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Camping in Idaho: The Ultimate Guide

Vincent Rizzo | August 19, 2023

Camping in Idaho

Idaho is a camping paradise. With its breathtaking natural beauty, diverse camping experiences, and endless outdoor recreational opportunities, it’s no wonder that so many people flock to the “Gem State” for their next camping trip.

Whether you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of urban life or want to spend some quality time with family and friends in the great outdoors, Idaho has something for everyone.

But when is the best time to go camping in Idaho? What types of camping are available? What fun activities can you do while there? And what about wildlife safety concerns?

In this ultimate guide to camping in Idaho, we’ll answer all of these questions and more. We’ll take a look at some of the best places to camp in Idaho, along with the unique experiences they offer.

So pack your bags, grab your tent, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure!

Why should I consider camping in Idaho?

Idaho offers an array of reasons to consider camping. From its unmatched natural beauty and diverse camping experiences to the abundance of outdoor recreational opportunities and the chance to escape from urban life, Idaho promises a memorable camping adventure. Let’s explore this further.

Unmatched natural beauty

Idaho’s unmatched natural beauty is a true wonder to behold. From the rugged mountains to the pristine lakes, this state boasts stunning landscapes that will leave you in awe.

Explore the picturesque scenery of Idaho’s national parks and forests, where you can marvel at the beauty of waterfalls, hot springs, and scenic rivers. Immerse yourself in the diverse flora and fauna that call Idaho home, and discover the natural wonders of its forests, canyons, and lakes.

With acres of untouched wilderness and breathtaking vistas, camping in Idaho is an experience you won’t want to miss.

Diverse camping experiences

Idaho offers a plethora of camping options to suit every outdoor enthusiast’s preferences. From primitive tent sites to RV campgrounds, there is something for everyone.

You can choose to camp by the serene shores of lakes and rivers, which provide a refreshing and picturesque backdrop. For those seeking a rustic charm, Idaho’s campgrounds nestled in the mountains or forests offer a truly immersive experience.

Alternatively, you can opt for camping in Idaho’s state parks, where you’ll have access to amenities and various recreational activities. If solitude is what you seek, backcountry camping in Idaho’s remote wilderness areas will fulfill your desire for adventure and seclusion.

Outdoor recreational opportunities

Idaho offers a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities for nature enthusiasts. With its diverse ecosystems, you can explore endless hiking, biking, and trail options.

The lakes and rivers provide the perfect setting for fishing, boating, and water sports. Wildlife watching and birding are popular activities in Idaho’s abundant natural landscapes.

For the adventurous, whitewater rafting and kayaking adventures in Idaho’s rivers offer thrilling experiences. During the winter months, you can indulge in hunting, skiing, or snowboarding in the picturesque wilderness of Idaho.

Escape from urban life

Leave behind the hustle and bustle of city life and immerse yourself in the tranquility of Idaho’s campgrounds. Reconnect with nature as you escape from the noise and stress of urban living.

Idaho offers a vast wilderness where you can relax, rejuvenate, and enjoy quality time with loved ones. Unplug from technology and embrace the serene surroundings of Idaho’s campgrounds.

From the scenic beauty of Farragut State Park in the Idaho Panhandle to the breathtaking landscapes of Ponderosa State Park in Central Idaho, there are plenty of options to escape the crowds and find peace in the great outdoors.

When is the best time to go camping in Idaho?

The best time to go camping in Idaho depends on your weather preferences and desired activities. Summers are popular for outdoor activities, but spring and fall offer mild weather and fewer crowds. Let’s take a closer look.

Ideal seasons

If you’re planning a camping trip in Idaho, you’ll want to know the ideal seasons to visit. Spring in Idaho offers pleasant weather, with blooming flowers and fewer crowds.

Summer is perfect for outdoor adventures, with warm temperatures and longer days. Fall in Idaho showcases vibrant foliage and cooler temperatures, making it an excellent time for camping and hiking. And if you’re seeking a snowy and serene experience, winter camping in Idaho is for you.

Off-peak benefits

When you choose to go camping in Idaho during off-peak times, you get to experience the benefits of a quieter and more peaceful atmosphere. Not only that, but you also have the advantage of enjoying discounted rates and better availability at campgrounds during the off-peak season.

Another advantage is the opportunity to explore less crowded trails and attractions, allowing for a more intimate connection with nature. Off-peak camping in Idaho also provides a chance to see wildlife and natural wonders undisturbed.

What types of camping can I do in Idaho?

When it comes to sleeping under the stars, Idaho offers a variety of camping options for outdoor enthusiasts, including car camping, RV camping, glamping, and backcountry camping. Let’s dig a little deeper.

Car camping

Car camping in Idaho offers easy access to amenities and facilities, making it a convenient option. You can set up camp at designated campsites equipped with picnic tables and fire pits.

