Undiscovered Idaho

The Most Amazing Place You Have Never Seen

A 25-mile long

mountain lake with

crystal-clear water

and few people.


© Buena Vista Studio


© Buena Vista Studio

An unspoiled setting with

2,000 year old Cedar giants;

comparable in size and

grandeur to the Redwoods.


A 105-acre estate surrounded by state forests with its own private lake and mountain stream.


This unspoiled environment, little changed since the last ice age, is perhaps the best-kept secret of the Mountain West – the Priest Lake Basin. Yet this area of fantastic beauty and adventure is home to few people all of whom enjoy 4 seasons for a great outdoor experience. The roads are excellent. The property is but a short drive of 1.5 hours from the Spokane International Airport.

This is Priest Lake Idaho!


© Buena Vista Studio

Five minutes from Priest Lake, in an even more pristine environment, is Sundance Estate. The 105-acre property comprises a large meadow, mountain stream and 8-acre lake, nearly all surrounded by forest and bordering Idaho state land. This is a unique and exceptional property. In the midst of a natural setting, unchanged in thousands of years, is a high-end residence that offers comfort, privacy, unspoiled nature and solitude – a rare combination.

Sundance Estate and Priest Lake


© A. Chute

For the first time, Sundance Estate is being offered for sale. Learn more about this exclusive this unique and spectacular property.

The Greater Priest Lake Area

If you have been fortunate enough to visit Lake Tahoe high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the border of California and Nevada, you know what a magnificent place it is. Close your eyes and imagine those Lake Tahoe vistas of forested mountains rising from the deep-blue lake waters . . . but without the casinos, hotels, condominiums, strip malls and hundreds of summer cabins and vacation rentals. Now imagine listening, not to hoards of people, vehicles, and traffic jams, but to the natural sounds that preceded the “destination resort.” Few people still remember the Lake Tahoe of your imagination. Finally, imagine there still may be such an “undiscovered” place; an expansive lake enveloped by forests, streams and mountains.

© Buena Vista Studio

There is. It is called Priest Lake and it is the little-known jewel of the inland Pacific Northwest. This area is known as the Priest Lake basin and is the least populated area in the North Idaho region.


© Priest Lake Chamber of Commerce

While most Americans live in cities and greater metropolitan areas, many are drawn to environments such as mountains, coasts and desert – places defined largely by their natural features. Our country enjoys very long seacoasts, though their popularity has led to high and increasing populations. The deserts of the Southwest tend to be sparsely populated and appeal to some. There are people who find almost every area of the country appealing. Many people are drawn to our mountains and find them synonymous with nature’s majesty and unrivaled splendor. The eastern United States has beautiful mountains; the Appalachian, Allegheny and Adirondack ranges feature prominently among them. Yet, when Americans think of mountains, the mind’s eye sees the towering, snow-capped, alpine vistas of the West.


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There is a reason the region is known as “The Mountain West.”

Many celebrities choose to live there, at least part time; movie stars and corporate executives own “ranches” in Montana, ski chalets of the rich and famous in Aspen and Vail, CO. or mansions in Jackson Hole, WY. These are all great places; which is why people want to live there. The irony is that the features and imagined life styles that attracted people to such locations have begun to diminish because of all the people they attracted.

Many of the great places in the Mountain West suffer the consequence of their own popularity overcrowding. Idaho is different; especially north Idaho.

The description of Lake Tahoe at the beginning of this document is a perfect illustration of this phenomenon. Even national parks in the Mountain West have not escaped. If you plan to visit Yosemite in season be prepared to wait in line and, if you finally get in, to start rubbing elbows with the ever-present crowds.


© SelkirkLoop.org

One way to get a sense of the size, beauty and diversity of this area of the Rockies is to drive the International Selkirk Loop – named for the Selkirk Mountains that rise above Priest Lake. As the map shows, this scenic drive, named as one of the top 10 drives in the northern Rockies,  encompasses Priest Lake. This area may be largely “undiscovered,” but there are many things to see and do in north Idaho.

The only “celebrity” destination commonly associated with Idaho is Sun Valley. Few people know where Sun Valley is located and fewer have been there. People know almost nothing about Idaho, especially North Idaho (Sun Valley is in south-central Idaho). Why do even people in the Mountain West know so little about north Idaho? This is a bit of a mystery. Nestled between Glacier National Park and the towering peaks of the volcanic mountains in the Cascades, the north Idaho area is adjacent to British Columbia on the Canadian border. Since it is not on a freeway it is not “on the way” to anywhere else. Also, it is sparsely populated, and doesn’t have any big cities or high-profile resorts. It also could be that the people who have “discovered” north Idaho and keep coming back prefer to keep it to themselves.


© Buena Vista Studio

North Idaho tends to fly under the radar; but that is good news for you. The state’s panhandle, which runs from the Canadian border south to approximately the town of Coeur d’Alene and bounded by Washington to the west and Montana to the east, is the north Idaho region. You may think that bordering Canada and Montana may be beautiful, but also means frigidly cold winters – not so. The Japanese current off the Pacific Northwest coast brings warm ocean air that moderates temperatures. Even the western slope of Montana’s Glacier National Park (which is at the same latitude) is noticeably warmer than the park’s eastern slope thanks to Japanese current.

