spans Sand Creek, this public market has windows that look out over the creek and houses some interesting restaurants and gift shops.  Another beautiful place to visit is the Sandpoint City Park with it’s pristine white sand beaches on Lake Pend Oreille.  With food concessions, BBQ and picnic areas, tennis and basketball courts, volleyball and horseshoe pits as well as two marinas, it is a fun place for family and swimming.

sandpoint-3Schweitzer Mountain is just a 10 mile drive from Sandpoint and is a refreshing alternative when the heat of summer gets a little uncomfortable.  Ride the Great Escape Quad lift to the top of the mountain and take in a view that will leave you breathless.  Enjoy the cool mountain breezes at the top of Schweitzer where you’ll find hiking and mountain bike trails as well as huckleberry picking and local wildlife.  The Mountain Activity Center can arrange for participation in the Kids Day Camp, Disc golf, Geocaching, wall climbing and bungee trampolines, tennis, lawn games or a movie in the Selkirk Theatre.

TMI Tours has great packages and optional activities available for all the top destinations in North Idaho.  Contact Linda or Rhonda at info@tmitours.com or 1-800-975-7775 for more information and reservations.