Best Campsites in Idaho

by Emily Morgan
best-campsites-in-idaho
Photo by: Ron and Patty Thomas

These campsites in Idaho prove there is no shortage of idyllic places for you to pitch a tent or park an RV. With 35 million acres of public land, tons of private campgrounds, and backcountry sites, Idaho is the place to be for an avid adventurer. From waterfront spots to campsites situated at the base of craggy mountain peaks, camping in the state’s scenic locations is the best way to explore Idaho’s natural wonders of the state.

From state parks to protected forests, you’ll have plenty of options for where you want to lay your head. As for landscapes, one day, campers can be in lush forested areas, and the next be near massive sand dunes.

Idaho is also home to waterfalls higher than Niagara, miles of practically untouched forests, thermal hot springs, and stunning sand dunes. In addition, there are seven national parks in the Gem State, and it’s also the 7th least densely populated state in the country. As a result, these campsites in Idaho are chock full of mountains, lakes, forests, and peaceful land where you’ll be in awe of the natural serenity and tranquil setting.

Although the state doesn’t garner as much tourism as other states, its scenery makes it a top contender for any outdoor lover. Below, we’re breaking down some of our favorite campsites in Idaho to make the most of your experience.

Lava Flow Campground

For an alien-esque feel for your camping adventure

Location: Arco, Idaho
Campground Contact: (208) 527-1300
Park Hours: Open 24 hours
Campground Website

For a genuinely otherworldly campsite experience in Idaho, we’re kicking things off with the Lava Flow Campground at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. As the name suggests, you can camp surrounded by a young lava flow and molten basaltic rock. Here, eight separate eruption periods took place 1,500 to 2,000 years ago and created a lava field that covers 618 square miles in the southern part of the state. The campground’s past has manifested by deep cracks in the Earth, making it an unforgettable sight.

Both campsites and RV spots are available here. It’s important to note that sites here are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The campground typically books up in the summer, so it’s best to arrive early to get your spot.

It’s also important to add that heavy winds blow through the campground in the afternoon, making it necessary to tether anything to the ground that might fly away.

Campground Breakdown:
• 42 Total Sites
• Sites from May – October: $15 per night
• Sites during Shoulder Season (typically in April and November): $8 per night
• No campsite fee from March – November
• Campsites are limited to a maximum of 8 people, 2 tents, and 2 vehicles

Lava Flow Amenities: Food storage lockers, vault toilets, showers, leashed pets allowed, picnic tables

Learn more about Lava Flow Campground Here

Farragut State Park

For those looking to practice their disc golf game

• Location: Athol, Idaho
Campground Contact: (208) 683-2425
Park Hours: Open daily from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Campground Website

Located on the southern tip of Lake Pend Oreille, one of the best lakes in Idaho, Farragut State Park is a camping haven.

Over 40 miles of trails for you to explore at Farragut State Park

This enormous state park offers over 200 individual campsites in Idaho that are spread out throughout numerous campgrounds. However, it’s not just the plethora of tent and RV camping that makes this a popular place for camping. The park’s unrivaled scenery brings in a ton of campers each year, especially in the summer.

Campers can indulge in fishing, boating, and hiking the shoreline trails. In addition, 40 miles of trails expand throughout the rest of the park, perfect for hikers, bikers, and equestrians. In addition, it’s also an oasis for disc golfers with five courses.

Farragut State Park also used to be the former site of the Farragut Naval Training Station. Lake Pend Oreille’s plunging waters are still the home of a submarine research station. You can learn more about the park’s military history at the on-site museum.

Many of the campsites at Farragut are within one of four large campgrounds. Tent campers and those with RVs are welcome here, and campgrounds have bathhouses and flushing toilets.

Reservations are also available six months ahead, and park officials recommend you plan ahead of time for the summer season. Cabins, group campgrounds, and equestrian campgrounds are also available.

