I’ll admit…I was on my way back from biking 15 miles and camping for three days. I really wanted to get home. I had listed the Cataldo Mission on my itinerary, but I was tired and by the time I hit the Exit I only had an hour until close. However, I am not a slacker and I knew I would kick myself if I passed up this opportunity to check off another item on my BucketList. I’m really glad I decided to push past tired and stop. Beautiful is not a big enough word to describe Cataldo Mission.
Cataldo Mission or Sacred Heart Mission is found in Old Mission State Park between Wallace and Coeur d’Alene. It is the oldest building in Idaho. It was built between 1850 and 1853 by the Jesuits for the Coeur d’Alene tribe. It has survived the over 100 years it has been standing magnificently. Built on the banks of the Coeur d’Alene River, it was meant to copy the grand cathedrals of Europe. Despite having to make altars out of wood and chandeliers out of tin cans, the church was impressive and became a popular place of worship.
I loved it. It was amazing to walk through the doors of the cathedral and look up towards the altar. It was like walking into a movie it was so beautiful. The church has been mostly untouched and as you explore, the creaky sound of the floorboards is music to the ears. There are a few exhibits in the church talking about how it was constructed and its history. (It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1962.) Next door is the Parish House which is where the Jesuits lived along with many of their Native missionaries. They lived very simply and it is reflected in the things left in the house.
I could have walked around both for hours…if it wasn’t so close to closing time. Both buildings back up to the Coeur d’Alene River and the view is astounding! If you are anywhere near this area, make sure you don’t miss out on the splendor and historical significance of the oldest building in Idaho. I’m glad I didn’t!
Location: Take I-84 W out of Boise for 246 miles, passing thru Oregon. Take Exit 179 for I-82 W toward Umatilla/Kennewick entering Washington for 30 miles. Take Exit 113 for US-395 toward Kennewick/Pasco for 7 miles then follow US-395 N toward Spokane, re-entering Idaho, for 19 miles. Take Exit 39 to Old Mission State Park. Signs will direct you to parking.
Address – 31732 S. Mission Rd. / Cataldo
Phone – 208-682-3814
Hours: October – March / 10 am to 3 pm
April-September / 9 am to 5 pm
Cost: Park fee and to tour the grounds is $5 per vehicle.
Sacred Encounter Exhibit (Inside the Visitors Center) is $5 a person/$10 a family
Eats: There are picnic grounds available.
Lodging: There is no camping in Old Mission State Park. Kahnderosa River RV /Campground is located very close at 14343 S. Latour Creek Rd. / 208-682-4613.
There are also several hotels/motels and Camping areas about 20 minutes away in Wallace or 30 minutes the other direction in Coeur d’Alene.
I stayed at a campground close to Wallace the night before. It was well kept and a little more secluded.
Special Notes: Make sure you stop at the Visitors Center. They have some fantastic information on the entire area, which includes the mission, parish house, walking path and two historical cemeteries.
Kid friendly. I don’t know how much fun younger kids would have. They might find it boring walking around looking at old stuff, but older kids (especially if they are interested in history) will love it. No pets on the grounds. Sorry, but the puppy has to stay home.
The walking path is handicap accessible. However, the stairs up to the mission are a little difficult to manage. Because they are preserving the integrity of the church they have not added a ramp to the steps out front. The Visitors Center and Exhibit are handicap accessible also.
You can get married in this church! Talk about a beautiful place to get married. It is available regardless of religious backgrounds. Ceremonies may be held within the Mission or in the West Courtyard. Check out https://parksandrecreation.idaho.gov/parks/coeur-d-alenes-old-mission for more information.
Even if you don’t believe in religion, you have to visit this place. It will fill you with so much peace and awe….it’s that beautiful. I’ll admit I also looked for ghosts. I didn’t find any, but something that old has got to be haunted right?!
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for more pictures from this adventure!