Chain Lakes of the Coeur d’Alene River

We found a place online called Harrison Pontoons that rents all types of boats and is located near Harrison, where we wanted to explore an area called the Chain Lakes off of the Coeur d’Alene River. We rented a 16′ SeaDoo Speedster, which was big enough for the 4 of us and powerful enough to waterski behind. It cost $350 for the entire day and included 2 sets of waterskis. Not cheap, but not nearly as expensive as owning a boat.

Bell Bay Campground

So we could be there first thing in the morning, we drove up there the night before and camped. We camped at a place called Bell Bay Campground, which was pretty nice. We set up camp, cooked some dinner, explored a little, then went to bed in anticipation of our boat ride the following day.

Arriving at the dock the next morning where our boat was located, we were very pleasantly surprised not only with the small family-run operation but with its location on the lake. We weren’t in Harrison, but were down a long dirt road surrounded by lake cabins. After a brief boat lesson and a short introductory spin, we were let loose with the boat and were off to find the Coeur d’Alene River. The Coeur d’Alene River is just to the left of Harrison as you’re on the water.

Before entering the river, we thought it might be fun to get off in Harrison at the dock and feel like boat owners, so we did just that. It was the jet boat show weekend unfortunately, which was basically just one big drunken fest like one you’d expect at spring break in Miami, so we were happy to leave. It was pretty fun pulling up to the dock though. I cannot lie.

Boating down the river is very cool. The chain lakes are somewhat hidden, and it definitely helps to have a map of the river. There are about 10 lakes, and they’re all a little different. As you enter a lake through the channel, it feels as if you’re on the It’s a Small World ride at Disney World. The entrances are meandering, narrow, and usually involve a low bridge to go under. They’re usually, if not all, quite reedy too. You need to be sure you don’t bring the wrong kind of boat in here for that reason.

The boys tried waterskiing, but as it was their first time on waterskis, they unfortunately didn’t get up. I’m sure they will next time, because they were both very close. It was a really fun day, and it was something really different for us to do. After dropping off the boat, we had access to the trampoline-like, blow-up thing off the dock. Jack and Brandon had a great time on that while David and I drank a beer on the dock with the boat rental owner. It was pretty great.

The next morning, David and I went for a run around the campground, which was a pretty awesome trail run. After breakfast, Jack and Brandon swam some more off the dock at the campground, then we headed home.

So glad there are places to rent boats from, so we don’t need to buy one! Next on my boat bucket list…rent a houseboat.


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