The Farragut State Park - Idaho

US National Parks and Monuments Travel Guide: US-Parks.com

Park Overview

The Farragut State Park visit starts at the park Visitor Center located at the west entrance. Here one will find park maps, trail guides, campground registration, natural history, and park displays. Inside the Visitor Center is the Farragut gift shop where one can find a variety of unique souvenir items and snacks.

Hikeor bike a trail. The park has over 40 miles of trails for you to explore. For those who like a challenge, take the Highpoint Trail to the Scout Trail and hike up Bernard Peak and look back across the lake at Farragut State Park. A map is available for download that shows trails within Farragut State Park, accessible during the summer months.

Activities in the Park

Come meet "Mack", the nickname given to the "Rite of Passage" artwork located in the Farragut Memorial Plaza, next to the Museum at the Brig. He represents the 293,381 sailors who trained on these grounds for duty in World War II. Their stories are told in the museum, which is open from Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day. View the brochure here.

Up for a little trivia? The Museum at the Brig provides answers to questions such as, "What was Idaho's largest city in 1944?" The museum houses the world's largest collection of United States Farragut Naval Training Station (1942-1946) memorabilia. It includes two restored vehicles which are on display in the courtyard of the Brig building, a 1938 Ford 2-ton work truck and a 1942 Pirsch open cab fire engine, both used when the Farragut Naval Training Station was in operation. As for the answer to the question, it was Farragut, Idaho, with a population over 50,000.

Play the 18-hole Wreckreator or Northstar professional level disc golf courses, or combine parts of both in the Front Nines course as part of a unique disc golf experience. For the family, the Whole Nine Yards course offers 9 holes for the beginner or those with young children. The area's largest selection of discs (Frisbees to the older generation) can be purchased at the Farragut gift shop.

Picnic at the Willow Day Use Area. From here you will have great views of Bernard Peak across Lake Pend Oreille's Idlewilde Bay. Try the view scope to see if you can find one of the mountain goats that live on this peak. You may also take the stairs down to the shoreline to get to the water's edge.

Swim at Beaver Bay Beach; this horseshoe shaped sand beach is one of the few places on the lake where the water warms enough in the summer for a swim. Remember that pets, glass containers, or hard sided boats (canoes, kayaks, etc) are not allowed in the beach area.

Have horses? Over 20 miles of trails can be accessed on the north side of the park from the Corral day use and camping area; horses are not allowed south of Highway 54 in the park.

The Eagle Boat Launch provides the only major access for boaters on the south end of Lake Pend Oreille, the largest lake in Idaho.

Camping? Farragut State Park offers 220 individual campsites and 6 equestrian sites, 10 camping cabins, 4 group camps, and multiple large group use areas including an outdoor amphitheater. The majority of the sites have central water, while many have water and electric at the site. All major campgrounds have a shower house with modern restrooms. A Recreational Vehicle sanitation dump station is available in the park.

The park offers a variety of programs during the summer. A park Naturalist is on staff that does programs including trail hikes, Junior Ranger, and Evening Campfire programs. Films on area history and geology are shown daily in the Museum at the Brig's Pacific Theater. For those who like to go at their own pace, wayside exhibits are placed around the park, with information on area wildlife and park features.

The park encompasses land that was deposited during the last glacial period 10,000 years ago. Large glacial dams that existed to the east held back Glacial Lake Missoula over much of what is now Montana. These dams broke at various times during the ice age, and the outflow and impact of this water on its way to the ocean can still be seen on the escarpment of Bernard Peak. The escarpment is 500 feet higher than the current surface of Lake Pend Oreille; these waters rushed westward, leaving behind a large “glacial gravel bar” between Cape Horn and Bernard Peak forming the peninsula that is now the park.

The creation of Farragut State Park is an unintended result of a compact between Adolf Hitler and the Japanese Emperor Hirohito. The intent to invade the United States and divide its land between them led to the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. The U.S. response to this attack included the building of the Farragut Naval Training Station inland, so that it would be protected from coastal invasion. Though that coastal attack never came, the world's second largest naval training station was built along the shore of Lake Pend Oreille.