The only freeway is across the southern part of the panhandle, I-90, begins in Seattle and connects Spokane, WA to Coeur d’Alene, ID and on to Missoula, MT. Traveling north from spectacular Coeur D’Alene Lake takes you to Sandpoint, ID on the shores of the large and spectacular Pend Oreille Lake. Further north up the panhandle the highway eventually ends at the best of them all – Priest Lake.

Idaho’s Crown Jewel, Priest Lake (upper and lower), the Priest River and its many tributaries as well as the Selkirk Mountain range and its associated foothills and valleys make up the Priest Lake region of north Idaho.

Through a personal lense

A few people find the Priest Lake area out of curiosity, but more find it via friends’ recommendations. My journey, resulting in the creation of Sundance Estate, began early one summer morning. I remember walking out on a dock on my first visit to north Idaho, having arrived at Priest Lake late the night before. I was truly awe-struck. I couldn’t believe that such a place, which I had never heard of, existed in the country. It had drinking-water clear waters, pristine forests and meadows, pure air and all within reasonably close proximity to an international airport and most necessary high-level services. After returning home, I thought about it all the time, worked to find just the right property near the lake, developed and enhanced the property as I could (I was living in the Eastern U.S. at the time) and stayed with it for decades until I made my dream a reality. No other place has ever made this kind of impression or taken this kind of hold on me. I have talked with people from across this country, as well as from other countries, who feel the same and who return to Priest Lake every year.

Upper Priest Lake connects to the lower, main lake via a navigable waterway known as “the thoroughfare.” The upper lake, with no structures of any kind and accessible only by water, on foot or snowmobile, is essentially a wilderness. The upper lake is for those seeking both a solitude experience, and a special kind of adventure. There are a few campgrounds, but expect no amenities. Find out more at the following websites:






© Priest Lake Chamber of Commerce


The main body of Priest Lake immediately to the south of the upper lake is 2,500 feet above sea level with the surrounding mountains reaching up to 7,600 feet. As mountain snows melt, the runoff feeds Priest Lake. The lake is the headwaters of the Priest River that flows south to eventually reach the mighty Columbia River.


© Buena Vista Studio

There are numerous features that make this northern-most part of north Idaho special. The values and virtues of this area exist, in large measure, because it doesn’t “enjoy” the notoriety of Lake Tahoe, Estes Park, Jackson Hole and similar overrun destinations. First among these features, of course, is Priest Lake itself. Priest Lake is large (the main lake is about 25 miles long and five miles at its widest, while the upper lake adds about another five miles in length), deep (about 400 feet) and sufficiently clean and clear that lake dwellers still draw drinking water from it.


© Buena Vista Studio

Priest Lake is 30 miles long, and up to 5 miles wide and 400 feet deep, yet has water this clear.

It is spectacularly beautiful and enjoys a generally mild climate – summer and winter – and it is the area’s social, cultural, and recreational and some would say spiritual touchstone. The forest in the Priest Lake basin is classified as a “maritime forest” because the type of vegetation found there is normally only found in coastal forests.



© A. Chute


The 105 acres of Sundance Estate – the residence, Lee Lake, the meadow and the forest – are situated near the center of the above photo; Priest Lake is clearly visible in the distance. It is likely this geographic cul-de-sac contributes to the unspoiled virtues of this setting.
Yet, for all its seclusion, about 70 miles to the southwest are the city of Spokane, Washington and an international airport. Travel by auto is via a very-good, all-weather highway. Additionally, small planes have a choice of two short landing strips at the lake, both of which have co-located heliports; however, a private heliport is located on the Sundance Estate property.



© A. Chute

Also frequenting the lake are float planes; they have a very big landing strip – about 25 miles long!


© Priest Lake Chamber of Commerce


Priest Lake’s sparkling, clear water first emanated from the glaciers that moved through and now is replenished from numerous mountain springs and streams. Driving south, the highway follows the Priest River as it winds 40 picturesque miles from the lake to its confluence with the Pend Oreille River at the town of Priest River.


© A. Chute


© A. Chute

Priest River offers many access points for anglers


© A. Chute

Priest River also will float your boat

Excellent trout fishing is found on the Priest River and on many mountain streams.


© A. Chute

Nearby small lakes offer great fishing for brook trout, pan fish, small-mouth bass and even northern pike.


© A. Chute

However, Priest Lake is home for what are believed to be the largest trout in the lower 48 states – a giant lake trout known as . . .

The Mackinaw


Photo courtesy of the Idaho Fisherman at Priest Lake

The greater Priest Lake area offers the outdoors enthusiast much more than outstanding fishing. It is an all-seasons playground. While many summer activities often are water-focused: fishing, water-skiing, boating (canoeing, kayaking, sailing, personal water craft, power boating and house boats), there are many terrestrial pursuits as well. The streams, waterfalls, meadows, hills and mountains in the area afford hikers and mountain bikers over 400 miles of trails. Some trails are short and easy, often leading to special attractions, including the Grove of Ancient Cedars. At the other extreme, some are in backcountry areas that that have changed little since the time of Lewis and Clark.