The best part is that you can park your car near your campsite, making transportation a breeze. It’s a great choice for families or those who prefer a more comfortable camping experience.

Even though you’re camping, you still have access to the necessities and comforts of home. Enjoy the joys of camping without sacrificing convenience.

RV camping

Experience the breathtaking beauty of Idaho’s scenic landscapes and natural wonders while enjoying the comforts of RV camping. Discover the convenience of amenities like electricity and running water at RV campsites, allowing you to immerse yourself in the tranquility of Snake River or explore Heyburn State Park.

Embark on an adventure at Bruneau Dunes State Park or venture into Central Idaho to witness the majestic Ponderosa State Park. With the freedom to travel and camp at your own pace, RV camping in Idaho offers a great way to experience the wonders of the Pacific Northwest.


Looking to experience the beauty of Idaho’s wilderness without sacrificing comfort and modern amenities? Glamping might be the perfect option for you.

Indulge in the luxury of glamorous camping and stay in stylish accommodations such as safari tents or cozy cabins. Immerse yourself in the peaceful ambiance of a glamping retreat in the Sawtooth National Forest, and enjoy the serenity of Idaho’s wilderness while still having access to upscale amenities.

It’s the ideal way to combine the beauty of nature with a touch of luxury.

Backcountry camping

Embark on an exciting adventure by exploring the wonders of backcountry camping in Idaho. Leave the crowds behind and immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature’s solitude.

Discover secluded campsites nestled in the heart of Idaho’s breathtaking wilderness. Dive into the scenic landscapes of the Sawtooth National Forest and Craters of the Moon National Monument.

Experience the thrill of venturing off the beaten path and discovering remote corners of Idaho that offer a truly unique camping experience. So pack your gear, leave the hustle and bustle behind, and embrace the untamed beauty of Idaho’s backcountry.

What are some fun camping activities to do in Idaho?

There is so much to discover in Idaho and if you’re looking for an outdoor adventure then you can’t go past hiking, biking, rock climbing, fishing, boating, and water activities like canoeing and kayaking. Let’s explore this further.

Hiking and biking

Discover Idaho’s stunning landscapes through its extensive hiking trails. Immerse yourself in the beauty of nature while exploring Idaho’s national forests on foot.

Feel the thrill of biking across diverse terrains and enjoy scenic trails like the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes and Boise River Greenbelt. Whether you prefer a challenging hike or a leisurely bike ride, Idaho offers something for everyone.

Soak in the fresh air, take in the breathtaking views, and let the adventure unfold as you hike or bike in this great state.

Rock climbing

Looking to challenge yourself with some rock climbing? Idaho has renowned climbing destinations that offer thrilling experiences.

One such destination is the City of Rocks National Reserve, where you can test your skills on granite walls. Sawtooth National Forest is another great spot to scale cliffs and enjoy breathtaking views.

With its adrenaline-inducing climbs and stunning scenery, Idaho offers a world of rock climbing opportunities in the heart of the country. Immerse yourself in the beauty and excitement of rock climbing in Idaho’s top climbing spots.

Fishing and boating

If you’re looking for a truly memorable experience while camping in Idaho, don’t miss the fishing and boating opportunities. In the state’s pristine waters, you can cast your line and reel in trophy-sized trout, immersing yourself in the tranquility of nature.

Explore the hidden coves of Idaho’s beautiful lakes, enjoying the serenity and peacefulness they offer. For an extra thrill, try your hand at fly fishing in Snake River or Lake Cascade. With the abundance of fishing opportunities available, Idaho is a paradise for avid anglers.

Canoeing and kayaking

When it comes to exploring the scenic waters of Idaho’s lakes and rivers, canoeing and kayaking are unbeatable options. You can glide through the peacefulness of Payette Lake or Lake Coeur d’Alene in a canoe, taking in the breathtaking beauty of the surroundings.

For those seeking a more thrilling adventure, kayaking through the rapids of the Snake River offers an adrenaline-pumping experience. No matter which routes you choose, canoeing and kayaking in Idaho allow you to immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature while discovering the hidden gems of the state’s waterways.

Are there any wildlife safety concerns when camping in Idaho?

Being prepared and mindful of your surroundings can guarantee you enjoy the beauty of Idaho’s wilderness without any wildlife-related concerns. Be sure to follow bear safety protocols, practice snake awareness, and take necessary insect precautions. Let’s look at this more closely.

Bear safety

When camping in Idaho, it’s important to prioritize bear safety. Educate yourself on bear behavior to learn how to coexist with these magnificent creatures.

Firstly, to minimize the risk of attracting bears to your campsite, practice proper food storage techniques. Also, be aware of your surroundings and avoid approaching or surprising bears. If you do encounter a bear, make sure you carry bear spray and know how to use it effectively for self-defense.

