2013 Camping Guide: Plug into comfort with an RV

There are plenty of places in Idaho to enjoy the pleasures of RV camping

pzimowsky@idahostatesman.comMay 15, 2013 

The alarm goes off and it's time to get out of the sack and get ready for fishing. The coffee's brewing. The furnace is warming things up. Got to check email with the Wi-Fi and also check the Idaho Statesman's website for the latest news.

Yup, it's all about comfortable camping, and it's easy in Idaho where there are so many places to plug in your RV and enjoy fishing, boating and other activities.

It's fun to explore places across the state and just take your home with you whether you have a tent trailer, pickup camper, trailer or luxury motorhome.

RVs sure make traveling across the state a lot easier.

Enjoy these campgrounds, which are all well suited for RV camping because they have showers, restrooms, hookups and other amenities.

They are good places to park, plug in and play.

PRIEST LAKE

What: The Indian Creek unit of Priest Lake State Park caters to RVers.

It's located on the shores of Priest Lake in northern Idaho, which is known for fishing, boating and hiking in the nearby mountains.

The Indian Creek unit has RV spaces, a park store, laundry, boat ramp and docks.

There is a 24-hour gas pump, but no diesel.

If you have a power boat, you can explore the lake and head out to U.S. Forest Service islands in the lake to have a picnic.

You can also head up to the waterway between Priest Lake and Upper Priest Lake.

There are a lot of mountain bike trails in the area.

Fees: Campsites range upward of $28 a night depending on hookups.

Reservation fees are extra, and there's a day-use fee if you don't have a state parks pass. Book a reservation at (888) 922-6743.

Getting there: It's a day's drive from Boise to Priest Lake (about 480 miles). To make it a leisurely trip, it's best to camp over one night somewhere in between, like along the Salmon River, or at Hells Gate State Park in Lewiston.

Take Idaho 55 north to New Meadows and continue on U.S. 95 toward Sandpoint. Take U.S. 2 west to Priest River and turn north on Idaho 57 about 30 miles to Priest Lake.

Information: 443-2200; parksandrecreation.idaho.gov.

FARRAGUT STATE PARK

What: The park is located on the southern tip of Lake Pend Oreille in the Coeur d' Alene Mountains of North Idaho.

It also has unique scenery, history, and recreational opportunities, including boating, fishing, disc golf, radio-controlled airplane field, hiking, biking, equestrian facilities and World War II history.

Fees: Prices range upwards of $24 depending on hookups. Reservation fees are extra, and there's a day-use fee if you don't have a state parks pass. Book a reservation at (888) 922-6743.

Getting there: It might be best to make the trip from the Treasure Valley up U.S. 95 (or Idaho 55 and U.S. 95) in two days with a stop at Lewiston's Hells Gate State Park. It is reached off U.S. 95 at Athol. Go east on Idaho 54 for 4 miles.

Information: 683-2425, or parksandrecreation.idaho.gov.

HELLS GATE STATE PARK

What: Hells Gate is located along the Snake River at Lewiston and known for boating and fishing.

It's popular during salmon and steelhead seasons, and Lewiston's mild climate means year round camping.

The park has trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. It is located close to outfitters who run jetboat trips into Hells Canyon.

Don't miss the Lewis and Clark Discovery Center (with displays, movies about the Corps of Discovery and Nez Perce Tribe) and the Jack O'Connor Hunting Heritage Education Center.

Fees: Individual campsites range up to $22 a night depending on services. Reservation fees are extra, and there's a day-use fee if you don't have a state parks pass. Book a reservation at (888) 922-6743.

Getting there: It's 270 miles north of the Treasure Valley and reached by taking U.S. 95 north to Lewiston, or Idaho 55 north to New Meadows and then U.S. 95.

Information: 799-5015; parksandrecreation.idaho.gov.

FAREWELL BEND

What: This Oregon state park is where the Snake River forms Brownlee Reservoir. It is popular spot for fishing in the river and reservoir. It has docks and a boat ramp.

An Oregon fishing license is needed to fish from shore, but you can launch a boat and use your Idaho license as long as you only fish from the boat.

Bird watching is good along the reservoir and at the park. Antelope and deer can be seen in the hills near the park.

Getting there: Take Interstate 84 west from Treasure Valley to Ontario, and continue west toward Huntington, Ore. Look for the exit to the park along the Snake River. It's about 90 minutes driving.

Fees: Upwards of $22 for water and electrical service. Reservation fees are extra.

More information: (541) 869-2365 ororegonstateparks.org.

HELLS CANYON PARKS

What: Idaho Power Co.'s parks in Hells Canyon offer RV hookups on the banks of Brownlee, Oxbow and Hells Canyon reservoirs, northwest of Cambridge.

Woodhead, McCormick, Copperfield and Hells Canyon parks lure anglers who chase bass and crappie in the reservoirs.

There are hiking trails nearby and scenic drives, but the main activity of these parks is boating and fishing.