© Buena Vista Studio


Those individuals up to the backcountry challenge usually will find their efforts rewarded, as in this example of the alpine lakes in the Selkirk Mountains. Talk about a get-away destination.


The Hills are alive with. . . Color!

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 In both spring and fall, the mountains, meadows and streams explode with color.

Photos © Buena Vista Studio

Each spring and fall, the area is a coveted foray site for Mycologists


© Buena Vista Studio

Color helps define the seasonal landscapes. The deep blue waters of Priest Lake both reflect and complement the multiple green hues of the conifer and broadleaf trees of the surrounding forests

Spring ushers in a wide pallet of colors as wildflowers and berries blanket the meadows.

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© Buena Vista Studio


© Buena Vista Studio

Winter around Priest Lake is magical.

The deep blues of the lake contrast with the deep mountain snow.


© Buena Vista Studio

Winter is a special time at Priest Lake. By the holiday season, the entire area looks like a holiday greeting card. This presents a variety of options, both indoors and out. While some residents take this is time of year to travel to places far and wide (public roads are well maintained and an international airport is readily accessible), others enjoy the even greater peace and quiet of the season, preferring to relax while cozying up by the fire and connecting with friends and community. Additionally, increasing numbers of families bring extended families to the lake for Thanksgiving, Christmas or both.


© A. Chute

Overflow guests can stay at The Old Northern Inn that sits on the shore of Priest Lake in the town of Coolin, only five minutes from Sundance Estate. It is a very cozy and comfortable establishment with a spectacular view of the lake, a dock and available kayaks, canoes, etc. For even larger numbers of guests, other options are available.

Several beautiful shoreline resorts, such as Hill’s, are a short drive away on the west side of Priest Lake.


© A. Chute

But winter also has another persona in the Priest Lake region; one that beckons engagement to get out and enjoy the snow and the splendor.


© Priest Lake Chamber of Commerce


Breaking trail in the backcountry.

Again, there are many outdoor activities from which to select. Some folks opt for the peace and quiet of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. From day trips to backcountry camping, the choice is yours. Others prefer the higher-octane sports of snowmobiling or of alpine skiing and snowboarding.



© Priest Lake Chamber of Commerce


Snowmobile tracks on Sundance Mountain; Priest Lake is in the distance.

This place is made for winter. Whether on skis, snowshoes or snowmobiles, you have access to over 400 miles of “groomed” trails or can break your own trails. Several of the trails have “warming huts” at higher elevations. Here is a map of area snowmobile trails. There are numerous opportunities to buy or rent equipment, to learn the finer points of your sport and to get together with other enthusiasts for outings. There is even Snowshoe Softball – have fun! Downhill skiing or snowboarding are a bit farther away, but a relatively short drive will get you to the slopes. So, from hot chocolate by the fire to backcountry camping, from hitting the moguls to cross-country skiing, which one should you choose? Easy, you can do them all.

This place is made for winter. Some feel winter in north Idaho is the best season of the year.

Some feel winter in north Idaho is the best season of the year. The snow that blankets the area and highlights the magnificence of the mountains also offers a calm serenity. While not crowded even in summer’s warmth, in winter the land belongs to those who stay; those who appreciate and embrace the magic of winter’s spell.

Sundance Estate and Acreage


© A. Chute

The Sundance Estate acreage comprises 105 acres of land almost entirely surrounded by and sharing property lines with Idaho State Forest lands.

The setting of this home and acreage is exceptional. In the heart of the greater Priest Lake area (described previously), Sundance Estate enjoys a quiet, private and natural setting with views essentially unchanged since the last glaciers retreated some 20,000 years ago. Although secluded (no other private property is within view of the residence), the property is very close to Priest Lake; a five-minute drive to the quiet lakeshore town of Coolin.


© Buena Vista Studio

Priest Lake is in the foreground and the upper reaches of Sundance Mountain (from which Sundance Estate takes its name) show a dusting of snow. The mountain provides a majestic backdrop to the property and is clearly visible from throughout Sundance Estate.

As seen in this view from Sundance Mountain, the residence, Lee Lake and the meadow are center left; Priest Lake is to the right.


© A. Chute


© A. Chute


© Buena Vista Studio


The residence, grounds and adjacent Lee Lake make up 15 of the Estate’s 105 acres. Nearly half of the property – 50 acres – is meadow, while the remaining 40 acres encircle both the residence and the entire meadow, consists of mature forest including a mixture of conifer and deciduous trees: Blue Spruce, Green Spruce, White Fir, Douglas Fir, White Pine, Hemlock, Ponderosa Pine, Western Red Cedar, Tamarack, Paper Bark Birch and Aspen.




Having forestland surrounding nearly all of the property offers the impression of a truly large and wild setting extending well beyond Sundance Estate itself. This perception is reinforced by the absence of fences or other barriers along the property lines.
A significant advantage of the public lands bordering the property is that any kind of future construction occurring next to Sundance Estate is highly unlikely. An access road runs adjacent to the property and easements for use of that road have been procured and recorded for access to the property through state lands.


