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Little Log Cabins – Big Relaxation
By Jim Bailey

Picture cozy little log cabins with warm fireplaces around a pond full of ducks and geese. Now picture those cabins in a beautiful valley of green, steep mountains near a magnificent, sky-blue glacial lake. Throw in the intoxicating clear mountain air softly stirring the trees while deer, rabbits and turkeys wander all around.

Is it possible? Where can such a place exist? Europe? Canada? Would you believe Idaho?

The Diamond-T Guest Ranch - relaxation Heaven on Earth!

The Diamond-T Guest Ranch is one of those rare places that has just about everything you’re looking for in a completely restful getaway. Even if you’re one who likes a lot of outdoor activity, the Diamond-T is near everything from skiing to boating to hiking to rafting and everything else imaginable. With no TVs, no radios and no telephones (except in the main house), your comfy little cabin feels a million miles away from the hubbub of modern life. Of course, that’s the general idea.

The beautiful Clark ValleyLocated high up on the Idaho panhandle near the Canadian border, the Diamond-T sits on the river 5 miles outside the little town of Clark Fork, population 685, and about 25 miles from Sandpoint on the shores of Lake Pend Orielle. You may have heard of Sandpoint—recent articles in Sunset and Newsweek magazines gave it top honors as the best place to live in America. Well, the Diamond-T is definitely the best place to visit and relax, bar none.

Started in 1986, the 300 acre Diamond-T Guest Ranch only began full time guest ranch operations in 2000. Tom and Brenda Wagoner, Lot of wildlife all over the placeoriginally from Loveland, Colorado, own and operate the ranch, welcoming every visitor as if they were family members. The six cozy log cabins each have a full kitchen, a full bath and can sleep from four to six comfortably. Placed around a picturesque duck pond, the cabins look out on horses, ducks, geese, osprey, deer, wild turkeys and even a family of elk wandering by within feet of the front door. Each cabin also comes complete with all bedding, linens and kitchen utensils. Best of all is the rate—only $95 per night!

Even though relaxation is one of the main attractions, there are many things to do for those who are more active. In fact, each cabin has a list of 55 things to do, just in case you get bored and can’t think of anything. Bicycles are available for riding around many miles of quiet The old fire station lookout is high above everything--what a view!and safe country roads with practically no traffic. To get a real feel for the beauty of the whole valley, hike up Delyle Ridge above the ranch to the abandoned fire lookout station. This three hour medium hike will reward you with a spectacular view west from Lake Pend Orielle to well into Montana to the east.

The Diamond-T also offers horseback riding, many trails for hiking and even paddle boats for the pond. They provide a campfire area, gas barbeques and sites for RVs and tent camping. You can visit the Cabinet Gorge dam across the Clark Fork of the Columbia River. If you’d like to try experiencing ranch life, you can help gather fresh eggs, pitch hay or feed the horses and goats.

In winter, snowmobiling and cross country trails abound for the winter folk – downhill skiing is available at the Schweitzer Mountain Ski area near Sandpoint. The ranch’s location provides easy access to other resorts in Montana, Idaho and Canada as well.

Clark Fork, ID - about as rural as it getsWhen you feel like going into town you have several choices. The town of Clark Fork is only 5 miles away and has a grocery store, a Mennonite food store with great fresh breads and cookies, two gas stations and several restaurants. For interesting gourmet meals try the Squeeze Inn. Typical café meals and drinks can be had at the Cabinet Mountain Inn. For the best in sandwiches and early breakfast, try the new Grits restaurant—it’s cute, the people are wonderful and the food is outstanding.

Farther away to the east toward Sandpoint is the town of Hope. Situated on the shores of Lake Pend Orielle, Hope has the Floating Restaurant with a large good menu. Open all summer, the Floating Restaurant is only open a few days a week during the winter. Make Lake Pend Oreillesure you try the Buffalo Stew when it’s available! Finally, in Sandpoint you’ll find a bustling town of over 6,000 with many good restaurants, cafes and even a Starbucks Coffee with wireless Internet access (T-Mobile). The Hydra Restaurant is the top eatery for cuisine but for just plain good food at a good price, you can’t beat Connie’s Café. On Wednesdays the farmer’s market takes over the main town park with lots of delicious locally grown fruits, vegetables and foods including outstanding locally produced breads.

Once you experience the Diamond-T and the Clark Fork area, you may decide it’s just too nice to ever leave. Real estate in the Clark Valley is significantly less expensive simply because the Sandpoint area has already been “discovered” and housing prices have shot up. Properties from in-town homes to 5 acre sites to 100 acre farms are available. Check with Bert Dennett at Heritage Shores Realty in Clark Fork for the current deals from Sandpoint clear into Montana.

Deer are all over the place too--but they know to hide during deer season!Maybe Sandpoint got all the press but Clark Fork is a ”Mayberry, RFD” kind of place. Small town, no traffic lights, not a tourist trap and lots of truly nice folks everywhere you turn. Staying at the Diamond-T lets you live that relaxed, laid-back life even if for just a short time. Make your reservations as far in advance as you can since, as you can imagine, the ranch is becoming very popular.

Above all, make sure you plan to relax a good part of your trip. Why? Because you will anyway--it's that sort of place. Tell the Wagoners you read about them here!

Contact Information:

Diamond-T Guest Ranch
5361 River Road
Clark Fork, ID 83811
Phone 208-266-0490
E-mail: diamondt@netscape.com
Website: www.diamondtranch.com

Schweitzer Mountain Resort
10000 Schweitzer Mountain Road
Sandpoint, ID 83864
Trail Report: 208-263-9562
Phone: 800.831.8810 x2152 or 208.263.9555
Email: activityinfo@schweitzer.com
Website: www.schweitzer.com

Bert Dennett
Heritage Shores Realty
Highway 200
Clark Fork, ID 83811
Phone: 208-255-6128

The Floating Restaurant
Highway 200 at the Marina
Hope, ID 83836
Phone: (208) 264-5311



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