AAA Editor Notes
International Selkirk Loop is a 280-mile scenic byway in northeastern Washington, northern Idaho and adjoining British Columbia. Starting at Newport, the 74-mile Washington segment follows SR 20 north to Tiger, then SR 31 north to the Canadian border through a sparsely settled part of the state known as “Washington's forgotten corner.”
Between Newport and Metaline Falls the route parallels the Pend Oreille (pond-ah-RAY) River, where dense forests of aspen, fir, cedar and pine alternate with patches of farmland. Practically the entire loop follows either a river or a lakeshore, waterways that historically were used for transportation in this remote area. Rising up on both sides of the river, the Selkirk Mountains ascend to heights of 5,000 feet in the south and more than 7,000 feet in the north.
Watch for ospreys and eagles soaring high in the sky before plummeting down to the water to seize fish with their talons. Large bundles of sticks high in the trees denote nesting sites. Big horn sheep also inhabit the Selkirks, and winter foraging brings them down to river level. Moose, deer and elk are other wilderness dwellers that might be spotted during the winter months as they search out tender vegetation hiding beneath a blanket of snow.
North of Ione the valley narrows to form Box Canyon; an excursion train ride between Ione and Metaline Falls takes you through parts of the canyon not accessible by road. For a more exhilarating adventure, embark on a guided kayak trip that negotiates spectacular Z Canyon. Or take your pick of recreational pursuits—golf, fishing, boating, swimming, mountain biking and horseback riding all can be enjoyed. Summer, when wildflowers are in bloom, is a great time to hike the hundreds of miles of trails crisscrossing the rugged, impressively scenic terrain of the Selkirk wilderness region.
Chambers of commerce and visitor centers along the loop provide maps and information.
Towns with attraction listings located on the Washington portion of the route are Ione, Metaline Falls and Newport.