© A.Chute

The property resembles a long, oval bowl with the meadow in the center and Lee Lake and the residence at one end. The meadow is relatively flat and the surrounding trees are on gently sloping hillsides. Much of the meadow is visible from the residence, though not the far end. The meadow has a variety of native grasses and wild flowers that serve as pasture for deer, elk and moose and can easily become grazing land for horses or cattle.

The forest that encircles Sundance Estate is a wondrous place.


© Buena Vista Studio

. . . including a dazzling variety of mushrooms.


© Buena Vista Studio

It provides a nearly ideal ecosystem for a variety of wildlife and plants . . .


© Buena Vista Studio

The residence and Lee Lake are situated at one end of the meadow. The overflow from Lee Lake and a pristine mountain stream, Lee Creek, flow the length of the meadow . . .



© A. Chute

. . . to where they merge at the end of the meadow farthest from the residence.


© A. Chute

On its way to Priest Lake, Lee Creek meanders on to a meadow of the only neighbor visible from Sundance Estate (shown above in the far distance).


© Buena Vista Studio

The confluence of the mountain stream and the Lee Lake overflow at the far end of the meadow is a favorite hangout for beavers.

This narrow area where the creek exits the Estate is the only part of the property line not adjacent to State Land.

The neighboring property is not visible from the house, as the area shown above is at the opposite end of the meadow, two miles from the residence.
From the two-lane forest road, a gently sloping driveway provides access to the residence. The forest road connects to a lightly traveled paved road, less than a half mile from the property driveway. Turn left at that junction and Coolin is only a couple of minutes away; turn right for Cavanaugh Bay and beyond. A large flat parking area is located at the front of the house.



© A. Chute


In addition to designing the residence with green and energy efficient sensitivities, following Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design guidelines, a similar approach was applied to preparing the building site for the residence. All electrical and telephone lines are underground and out of view. The subterranean wastewater treatment field is located adjacent to the forest, well away from the house.

Great care was taken to preserve the natural environment including a completely natural view of Lee Lake, the meadow, the surrounding forest, Sundance Mountain and the Selkirk Mountain Range. The view toward Lee Lake, the meadow and the mountains is topographically unchanged since modern man has inhabited the area.

From the ground up, the residence was designed to be green and energy efficient.
The back deck of the house, offers a clear view of Sundance Mountain, one of the highest and largest mountains in the Priest Lake area. Sundance Mountain is over 4,000 feet higher than the home site and surrounding valley. Nighttime affords spectacular shows from the deck as well. The location of Sundance Estate in the clear mountain air and the absence of city lights allow amazing views of the night sky.

The stillness of evenings relaxing on the deck gives rise to serenity while watching the rise of Saturn and the moon.


© A. Chute


As nighttime progresses, moonshine yields, offering dramatic views of the countless stars above Lee Lake and Sundance Mountain.


© A. Chute


Careful attention to preserving the area’s natural ecosystem in site preparation and residence construction seems to have worked. Offering a combination of solitude, safety, quiet, meadow, trees and water – Lee Lake is like a wildlife magnet. As a result, Lee Lake is a permanent home to frogs, turtles, Brown Trout and Brook Trout; various mammals, including elk, deer, moose, beaver, muskrats and more, as well as occasional otters also often visit the lake.

A wide variety of feathered friends frequent Lee Lake: ducks, geese, raptors, wild turkeys, hummingbirds and more. American Bald Eagles have been seen each year during their spring mating season. Osprey and a variety of hawks visit the valley on a daily basis plus the less frequent visits by Golden Eagles, Snowy Owls and Great Horned Owls. Numerous birds are resident in the area while a significant number of other birds find the property an attractive stopover on their seasonal migrations.


© Buena Vista Studio

The migratory visitors include a seemingly endless variety of colorful hummingbirds.


© Buena Vista Studio


© Buena Vista Studio


© Buena Vista Studio


Wild turkeys are regular visitors to the residence.

Lee Lake, the meadow and the trees adjacent to it are frequented by wildlife, including deer and moose.


© Buena Vista Studio



Nature is an integral part of this setting, much as it was before the residence was built. Intentional and conscientious attention was paid to preserving the natural environment and ecosystem.

The results demonstrate that these efforts were successful.

A home that is in harmony with nature, rather than imposed upon nature, must be planned and nurtured. It is not something that can be purchased as an amenity and, therefore, it is difficult if not impossible to quantify value. To the contrary, a harmonic relationship with the environment is qualitative, subjective and, to those who understand and appreciate its value, priceless.



The Residence: Design, Construction and Special Features

Most of us have experience with furniture that largely consists of a paper-thin sheet of veneer glued to particleboard. To the uninitiated, this furniture may look fairly nice for a while and from a distance but, as we have learned, the missing elements are what matter most. Such pieces lack structural integrity, durability and timeless beauty because none of those considerations were among the design and construction goals. Craftsmen (and women) don’t make such furniture; their design goals go directly to combining design aesthetics and structural engineering. Designs are then executed with highly skilled craftsmanship in ways that provide beauty and function for their owners and for their heirs as well.

