Coming down the west side of the lake on SR-95, it's mostly just four-lane highway plowing right through the gently rolling hill country. However, take one of the many marina turnoffs to the east and you're instantly rewarded with sinuous two-lane leading to one of the many little boat towns full of boaters gathered to drink at long tables. It turns out that boaters are a lot like bikers, only they wear even less clothes. From our first stop at Black Rock Marina in Rockford Bay on the west side, to later stops at Carlin Bay and Eddie's on Arrow Point, the vibes are different but share plentiful parking and a hopping scene. Black Rock was low-key (and packed), while Carlin Bay had a live southern rock band, buffet lunch, and a crazy party atmosphere, while Arrow Point was very family oriented and high-end.
After exploring Rockford Bay, we continued down SR-95 to Plummer, and cut east on SR-5 out to Saint Maries. This is the first part of the lake circuit proper that was fun, with small un-trafficked highway rolling through dense forests with frequent spectacular lake outlooks. From Saint Maries we headed north on SR-3 to the SR-97 (AKA the scenic route). Most of the locals suggested we either take SR-3 up to I-90 or to go back around the lake, rather than take SR-97 through Harrison because, "that way is all twisted" and "that'll take longer!" It's okay, they're boat people.
SR-97 is easily one of the best highways in the country for most of its length. It flows along the lake edge, then ascends to the highlands for panoramic views before dropping back down to the lake for a repeat. There are a multitude of stores, gas stations, and other tourist infrastructure, yet there is almost no traffic on the pristine blacktop. We even saw an eagle's nest right along the side of the road.
In the end, we were right, a loop around the lake was the perfect day trip and the perfect conclusion to our trip to eastern Washington. Not quite, actually: The perfect ending was sitting down at the Wolf Lodge Inn to what is undoubtedly the best steak in the USA. If you make the trek out here, remember to make reservations, as they're mandatory most nights.
Flat track action in the horse arena was tight and squirrely, on an unprepped dirt surface
A spy shot of H-D's new Off Road King.
Mc Kean's Drive In
Lat 4711'34" N Long 12055'13"W
Pennsylvania Ave, Roslyn
(The Brick, Roslyn Caf, Downtown "Cicely")
Lat 4713'23" N Long 12059'36" W
Lat 4739'24.5" N Long 11725 27.65 W
Spokane County Fair and Expo Center
Lat 4739'48" N Long 11720'40" W
Black Rock Marina
Lat 4730'34" N Long 11654'04" W
Carlin Bay Resort
Lat 4732'10" N Long 11646'26" W
Eddie's Bar and Grill
Lat 4737'48" N Long 11646'07"W
Wolf Lodge Inn
Lat 4737'43" N Long 11637'26"W