7 Best Free Camping Spots In Idaho
Idaho is one of the most underrated locations for enjoying nature, but it has abundant beauty and outdoor activities. And Idaho has plenty of free camping for you to use as a base camp while you explore.
Many think Idaho has nothing to offer except a tiny sliver of Yellowstone National Park. But you’re missing out if that’s the only thing you experience while in Idaho. From fishing and kayaking to hiking, horseback riding, and history, we’ve got seven great free campgrounds for you to enjoy in Idaho.
Let’s dig into free camping Idaho style!
What Is Free Camping?
Free camping is any spot where you can legally camp overnight for free. Specifically, the term often references land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM.) So, take care to ensure that camping is permitted in the area you plan to set up camp. Contacting park rangers or local authorities is certainly the best way to verify any questionable camping locations.
These locations are often dry camping, and you’ll need to be self-contained to make use of the area. Although, some free campgrounds do have restrooms available and, if you’re lucky, a water fill station.
Also, be sure to check the facilities at your chosen spot in advance, so you can better prepare for your adventure.
Pro Tip: Here’s our guide for using Campendium to find free campsites.
What You Need When Free Camping
To take advantage of free camping, you’ll need to be sure you’re prepared to do so. You should have adequate shelter, whether it’s a fully-functioning RV or a tent. It’s always a good idea to come with enough water, and more, to sustain you for your trip. In addition, if you need a power source, you should come prepared with your own as it is uncommon for electricity to be available within free campgrounds.
Some locations may require you to obtain a permit before setting up camp. Always check local laws and requirements to ensure you’re camping within your rights. Please also make it a priority to leave no trace.
It’s important to leave your campsite even better than you found it. This ensures its availability for future campers.
The 7 Best Camping Spots in Idaho
One of the most overwhelming parts of free camping is knowing how to find locations. It can be daunting when you don’t know where to start or go for information. So, we’ve put together a list of some great options to get you started.
#1 – Deadman Hole Recreation Site
Address: 44.345, -114.2683333
About The Deadman Hole Recreation Site: Deadman Hole Recreation Site is a small camping area located on the Salmon River. Many people that make their way to Deadman Hole do so to make use of the river.
Fishing is certainly a popular activity along the water, and kayakers enjoy launching their kayaks from this location. While there are no official trails, there are access roads that provide a nice stroll for campers.
Deadman Hole Recreation Area is easily accessible land located 12 miles south of Highway 93 on Highway 75. There are five first-come, first-served sites available at this location. Although, the sites are primitive, so there’s no electricity available. Restrooms available to campers, and drinking water is throughout the area.
Idaho Free Camping Vibes: 10/10. Those who enjoy fishing and water recreation will love this spot. Further, the presence of restrooms and water makes this a great place to camp.
#2 – Crater Peak Camp
Address: 47.02861111, -115.9841667
About Crater Peak Camp: Crater Peak Camp is a lesser-known area on Forest Road 301. The Bureau of Land Management manages it and two other backcountry campsites along that road. Specifically, the camp is located on the south side of the Widow Mountain Wilderness Study Area.
There’s no electricity or water located at Crater Peak Camp. Though, this spot has a vault toilet, which serves as the only facility accessible to campers. Those camping here should come prepared with water to last the trip. You’ll enjoy truly getting away from it all at this location, with hiking and wildlife viewing being popular activities.
Idaho Free Camping Vibes: 6/10. There’s very little information available about this location. But, campers who want to disconnect from society will appreciate Crater Peak Camp.
#3 – Silver City Campground
Address: 43.00888889, -116.7247222
About Silver City Campground: For those interested in historic mining towns, this is the perfect location. In fact, Silver City Campground is located in a 19th-century mining town that’s currently partially restored. The roads throughout the town are considered public lands, which give plenty of areas to explore. The area certainly provides a unique historical aspect not found in many other locations.