We built this home with care, quality, thoughtfulness, style and craftsmanship we required; those elements are evident in everything you see and, just as important, in what you don’t see

This distinction is similar to the differences between the qualities of good, nice looking, but ordinary houses and qualities of the Sundance Estate residence. We built this home, not to sell, but to live in.



© A. Chute


This is the Great Room.


© A. Chute

Enjoy a 270-degree view from the sunroom’s combined wall windows and flanking French doors.


© A. Chute

The description that follows notes features of the Sundance Estate home that likely will be of interest. As features are discussed, relevant design and construction details that provide evidence of the quality inherent in the residence will be summarized as well.

House Design:

The goals that inspired the design features and construction type of this house focused on taking full visual advantage of the surrounding woods, meadows, lake and mountains while creating a living space that was comfortable and cozy to be in as well as energy efficient and durable.

The following narrative will point out some the home’s features, but the accompanying photos may say it better.

Construction – The house and connected two-level garage/woodworking shop were built using Eco Block (a type of foam form construction) that is filled with steel and concrete. Eco Block consists of 2 1/4 inch thick rigid foam insulation on both interior and exterior walls connected with extruded carbon fiber plastic struts made to accept steel reinforcing rod. There are 5/8 inch steel reinforcing rods every 12 inches both vertically and horizontally in all exterior walls. Above windows and doors, a basket of reinforcing rod was inserted between the foam forms to create structural beams. Lower level walls are eight-inch thick concrete, while the upper walls are six inches thick. The roof is made using special trusses and beams sheeted with five-layer plywood. The exterior of the house is all made from non-flammable and highly weather-resistant materials, including stone and stucco topped with a steel roof.


© A. Chute

The result is a house that is built like a fortress, that is fire retardant and that uses nature to assist in both heating in winter and cooling in summer. All of the windows and doors have Low-E Argon filled dual pane glass. All portions of exterior walls below grade are wrapped in a special fabric and covered with three coats of waterproofing sealant. As the house is sited on a moderate slope, the uphill side has a French drain at the base of the footings to prevent hydrostatic pressure buildup and potential water leakage. Interior walls are smooth drywall. Interior doors are solid.


© A. Chute

The extensive kitchen cabinetry was all custom built of clear, hard maple. Even the inside of the drawers are made from ¾ inch maple. Top of the line hardware was used throughout.

Kitchen cabinet design, wood and hardware are matched in other built-in cabinetry throughout the main living area.


© A. Chute


Custom-made masonry countertops provide very attractive and extremely durable surfaces on all base cabinets as well as the breakfast bar. These smooth, heavy countertops offer the elegance of natural stone, but without the maintenance, fragility (chipping and cracking) and other disadvantages.



© A. Chute


The living area is accented by a complimentary and flexible combination of electrical and natural lighting. A variety of canister, pendant and work-station lights, as well as floor and table lamps, provide the ability to control lighting in a vast set of combinations while offering maximum energy efficiency.


© A. Chute


Add to this the abundance of natural light made possible by 9.5 foot-high ceilings throughout. As can be seen in the photos, window-glass is everywhere. Note in the photo above, as well as other photos of the home’s interior, the row of clerestory windows above the wall cabinets that wash the high ceilings with light. Use of these windows is replicated in the sunroom, master bedroom and elsewhere. While not a commonly found design feature, the added daytime brightness provided by the extensive use of glass doors and windows, including these clerestory windows, is quite noticeable and welcomed.

More Than a Residence?

While Sundance Estate has been used as a primary and secondary family residence, it was designed to serve a variety of functions and be used to meet a number of needs. Some of the non-private family residence uses for the estate are:

Company or Business Retreat Center – while functioning as a private family residence Sundance Estate has also served as the setting for a number of business meetings and company retreats.

  • By simply rearranging the furniture in a few rooms, a very functional conference table arrangement with numerous breakout rooms is created. The door placement in the main estate house allows caterers to enter and serve food on the island that separates the kitchen area from the conference table area without disturbing meeting activities. The decks, sunrooms and exercise room provide for easy entertainment during breaks and after hours.
  • The office provides an area for company executives and staff to stay connected with company headquarters and clients as needed. The location is served by 4G-telephone and Internet service.
  • Very nice additional lodging arrangements are available within a few minutes of the estate. Several high quality resort restaurants are also available a few minutes away on the shores of Priest Lake.
  • The guesthouse located a few minutes away from the main house (walking or driving), and that comes as part of the estate, can serve as a caretaker’s residence or be used as additional lodging for company executives or staff.
  • This setting is ideal for retreats and meetings where being away from the normal company setting is beneficial. The company yacht can be moored at a deep-water marina that has been reserved for the buyer and is located just minutes from Sundance Estate.
  • The company that buys Sundance Estate can also use it for getaway vacations for their executive staff or bonuses for company superstars as well as perks for special clients. Easily convertible furniture allows the company the option of a multi-use facility within reasonable proximity of an international airport; the lake offers small-plane landing strips and float-plane access while heliports at the lake and the estate offer yet other travel options.

