Camp and cruise on a motorcycle or ATV

rphillips@idahostatesman.comMay 16, 2013 

Hauling the ATVs and motorcycles on a camping trip is an Idaho tradition, and there are lots of places that are well-suited for riding and relaxing.

Before you choose an area, it's always good to do a little research at, which shows not only what trails are available, but what vehicles are allowed on them.

You might also check out the Idaho Department Parks of Recreation website to brush up on the rules for ATV and motorcycle riding on Forest Service roads, especially if kids will be riding.

Go to and click on the "ATV/motorbike" icon.

Forest Service maps also show what trails are available and what vehicles are allowed on them.

Once you get the details dialed, you will find countless miles of scenic dirt roads and trails that take you deep into the backcountry at these destinations.


Where: Located east of Featherville along the South Fork of the Boise River.

Why it's cool: This is a motherlode of single-track for experienced off-road motorcycle riders, and a swimming pool filled by a natural hot spring makes it a great place to camp.

There are several other campgrounds along the South Fork of the Boise River upstream from Anderson Ranch Reservoir and numerous trailheads that lead you into the surrounding mountains.

There are too many trails in the area to explain each one, but if you're exploring all the single-track trails the area has to offer, expect intermediate to advanced trails in pretty steep country.

The Iron Mountain Lookout trail is open to ATVs, and there are also lots of backcountry roads to ride.


Where: Located at Mann Creek Reservoir off U.S. 95 between Weiser and Midvale.

Why it's cool: This campground is a gateway to the Hitt Mountain and Sturgill Peak areas. There are also campgrounds farther up Mann Creek Road if you want to get out of the sagebrush country and into the forest.

The Sturgill and Hitt mountains may have snow until late June because of high elevation, but it might clear earlier than normal this year because of hot weather and a low snowpack.

According to the Forest Service, Sturgill Mountain Lookout area provides three scenic ATV trail loops totaling about 23 miles.

These loops are two-track ATV trails rated moderate in difficulty by Forest Service standards.

Each loop includes sections of backcountry roads or four-wheel-drive roads linking the trails together.

The highlights of the loops include Sturgill Lookout at 7,600 feet in elevation with stunning views of the surrounding landscape, including the Eagle Cap Wilderness, Seven Devils Wilderness and nearby Cuddy Mountain.

These ATV loop trails are best accessed from the Mann Creek Reservoir Road. You can start at one of the campgrounds and ride from there, or drive to the top of Sturgill and ride. It's approximately 20 miles from U.S. 95 to the Sturgill Lookout Trailhead.

Trail conditions change from year to year, so you should contact the Weiser or Council ranger districts of the Payette National Forest for trail conditions before you head up there.


Where: Located north of McCall off Warren Wagon Road.

Why it's cool: Tuck this one away for summer or late spring. It's a great place to ride with a mix of singletrack trails, back roads and dirt roads for both ATV and motorcycle riders.

Don't forget the private hot springs where you can take a soak in one of the most beautiful settings in the McCall area.

Developed camping is fairly limited at Burgdorf. There's a small Forest Service campground there, and cabins for rent at the hot springs.

For details go to, or call 636-3036.

There's also plenty of undeveloped camping on Forest Service land nearby, and several developed campgrounds in the area, including Upper Payette Lake and Chinook.

Motorcycle riders can expect some intermediate-to-advanced trails if they're hitting the single track.

ATV riders will find mostly gravel and dirt roads, but lots of them, including long and scenic rides.

You can go east to Secesh and Warren and then down to the South Fork of the Salmon River and beyond, or go north from Burgdorf all the way to the Main Salmon River.


Where: Located north of Garden Valley and Crouch.

Why it's cool: This has long been a popular area for motorcycle and ATV riding.

The Forest Service's Silver Creek and Boiling Springs campgrounds are both good base camps for riders.

There's also Silver Creek Plunge, which is a private hot springs with lodging.

There's a variety of riding, including exploring backcountry roads and riding singletrack.

Check out the 6-mile Silver Creek Summit Trail (Trail 044) north of Silver Creek Campground.

It goes north along an old roadbed to the ridge between Silver Creek and Bull Creek. It was rebuilt to motorcycle standards with grant funds and was re-opened to motorcycles last October. It is closed to ATVs.

According to the Forest Service, "At the summit views of Bull Creek and the Deadwood Ridge match any on the forest."

ATV riders may want to camp on the Boiling Springs side, which provides better access to trails.


Where: West of Smiths Ferry on the Boise National Forest.

Why it's cool: This spot is close to the Treasure Valley, but up in the forest where there are lots of roads and trails available for ATV and motorcycle riders.

There are five different Forest Service campgrounds and one picnic area around Sagehen Reservoir, which is a really scenic spot tucked into thick forest.

The area has a mix of motorized and nonmotorized routes, so bring a Boise National Forest map to ensure you're riding on open trails.

Motorcycle riders can ride the West Mountain Trail (Trail 131), which runs along the spine of ridge west of Lake Cascade.

ATV riders can check out the 16-mile KYAOTT Trail, which includes old logging roads that are closed to full-sized vehicles, but open to ATVs.


Where: Located between Sunbeam and Challis.

Why it's cool: This is a unique area that features the 50-mile Custer Motorway Adventure road. The motorway starts near Sunbeam east of Stanley off Idaho 75.

It's a great place to ride and explore a historic mining area, and also a base camp for a wealth of roads and trails in the adjacent areas.

There are developed campgrounds - Custer, Greylock, Eightmile and Mill Creek - along the motorway and other undeveloped camping spots along it, which is essentially a gravel road.

You pass through a variety of terrain from sagebrush country to thick lodgepole forests to red rock country.

The route crosses an 8,800-foot summit, which clears of snow anywhere from mid June to early July. You can contact the state park at 879-5244.

Another cool option is the Lombard Trail, which starts from the Bayhorse site off Idaho 75 south of Challis.

You can ride an ATV to old mine sites starting from the Bayhorse park headquarters.

You can camp at the Forest Service's Bayhorse Campground located on Idaho 75, but it's not connected to the park and vehicles that aren't street legal must be trailered to the Lombard trailhead.

For details go to and click on Land of the Yankee Fork.

Roger Phillips: 377-6215, Twitter: @rogeroutdoors

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