You'll find showers, restrooms, electrical hookups, water, boat ramps and docks and picnic areas.

Fees: $16 per night RVs; $10 for tents. No reservations.

Getting there: From Cambridge, take Idaho 71 west to Woodhead Park along Brownlee Reservoir. It takes about two and a half to three hours to drive from the Treasure Valley.

Information: idahopower.com.

LAKE CASCADE STATE PARK

What: This state park offers boating, fishing, swimming and other activities on Lake Cascade near Cascade.

You'll find power, sewer and water hookups at the Poison Creek and Ridgeview units.

Besides water activities, the state park is a good jumping off point for scenic drives to Warm Lake, McCall and the backcountry west of the reservoir. It's popular all summer long.

Fees: Prices for campsites can range up to $38 a night, depending on services. Reservation fees are extra, and there's a day-use fee if you don't have a state parks pass.

Getting there: Drive about 70 miles north of the Treasure Valley on Idaho 55 to Cascade and look for the signs.

Information: 382-6544; parksandrecreation.idaho.gov.

PONDEROSA STATE PARK

What: The state park is on the shores of Payette Lake at McCall and one of the most popular parks in the state because of its scenery and recreation.

It is popular with water skiers and sailboaters. A boat ramp and docks are available. The park also has an assortment of hiking and biking trails and woodsy places to explore.

You'll find beaches and great scenic views from different areas of the park. Don't miss the view from Osprey Point, which is among the best in the McCall area.

The park is close to McCall with golf, food and all services available.

Fees: Individual campsites range up to $26 a night depending on services. Extra charges for reservations, which are strongly recommended during summer. There's also a day-use fee if you don't have a state parks pass.

Getting there: Drive 102 miles north of the Treasure Valley on Idaho 55 and look for the signs in McCall.

Information: 634-2164; parksandrecreation.idaho.gov.

THREE ISLAND CROSSING STATE PARK

What: The state park is popular with Oregon Trail buffs and is rich in pioneer and Native American history.

The Oregon Trail History and Education Center gives a lot of information about the surrounding area and nearby places to see the Oregon Trail.

It is also a good jumping off point for exploring other sections of the Oregon Trail from Glenns Ferry to Boise.

The park has a nine-hole disc golf course, and there's good bird watching along the Snake River. Downtown Glenns Ferry is within walking distance.

Fees: Camping prices range $22 to $38 depending on hookups. Reservation are extra, and there's a day use fee if you don't have a state parks pass.

Getting there: Take Interstate 84 east from Boise to Glenns Ferry and follow the signs. Driving time is about an hour and a half.

Information: 366-2394; parksandrecreation.idaho.gov.

BRUNEAU DUNES STATE PARK

What: Whatever else you do at this park, the climb up the 400-foot dune is one of the highlights.

It's a great area for hiking, and kids will have a blast playing in the sand. The star-gazing observatory is a hit, too.

The dunes lakes offer good fishing for bass and bluegill in the spring.

Birds migrate through the area and the lakes lure a variety of waterfowl and shorebirds.

Fees: Prices range up to $22 depending on services.

Getting there: Take Interstate 84 east to Mountain Home and Idaho 51 south to the Snake River. Follow the signs east on Idaho 78 to the park. Driving time is a little over an hour.

Information: 366-7919; parksandrecreation.idaho.gov.

CASTLE ROCKS STATE PARK

What: The rock formations in the City of Rocks National Reserve, which is near this state park, are excellent for hiking and exploring.

This is a world-renowned rock climbing area, and if you're not a climber, it's still entertaining to watch someone else do it.

The park's also known for its wildflowers in spring and early summer.

The land is rich in pioneer and Native American history. The state park and federal reserve are operated through the same visitor center.

You'll find water and showers at the state park and also yurts for rent. The park also features a bunkhouse and lodge for rent.

Fees: Smoky Mountain Campground, a state park facility, costs $22 for serviced campsites.

Information: 824-5901; parksandrecreation.idaho.gov.

HENRYS LAKE STATE PARK

What: It's one of Idaho's rare mountain lakes with full hookup camping.

Henrys Lake also is an angler's dream with cutthroat, brook and cut-bow hybrid trout. It's considered one of the best trout fisheries in the West.

The park usually opens the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend in preparation for the beginning of the fishing season.

In addition to regular park amenities, it also has a boat ramp and docks and a fish-cleaning station.

There are other things to do besides fishing. You'll find hiking and biking trails, and the park is a good starting point for exploring the scenic Island Park and Yellowstone areas.

Fees: Prices per night range up to $24, depending on services. You'll pay extra for reservations, or if you don't have a parks pass.

Getting there: It's 369 miles from the Treasure Valley so expect about 6 or 7 hours drive. Take the freeways east from Boise and head north out of Idaho Falls and Ashton.

Information: 558-7532: parksandrecreation.idaho.gov.

Pete Zimowsky: 377-6445, Twitter: @Zimosoutdoors

Idaho Statesman is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service