Artist/Authors Quiet Workplace/Getaway – Sundance Estate is the perfect setting for the artist or writer.

  • The overall setting is quiet and secluded overlooking both Lee Lake, a 20 thousand year old lake left by the last ice age, and a large meadow with Sundance Mountain towering in the distance.
  • The house already has spaces laid out for doing art or craft. There is a spacious art or craft room with large north facing windows for perfect light. This room has a companion room with a utility sink that is equipped with 220-volt power to handle a kiln or other high-energy devices. This craft area has been used as a studio for creating wearable fabric art and wall hangings with the companion room used to hand dye and paint special fabrics. There is also a workshop wired with ample electric power and configured to do almost any type of wood or metal work or restoration of antiques, wood boats or vintage automobiles. Additionally, for very large projects there is a 30-foot X 40-foot insulated building a short distance from the main house that is wired with sufficient electricity for most any purpose.
  • For writers, the house abounds with settings conducive to writing from glassed in rooms surrounded by nature, to a large deck with 270-degree views, to shaded patios, to offices totally secluded from all external stimuli.
  • Including the guesthouse, there is ample bedroom and workspace available to have fellow artists, companions and guests in residence with no congestion.

Exclusive, Private Convalescent Center – This estate is suitably designed to serve as a convalescent center to meet the needs of highly discriminating individuals who need or want privacy.

  • All doors are 36 inches in width to allow for wheel chair use throughout. A low-sloping wheel chair ramp could easily be fitted to the three low steps at the main house entrance.
  • All rooms are wired for sound and television making for convenient entertainment. The exercise room can easily be fitted for the necessary therapeutic equipment for rehabilitation.
  • A fully outfitted kitchen makes for ease of preparation of any type of dietary requirement.
  • Last but not least, the physical setting is absolutely perfect for any type of rehabilitation and convalescence, mental or physical.

House Infrastructure

Heating and Cooling System This home uses a hydronic heating system that is embedded in the floors throughout the house. Special PEX tubing designed for in floor heating systems was used throughout.


© A. Chute


Each room is thermostatically controlled to assure exact temperature control on a room-by-room basis. The hot water for this system is supplied by a Tarm (Danish designed) boiler that is designed to burn either wood or propane gas.

This highly efficient heating system uses wood or propane to heat stored water than is then circulated throughout the house via tubing embedded in floors in each room. It is silent, clean comfortable and dependable.
When burning wood, this high efficiency boiler burns at temperatures sufficiently hot that all smoke is vaporized so no smoke goes into the atmosphere. The high-efficiency boiler is paired with a 1,000 gallon insulated water storage tank. When burning the boiler, all excess heat not needed to heat the house is stored in the tank for use later when the boiler is off. This water storage tank also supplies hot water for the house.

When one is not present to feed the wood boiler, an automatic propane gas burner kicks on to keep the house at the set temperature. The boiler and storage tank are located in the garage where there is also sufficient space to store enough wood to keep the house heated for an entire winter in addition to housing the automobiles. A 1,000-gallon propane tank is strategically located near the garage to assure ample energy availability.


© A. Chute


In summer the house is kept cool by a huge attic fan that pulls air through each open window and out through the attic vents. Because the house is so well insulated and contains so much mass, running the fan each night keeps the house cool and comfortable all the next day. Nighttime temperatures in the dead of summer routinely drop to 50 degrees. Insulated air cell shades have been installed throughout the house for use as appropriate.

A considerable supply of firewood may be stored in the garage adjacent to the furnace room. The storage building and equipment shed offer a vast amount of additional covered storage.

When living in the house over the winter, it is typical to keep the house at 70 degrees while consuming only 4 ½ cords of wood in the boiler for the entire winter. If one purchased split hardwood it would cost about $120/cord.

This home is clean, green, comfortable and energy efficient by design.
Under that scenario, the only propane consumed is for the cooking range and the gas fireplace if desired.

The boiler’s pumps and fans require electricity, but usage is quite low. Cost of electricity at this location has historically run between $70 to $125 per month. A solar collector in the greenhouse keeps the water tank up to temperature for domestic hot water use during the spring, summer and fall and helps capture solar heat in the winter months.

Electrical Power Two – 200 ampere electric panels provide ample power for the house, garage and storage building. Any device from a ceramic kiln to a metal welder, swimming pool heater to hobby tools can easily be powered. There is also a 22.5KVA Generac backup generator that is wired into the system and can be set to automatically come on when the power from the Northern Lights Electrical Power Cooperative is interrupted for any reason. An internal combustion engine that is fueled by the propane tank powers the generator; therefore, there is no need to store fuel in gas cans or need to regularly refill your generator’s fuel tank. Additionally, the generator starts up and generates electricity when a power outage is detected – whether anyone is home or not.


This house is designed for one to be as self-sufficient as desired. In addition to the propane backup for both the heating/cooling and electrical systems, a fresh water well and a septic system make you independent of outside services.

