This Tiny Mining Town Is the Best Basecamp for Exploring Northern Idaho
What to eat, drink, do, and more in the charming (and did we mention, tiny?) city of Wallace, Idaho.
Sunset’s Insider Guide series highlights seasonal diversions and secret travel tips from local experts. Follow along as we learn where to eat, drink, stay, and shop.
Meet the Insider: Kristie Mae Wolfe, Airbnb host extraordinaire
Location: Wallace, Idaho
It’s hard to think of an Airbnb host with more clout and creativity than Kristie Mae Wolfe. Having built quirky, bucket-list worthy stays throughout the West—from off-the-grid hobbit holes to Hawaiian treehouses—she’s all about once-in-a-lifetime experiences with her spaces. Her upcoming project, MoonPass Lookouts, which opens in Wallace, Idaho, next spring, is five custom-built fire lookout towers with glass roofs that give 360-degree views of the property’s heavily forested acreage. Here, she shares her tips for making northern Idaho the ideal base camp to explore the beauty and wonder of the Silver Valley and surrounding Bitterroot Mountains.
“The highway runs right through the town of Wallace,” which is a historically protected and preserved mining town that lays claim to being the home of the world’s largest mountain bike, ATV, and snowmobile trail system. “The town has unusually great food. The Blackboard Café has a bookshop inside of it, milkshakes, and the best lasagna. I can’t believe it’s vegetarian! Eating there and watching the snowflakes falling down outside the window solidified my buying property here.” The Cog is “right next to a bike shop, and has a really fun vibe, and their food is insanely good. Plus, they’re dog-friendly and serve free popcorn.”
Just a couple miles from MoonPass Lookouts, you’ll find the Pulaski Tunnel Trail, “which is named after a firefighter who saved his team from the historic Great Fire of 1910. Eventually, I’ll be creating a fire lookout museum on property that will be open to the public.” The Route of the Hiawatha Scenic Bike Trail “is a must-do, truly a bucket-list item when you’re in this area. Depending on how hard you go, you can even rent e-bikes or be shuttled to the top and ride down a mile-long tunnel where you can’t see light at the end.” For those who want to try their hand at fly fishing, you’re in luck. “Idaho has more miles of river than any other state. We have a creek and a pond on our property that are great for fishing.” A day trip to the Saint Joe River is worth the effort for anglers. “It’s really wide and not super deep, so you always see fly fishers out.“
Start your day at 6th & Cedar Espresso Bar, a charming coffeeshop on the National Register of Historic Places. Then stop in for a tasting at Wallace Brewing, which pays homage to the town’s past with mining monikers such as 1910 Black Lager and Jackleg Stout. If wine is more your speed, The Fainting Goat is a great spot for wine tasting, brick-oven pretzels, and wood-fired pizzas like the Mountain Man, topped with bison, bacon, pepperoni, Italian sausage, olives, and a hot honey drizzle, sure to fill you up after a day of adventuring.