Lionhead Natural Water Slides – Coolin, Idaho - Atlas Obscura

Lionhead Natural Water Slides

Natural rock water slides hidden in the remote forests of northern Idaho. 


Pristine, old-growth cedar forests surround the stunning Priest Lake in the most remote parts of northern Idaho. In the farthest corner of the lake, you’ll find a flat rock flowing with a layer of icy cold mountain water. 

It’s here that you’ll poke your legs through holes in a plastic garbage bag and throw yourself careening down the rock face, slipping and sliding until you’ll splash into the small pool of icy water at the bottom. Assuredly, you’ll want to do it again.

Come on a nice summer weekend and you’ll have to share these natural water slides with a few others; come on a weekday or cooler day and you’ll probably have this hidden gem of the Gem State all to yourself.

The remote location of the rocky ride keeps it perfectly secluded. Reaching the slides first entails driving hours on pavement and then gravel until you finally come to the farthest corner of beautiful Priest Lake to a campground called Lionhead. Here, you’ll take one of the most rutted dirt roads into the mountain for a few miles and then park the car.

Next, you’ll hike for a couple hours through stunning old growth forests along creeks and waterfalls. Cross a freezing cold mountain stream, then weave through a massive cedar bottom until you come out above the rock slides. Exploring even farther upstream reveals stunning cold swim holes and waterfalls that will beckon you in.

Know Before You Go

From Lionhead Campground off Highway 57, turn right onto a gravel road instead of left into the camp. Follow the road for about 5 miles to the trailhead, then hike another 1.5 miles to the water slide.

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December 14, 2018

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