Camping in Idaho

      Your guide to camping life in Idaho.

      Your Go-To Idaho Camping Guide

      Idaho isn’t your average camping trip – it’s an escape to an outdoor wonderland. Think towering mountains scraping the sky, sparkling lakes reflecting endless shades of blue, and lush forests whispering secrets in the breeze.

      Whether you’re a rugged backpacker chasing epic adventures or a family seeking starry nights and campfire singalongs, Idaho has a campsite with your name on it. Across kayaking across pristine waters, reeling in feisty trout, or roasting marshmallows under a blanket of stars, you know you’re living the Idaho camping dream.

      Best Places To Camp In Idaho

      Sawtooth National Recreation Area

      Encompassing over 750,000 acres of rugged mountains, pristine lakes, and dense forests, the SNRA is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Popular camping spots include Redfish Lake, Stanley Lake, and Petit Lake, all offering stunning scenery and access to hiking, fishing, boating, and kayaking. Be prepared for cooler temperatures and potential snowfall at higher elevations,

      Sawtooth National Recreation Area Idaho


      This charming resort town offers a variety of camping options, from developed campgrounds to rustic cabins and RV parks. Enjoy water activities like boating, fishing, and swimming on Payette Lake, or explore the surrounding mountains on hiking and biking trails. McCall also boasts a vibrant downtown with shops, restaurants, and events.

      McCall Idaho

      Coeur d’Alene

      This scenic city offers a mix of urban amenities and outdoor recreation. Campgrounds around Lake Coeur d’Alene provide stunning lakefront views and access to water activities like boating, fishing, and swimming. Explore the nearby Coeur d’Alene National Forest for hiking, biking, and scenic drives.

      Coeur d'Alene Idaho

      Yellowstone National Park

      While primarily located in Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park spills over into eastern Idaho, offering unique camping opportunities within the park boundaries. Immerse yourself in the park’s geothermal wonders, including geysers, mud pots, and hot springs. Be prepared for crowds and make reservations well in advance.

      Yellowstone National Park Idaho

      Hells Canyon National Recreation Area

      A remote and rugged area featuring the deepest canyon in North America, this is a must-visit location on your tour of Idaho. Camping options are limited but offer breathtaking views of the canyon and access to whitewater rafting, hiking, and fishing. Be prepared for challenging terrain and limited amenities.

      Hells Canyon National Recreation Area Idaho

      Things To Do In Idaho

      Shoshone Falls

      Feel the spray of the "Niagara of the West" as you witness the mighty Shoshone Falls plunge 212 feet into Snake River Canyon. Hike the Canyon Rim Trail for panoramic views or take a thrilling boat tour beneath the cascading water. During spring runoff, the falls transform into a roaring spectacle, leaving you breathless.

      Hells Canyon

      Embark on an adventure into the deepest canyon in North America, rivaling the Grand Canyon's majesty. Alternatively, challenge yourself on a whitewater rafting expedition, navigating exhilarating rapids and soaking in the untouched wilderness.

      Coeur d'Alene Lake

      The turquoise paradise of Coeur d'Alene Lake is a 33-mile-long haven for water enthusiasts. Kayak or paddleboard across its crystal-clear waters, marveling at the majestic Coeur d'Alene Mountains reflected on the surface. Explore charming lakeside towns like Coeur d'Alene and Harrison, bustling with art galleries, shops, and restaurants. Hike scenic trails like Tubbs Hill for panoramic views, or simply relax on the shores and soak in the tranquility.

      Old Idaho Penitentiary

      Once the most secure prison west of the Mississippi, take a chilling step back in time at the Old Idaho Penitentiary. Explore the eerie cell blocks, gallows, and solitary confinement wing, each echoing with whispers of the past. Guided tours unveil the harsh realities of prison life and the stories of inmates who once walked these halls.

      Basque Block in Boise

      Immerse yourself in the vibrant heart of the Basque community in Boise's historic Basque Block. Savor the warmth and authenticity of family-run restaurants serving traditional Basque cuisine like "alubias" (Basque beans) and "chorizo" (spiced sausage). Browse unique Basque-inspired souvenirs and witness traditional dance performances, experiencing the rich cultural heritage firsthand.

      Lewiston Orchards

      Spring festivals celebrate the region's agricultural heritage, offering live music, delicious food, and family-friendly activities. Witness the springtime explosion of color in the Lewiston Orchards, where rolling hills transform into a picturesque sea of blooming apple, pear, and cherry trees. While you’re there, breathe in the sweet fragrance of blossoms, pick your own fresh fruit, and savor the bounty of the harvest at vibrant farmers’ markets.

