Here's where to find a lake in the woods

pzimowsky@idahostatesman.comMay 16, 2013 

Combining flatwater canoeing and camping in Idaho is as simple as taking a stroke with a paddle on placid waters.

There are dozens of campgrounds located near lakes and reservoirs where touring kayakers and canoeists can enjoy miles of paddling.

With most of the campgrounds, it's only a short carry from the campsite to the lake.

Here are five prime campgrounds for paddlers:


What: The park has about 5,744 acres of land, but get this, 2,332 acres of water. That makes it a paddling paradise. You can bring your own boat or rent a kayak, canoe or pedal boat and take off on three lakes - Chatcolet, Benewah and Hidden Lakes or the St. Joe River, all at the southern end of Lake Coeur d'Alene.

Fees: Motor vehicle entry fee, $5 (or annual state parks pass); Chatcolet campground (no hookups and showers) $14.84 a night; Hawley's Landing (showers and restrooms), tent, $16.96, water and electric site $23.32; full hookup, $25.44. (Benewah campground same as Hawley's.)

Getting there: It's 353 miles north of Boise and reached by driving Idaho 55 and U.S. 95 to Plummer and turning east.



What: It's north of McCall, and it's perfect for serene paddling. The lake is also stocked with trout and there's a 1-mile trail along the lake's shore. And, it's always fun to hike or bike nearby trails, or hit historic Burgdorf Hot Springs, which is a short drive away.

Fees: $10 a night for a campsite.

Getting there: It's about 2 hours to McCall from the Treasure Valley on Idaho 55 or U.S. 95. Head 16 miles north of McCall on the Warren Wagon Road.

Information: 634-0400.


What: What better way to enjoy views of the Sawtooth Range than paddling on Alturas Lake.

There is motor boating and water-skiing on the lake, but kayakers and canoeists can enjoy a paddling adventure by keeping close to shore. There are plenty of nearby trails for exploring.

Fees: $14-$28 a night.

Getting there: Drive 25 miles south of Stanley on Idaho 75.

Information: 774-3000.


What: If you don't mind a long drive on bumpy back roads with your canoe or kayak bouncing all over the roof rack, this is a good getaway with good fishing.

It's a reservoir, but it looks more like a high-mountain lake because it's in a natural setting in the Boise National Forest.

There are four U.S. Forest Service campgrounds on or near the reservoir: Cozy Cove, Howers, Barneys and River Side. There's also some undeveloped camping near the reservoir. Canoeist can also cross the reservoir and camp in undeveloped campsites.

Fees: $12 per night for developed campsites.

Getting there: From Cascade, take Warm Lake Road, which turns into Forest Road 579 and turns south to the reservoir. Another option is to take Idaho 21 north of Lowman past Banner Summit to Forest Road 579 and go west to the reservoir.

Information: Go to and click on "Recreation" and then "Camping and Cabins."


What: This mid-sized reservoir is stocked with trout and a great size for canoeing. It's a mountain-forested atmosphere with plenty of places for the kids to hike and play, too.

It is easily accessible for motorhomes and people pulling RVs.

There are two developed Forest Service campgrounds near the reservoir: Slaughter Gulch and Cold Springs, and also undeveloped camping along the shore. You'll have to drive your canoes to the reservoir.

The reservoir was drained and treated last year to get rid of unwanted fish, but it will be restocked with catchable trout this spring.

Fees: $10, single unit; $15, double unit at Cold Springs.

Getting there: Go to the small community of Pine Ridge off U.S. 95 about 8 miles southwest of New Meadows. Take Forest Road 089 about 3 miles to the reservoir.

Information: Go to, click on "Recreation" and "Camping and Cabins."

Pete Zimowsky: 377-6445, Twitter: @Zimosoutdoors

Shoreside camping and paddling are classic and timeless.

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