Remember to respect wildlife by keeping a safe distance and never feeding them. By following these precautions, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable camping experience.

Snake awareness

When camping in Idaho, it’s important to be aware of potential encounters with snakes. Firstly, avoid camping near known snake habitats such as rocky outcroppings or dense brush.

Stay vigilant and learn to identify venomous snakes in the area. Be cautious when hiking or walking through tall grass or rocky areas where snakes may be hiding.

If you encounter a snake, keep a safe distance and do not provoke it. Importantly, educate yourself on snakebite first aid and carry a snakebite kit. Stay safe and enjoy your camping experience in Idaho!

Insect precautions

When camping in Idaho, it’s important to take precautions against insects. Before setting up your campsite, inspect the area for ant hills, beehives, or other insect nests. To avoid attracting ants and other pests, make sure to properly seal your food.

To protect yourself from mosquitoes and ticks, use insect repellent with DEET. Additionally, wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and closed-toe shoes can help minimize exposure to insects.

Lastly, using a mosquito net over your sleeping area can prevent bites while you sleep. Remember to stay vigilant and take the necessary measures to protect yourself from insects during your camping trip.

What are the best camping sites in Idaho?

Idaho offers an abundance of amazing camping sites, including the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Lake Coeur d’Alene, City of Rocks National Reserve, and Priest Lake State Park to name a few. Let’s take a closer look.

Sawtooth National Recreation Area

Sawtooth National Recreation Area offers an abundance of outdoor activities. With over 700 miles of scenic trails, it’s a hiker and backpacker’s paradise.

Fishing enthusiasts will be delighted with the opportunity to cast their lines in the area’s alpine lakes and rivers. The majestic mountain views and picturesque drives are simply breathtaking.

Campers have a variety of options, from RV-friendly sites to cozy tent spots. And for those seeking adventure, boating, kayaking, and wildlife viewing are just some of the recreational activities available.

Lake Coeur d'Alene

Located in the beautiful state of Idaho, Lake Coeur d’Alene offers a range of exciting activities for campers to enjoy. With its sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, you can relax and take a refreshing swim.

Explore the surrounding forests through hiking and biking trails, immersing yourself in nature’s beauty. If you’re a fan of water activities, you can go boating, jet skiing, or fishing.

Take a scenic boat tour to discover the lake’s rich history and wildlife. And for a truly immersive experience, camping at one of the lakeside campgrounds is a must.

City of Rocks National Reserve

Nestled in the heart of Idaho, the City of Rocks National Reserve offers a captivating experience for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike. With its unique rock formations and rugged landscapes, this reserve is a playground for rock climbers and boulderers.

Explore the numerous hiking trails that wind through the reserve, leading you to hidden caves and arches waiting to be discovered. As night falls, set up camp amidst the dramatic landscape and let the dark skies envelop you in a breathtaking display of stars.

Immerse yourself in the rich history and geology of the area through interpretive programs, and uncover ancient Native American pictographs and historic emigrant signatures. The City of Rocks National Reserve is truly a great place to connect with nature and create lasting memories.

Priest Lake State Park

Located in Idaho’s Panhandle, Priest Lake State Park offers visitors the chance to experience the natural beauty of the state. Known as Idaho’s “Crown Jewel,” this park boasts pristine sandy beaches that invite you to relax and soak up the sun.

Take advantage of the crystal-clear waters and engage in water activities such as boating, kayaking, and paddleboarding. Fishing enthusiasts will delight in the opportunity to catch trout in the lake or enjoy a leisurely picnic along the scenic shoreline.

If you’re a nature enthusiast, you’ll love exploring the park’s extensive trail system, perfect for hiking, biking, and wildlife viewing. And for those seeking a true camping experience, there are picturesque campgrounds where you can immerse yourself in the tranquility of Priest Lake.

Bottom line

Camping in Idaho offers a truly unique and unforgettable experience. From its unmatched natural beauty to diverse camping experiences, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Whether you prefer car camping, RV camping, glamping, or backcountry camping, Idaho has it all. The state also provides a wide range of outdoor recreational opportunities, including hiking, biking, rock climbing, fishing, boating, canoeing, and kayaking.

However, it’s important to be aware of wildlife safety concerns, such as bear safety, snake awareness, and insect precautions. When planning your camping trip, consider visiting top camping sites like Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Lake Coeur d’Alene, City of Rocks National Reserve, and Priest Lake State Park.

For more information on camping sites in the United States, check out our comprehensive camping blog. Happy camping!

Camping Blogger Vincent

Vincent Rizzo

Vincent is a camping enthusiast and park ranger who loves exploring the outdoors and sharing his knowledge with others. He's also a skilled writer who enjoys contributing to our camping blog. In his free time, Vincent enjoys playing board games, attending live music performances, and experimenting with cooking.

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