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Gateways to Adventure

5 convenient camping options for your next summer road trip

Published online: Jul 08, 2024 East Idaho Outdoors Steve Smede
Viewed 1209 time(s)

1

Lava Flow Campground

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

This unique preserve – now celebrating its 100th anniversary – is well known for its mostly inhospitable volcanic landscape of vast lava fields, cinder cones and other bizarre formations.

Believe it or not, however, you can also find some great spots to camp.

Your best option is Lava Flow Campground, which is operated by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and is situated just outside the monument boundaries near the visitor’s center. It offers basic amenities such as picnic tables, fire rings, and vault toilets. There are no hookups or potable water, so campers need to bring their own supplies.

In general, be prepared for the high desert environment, which can mean extreme temperatures and limited services in the surrounding areas. (For those seeking more amenities, there are also private campgrounds and RV parks in nearby towns such as Arco and Carey.)

2

Palisades Creek Campground

Caribou-Targhee National Forest

Want to mix up your mountain creek fishing and hiking adventure with a full-service camp setting? Head to Palisades Creek – home to one of the best day hikes in the region. The creek’s namesake trail leads you up to a pair of pristine high-mountain lakes, each full of native cutthroat trout.

If you want to explore bigger waters, Palisades Reservoir and the South Fork of the Snake River are just minutes away from the campground.

Palisades Creek offers several campsites, many of which are first-come, first-served. Potable water and vault toilets are available.

3

Cave Falls Campground

Yellowstone National Park

Nestled in a forested setting near the Idaho border, this campground is aptly named for nearby Cave Falls, a picturesque double waterfall on the Fall River. The campground provides a peaceful setting with scenic views of the surrounding forested areas and a launchpad for several day hikes..

Despite it being in Yellowstone, this destination offers a quieter camping experience than you’ll find elsewhere, including the relative hustle and bustle of nearby Island Park. Campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The campground offers basic amenities such as pit toilets and picnic tables, but there are no hookups for RVs or trailers.

Fall River provides opportunities for fishing, and there are hiking trails in the area for exploring the park's natural beauty. Pack your clubs and your camera, because on your way, you’ll encounter Timberline golf course and – closer to the park – sprawling fields of wildflowers.

4

Badger Creek Campground

Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness

This wilderness area is one of the largest in the United States and offers pristine natural beauty and opportunities for steelhead fishing in the spring and fall, amazing hunting opportunities and scenery that will leave you slack-jawed.

Badger Creek Campground is one of the best options for enjoying the area – hiking, fishing, wildlife-viewing, you name it. Situated along the Salmon River, this part of the wilderness area is adjacent to the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve, which offers some of the best night-sky viewing vantage points in the country.

The campground at Badger Creek (as well as Ebenezer Campground just up the road) provides basic amenities such as vault toilets and picnic tables. However, there are no hookups for RVs or trailers. Campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. It's advisable to arrive early, especially during peak seasons, as the campground can fill up quickly.

5

Egin Lakes Campground

St. Anthony Sand Dunes Recreation Area

Well known to the motorsports community, this home base for sand riders offers stunning views of the lakes and the surrounding dunes. Formed across the volcanic remnants of the Snake River Plain, these vast hills of white-quartz sand reach as tall as 400 feet. The dunes as a whole are the largest in Idaho, measuring 20 miles on the long edge according to resource officials.

You’ll find the campground at Egin Lakes 8 miles to the west from St. Anthony. It offers potable water, an RV dump station and 48 improved camp units, including electrical service. There is also a day-use and horse-trailer parking area.

Egin Lakes is one of the more popular and accessible day-use campgrounds in the region, so it’s advisable to arrive early, especially during weekends and holidays, as the campground can fill up quickly during peak seasons.

Bonus Suggestion: Warm River Cabin

Targhee National Forest

If you really want to transform your camping into “glamping,” check out the Warm River Cabin. Situated just 20 miles from Ahton at the headwaters of its scenic namesake river, this historic abode was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1938.

The cabin accommodates up to 12 people, including six sets of bunk beds with mattresses, a dining area with a table and benches, a wood stove, storage cabinets and firewood. You’ll also find a picnic table, campfire ring and vault toilet outside the cabin.

Just outside the front door is a trail that follows the upper reaches of Elk Creek, as well as the awe-inspiring Warm River Spring as it spews out crystal clear water at a steady 52 degrees F.

Note: On your way, you’ll undoubtedly see Warm River Campground. This facility is a great family-friendly destination on the banks of the river, but be forewarned: It is one of the most crowded, chaotic campgrounds you’ll ever encounter. Stay at your own risk.

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