Named after the first Admiral of the Navy, David Glasgow Farragut, the station operated from 1942 to 1946 and had 293,381 men from across the nation train here. Carved from the remote forests of North Idaho, it became the largest city in Idaho with a population over 50,000. At the end of World War II, the station continued to provide services to sailors through its extensive hospital complex and as Farragut Junior College. By the end of the 1940’s, most of the 776 buildings had been sold off or removed and the U.S. government initiated putting the land up for sale. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game bought parcels along the shoreline, and these acquisitions led to a larger agreement wherein the majority of the remaining land was given to the State of Idaho as the Farragut Wildlife Management Area. A 20- acre parcel was retained for an acoustic research detachment, which is still in operation today for the U.S. Navy.

A diverse biological community exists in this scenic forest setting of lodgepole pine, ponderosa pine, white pine, Douglas fir, poplar, western larch and grand fir. The forests are home to whitetail deer, squirrels, black bears, coyotes and bobcats. Common birds include owls, hummingbirds, hawks, woodpeckers, ducks and Idaho’s state bird, the mountain bluebird. The world-record kamloops (37 pounds) was caught in Lake Pend Oreille. The lake is home to rainbow trout, lake trout, perch, crappie, bass, kokanee, and whitefish.

In the 1960’s, scouting organizations looking for large areas with infrastructure suitable for encampments for thousands of scouts found the Farragut Wildlife Management Area and developed part of it for Jamborees. This public use resulted in approximately 2/3 of the land being returned to the Federal government from Idaho Fish and Game and reissued under the Parks Act to the newly formed Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation in 1965.

Because of its size and variety of available activities, Farragut has hosted many large gatherings. These included the National Girl Scout Roundup in 1965, the World Boy Scout Jamboree (the only one ever held in the U.S.) in 1967, and the National Boy Scout Jamborees of 1969 and 1973. The park has also hosted tens of thousands of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts for regional outings and campouts over the years. The developments by scouting organizations can still be seen in the park facilities of the Visitor Center, Whitetail Campground, Locust Grove Group picnic area, the swim beach at Beaver Bay, the group area at Thimbleberry, the Farragut Amphitheater, and the friendship poles of the 1973 Jamboree.

The next phase of development occurred because of the World's Fair held in nearby Spokane in 1974. To handle the expected demand of modern campers for this event, Snowberry Campground was built, providing water and electric services at the sites. This was followed a decade later by the development of two group camps at Kestrel and Nighthawk, and the Sunrise/Willow Day use area.

Starting in the late 1990’s, the park's large land base was again looked at for development of additional services to the recreating public. Over the next decade, plans were made and funding secured to convert Kestrel and Nighthawk group areas to a multipurpose Waldron Group Campground. Ten camping cabins were added at Willow and Waldron, resulting in a redesign of the Willow picnic area. In 2006, park staff developed the Corral equestrian area and Buggy Trail to meet growing horse and llama use. The disc golf course was expanded to a three course professional complex, and improvements were made to the museum. Then, in 2007, the park opened its first new individual site campground in over 3 decades at Gilmore, linking this campground with other south side park facilities with the new Lynx Trail system. The continued upgrades to the museum and improvements to the Farragut Memorial Plaza with the addition of the Rite of Passage artwork have made the Museum at the Brig a major destination for both park and local area visitors.

Now as the park looks toward the next decade, improvements to the park's infrastructure take precedent. The breakwater and amenities are being upgraded at the Eagle Boat launch. A centralized sewage treatment facility will replace the leach fields currently in place and allow for the opening of a second RV sanitation station. Improvements to the park's water system will repair the water tower (a park icon) and allow domestic water service again to various areas of the park. Ongoing roadwork and traffic flow planning are bringing the park's road systems back into shape to meet traffic volume. Resource management continues, with major thinning projects underway to bring the forests back to a more naturally occurring state. The control of noxious weeds is being addressed by forest management, chemical applications, and biological means.

Location

Bayview, ID -- Northern Idaho, N. of Coeur d'Alene

Contact

Mailing Address: 13550 E. Hwy. 54, Athol, ID 83801 -- Street Address: 13550 E. Hwy. 54, Athol, ID 83801 -- Phone: (208) 683-2425 -- Fax: (208) 683-7416

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