Waterside camping in Idaho

Find otherworldy features like Craters of the Moon National Monument among top-to-bottom mountain ranges throughout Idaho.

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Waterside camping in Idaho guide


In the eastern reaches of the Pacific Northwest, Idaho offers recreation throughout the year, from whitewater rafting to backcountry exploration. Winter sports are big, with ski resorts all over the state. If you're planning on camping, summer is the best time to visit, particularly if you want to see Idaho's many hiking trails, hot springs, waterfalls, or lakes. Hipcamps are your best private camping option, while Idaho State Parks manages many of the public campgrounds in the state, most coming well equipped with fire rings and picnic tables. Some also have yurts, and many offer RV sites with full hookups.

Where to go

The Idaho Panhandle

Between Washington and Montana and stretching up to Canada’s border, this forested region is ideal for winter skiing and snowboarding, plus hiking, biking, and kayaking in warmer months. Highlights include Nez Perce National Historic Park and Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, where the Pandhandle rivers are particularly beloved by whitewater rafters. Popular camping areas include Priest Lake State ParkHeyburn State Park, and Farragut State Park, and you can also find campgrounds on the Banks of Lake Pend Oreille and Lake Coeur d'Alene.

Southwest Idaho

On the border of Oregon, southwestern Idaho features lots of outdoor and cultural attractions, plus plenty of wineries and breweries. Boise, the state’s capital, is here and despite its small size, the fast-growing city has great museums and restaurants. Popular getaways from the city include Payette National ForestBoise National ForestPonderosa State ParkLake Cascade State Park, and Bruneau Dunes State Park.

Central Idaho

Characterized by alpine landscapes and crystalline lakes, central Idaho is as known for its summertime hiking as it is for its ski resorts, including the world-famous Sun Valley. Some of the best camping spots in the region include Redfish Lake in Sawtooth National Forest, Craters of the Moon National Monument, and the City of Rocks National Reserve.

Eastern Idaho

The gateway to Yellowstone National Park, eastern Idaho is chock-full of outdoor fun, from fishing on the Snake River's South Fork to cruising down the country's longest Main Street in Island Park. Summer is great for hiking and biking, while winter brings opportunities to ski and snowmobile against the backdrop of the Tetons. The region is also home to a handful of hot springs, the most famous of which is the odorless Lava Hot Springs.

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