Dock Building on Lake Coeur d'Alene: A Comprehensive Guide


Lake Coeur d'Alene is a picturesque freshwater lake located in the scenic Idaho Panhandle. With over 135 miles of shoreline and numerous recreational opportunities, it's no surprise that many homeowners and vacationers choose to build docks on this stunning lake. Docks provide convenient access to the water for swimming, fishing, and boating, while also enhancing the property's value and appeal. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the process of dock building on Lake Coeur d'Alene, including permits, materials, design considerations, and maintenance tips.

Permits and Regulations

Before embarking on a dock building project on Lake Coeur d'Alene, it's crucial to familiarize yourself with the local permits and regulations. The Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) is responsible for managing the lake's shoreline, and any construction or alteration of docks requires a permit. Here are the essential steps to follow:

  1. Contact the IDL: Reach out to the local IDL office to discuss your dock building plans and determine the necessary permits and fees.

  2. Prepare Your Application: Complete the permit application form, which typically requires information about the property, proposed dock dimensions, and a site plan. You may also need to submit photographs of the shoreline, a construction timeline, and any additional documents requested by the IDL.

  3. Await Approval: The IDL will review your application and conduct a site visit if necessary. Approval time varies, but it can take several weeks or even months. Make sure to factor this into your project timeline.

  4. Follow the Rules: Once you receive your permit, adhere to the stipulated regulations, such as size limitations, setbacks from neighboring properties, and environmental impact mitigation measures.

Dock Materials

Selecting the right materials for your dock is essential for ensuring its longevity and durability. Here are some popular options for Lake Coeur d'Alene docks:

  1. Wood: Wood is a traditional and visually appealing material that blends well with the natural surroundings. Opt for pressure-treated lumber, cedar, or redwood, which are resistant to rot and insects. However, wooden docks may require regular maintenance, such as staining or sealing, to preserve their appearance and structural integrity.

  2. Aluminum: Aluminum docks are lightweight, corrosion-resistant, and require minimal maintenance. They can withstand harsh weather conditions and are environmentally friendly. However, they may be more expensive initially and may not offer the same aesthetic appeal as wood.

  3. Vinyl: Vinyl or PVC docks are low-maintenance, resistant to rot and insects, and can mimic the appearance of wood. They are less prone to splintering or warping but may be more susceptible to cracking in extreme temperatures.

  4. Composite: Composite docks are made from a blend of wood fibers and plastic, offering the best of both worlds. They are low-maintenance, durable, and available in various colors and textures that mimic natural wood. However, composite materials can be more expensive than wood or vinyl.

Design Considerations

When designing your dock on Lake Coeur d'Alene, consider the following factors to ensure a functional and aesthetically pleasing structure:

  1. Purpose: Determine the primary purpose of your dock, whether it's for swimming, fishing, or mooring boats. This will help guide your design decisions, such as size, layout, and necessary accessories like ladders, cleats, or bumpers.

  2. Lake Depth: The depth of the lake near your shoreline will impact the type of dock you can build. Shallow waters may require a floating dock, while deeper waters may accommodate a stationary or crib dock.

  3. Shoreline Conditions: Consider the slope and composition of your shoreline and how it may affect the dock's installation and stability. Steep shorelines or unstable soil may require additional support or a different dock design.

  4. Accessibility: Ensure your dock design provides easy access to the water, particularly for swimmers or individuals with mobility challenges. This may include incorporating ramps, stairs, or handrails.

  5. Weather Conditions: Lake Coeur d'Alene can experience harsh weather, including wind, rain, and snow. Design your dock to withstand these conditions by using durable materials and installing appropriate anchoring systems.

  6. Aesthetics: Choose a design that complements your property and the natural surroundings. This may involve selecting materials, colors, and finishes that blend with the landscape and existing structures.

Dock Types

There are several dock types to choose from when building on Lake Coeur d'Alene. Here are the most common options:

  1. Floating Dock: Floating docks consist of buoyant sections that rise and fall with the water level. They are ideal for areas with fluctuating water levels or shallow shorelines. However, they may be less stable than stationary docks and are typically not suitable for heavy boats or large gatherings.

  2. Stationary Dock: Stationary docks, also known as fixed or permanent docks, are anchored to the lake bed using pilings or cribs. They offer increased stability and can support heavier loads, making them suitable for mooring boats and hosting gatherings. However, they may be more challenging to install and can be affected by fluctuating water levels.

  3. Crib Dock: A crib dock is a variation of the stationary dock that uses a framework of logs or timbers filled with rocks or stones to create a stable base. This type of dock is more suitable for deeper waters or rocky shorelines, but can be more labor-intensive and costly to construct.

  4. Pipe Dock: Pipe docks are a type of stationary dock that utilizes metal pipes driven into the lake bed to support the dock's framework. They are lightweight, easy to install, and typically less expensive than other stationary docks. However, they may not be suitable for deeper waters or areas with a rocky lake bed.

Dock Maintenance

Proper maintenance is crucial to ensure the longevity of your dock on Lake Coeur d'Alene. Here are some essential tips:

  1. Regular Inspections: Inspect your dock regularly for signs of wear, damage, or instability. This includes checking for loose or rusted hardware, rotting wood, or cracked vinyl or composite materials.

  2. Cleaning: Keep your dock clean by regularly removing dirt, algae, or debris that may cause slippery surfaces or promote rot.

  3. Maintenance Tasks: Perform necessary maintenance tasks, such as sealing or staining wooden docks, tightening hardware, or replacing damaged components.

  4. Seasonal Preparation: Prepare your dock for seasonal changes by removing any removable sections, installing bubblers to prevent ice damage, or anchoring your dock securely during storms.


Building a dock on Lake Coeur d'Alene is a rewarding project that enhances your property's value and enjoyment. By obtaining the necessary permits, choosing the right materials, and considering factors like purpose, lake depth, and weather conditions, you can create a functional and aesthetically pleasing dock that serves your needs for years to come. Remember to prioritize regular maintenance and inspections to ensure your dock's longevity and safety.

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