Campground Breakdown:
• Basic Sites: $48 per night
• Equestrian Sites: $48 per night
• Electric Sites: $60 per night
• Companion Electric Sites: $120 per night
• Full Hook-Up Sites: $64 per night
• Cabins: $65-$70 per night
• Group Camps: $55-$165 per night

Farragut State Park Amenities: Leashed pets allowed, firewood available, potable water, toilets, showers, picnic tables

Reserve a Farragut Lake Campsite Here

Ponderosa State Park

For those who want to camp amongst towering pines

Location: Valley County, Idaho
Campground Contact:  (208) 634-2164
Park Hours: Open 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Campground Website

Ponderosa State Park is set in the blissful resort town of McCall. It’s also perched on a thousand-acre peninsula on Payette Lake. Tall ponderosa pines line the shoreline, providing shade and privacy – making it one of our favorite campsites in Idaho. The campground’s beach is also perfect for those who want to practice their cannonballs. In addition, kayak and canoe rentals are available. Back on land, campers will also be delighted to hike trails that expand throughout the park.

As for accommodations, four different camping and overnight areas are in the park. Peninsula Campground, the largest campground, is near the park entrance and shore of Payette Lake. The campground has over 110 sites that can welcome tents and RVs, with electric hookups available. In addition, the RV Group Campground is near the park’s entrance and has an extra 50 sites.

On the north side of Payette Lake, the Northwest Passage Campground is a heavily-used spot for tent campers. This primitive campground has 22 first-come, first-served sites offering more seclusion.

The park also features five deluxe lakeside cabins. These fully furnished cabins are also stocked with supplies and bedding, requiring visitors only to bring their food.

Campground Breakdown:
• Basic Campsite: $48 per night
• Electric Campsite: $60 per night
• Full Hook-Up Campsite: $64 per night
• Companion Campsite: $128 per night
• Deluxe Cabins: Prices range from $125- $180 per night (Click here for more details on cabins)

Ponderosa State Park Amenities: Boat ramp/launch, picnic tables, charcoal grills, fire rings, firewood sales, flush toilets, bathhouses, potable water, leashed pets allowed

Reserve a Ponderosa State Park Campsite Here

 Bruneau Dunes State Park

For sledding on sand and seeing stars

Location: Owyhee County, Idaho
Campground Contact: (208) 366-7919
Park Hours: Open daily from 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Campground Website

Firstly, we’re here to set you straight if you thought desert and Idaho were two words you’d never see in the same sentence. While the state is full of lush forests and serene lakes, it’s also home to something that resembles the Sahara Desert. The Bruneau Dunes are also the tallest freestanding sand dune in North America. These dunes also transform into your own personal sandbox for you to explore. Here, you can slide, sled, and bask in the spectacle of the dunes.

After you’re done frolicking on the dunes, you can then retreat to one of the 120 campsites that give you your own observatory to see the night sky’s countless stars.

In addition, two campgrounds at Bruneau Dunes have spots for tents and RVs. The Broken Wheel This

This Idaho campsite has 50 spots split between electric and non-electric sites. A short drive away, Eagle Cove Campground has an additional 50 sites with similar accommodations. Both campgrounds are also within walking or short driving distance of the dunes. Campers can explore the dunes or fish for bluegill in the nearby ponds.

Close by, the Bruneau Dunes Observatory is also open to the public on the weekends. This public observatory also lets visitors get a better look at the starry night sky and Milky Way.

Campground Breakdown:
• Basic campsites: $17 per night
• Electric campsites: $29 per night
• Equestrian campsites: $17 per night
Cabins: $65 per night

Bruneau Dunes Amenities: Charcoal grills, fire rings, firewood sales, flush toilets, bathhouse, picnic tables, leashed pets allowed

Reserve a Bruneau Dunes Campsite Here

Falls Campground

For camping near one of Idaho’s iconic waterfalls

Location: Located in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest in Irwin, Idaho
Campground Contact: (208) 270-0150
Park Hours: Open 24 hours
Campground Website

Falls Campground is located next to the Snake River in the gorgeous Swan Valley at an elevation of 5,100 feet. The campground is also located in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, which covers much of Eastern Idaho and borders the state of Wyoming. These dense forests and rivers are also adjacent to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park.

