The Selkirk Mountains, a subrange of the Columbia Mountains, span the northern portion of the Idaho Panhandle, eastern Washington, and southeastern British Columbia. The range begins at Mica Peak near Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and spans approximately 326 miles north to Canada. Elevations vary dramatically in the Selkirk range, from modest summits like Rattlesnake Mountain, which sits at just 2,444-ft, to towering peaks like 11,000-foot peaks like Mount Sir Sandford, the highest point in the range. Generally, summits are lower in the south and rise dramatically in the north.
The Selkirks sit between the Purcell Mountains to the east and the Monashee Mountains to the west and contain several notable subranges like the Battle, Duncan, Slocan, and Big Bend Ranges. Interestingly, the geology of this range varies significantly from the Rockies and other recognizable ranges in the west. In fact, some of the rocks found in the Selkirks are approximately 600 million years old. So, before the Rockies were formed by the continental drift, the Selkirks stood isolated as an island of summits.
The American portion of the Selkirks, which is bordered by Priest Lake and the Purcell Trench, houses the Selkirk Crest – a popular destination for alpine climbers. The Crest is described as a secluded and rugged landscape, defined by incredible granite slabs and domes. The most popular destination in this region is Chimney Rock, a free-standing tower that sits at the end of a sharp ridgeline. This monolith stands high on the crest and is visible from Priest Lake. Although the Selkirk Crest is remote and challenging to reach, there are several beautiful peaks and alpine lakes that are more accessible to travelers like Harrison Lake, Roman Nose Lakes, Trout Lake, Mount Roothaan, Abercrombie Mountain and Fisher Peak.
Although the American Selkirks are impressive, the most striking summits can be found in British Columbia. Together, with the Purcell Mountains, the Selkirk summits in this region are celebrated for having some of the very best skiing in the world. Noteworthy peaks in the northern Selkirks include Hasler Peak, Mount Cooper, Gladsheim Peak, Kootenay Mountain, and Cond Peak. The northern portion of the Selkirk Mountains also house two noteworthy national parks, Glacier and Mount Revelstoke. These parks are accessed via the infamous and scenic Trans-Canada Highway, which crosses the range at Rogers Pass.
Located on Mount Mackenzie, Revelstoke Mountain Resort boasts North America’s greatest vertical at 5,620 feet and receives an average of 34 feet of snow each year. The mountain also offers 75 runs, 4 alpine bowls, and over 3,000 acres of terrain to explore. At the base of the resort, the Sutton Place Hotel offers ski-in/ski-out, luxury accommodations, as well as plenty of restaurants, shops, and amenities. In the summer, the Revelstoke Mountain Resort transforms into an outdoor recreation hub for epic hiking, mountain biking, and even offers a unique high-speed cart ride that traverses 915 vertical feet in less than a mile.
Located in the rugged Selkirk Mountains on the northern Idaho panhandle, Schweitzer Mountain Resort is a privately owned, family-friendly, all-seasons resort that is known for being one of the country’s best winter recreation destinations. The resort features 2,900 acres of incredible terrain, two bowls, and over 20 miles of Nordic trails for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snow biking. During summer months, Schweitzer offers miles of scenic hiking trails, mountain biking trails, and climbing opportunities. Not to mention, there are plenty of amazing places to sleep, eat, and play at Schweitzer.
Hills Resort is a year-round destination that sits at the foot of the Selkirk Mountains on the shore of Priest Lake in Idaho. The resort features an award-winning restaurant and offers a variety of lakeside amenities and attractions. During warmer months, Hills Resort is the perfect destination for swimming, kayaking, boating, fishing, and is nearby several incredible hiking and mountain biking trails. In the winter, the resort transforms into a winter wonderland, offering over 400 miles of groomed trails for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
Nearby the city of Revelstoke, Mount Revelstoke National Park lies entirely within the Selkirk Range.The park itself covers just 100 sq. miles. However, Revelstoke contains a portion of one of the world’s few inland temperate rainforests, as well as some of the Selkirk’s most impressive alpine peaks. Arguably the most popular destination in the park is the Meadows-in-the-Ski Parkway, which leads visitors through the rainforest toward rolling subalpine meadows packed with wildflowers. However, the park’s namesake summit, Mount Revelstoke, is truly the icon of the park, and most visitors will make the easy trek to the summit via an easy footpath. The Giant Cedars Boardwalk, a 3-mile interpretive trail, is also a popular footpath that winds through a stand of old-growth western cedar and hemlock trees that are over 800 years old.
Home to Mount Sir Donald, Mount Macdonald, Glacier Crest, Hasler Peak, and other extraordinary Selkirk summits, Glacier National Park is the ideal region for exploration of incredible alpine terrain. Glacier offers three unique life zones known as “Rainforest, Snow forest, and No Forest,” and is known for its pristine alpine scenery, deep glacial valleys, and has a reputation for being a hiking paradise. Popular trails include Abbott Ridge, a moderate trek that leads to sweeping alpine mountain views, Mount Sir Donald, a world-class rock-climbing destination that provides access to Vaux Glacier, and Balu Pass, which features massive icefields and craggy snow-capped summits.
Valhalla Provincial Park, which contains most of the Valhalla Range, a subrange of the Selkirk Mountains, is a remote and relatively challenging park to access. Nevertheless, Valhalla protects some of the most diverse topography and majestic peaks in the Selkirk Mountains and is catered to backcountry travelers. There is a variety of hiking trails, including short day hikes and backcountry wilderness routes. The park also offers opportunities to fish, view wildlife, and, of course, climb mountains. Or, from the shores of Slocan Lake, visitors can simply soak up the stunning views of Asgard Peak and Gimli Peak.
Sitting on the northernmost portion of the Idaho Panhandle,Priest Lake is said to huse some of the clearest water in North America. Priest Lake not only considered the crowned jewel of Idaho, but it offers sweeping views of the surrounding Selkirk Mountains. A two-mile thoroughfare connects the main lake to a more remote Upper Priest Lake. Both lakes offer a variety of amenities including boating, hiking, and wildlife viewing. During winter months, Priest Lake also is a popular destination for cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.