Self-sufficiency supports both individual freedom and independence.
Add to this the ability to raise one’s own food and provide one’s own heating wood enables a level of security and peace of mind afforded to relatively few US citizens. The ability to do so in a pristine environment and luxurious living quarters is very rare indeed. Neighbors and services are important compliments to self-sufficiency. Activities that owners do not wish to do themselves, such as gathering firewood, can readily be contracted for locally. A full range of services and craftsmen are available locally to homeowners.

Layout of the Residence Interior and of the Immediate Grounds:

Upper Level – The design goal was to have a house that feels spacious and cozy at the same time. The layout of the house lends itself to easy flexibility. For example, it is possible to have 3, 4 or 5 bedrooms. Most rooms can change function by simply changing furniture. The home currently configured is as an ideal entertainment/retirement home with three bedrooms.
The upper level is an open-space design housing the kitchen, living and dining rooms with intimate reading or conversation areas also available, a dining area and a gas fireplace. The upper level also includes a sunroom surrounded by a deck facing the mountains, the meadow and the lake; three sets of French doors provide access to the living area and to the deck. A master bedroom and bath, a laundry room, a powder room, an office and an enclosed breezeway to the garage round out the upper floor. The lower level contains an intimate movie theatre with a wood-burning fireplace, guest bedrooms, a large artist studio/craft room plus an exercise room, two outdoor covered patios, a mini kitchenette/bar and loads of storage.

Some photos of the upper level main living area or great room, including the kitchen, appeared earlier. This is the “hub” of the house with spectacular views and access to the deck. It is where most activity takes place and people gather. There are many quiet places to be in the house, including the adjacent sunroom, but this is where all things converge.


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The master bedroom and bath suite, also with great views and deck access, share the upper level as well.


© A. Chute

Lower Level

Toward the front of the house, the lower level is below grade. To the rear is a view of the lake, forest and meadow and two, covered patio areas. On the utilitarian side is a very large storage area, a passageway with addition shelving storage and plumbing valves for all areas of hydronic floor heat. The passageway leads to a large workshop and inside access to the attached greenhouse.

Personal Space


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An oak staircase leads to the lower level, a portion of which is below grade and so provides additional summer cooling naturally. The moose on the mantle are there just in case you need one!

The oak staircase from the upper level arrives in a quiet, intimate space. Currently functioning as a home theatre, this room could serve a variety of other purposes such as a study or an office that allows a convenient way to have quiet isolation for writing, conversation or other activities, including the home theatre as was originally planned.


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Like a hub of the lower-level living area, two bedrooms, a full bath, the crafts room and the storage area mentioned above surround this room. It offers the unique advantage of being close to other activities occurring throughout the house, yet insulated from them at the same time.


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Behind the couch, a glass door leads into a lower-level sunroom. Although currently used as a spare bedroom, as shown in photo below, this room and others in the house could easily be configured for other uses.

Bedrooms and Bathroom

While currently furnished as bedrooms, they could easily be repurposed. The lower level also has an elegant and spacious bath with a tub, shower, dual sinks and natural light.

Natural light abounds


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© A. Chute


Easy access to the patio.




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This house was designed as the ideal home where you can engage in any and all of your art or craft fantasies.


© A. Chute

A 30 X 24 ft. workshop with a large rollup door is currently being used as a woodworking shop, but can just as easily be the place where you restore that old wooden Chris Craft or a vintage automobile. In either case, the roll-up door provides great access. By sharing a common wall with the large greenhouse, the workshop remains warm and cozy. Even in the winter, opening the door to the greenhouse “opens” the workshop by bringing in natural light and warmth, even though the workshop enjoys the same in-floor hydronic heating found throughout the house (heating zones can be individually controlled).

This workshop is located under the automobile garage and can be accessed from the lower level of the house, from the garage above or through the attached greenhouse.


© A. Chute

Art Studio or Craft Workshop



© A. Chute

This versatile room can be configured to accommodate a wide variety of arts or crafts.

Currently it is used for quilting and fabric art.


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The art studio/craft room on the lower level has large, tall windows that provide perfect north light to paint, sculpt, throw pots or engage in other artistic endeavors. The room also has a large room with an industrial sink for cleaning up or dying fabric etc. This room has 220 volt wiring which could be used for an electric kiln for pottery.


Examples of the creative work done in this studio are on display throughout the house.


© A. Chute

Greenhouse and Gardens

A 30 X 12 ft. greenhouse is attached to the south side of the garage/workshop. This is located on the backside of the garage and can be accessed through the workshop or from the back yard.


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The greenhouse is quite spacious and able to satisfy the most ardent gardener. The large drums in the photo serve as both the base for shelves and as heat storage. Each drum can be filled with a freeze-proof mixture of water and antifreeze. During the day the black drums will absorb and store solar heat. After sunset, the drums will release the stored heat to moderate temperatures in the greenhouse.

The greenhouse is constructed of commercial quality; made with tempered glass for safety, has a cement floor and is wired with electricity for grow lights or to operate any power tool. It has an exhaust fan, a sink and a floor drain.


