October means warm days, cool nights, colorful leaves and uncrowded campsites at Idaho state parks, which provides pleasing weekend adventures packed with outdoor fun.
Successful fall camping depends on paying attention to the weather conditions. So, watch the forecast, dress accordingly and check with each camp about water and other amenities before you leave.
Bruneau Dunes State Park contains the largest single-structure sand dune in North America. At 2,470 feet above sea level, it tends to have warmer autumn temperatures than parks further north, Steve Russell, assistant park manager says. Youll find 70s when the sun is up, low 40s and upper 30s at night.
Theres lots to do at Bruneau. If youre ambitious, hike to the 470-foot peak of Big Dune. Its a great workout.
Families with younger kids will enjoy walking up the smaller dunes. For a gentle walk, check out the interpretive trail around Little Lake.
Kids will love sliding down the sand dunes on a plastic sled and flying kites in the afternoon breeze.
Dont miss the glorious sunset view from the top of one of the dunes and stargaze at the parks 25-inch reflecting telescope, one of the largest public telescopes in Idaho ($3 per person). Get there quick because it closes on Oct.13.
Getting there: From Boise, take Interstate 84 east to the first Mountain Home exit. Go through Mountain Home and take Highway 51 for about 15 miles to Idaho 78 and go left for a few miles and turn right into the park entrance.
Contact: (208) 366-7919
Reservations: Available through Oct. 15 by calling (888) 922-6743. After that they are first-come-first serve.
Lake Cascade State Park makes a great home base for fall fishing, biking and hiking. Eight of its 11 campgrounds that ring the lake are still open in October.
Cast your bait from one of the many beach locations or pedal your bicycle on the rural road around the lake.
Walk along the two miles of beach at Big Sage and Sage Bluff campgrounds, watch birds, and enjoy open expanses with lots of sunshine and views of the West Mountain range.
Youll find hiking and biking trails at the Crown Point campground. It is a flat, 2.8-mile trail along the lake with views of the mountains.
If the temperatures drop to freezing, water services will be turned off at the campgrounds. If you want some comfortable camping, yurt rentals are offered for groups of up to 30, divided among three yurts at Osprey Point Campground.
Getting there: Take Idaho 55 north from Boise for about 75 miles to Cascade. You can find a map showing the location of state parks at ParksAndRecreation.Idaho.gov.
Contact: (208) 382-6544
Campgrounds are first-come first-served this time of year. Huckleberry, Buttercup and Curlew are closed for the season.
Richly forested Ponderosa State Park beside Payette Lake contains some beautiful autumn hikes.
There are fewer people at the park than during the summer, making it a quiet, relaxing time of year to be there.
Trails will take you through open glades and rolling hills, with views of the lake in a pine-scented setting. Or mountain bike the 1 1/2 mile trail that opened last spring. It goes from the visitor center, along the lake, to Lilly Marsh and connects with other trails. If cold autumn camping is not your thing, there are five well-equipped cabins for rent located next to the lake by the visitor center. Reservations are advised for cabins, but campsites are open without reservations.
Getting there: Take Idaho 55 north for about 107 miles to McCall. Turn right onto Railroad Avenue, then left on to Davis Street. Follow the signs to the park.
Contact: (208) 634-2164
Natalie Bartley authored the Boises Best Outdoor Adventures mobile app and two trail guidebooks. Email: email@example.com.