Reflections on Round Lake

Idaho State Park Highlight

Article by Chelsea Chambers

Photography by Heidi Burks, Erik Ryan, Chelsea Chambers

Originally published in Meridian Lifestyle

Time seems to stand still as the sun sets slowly on the lake, disappearing behind tree-lined ridges. Visions of orange and pink speckle the sky. A gentle cadence of crickets and frogs tickles my ears. The summer air cools almost immediately as the clouds darken and stars glimmer into view. Laughter echoes across the campground and the familiar smell of campfires harkens me back to the tent.

Morning promises to bring even more beauty as daylight returns to Round Lake State Park. Located in Sagle, Idaho, Round Lake is a true gem of North Idaho. A picturesque place, reminiscent of summer camp and nostalgia.

Quaint sites fill the campground and are often frequented by the abundance of wildlife in the area. The park rests on the edge of a 58-acre lake where flocks of Canada geese pass over a canopy of towering pine trees, hemlock and larch and powerful ospreys plunge for fish. With miles of trails circling the lake, hikers will likely discover the various resident beaver lodges and may even catch a glimpse of an eagle or two.

The park has 51 campsites, so it is much smaller in comparison to some of its nearby state parks like Priest Lake and Farragut. But despite its smaller stature, there is still so much to do at Round Lake including biking, swimming, fishing, birding, kayaking, wildlife viewing, and of course, attending an educational program or guided hike from one of the park’s incredible and informative park rangers.

There are also no motors allowed on the lake, which adds to the overall peace and quiet of the park. Unfortunately, several years ago the park was introduced to an invasive species of snail that has proliferated in the lake. Always resourceful, park staff came up with a clever way of mitigating the issue.

“The trapdoor snail is not native to the area and can wreak havoc on native species within the lake,” shared Park Manager Mary McGraw. “We often had visitors bringing the snails to us asking what they are and why they are here in the lake, so we decided to offer an incentive. During the summer months, for every 18 snails brought to the visitor center, we will give them an ice cream! It’s very popular with the kids and a great way to keep them productively busy all day long! We may not ever be able to remove all the snails from the lake, but offering a bounty for the snails will help educate people about the consequences to introducing an animal or plant where it doesn’t belong.”

Mary has been at Round Lake for nearly 30 years, first as a ranger and now as the park manager. She loves interacting with the people that visit the park. She enjoys creating meaningful experiences within the park. “I love the people that visit here because they care for the park and are good stewards of the area. They understand these open spaces are important for physical and mental wellbeing! I very often hear visitors say, ‘I just had to come to the park to clear my mind’ or have some ‘Me Time.’”

Recently, Governor Brad Little and the Idaho Legislature made a historic investment in Idaho’s state parks: a whopping $140 million dollars in one-time appropriations over the course of the last two fiscal years. This essential investment is geared toward expanding access and capacity within Idaho’s stretched state park system as well as improving and repairing existing facilities. The agency estimates they have somewhere in the ballpark of over $100 million in maintenance backlog needs. This backlog includes things like replacing failing water and sewer systems, updating rapidly aging facilities, boat launch repairs, and more.

This investment in Idaho’s state parks is an investment in long-term mental health and well-being as well as an investment in the quality of life in Idaho. Here in the Gem State, we so love our great outdoors. It’s an integral part of so many lives and is one of the biggest draws to keep people here—our vast and expansive outdoor spaces.

And every little bit counts! Explore Round Lake today and let your stress melt away.

“I love the people that visit here because they care for the park and are good stewards of the area. They understand these open spaces are important for physical and mental wellbeing!"- Mary McGraw

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