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Just a few yards from the greenhouse are two raised bed vegetable gardening areas plus a fenced berry patch with mature blueberries, strawberries and raspberries and two flower gardens. Plants are started in the greenhouse and transferred to the raised bed gardens or decorative pots on the decks and front porch as desired.

Additional Storage Buildings

There is a 30 ft. X 40 ft. steel storage building, color-matched to that of the house, tucked in against the forest behind the house. This building has a large roll up door (12 ft. wide X 12 ft. high) on the front of the building to handle any motor home, boat or other vehicle or piece of equipment.


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There is also another 12 ft. X 12 ft. sliding door on the side of the building as well as a person door. The building is insulated and is wired, including overhead lights. The floors are made of concrete, are six inches thick and are buttressed with reinforcing steel to assure the strength to handle any vehicle.


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An additional open-sided storage building is located a few yards away. Designed as an equipment shed, it has 5, 8 ft. X 12 ft. bays to store snow machines, all-terrain vehicles, mowers, snow plows etc.


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It also can be used to store extra firewood.

Beyond the Immediate Grounds

Although described previously in the Sundance Estate and Acreage section, the site of the residence blends so seamlessly into the expanse of the larger estate and state forests beyond that another mention is warranted here.


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This 105 acre estate includes approximately 50 acres of meadow suitable for a horse farm or small cattle operation. The meadow contains a variety of grasses and is currently hayed by a local farmer each summer.


There are approximately 35 acres of mature forest with a variety of coniferous trees as well as Birch, Aspen, Alder and Vine Maple. The forest was last harvested with a marked cut in the late 1990s.


A special feature of the property that has not been mentioned earlier is the additional residence or guesthouse site. Approximately ¼ mile through the trees from the main house is the guesthouse site with a great view of both Lee Lake Sundance Mountain.


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Eventual plans call for a wooden walkway connecting the guesthouse and the main residence. Site preparation for the guesthouse is complete and includes a well that produces 60 gallons of water per minute. Concrete footings for the guesthouse and the basement walls are already in place and a 24ft. X 30ft. steel storage building has been constructed several yards away. The guesthouse will be completed to suit the buyer, using existing house plans in the colors, flooring type and appliance type and color desired.

Marina Boat Slip

Blue Diamond Marina is beautifully located near the Sundance Estate in Cavanaugh Bay about five miles by water from the lakeside town of Coolin on Priest Lake. That’s just a short drive from the Sundance for deep-water mooring. The Blue Diamond Marina boat slips are built to accommodate large powerboats, houseboats and sail boats in this pristine water.


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If desired, a deepwater boat slip (pre-paid for a full year) will be provided at the Blue Diamond Marina for the new owner of the Sundance Estate property.

While full service marinas can accommodate most boating requirements, permanent deep-water boat slips such as these at Blue Diamond in Cavanaugh Bay are highly coveted. The water beneath these docks is 90-feet deep.


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Prospective Buyer

If you have arrived here, I assume you have some degree of serious interest in further exploring the offer to purchase Sundance Estate. I hope you have thoroughly explored this website as it contains a good deal of information about this property.

All of the 105 acres of Sundance Estate, including the environmentally friendly house primary residence are offered collectively for $4.99 Million ($4,990,000) USD. However, subsets are available. You may want to consider the Purchase Alternatives while they are still options.

I am also open to Owner-Carry a negotiated portion of the full sales price. Please contact me or my agent to discuss owner-carry.

Dr. Donald Cordes




RE License #40-243

Dwayne Parsons, Realtor


Office 1.509.808.4822


Professional Realty Services Idaho

714 W. Appleway, Ste 102

Coeur d’Alene, ID, 83814

Sundance Estate was my dream for many years. I have owned this property for more than 30 years. I ultimately designed, built and lived in this very special place. I am only willing to sell Sundance because my wife needs to be very close to special medical care. I want someone to buy Sundance who will love and enjoy it as much as I have. I would love to discuss Sundance Estate with you; I know you likely have questions. Please feel welcome to contact me at your convenience.

Thank you for your interest in Sundance Estate; I look forward to talking with you.


Dr. Donald Cordes

Acknowledgements and Credits
We are grateful to the following individuals, organizations and businesses
who so generously provided photographs and images in this document.

Buena Vista Studios
Tom and Arlina Holman
1840 Reeder Creek Road, Nordman, ID 83848
P.O. Box 515
Office 208.443.3309 Cell 208.290.2928

Priest Lake Chamber of Commerce
2013 | PO Box 174 Coolin, ID 83821
Phone: 208.443.3191 Toll Free: 888.774.3785

Hill’s Resort
4777 West Lakeshore Road
Priest Lake, Idaho 83856

Old Northern Inn
Coolin (Priest Lake), ID 83821
PO Box 177
208.443.2426 [May 15-October 15]
571.251.5107 [off season]

Blue Diamond Marina and Resort
958 Blue Diamond Road
PO Box 190, Coolin, Idaho 83821
208.443.2240 or 800.337.4537
Email: info@bluediamondmarina.com;
Facebook www.facebook.com/bluediamondmarina

The Idaho Fisherman
Rich Lindsey
Priest Lake, Idaho

Alan Chute

The International Selkirk Loop

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