Silver City Campground offers primitive sites for campers. The campsites are on the outskirts of the town, right along Jordan Creek. There’s water running through the campground, but campers shouldn’t use it. Due to it being an old mining town, the water could contain mercury. Campers will enjoy hiking and exploring at this quiet campground.
Ohio Free Camping Vibes: 8/10. Campers will enjoy the historical aspect. Those who enjoy exploring abandoned historical locations will likely find this place interesting.
#4 – Agency Creek Campground
Address: 44.9499, -113.5581
About Agency Creek Campground: Agency Creek Campground is a small campground with four sites located near the Lewis and Clark Historical Trail. Those who hike the trail surely find this a nice place to lay their head for the night. Agency Creek Campground is a shaded and secluded spot, perfect for those who love spending time in nature. Biking and horseback riding are popular activities in the area.
The campsites are all first-come, first-served. There are no facilities located at the campground or any hookups of any kind, so you’ll need to come prepared to be self-contained. Some of the wildlife seen in the area includes deer, elk, moose, mountain goats, and black bears. Be mindful of their home and take care not to leave food outside.
Idaho Free Camping Vibes: 7/10. This campground offers a peaceful and quiet environment for those looking to do some hiking. It also provides great opportunities for wildlife viewing. With only four sites available, you should have a backup plan.
#5 – Big Cottonwood WMA
Address: 42.03138889, -115.3672222
About Big Cottonwood WMA: Big Cottonwood Campground is located about half a mile North of Murphy Hot Springs. This is a great spot for campers who enjoy being on the water as it’s on the East Fork of the Jarbidge River. Big Cottonwood campground is a great option for campers who don’t have 4-wheel drive as the campground is accessible even by 2-wheel drive vehicles.
There’s an unlisted number of campsites located near the trailhead. Each site has a fire ring and picnic table. There are no facilities for campers, including restrooms, and you’ll need to bring water as there’s none at this location. Some sources state that motorized vehicles are prohibited, so be sure to speak to a ranger to clarify where you’re allowed to drive.
Idaho Free Camping Vibes: 6/10. There is not a lot of information available about this area. It may be a great hidden gem for those willing to take a chance and check it out.
#6 – Summit Creek Recreation Site
Address: 44.27166667, -113.4472222
About Summit Creek Recreation Site: Summit Creek Recreation Site is a lush oasis filled with springs and creeks. This gives campers the perfect opportunity to view wildlife such as birds and maybe even see a moose! The area provides ample hiking opportunities on trails and logging roads that lead into the Challis National Forest. Anglers will enjoy the area as fishing is enjoyed by many. Hunting is a popular fall activity in this area.
The campground is set up to accommodate RVs of any size. This makes it a great boondocking location for RVers looking to explore the area. Restrooms are also within the camping area for campers to utilize. This is a dry camping campground with no access to electricity or water. The sites are first-come, first-served.
Idaho Free Camping Vibes: 10/10. This is a great free boondocking location for exploring the Challis National Forest. Those with RVs will appreciate the accessibility of this campground.
#7 McArthur Lake WMA
Address: 48.5124715, -116.4449475
About Mcarthur Lake WMA: The McArthur Lake WMA is a wildlife dream. There are over 300 species of animals that people can observe here. And its 22 species of fish make this a great place to spend the day fishing. Bird watching is also a popular activity with 223 species of identified birds. Hiking and boating are also enjoyed by many at this location.
Campers should take extra precautions and be “Bear Aware” while camping in this location. There’s minimal information regarding camping at McArthur Lake. But the public use restrictions allow for camping unless otherwise posted. Campers should not leave their site unattended for more than 48 hours or more than 10 days during a 30-day period. This hidden gem could be a great way to escape the outside world and enjoy some peace and solitude.
Idaho Free Camping Vibes: 7/10. Any campsite with limited information is a gamble, but this site has the potential to be a 10.
Enjoy the Best Free Camping in Idaho
Those who enjoy getting out and connecting with nature will love taking advantage of these great free camping spots in the beautiful state of Idaho. Have you camped at one or more of these locations? Let us know where you stayed!
Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA
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You should give it a try!
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