The campground features 24 campsites that cater to both tent and RV camping. However, this campground’s real draw is the nearby Falls Creek Falls, one of the most famous waterfalls in Idaho and just a quarter mile from the campground. The scenic waterfall plunges 60 feet over the river’s edge— it’s even visible from some campsites.

Visitors can also enjoy fishing and canoeing on the river and wildlife viewing. In addition, the campground is situated alongside the Snake River among cottonwood trees, giving visitors partial shade. For scenery, grassy meadows and native wildflowers pop up, and campers also spot eagles, osprey, moose, and deer.

Campground Breakdown:
• 24 Total Sites
• Single Sites: $12 per night
• Double Sites: $24 per night
•Group Sites: $50 per night for up to 35 people, $1 per person thereafter

Falls Campground Amenities: Potable water, vault toilets, boat ramp, picnic tables, leashed pets allowed, firewood for sale

Reserve a Falls Campsite Here

Salmon River Campground

For fishing and wildlife viewing

Location: Located in the Sawtooth National Forest
Campground Contact: (208) 774-3000
Park Hours: Open 24 hours
Campground Website

The Salmon River Campground is located near Idaho’s Highway 75, close to the town of Stanley. It’s also in the Sawtooth National Forest.

However, it brings in people from all over for its famed hot springs. The dry hills and environment are dotted with lodgepole pines. South Fork Salmon River Campground is also near the Middle Fork Salmon River and several lakes and creeks. It’s excellent for water activities such as kayaking, canoeing, or fishing.

For campers, you’ll have eleven campsites to choose from that are shaded by pines with plenty of nearby wildlife and recreational opportunities.  Visitors also might catch a glimpse of various wildlife including bears, deer, elk, fox, grouse, eagles, osprey, grosbeaks, whooping cranes, and otters.

The sites are first-come, first-served and Idaho’s Forest Service also recommends planning well in advance. Campgrounds can also be booked six months in advance. According to the agency, any reservable campsite will book out for the entire summer by March. Therefore, planning is required to secure a campsite reservation in the Sawtooths.

Campground Breakdown:
• 30 Sites in Total: $16 per night
• 1 Double Site: $32 per night
• Salmon River is also a fee campground so make sure to bring cash or a check

Salmon River Amenities: Picnic tables, leashed pets allowed, toilets, firewood available

Learn More About Salmon River Campground Here

Lake Cascade State Park

For unrivaled sunsets

Location: Located in Cascade, Idaho
Campground Contact: (208) 382-6544
Park Hours: Open daily from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Campground Website

Located 75 miles north of Boise, Lake Cascade is a recreational paradise open year-round. With 86 miles of shoreline, visitors will love seeing the North Fork Mountains in the background. The peaceful, tranquil waters attract boaters, anglers, and also windsurfers. The state park surrounding its namesake lake operates a dozen different campgrounds with over 230 campsites altogether.

Meanwhile, campsites sit on the southeast and northwest side of the lake. It’s also important to note that Poison Creek and Ridgeline Campgrounds are the only two that offer full hookup RV spots. The rest of the developed campgrounds at the lake are non-electric and accommodate both tents and RVs.

Regardless, all campsites at Lake Cascade have access to the water and nearby boat docks, and many, such as Van Wyck Campground, have beach access that is great for swimming. After a day of exploring, you can also enjoy sunsets from either side of the lake.

Campground Breakdown:
• 158 Basic Sites: $14-$26 per night
• 15 Companion Basic Sites: $46-$49 per night
• 5 Companion Electric Sites: $56-$59
• 14 Electric Sites: $18-$31 per night
• 27 Full Hook-up Sites: $28-$32 per night
• 1 Group Camp: $50-$125 per night

Lake Cascade Amenities: Bathhouses, picnic tables, grills, leashed pets allowed, boat ramp, firewood for sale, potable water

Reserve a Lake Cascade Campsite Here

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