Take a mountain trail. Add a swallow creek. Then mix with kids. Youve got a recipe for a really fun August campout.
Most creeks near campgrounds are flowing low and clear and make perfect wading or swimming holes.
Most kids love water and they love exploring trails, so make sure you pick the right campground for your outing. Remember to have kids wear life vests when playing around water.
Here are some of the best campgrounds for kids, as recommended by Grandpa Zimo.
To reserve at all sites, log onto Recreation.gov or call (877) 444-6777.
What: Its close to Boise, so if your campout suddenly implodes, you can get back to town in less than an hour.
The campground feels woodsy, but its close to Idaho City for a meal, groceries or an ice cream cone.
Theres a lot of shade, and if you really want to cool off, wade in nearby Mores Creek.
Fees: $15 per night.
Getting there: Its located 36 miles northeast of Boise along Idaho 21 and just before you get to Idaho City.
Information: Idaho City Ranger District, (208) 392-6681.
What: Theres shade, trails and a small creek and swimming hole around this campground, which is a little over an hour from the Boise.
If you want more swimming or fishing, Crooked River is about a mile away from Boise.
Fee: $15 per night.
Getting there: Its located 56 miles northeast of Boise off Idaho 21.
Information: Idaho City Ranger District, 392-6681.
What: A paved campground for riding your bikes? Turn the kids loose.
Another attraction is the hot springs pool nearby at Silver Creek Plunge.
Fee: Overnight camping is $15 per night.
Getting there: Its located 25 miles north of Garden Valley and Crouch. Take Forest Road 698 and then turn off on Road 671.
What: A hot springs pool, wading, swimming and fishing in the South Fork of the Boise River, and an interpretive trail it doesnt get any better than this.
The campground is along the South Fork, east of Featherville and Pine, where you can get supplies.
Fees: $10 a night.
Getting there: The campground is 12 miles east of Featherville along the South Fork of the Boise River.
Information: (208) 764-3202.
UPPER PAYETTE LAKE
What: Its on Upper Payette Lake where kids can take a dip, fish or paddle in a canoe with parents.
Kids also like the 1-mile paved accessible trail along the lakes shore.
Scenic and historic Burgdorf Hot Springs is a short drive away. Its a private pool but open to the public for a fee. ($6 for 14 and older; $4 for 13 and younger.)
Fees: $10 a night.
Getting there: Head 16 miles north of McCall on the Warren Wagon Road.
Information: (208) 634-0400.
What: Sagehen Reservoir has several campgrounds on or near the reservoir, and its popular for fishing and canoeing.
Its situated in tall evergreen trees for lots of shade on a hot August day. There are lots of places for kids to hike, especially the trail around the reservoir.
Fees: $13.89 a night. Group campsites from $55.56. Look for Sagehen Creek or Antelope campgrounds.
Getting there: From Horseshoe Bend, take Idaho 52 west 9 miles to the junction with the Sweet/Ola Highway. Turn north and go 16 miles to Ola. Continue north and follow the signs to Sagehen Reservoir about 18 miles.
Information: (208) 365-7004.
ALTURAS LAKE INLET
What: Everybody will love Alturas Lake, including the kids.
Its located on the shores of Alturas Lake at the foot of the Sawtooth Mountains near Stanley. Youve got motor boating, water skiing, canoeing, kayaking and fishing. Theres a trail nearby for exploring. A creek will also attract splashing kids.
Fees: $15 a night.
Getting there: Drive 25 miles south of Stanley on Idaho 75.
Information: (208) 774-3000.
What: A self-guided nature trail and an amphitheater for special ranger and nature programs make this campground a gem.
Its also in a heavily forested area divided by the Big Wood River. The river may be shallow enough in August for creek walking.
You can also fish for trout in the river; its an easy place to teach kids how to fish.
The Sawtooth National Recreation Area Visitor Center is 2.5 miles from the campground, with a small museum, bookstore and area information.
Fees: $12 a night.
Getting there: From Ketchum, go north 10 miles on Idaho 75 past the Sawtooth National Recreation Area Headquarters. Its the second campground on the south side of the highway.
Information: (208) 727-5000.
Pete Zimowsky: 377-6445, Twitter: @Zimosoutdoors