Idaho is a terrific state for camping, covered in rolling forests, beautiful mountains, and vast valleys. With a cooler, but drier, northern climate, the typical season for most campgrounds is late May through September, though you’ll find opportunities to camp earlier in spring and later into fall, as well as year-round in select places.
Idaho has some of the most spectacular camping and hot springs in the United States, making Boise, perhaps one of the most underrated places for camping. For the outdoorsman, a short drive along one of the beautiful scenic byways into the nearby Rocky Mountains brings you into the heart of the wilderness. For glampers, RV …
Top Idaho Campgrounds by City
Whether looking to camp near the bigger cities of Boise and Twin Falls or escape into the endless wilderness, there’s a campsite perfect for you. With the presence of grizzly bears in the northern panhandle and eastern portion of the state by Yellowstone, hard-sided camping is popular (and sometimes necessary) here. However, there are plenty of campgrounds in Idaho ideal for tent camping, giving a more rustic, natural experience.
Where To Go Camping in Idaho
Idaho is a four-season adventurer’s dream, but when the sun is out, hiking and camping are king. Camping and other summer fun in the Gem State are made easy by long sunny days and some of the most beautiful lands in the Pacific Northwest.
Best Times to Go Camping in Idaho
It’s no secret that summers in Idaho are beautiful, and the warmer months are some of the best times to visit. Many of the southern parts of the state are part of the Great Basin Desert, meaning that popular places like Boise tend to experience warmer summers than the panhandle of the state in cities like Coeur d’Alene.
If you want something a little cooler, there are plenty of national forests in the northern half of Idaho.
When the temperatures cool off in the fall and winter, though, southern Idaho has its perks. Boise and the surrounding areas especially are known for relatively tame winters with above-average sun and moderate snowfall compared to areas further north.
There’s no outrunning the snow in this state, but certain sections definitely have it easier. If you aren’t a seasoned winter camper, staying further south is the best option.
National Park Service Sites in Idaho
There are ten National Park Service sites in Idaho, though the state does share several of them with its neighbors. Two of the sites in Idaho offer camping. Though a small portion of Yellowstone National Park is in Idaho, there are no established Yellowstone campgrounds within the Idaho state borders.
The state is mainly National Forest land, but the two NPS spots that offer camping still stand out.
- Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve
- City of Rocks National Preserve
National Forests in Idaho
Idaho has ten total national forests, with a few of them crossing into neighboring states and sharing management responsibilities. Almost 40% of the state is national forest land – a larger percentage than any other state. To put it in perspective, Alaska has the most national forest land in total at 21.9 million acres, while Idaho is third at 20.4 million. Alaska is about eight times larger than Idaho.
- Idaho Panhandle National Forest
- Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest
- Payette National Forest
- Boise National Forest
- Salmon-Challis National Forest
- Caribou-Targhee National Forest
- Sawtooth National Forest
Best Free Camping in Idaho
Roughly 70% of Idaho is public land, with several sprawling national forests accounting for a large portion of that number. With a good mix of national forest land and BLM land, free camping in Idaho is as abundant here as almost anywhere in the Western US.
In the Panhandle section of the state, campers often visit the Kaniksu National Forest, especially the Roman Nose Lakes Area. In the southern section, the east fork of the Weiser River, Sacajawea Hot Springs, and the Cauldron Linn waterfall area are all great choices.
Idaho State and Public Parks
As mentioned earlier, the significant majority of Idaho is operated either by the National Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management. While it doesn’t have the largest or most robust state park system, Idaho does still have 27 state parks, and 18 of them offer camping. Of those 18, there are 10 that really stand out.
- Farragut State Park
- Bruneau Dunes State Park
- Henrys Lake State Park
- Lake Walcott State Park
- Heyburn State Park
- Three Island Crossing State Park
- Hells Gate State Park
- Round Lake State Park
- Ponderosa State Park
- Priest Lake State Park
RV Resorts and Unique stays
Idaho tends to have more rugged camping options in its parks and forests, but there are some glamping opportunities and RV resorts in the state. A lot of the glamping options tend to be privately owned Airbnb, Hipcamp, or Vrbo options. While there are some glamping options that are run by companies, owner-operated glamping tends to be the more popular here.
RV owners are in for a bit more luck on the whole than those seeking glamping in Idaho. While both are available options, Idaho has plenty of RV stays, from rustic, family-run spots to relaxing resorts. These six options should get both RV and tent campers started when deciding where to book.
- Valley View RV Park
- Moose Creek Ranch
- Linn Canyon Ranch
- Snake River RV Park
- Crystal Peak Lookout
- Eagle’s Landing: Canvas Tent Glamping
While often forgotten in the Pacific Northwestern conversation, Idaho does have all the PNW charm. With great mountains, beautiful trees, and fantastic camping options, the Gem State does it all and does it well.