      World Center for Birds of Prey

      Witness the power and beauty of birds of prey at this internationally renowned center, home to over 200 magnificent birds from around the globe. Watch awe-inspiring free-flying demonstrations showcasing the incredible hunting skills of eagles, falcons, owls, and hawks. Learn about raptor conservation efforts and even have the opportunity to interact with these majestic creatures, creating an unforgettable experience.

      Silverwood Theme Park

      Unleash your inner child at Silverwood Theme Park, a land of electrifying roller coasters, water rides, live shows, and family-friendly attractions in Athol. Scream your heart out on the record-breaking "Aftershock" coaster, take a relaxing spin on the classic Ferris wheel, or cool off at Boulder Beach Water Park with exciting slides and splash pools. Silverwood promises a day of laughter, thrills, and memories for all ages.

      Salmon River

      A legendary whitewater paradise renowned for its challenging rapids and stunning scenery, paddle through dramatic canyons carved by millions of years of water flow, navigate exhilarating whitewater sections, and marvel at the untouched wilderness surrounding you. This adrenaline-pumping journey is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts seeking an unforgettable challenge.

      Bruneau Dunes State Park

      Walk over towering sand dunes reminiscent of the Sahara Desert in the heart of Idaho. Climb to the top for panoramic views of the Snake River Plain, rent a sandboard for a thrilling ride down the dunes, or explore the otherworldly landscape on horseback.

      Shoshone-Bannock National Bison Range

      Learn about the cultural significance of bison to the Shoshone-Bannock tribes and witness a unique conservation effort at this wildlife sanctuary. Observe majestic bison herds roaming freely across the plains, and delve into the rich history and cultural practices of the indigenous communities.

      Lewiston Carnegie Library

      A stunning architectural masterpiece housing a diverse collection of books, historical artifacts, and exhibits showcasing the region's rich history, discover a hidden gem in Lewiston's Carnegie Library. Attend author talks, participate in educational programs, and appreciate the library's unique architectural features.

      Featured Idaho Parks

      Inspiration From Our Nearby States

      Book an RV in Idaho

      Craving adventure under the vast Idaho sky? Ditch the itinerary constraints and explore the Gem State's hidden gems at your own pace with an RV rental. Hike, fish, ski, or simply soak in the serenity – Idaho's diverse landscapes offer adventure for every soul. Don't miss out on the freedom and flexibility an RV provides – book your unforgettable Idaho escape today!

      Frequently Asked Questions

      No, unfortunately, you can't just pitch your tent anywhere in Idaho. Camping is allowed in designated campgrounds and specific areas on public lands managed by different agencies. Each agency has its own rules and regulations, so it's crucial to research where you plan to camp beforehand.

      Absolutely! Idaho boasts diverse landscapes, from majestic mountains and forests to pristine lakes and unique volcanic terrains. This variety offers diverse camping experiences, from rustic dispersed camping to comfortable developed campgrounds.

      With mild spring and fall seasons, pleasant summer evenings, and even unique winter camping options, Idaho caters to various camping styles and preferences.

      Spring (May-June) and fall (September-October) offer mild temperatures and fewer crowds. Summer (July-August) is peak season with hot days and cool nights, but be prepared for potential thunderstorms. Winter camping is an option in some areas, but requires proper gear and experience.

      Several options exist for free camping in Idaho, but remember, "free" often comes with limitations:

      • Dispersed camping: This allows camping outside designated campgrounds on specific public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or Forest Service. Check regulations and limitations like stay limits and fire restrictions, as they vary by location.
      • Primitive campgrounds: Some public lands offer basic amenities like fire rings and picnic tables without charging fees. Research availability and restrictions.
      • National Forests: Some National Forests allow dispersed camping in specific areas. Verify regulations and obtain any required permits.

      Yes, be bear aware and practice proper food storage and campsite hygiene. Research bear safety measures specific to your chosen location.

      Fishing licenses and boating permits are required in most cases. Check regulations and obtain necessary permits beforehand.

      Go whitewater rafting on the Salmon River, explore volcanic landscapes at Craters of the Moon, soak in natural hot springs, or embark on scenic hikes in diverse mountains and forests.

      Reservation procedures depend on the type of camping you choose:

      • Developed campgrounds: Many state parks and some national forests offer online reservation systems. Book well in advance during peak season.
      • Private campgrounds: These operate independently and have their own booking procedures. Check their websites or contact them directly.
      • Dispersed camping: Reservations are typically not required for dispersed camping, but permits might be needed depending on the area and duration of your stay. Obtain them from the managing agency beforehand.

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