#26 Athol, Idaho

Read story
read story

Metro Spokane Places to Live

2020 population: 800
Drive time to downtown Coeur d’Alene: 25 minutes
Drive time to downtown Spokane: 1 hour

Lake and timber towns in Spokane County, Washington, and Kootenai County, Idaho

Overall Character: ★☆☆☆☆
Urban: ☆☆☆☆☆
Suburban: ★☆☆☆☆
Walkability: ☆☆☆☆☆
Market Activity: ★★☆☆☆
Farm Town: ☆☆☆☆☆
Timber Town: ★★★☆☆
Lake / River Town: ☆☆☆☆☆

Athol Community Description

Athol looks like it sounds. Flat, unsightly, no town center, and no urban character. From a built environment perspective, Athol wins the dubious prize for being the ugliest of the metro bunch. Curiously enough, Athol’s town website is also the ugliest of the metro bunch but it's so old that I think it's become cool again.

Once a small hub for logging operations, Athol is now a small hub for theme park operations because Silverwood Theme Park is located nearby. Interestingly, Athol does have some great access to regional recreational amenities, such as Lake Pend Oreille, Farragut State Park, and Round Lake State Park, all of which are north Idaho gems. As of now, however, Athol is still far more trailer park and Netscape Navigator than hipster gateway to recreation.

The entrance to Farragut State Park (Photo by Tony Webster)
The Tremors Rollercoaster in Silverwood Theme Park, with the towers of Aftershock to the left (Photo courtesy of Matthew Nelson)

If Athol ever wants to become something special, a vision worthy of long-time locals and its namesake – the Duke of Atholl (Scotland), I recommend seizing the moment. Here’s why:

Athol is located on the last bit of flat plain in Kootenai County. It’s only a matter of time before money starts looking at Athol like it’s the next cow up for slaughter. The gleaming new subdivisions are coming. The strip malls are coming. The traffic has already kinda’ come, and more is on the way. Outsiders with their outside ideas are coming. Change is coming.

For the sake of those that call Athol home, for the sake of those whose souls call Athol home (wherever they may reside), the time is now to adopt your vision for the future via appropriate land use and development codes. You can shape the vision now, or outsiders can shape it for you later.

Without question, Athol is on the development clock.

Story tags: