The Best Locations for Camping in Idaho

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RV campsite on lake in Idaho

Other states in the Northwest may get more praise, but they don’t have much on camping in Idaho. With millions of acres of wilderness areas, it’s a wonderland for lovers of the outdoors. Yes, there are majestic mountains and crystal-clear rivers, streams, and lakes, but there’s a lot more to explore. Head to Idaho, and you’ll also discover charming resort towns, seven different casinos, and a budding winemaking scene.

There’s so much to experience in Idaho, indoors and out, that this is still just scratching the surface. But where do you start if you don’t know much about camping in Idaho? Don’t worry. Many others have gone before you. Just follow our lead, and we’ll direct you where to go and the best time of year to do it.

Are you ready to learn the ins and outs of camping in Idaho? Let’s go!

About the Gem State 

Idaho, which became a state in 1890, is just south of British Columbia and is surrounded by six other states. The origin of the name “Idaho” is kind of up for debate. For a long time, the common belief was that it was a Native American word that meant “gem of the mountains.”

However, the man who advocated statehood to Congress, George M. Willing, said he actually found inspiration from a little girl named Ida.

Despite that discrepancy, Idahoans have clung proudly to their homeland’s nickname, the Gem State. It references the state’s amazing natural beauty, and indeed many parts of Idaho shine like jewels.

Is Idaho Good for Camping? 

Being such scenic territory, camping in Idaho can be a spectacular experience. In addition to private campgrounds, there are numerous state and federal agencies that offer excellent facilities in gorgeous locations. These include the state parks system, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service (NPS), and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Most of these camping areas require a fee, but some are free. Many are fantastic places to enjoy the scenic wilderness and spend some time hiking, fishing, or kayaking. A few campsites are located on old mining sites, so there’s history to explore, too.

BLM boondocking campsite in Idaho along a river

The Best Time for Camping in Idaho

There are year-round recreation opportunities in Idaho, but, for most folks, part of the year is just too cold for camping. The most comfortable time of year for camping in Idaho is generally either late spring or summer. The southern part of the state has more of a desert climate, so it’s quite a bit warmer.

In central and northern Idaho, the elevations are higher, and in many mountain areas, campgrounds don’t open until May or later. It’s tempting to want to see the blooming wildflowers in early spring or catch the fall colors, but it’s risky.

The Best RV Camping Options in Idaho

If you’re looking for a primitive camping experience, Idaho won’t disappoint. You’ll also enjoy upgraded luxuries like a campground with a wine bar on-site or even its own brewpub!

1. Camp Coeur d’Alene

Address: 10588 E Wolf Lodge Bay Rd, Coeur d’Alene, ID 83814

In northern Idaho, this mountain resort area got its name from the French-Canadian fur trappers who once inhabited the region. It draws visitors from around the world and a quick getaway from the Spokane area.

Just a 15-minute drive from the resort town, this campground offers reliable RV accommodations and has access to the 30,000-acre lake. There are pull-through sites with full hookups and back-in sites with either full or partial.

In all, there are 96 RV spaces that can accommodate rigs up to 40 ft. There are also cabins and tent sites for rent while camping here in Idaho, and the campground has bathrooms, showers, and free firewood. The campground is open from May 1 to mid-October.

2. Soaring Hawk RV Resort

Address: 3201 ID-5, Plummer, ID 83851

Also, in Idaho’s Panhandle, this resort is very convenient to Coeur d’Alene, Heyburn State Park, and Silver Mountain Water Park. It’s fairly new, having opened just a few years ago.

About 30 miles south of Coeur d’Alene, this modern resort has level, spacious sites and full amenities except for sewer connections. There is, however, a dump station near the exit.

The campground’s lodge has a welcoming clubhouse feel, and there are clean restrooms with showers and an air-conditioned laundry room. There’s no cable, but the Wi-Fi is excellent. Soaring Hawk is open April 1 through October 1

Pro Tip: While you’re in Idaho, here’s Why You Should Road Trip to the Atomic City of Arco, Idaho!

view of the mountains at a camping location in Idaho.

3. Country Corners RV Park

Address: 17671 Oasis Rd, Caldwell, ID 83607

This area outside Boise is increasingly becoming known as Idaho’s Wine Country. There are three wineries nearby, two museums, and Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge.

The owners of Country Corners, Justin and Lisa Walker, pride themselves on providing attentive service to everyone camping in Idaho. So don’t be surprised if they personally escort you to your site.

They consider their place your home, not a truck stop. All sites are pull-throughs with full hookups. There are clean restrooms and showers, and extra touches include a dog run, free high-speed internet, and a community garden. 

4. Blue Lake RV Resort 

Address: 242 Blue Lake Rd, Naples, ID 83847

Farther north than Coeur d’Alene, this private campground is between the resort communities of Sandpoint and Bonners Ferry.  It has its own three-acre lake, which is about a hundred feet deep.

This rustic resort has 36 RV sites on 21 acres, each with its own fire pit and picnic table. You can enjoy hiking or rent a kayak, pedal boat, or paddleboard for some quality time on the lake. The resort has its own wine bar, a deck overlooking the water, and a cozy interior with a big-screen TV. Order local craft brews, a cocktail, or a signature drink called a Huckleberry Mimosa.

5. Heyburn State Park

Address: 57 Chatcolet Lower Rd, Plummer, ID 83851

The towering Ponderosa pines are one of the trademarks of this historic park. There are three different lakes to enjoy here and the St. Joe River. Cyclists pass directly through the park on the popular Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes.

Established in 1908, the park offers what you might call a more classic Idaho camping experience. Many of the buildings, including cottages and cabins for rent, were built by the CCC back in the 1930s. Most of the campsites are primitive or have partial hookups, while a few of them also have sewer connections.

There are clean, well-maintained restrooms and showers. To enjoy the waterways, there are swimming beaches, and you can also rent a canoe, kayak, or paddleboard.

6. Farragut State Park

Address: 13550 ID-54, Athol, ID 83801

This 4,000-acre park is on the site of what was a huge U.S. Navy training base during World War II. It’s on Lake Pend Oreille in the Coeur d’Alene Mountains in a gorgeous pine forest. It’s also convenient to the sprawling Silverwood Theme Park.

There are more than 200 campsites on several campgrounds, and the facilities are top-notch. It’s a tidy and comfortable experience, with easy access to sites. Popular activities include fishing, boating, cycling, horse riding, and hiking. There’s also a disc golf course at the park and a field for radio-controlled airplanes. The park’s impressive military history is on display at a unique museum on site.

Keep in Mind: Heading south from Idaho? Add the Mighty 5 National Parks in Utah to your list.

7. Wallace RV Park

Address: 108 Nine Mile Rd, Wallace, ID 83873

The historic town of Wallace is known for silver mining and also has a long history of beer making. With its City Limits Brew Pub, this multifaceted RV park continues that tradition.

Wallace RV Park could probably call itself a resort, but it doesn’t. Owner Don Hofmann’s vision extends well beyond his RV sites and guest cabins. His City Limits Brew Pub offers chef-prepared meals and craft beers brewed on the premises. There are 42 sites with full hookups, nearly half of which are along Nine Mile Creek. You’re also right in the heart of Wallace – museums and a silver mine tour are just blocks away.

Where Can You Camp for Free in Idaho?

Not everyone wants to pay to camp, and we totally get that. Some of our favorite spots are dispersed camping sites with no amenities whatsoever. It may be hard to believe, but the federal BLM has 12 million acres in Idaho.

While most BLM campgrounds require that you pay a fee to camp, there are others that allow dispersed camping for free. (There are some restrictions, though. You can only camp in authorized areas, and you can’t stay more than 14 consecutive days in a 28-day period.) 

To find free camping in Idaho, there are many online resources, and one of the more dependable ones is Campendium.com. You can search for campgrounds by location and sort according to price.

To find the freebies, just be sure and set the price category to “free.” The website also has maps (with topography), directions and GPS coordinates, and ratings and reviews from other campers. We always find those particularly useful and try to read as many as possible to get a fuller picture of a place. 

An RV camping in a national forest in Idaho

Don’t Skip on Camping in Idaho 

For some reason, surrounding states like Wyoming, Montana, Utah, and Nevada seem to get more acclaim as camping destinations. But, Idaho has a lot to offer. Take a trip to see for yourself, and chances are you’ll be bragging about Idaho for many years to come.

You’ll enjoy solitude in gorgeous outdoor settings and discover other attractions that shine a light on the state’s historic past. You may even find some unexpected comforts and diversions at its best campgrounds. 

What are your favorite places to visit in Idaho, and why?

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  1. Ponderosa State Park in McCall is our favorite spot. Right on the lake with paved biking trail and hiking up to the pinnacle overlook.

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