41 Ways to Beat the Heat in the Northwest

Amy McCaffree

Stay cool during a Northwest heat wave and still enjoy the great outdoors. Here are 41 ideas for recreation, adventure, and family activities. This list includes high-altitude, tree-shaded, and lake and river-based fun, whether you want to get wet or stay dry, venture close to home or explore farther away. Not all of these ideas are even outdoors!

Lake Coeur d’Alene (left) // Photo: Amy McCaffree; Paddling on Lake Coeur d’Alene near Harrison, Idaho. (middle) // Photo courtesy of Harrison Chamber of Commerce; Stand-up paddling on Bonnie Lake. (right) // Photo: Chris Cindric

Click the links to Out There stories to read more about the activity or destination, find how-to advice, and get more information and tips for safe adventuring.

  1. Go on a night hike.
  2. Head to the high country, like the Kettle River Range or Selkirk Mountains.
  3. Go scuba diving.
  4. Surf the Spokane River.
  5. Go summer snowboarding.
  6. Feel the wind in your face and the shade of treetops while ziplining at Mica Moon or another Northwest zipline destination.
  7. Explore the Spokane River Water Trail.
  8. Go surfing at the world’s largest surf wave in Chelan, Wash.
  9. Explore a local creek.
  10. Venture to a shady old-growth forest grove.
  11. Paddle on a river.
  12. Go whitewater rafting on a guided trip.
  13. Swim at a local beach.
  14. Go kayaking or canoeing at a local lake, or take a hike along the lake before taking a dip to cool off.
  15. Go fishing.
  16. Try open water swimming.
  17. Escape city lights and enjoy stargazing.
  18. Take your SUP to Lake Coeur d’Alene. If you don’t know how to paddleboard, learn how.
  19. Exercise with indoor parkour.
  20. Visit a mountain resort with lift-service to trails for hiking and mountain biking, such as Lookout Pass, Schweitzer, or Silver Mountain Bike Park.
  21. Forage in the mountains for wild huckleberries.
  22. Rent a powerboat and cruise on a big lake or do some waterskiing.
  23. Enjoy indoor climbing at Wild Walls or other indoor climbing gym.
  24. Create an outdoor shady oasis at home.
  25. Go on a family hike for lakeside fun
  26. Hike to waterfall.
  27. Rent a sailboat at NIC Beach on Lake Coeur d’Alene.
  28. Go tubing down a safe stretch of the Spokane River (wear a PFD); rent gear from FLOW Adventures.
  29. Relax in the shade (or an indoor A/C setting) and read an outdoorsy book.
  30. Make some no-bake snack bars or protein bites at home for your next outdoor adventure.
  31. Stand-up paddleboard at a small local lake or the Spokane River.
  32. Hike to Leigh Lake in the Cabinet Mountains of western Montana where you’ll find waterfalls and maybe even small icebergs.
  33. Escape to an alpine lake, such as Heart Lake at the Bitterroot Divide, Emerald Lake in the Colville National Forest, or the lakes along the Pacific Northwest Trail.
  34. Hike to the fire lookout at the summit of Quartz Mountain in Mount Spokane State Park.
  35. Visit a local public library or bookstore (that has air-conditioning) and check out or buy books for summer adventure reading.
  36. Explore the Moses Lake Water Trail.
  37. Enjoy fun on the lake in the town of Harrison, Idaho, on the east side of Lake Coeur d’Alene.
  38. Go wade fly fishing on the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River.
  39. Visit Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area.
  40. Head to Washington’s Central Cascades for a wilderness hike to a lake or creek.
  41. Read more OTO stories for inspiration, ideas, and planning tips for your next adventure, including close-to-home adventure ideas and easy 1-day activities.

Photos, clockwise: Hiking to Stevens Lake. (left) // Photo courtesy Silver Valley Chamber; Barefoot creek hiking in north Idaho (upper middle). // Photo: Katie Botkin; Ride a chairlift to the summit of Lookout Pass. (lower middle) // Photo courtesy Lookout Pass; (right) Hike to a waterfall. // Photo: Ajia Town; Photo courtesy of Schweitzer; Photo courtesy of Mica Moon.

[Feature photo by Summer Hess.]

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