U.S. National Forest Campground Guide

Boise National Forest


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Forest Information

The Boise National Forest is located in the southwestern portion of Idaho and is comprised of 2,649,366 acres. There are 79 developed campgrounds of which 30 meet the selection criteria.

The word "bois" is French for forest or wood. A good name for this lush a national forest full of spruce, pine, and fir trees. But, the Boise National Forest is not a land of only steep mountains, fast rivers, and dense forests. It is has arid sagebrush country, rolling hills, and pristine wildernesses. This variety in landscapes provides the foundation for Boise National Forest's wide variety of recreation opportunities, fabulous camping locations, and many wonderful visits.

State Route 55 heads north from Boise, the city, to Boise, the national forest, following the North Fork of the Payette River. Fir and pine trees line the route as it parallels the rushing Payette River, making this a pleasant scenic drive. Several quiet and secluded camping locations, such as Swinging Bridge, are tucked back in forest along the route. Any one of the national forest campgrounds along Rt 55 provide great basecamps for whitewater enthusiasts who come to challenge the awesome the Payette River.

Ocean-going salmon and steelhead trout return each season to waterways of Boise National Forest. It is a wondrous sight see is these scared and battered anadromous fish rushing upstream to their birthplace. One location for such observation is near Yellowpine campground near the quaint hamlet of Yellowpine, Idaho. The campground isn't much, a series of rustic campsites well-suited to tent and car camping, but the memories will be long lasting.

Part of the Yellowpine camping experience is a visit to Yellow Pine. This hamlet was established in 1902 and continues to be populated by a unique bred of personalities. The annual "Idaho's Yellow Pine Harmonica Fest" in early August illustrates the uniqueness of Yelllow Pine's citizens.

In its heyday, Yellow Pine was a bustling community. Today, the General Store continues to offer a variety of services but with only one child in the hamlet, the school is no longer operating. But there is a golf-course. Green fees are a donation to the local fire department. A sign at the first hole warns golfers "experience not needed" for you see there are no greens, only a bumper-pool maze of Ponderosa pine between tee and holed. A round at the Yellow Pine golf course, browse the local products, from pelts to jewelry, on sell at the General Store, and catch a flash of quick-silver of a passing fish; these are all part of the Yellowpine campground experience.

At the Boise National Forest's most south end is a wonder build by man - the Anderson Ranch Dam. Here, the flow of the South Fork of the Boise River is held back by the Dam forming the Anderson Ranch Reservoir's 4,740 acre lake. North of the Reservoir are two sweet little campgrounds; Elks Flat and Dog Creek. It is only a short drive from these campgrounds to a boat ramp on the shores of Anderson Ranch Reservoir. While there is a collection of campgrounds around the Reservoir, the level sites, good drinking water, and abundant shade found at Elks Flat and Dog Creek campgrounds make them very popular with motorhome and recreational vehicle campers.

West of Anderson Ranch Reservoir is a huge body of water, the 27,550 acre Lake Cascade. Known for its excellent waterfowl and raptor (primarily Bald eagles) watching opportunities, Lake Cascade has several pleasant little campgrounds nestled in scattered patches of forest along its west shore.

In contrast to the enormous Anderson Ranch Reservoir and Lake Cascade is a collection small, crystal clear lakes northwest of the Dam. Two of the prettier lakes are Big Roaring River and Big Trinity lakes. Both lakes have small rustic campgrounds that feature a quiet, tranquil atmosphere and some of the best scenery in the Forest. (Think of the forest service road to these camping locations as a method of crowd control and bring sufficient supplies.)

There are places in the Boise National Forest where a person can be alone but it is rare for visitors to feel lonely. Nowhere is this more the case than at one of the many hot springs scattered throughout the Forest. While some prefer hot springs far from any crowd, the Boise National Forest has developed campgrounds near a few of these wonders of nature. Perhaps the most accessible is Kirkham hot springs and campground but a devastating fire produce a "moonscape" landscape, making this one of the least attractive locations. Than there are Bonneville and Pine Flats campgrounds which are adjacent to their like-named hot springs. Here, nature's scalding hot water flows out of the ground to mix with cold river water in man-made pools within a short walk of these nicely wooded campgrounds.

Over a half-million acres in the Boise are old growth forest. There are place in the forest where the sound of an axe or saw has never been heard. Imagine walk among trees that have stood untouched by man for centuries. These special, magical, near-secret places are accessed via one of several trails. Contact the Boise National Forest for specific information.

One interesting element of the Boise National Forest is the lack of trailheads at the campgrounds. This is not to say there are no trails within the Forest. More than 291 miles of trails, ranging from foot to horse, ATV to kayak, cris-cross the Boise providing visitors a wonderful way to see the Forest. However, the majority of these trails are a distance from any developed camping location.

In many ways, the Boise National Forest is a place of contrast. Lush forested land give way to arid sagebrush countryside. Fast flow streams feed a placid lake. Steaming hot springs mix with freezing cold river water. Wolves and salmon live beside mule deer and eagles. Rugged people, living in historic communities just a few miles but lightyear away from stress and strain of modern cities, welcome visitors as family members. Such contrasts and the experiences are what make a visit to Boise National Forest so very special and a great place for a camping vacation. Visit and see for yourself.

SUPERVISOR ADDRESS 1249 S. Vinnell Way Suite 200 Boise, Idaho 83709 208-373-4007 RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESSES Cascade Hwy. 55 P.O.B. 696 Cascade, Idaho 83611 208-382-4271 Emmett 1805 Hwy. 16 #5 Emmett, Idaho 83617 208-365-7000 Idaho City 3833 Hwy. 21 P.O.B. 129 Idaho City, Idaho 83631 208-392-6681 Lowman 7359 Hwy. 21 Lowman, Idaho 83637 208-259-3361 Mountain Home 3080 Industrial Way Mountain Home, Idaho 83647 208-587-7961

Fred and Suzi Dow