In Gooding County, Idaho, near the towns of Gooding and Fairfield, is the Black Canyon Wilderness Study Area. Within the protected area, which is at the southern part of the Lemhi Mountain Range, is 10,371 acres of land, much of which is flat prairie split by canyons, with the northern part of the Wilderness Study Area consisting of undulating hills. A particular treat for visitors is the opportunity to encounter a collection of rock features known as hoodoos.
While exploring the Black Canyon Wilderness Study Area, one can view willows along some of the drainage areas, and there is plenty of wildlife to keep an eye out for, like elk, deer, and coyote. Visitors will find plenty to explore and opportunities for hiking and camping within the high desert environment. The Gooding City of Rocks Wilderness Study Area is close by, offering additional options for recreation and exploration.
With plenty to see and do, the Black Canyon Wilderness Study Area is a great place to visit during a visit to the south-central part of Idaho. Get your RV packed and ready and prepare for an experience of beauty and solitude.
From Gooding, take ID-46 N for 16.7 miles; you will pass Little City of Rocks, turning left onto City of Rocks Road. Continue on City of Rocks Road for about five miles; the road will curve to the left, after which you will continue before reaching Fir Grove Road. Make a slight right onto Fir Grove Road and continue for one and a half miles until arriving at the Black Canyon Wilderness Study Area.
The roads in this area are paved and largely flat, so you shouldn't have too much trouble navigating them even in large RVs. For the most part, the vegetation is low scrub brush, so you needn't worry about any overhanging tree limbs either. Be aware that many of the roads in this area have only a single lane in each direction, so pull over whenever it's safe to do so to let faster vehicles pass.
You should also know that this area sits at an elevation of around 4000 feet, so snow in the winter is a near certainty. While the roads are regularly plowed, it's a good idea to invest in some winter tires or even snow chains if you're going to be traveling in this area in the winter.
Parking is available at the Black Canyon Wilderness Study Area.
There is no public transportation available to the Black Canyon Wilderness Study Area.
On the Bruneau delta on the southern part of the C.J. Strike Reservoir is Cottonwood Park, a campground that includes 12 acres. The campground offers 31 sites that can accommodate RVs and tents; each site offers a picnic table, fire pit, and grill. While there are no electric hook-ups, shared water is available. RVs and trailers that are over 32 feet are able to be accommodated.
A boat marina at the campground ensures easy access for recreation on the reservoir; visitors will also enjoy a waterfront trail. Cottonwood Park Campground is ideal for a home base while you explore the area!
When looking to explore the south-central part of Idaho, Bruneau Dunes State Park can be a perfect place to park your RV or set up your tent. Bruneau Dunes State Park offers 81 RV sites and 17 sites that are tent only. RV sites offer electric hook-ups year-round and water will be turned on in March; restrooms and showers also open when the water is turned on.
The campground can be utilized year-round, as vault toilets are available, with reservations being accepted around March 20. Trailers and RVs up to 50 feet long can be accommodated and sites include a picnic table, grill, and fire pit.
Located on Alturas Lake, Smokey Bear Campground includes eight single campsites and three double sites. Nestled among mixed conifers, the sites are all first-come, first served and offer easy access to hiking trails in the Sawtooth Wilderness. Vault toilets and drinking water are available at the campground, which also offers a boat ramp and boat trailer parking area, as the lake is popular for sailing, fishing and swimming.
Each site has a picnic table and fire ring, and RVs and trailers up to 16 feet can be accommodated. Enjoy gorgeous views and great proximity to Alturas Lake at Smokey Bear Campground.
About 20 minutes from the Black Canyon Wilderness Study Area is the Gooding City of Rocks, which offers unique rock formations as well as the Bennett Hills (at the northern edge of the Snake River Plain), that are the result of volcanic eruptions in the area which delivered clouds of ash that ultimately fused together. A visit to the Gooding City of Rocks offers the opportunity to walk among these rock formations that jut up from the desert floor.
The small Black Magic Canyon is north of Shoshone and about a one hour drive from the Black Canyon Wilderness Study Area. The canyon has been carved by the Big Wood River over 10,000 years as it flowed through basalt lava flows that are about 800,000 years old. The result is sculpted black rock and an experience like that of exploring slot canyons. Spring and fall months are best for visiting this unique area.
With elevations between 4,360 feet to 5,484 feet, the Black Canyon Wilderness Study Area is an excellent place to hike for those seeking to explore the wilderness at a moderate elevation. Walk among hoodoos and the area’s flora and fauna at the pace that works for you.
About one hour from the Black Canyon Wilderness Study Area is the Magic Reservoir. The reservoir is a popular place to fish and anglers can fish for a variety of species. There are bass (both largemouth and smallmouth; limit is six and none can be taken that are under 12 inches in length), brook trout (limit 25), bull trout (catch and release only), Kokanee (limit six), sturgeon (catch and release), tiger muskie (limit two and none under 40 inches), trout of a number of different species (limit six total regardless of species) and more. Enjoy the solitude of the area as you relax and cast a line.
A visit to the Shoshone Indian Ice Cave offers a unique experience that is less than an hour away from the Black Canyon Wilderness Study Area. Trained guides will take you on a tour of the cave and offer insight into the geology and history of the area.
Regardless of how hot it is outside the cave, once you enter you can expect to be cool; it is 23-33 degrees year-round. Expect to descend about 100 feet using a set of stairs in order to explore the cave’s approximate 1700 feet length!
Not far from the Black Canyon Wilderness Area is the Gooding County Snow Park, which is home to 150 square miles of public land open for exploration by snowmobile. Located 20 miles north of Gooding, the snow park is perfect for exploring the Bennett Hills.
A snowmobile parking area can be found at the Gooding-Camas county line on Idaho Highway 46. Options are also available for cross country skiing and sledding.